If ever there was a delightful phrase, it’s “revenge travel”. That was last year’s mantra. This year’s is much more fun.
Xiaomi 20,000mAh 50W charger
R1,400 | Makro
For the last few years, the most important thing I looked for on a new power bank was a USB-C port. This upgrade from the old square-shaped USB-A is already three times faster, but add extra wattage and the power bank charges a device much faster. Most smartphones can handle 20W to 30W – while laptops range from 30W to 65W. But what if your power bank had very high wattage and could charge your laptop?
This is the goal of several new power banks, which double as laptop boosters. The Xiaomi 20,000mAh 50W power bank is pleasingly fast – and you can take it on a plane with you (in cabin luggage) because it’s under the 100Wh limit. It’s just as pleasingly well-designed, with a metal casing and two extra USB-A fast-charging ports. It weighs 470g.
Peak Design Tech Pouch
R2,200 | Futurama
Everyone needs a way to store all the cables, chargers, and accessories that go with travelling. Peak Design is a smart outfit who have been making photography-related gadgets like tripods and backpacks. They have a very useful Tech Pouch that holds all of these odds-and-ends, but Peak’s designers have really thought about optimising the space inside.
The so-called Origami-style pockets do indeed “create enormous spatial efficiency, letting you pack more into a smaller space while keeping your items neatly organised and easy to find”. If you are on a film set, for instance as a sound engineer, you can use Peak’s clever camera straps with the tech pouch as a gear bag. Size-wise, it’s 15 x 24 x 10cm and has a 2L capacity. It weighs 288g.
Anker Soundcore Mini 3 Bluetooth speaker
R900 | HiFiCorp
I’ve been taking the smallest Bluetooth speaker I can find for years but it’s been, and I say this knowing it sounds absurd, too big. I’ve been a big fan of UE’s Wonderboom 2 but I’ve discovered that Anker makes one even more compact — the Anker Soundcore Mini 3 Bluetooth speaker. The cylindrical speaker gives good all-round sound, has 15 hours of battery life and, crucially, charges with USB-C. It weighs 227g.
Wacoco Minipresso NS2 Nespresso capsule coffee maker
R1,500 | Takealot
If you’re a coffee lover (notice I didn’t say junkie) there’s nothing more disappointing than going away on holiday (especially and bizarrely to five-star game lodges) and getting sachets of a certain local dried coffee brand. I bought the Minipresso NS2 from Wacoco, which is a clever upgrade of the first model, and we never leave home without it. It creates another pressure to make an espresso – using, as the name implies, a Nespresso pod. You pour hot water into it and pump the side handle. Add more water for an Americano. Wacoco also makes similar presses for coffee grounds. We can all thank American campers for their inability to survive without good coffee. It weighs 290g.
Samsonite C-Lite Spinner 75cm (hold) + C-Lite Spinner 55cm (cabin)
R9,000 + R10 600 | Samsonite
I have been using the same suitcases for about a decade (which shows you how good they are). Made by Samsonite, I like them because they are light and tough – and withstand whatever the throwers at OR Tambo can inflict on them. The most important other feature is the four wheels, called spinners. Why does it matter? Because you can push the bags on a smooth floor with just one hand. These two Samsonite bags I use cleverly have the same height for the handle no matter what size the bag is. The cabin suitcase weighs 2.1kg and the hold bag is 2.8kg.
ADD THIS: Samsonite packing cubes – set of three
R1,500 | Samsonite
Another profoundly unsexy, but very useful, thing to take on your travels is packing cubes. You pack your clothes into, as the name implies, the packing cubes and then pack those into your suitcase. I have been using a range of these for decades.