As the year-end approaches and the travel promotions start dropping into your inbox, it’s time to think about what you’re missing for your next holiday. From tech gadgets to keep you comfortable on long flights to skin-care packs and insanely stylish bags, these tried-and-test essential brands will help you travel like a pro.
For Minimalists: MUJI
There’s no doubt as to the practicality of MUJI’s products, and darn if they don’t look good too. Aside from the Japanese brand’s main collection of lifestyle products, MUJI to GO is a series of travel essentials ready to take you to your next big adventure. Their Neck Cushion (S$20.90) and Travel Eye Masks (S$13.90) are obvious, but what about their Passport Case (S$33) with clear pockets for holding even your boarding passes, keys, currencies, and credit cards? Other choice picks are the Hanging Box Case (S$26) for easy organisation of toiletries and the Portable Laundry Set (S$19), which contains a mini washboard and eight pegs. Can you spell clean?
For Sound-Conscious Travellers: Bose
Nothing beats the sound of screaming kids in the plane and honking traffic like noise-cancelling headphones, and Bose practically wrote the book on the technology. Plus, anyone who travels knows there’s always a lot of commuting involved, whether you’re backpacking in Rajasthan or travelling to Kyoto on the Shinkansen, so why not have easy access to audio nirvana? The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (S$599) is at the top of the range, and even applies noise-cancelling to phone calls, which is a fantastic feature for working on the go. Other interesting products include the Bose Frames Alto (S$299), which is basically sunglasses that plays music straight to your ears, and the upcoming Earbuds 500 for a more compact factor.
For Backpack Travellers: Nomatic
Ever had to live out of a single backpack when travelling? Then you know the importance of functional gear for your life on the move. Nomatic is an accessory brand that first came into the spotlight on Kickstarter in 2016, and their flagship product is the 40L Travel Bag (US$279.99) that keeps all of your prized possessions organised, dry, and secure. Plus, it’s big enough for even week-long trips. Made to withstand the elements, you’ll find 14 pockets for different purposes, and that’s just one of the 20 innovative features. Nomatic also manufactures a handy Shirt Organizer (US$29.99) to keep your nicest dress shirts wrinkle free for those big meetings, as well as the Toiletry Bag 2.0 (US$69.99) — every inch designed with functionality in mind. Don’t know where to start? The 30L Travel Bag Bundle comes with all of the above, plus waist straps, a sunglass shell, and a compression packing cube from US$319.99.
Shop Nomatic online.
For City-Hoppers: RAWROW
This Seoul-based brand has come a long way since their founding in 2011. Centred around high-quality products that are both simple and functional, RAWROW is best known for their Rugged Series: leather-accented and thick canvas backpacks in all sorts of colourways and styles. Every season sees a good number of new products and designs, and special mention must be given to their R Trunk Hardshell Luggage (from S$279), which boasts the world’s first TT Handle (think bicycle star handlebars) and won awards at the iF World Design Guide. Features include an in-built scale, silent wheels, and a convenient hidden pocket on the handle.
For Outdoor People: Craghoppers
If you can tell your creeks from your streams and your hills from your mountains, Craghoppers sounds about right for you. This British company has been making travel apparel for more than 50 years, so they definitely know a thing or two about keeping you comfortable no matter where you end up. They’ve even teamed with National Geographic to release a line of specially-branded apparel in recent years. Popular products include the Compresslite Hooded Jacket (£65) which easily folds into a tiny bundle and Kiwi Boulder (£45), a regular looking shirt that keeps you warm while keeping bugs away with its ‘Insect Shield’. There’s also a cool hidden zipper pocket on the front for stashing your cash.
Shop Craghoppers online.
For Vainpots: Patchology
Guilty of neglecting your skin on holidays? Well, you’re not alone. Extreme climates, frequent air travel, and erratic sleep schedules are quick to take a toll on our skin, which is where Patchology come in. As its name suggests, you’re looking at quick and convenient fixes that get the most done with less. Their On The Fly Kit (US$20) is ideal for your island escapade, with some to hydrate your skin, illuminate your complexion, wake up tired eyes, and even smoothen your lips for some unexpected kissing in mere minutes. Alternatively, the Flashmasque Perfect Weekend Trio (US$20) is the ultimate thirst quencher that improves the elasticity and softness of your skin during shorter stays. Time to book a getaway and drink up, don’t you think?
Shop Patchology online.
For Photographers and Gearheads: WOTANCRAFT
This cool leathercraft accessory brand from Taipei takes its name from Wotan, the god of war and wisdom. Because it’s like fighting a war to keep our expensive electronics from getting damaged or even worse, wet, when travelling — that’s our interpretation anyway. Designer Albert Yuan’s ethos is driven by vintage aesthetics and old school craftsmanship, so the antique distressed look is one thing you’ll find across all his products. The lineup currently includes watch cases, passport covers, laptop bags, and camera bags that look just as good as they function. Their Cordura Nylon Camera Bags (from USD$259) are particularly popular, and even holds your larger tripods. Plus, Modular velcro compartments means you can mix and match to create something that’s perfect for all your gear needs.
Shop WOTANCRAFT online.