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  • Writer's pictureMax Darwin

EIGHT things I always have with me - by Max

There are certain obvious things we all think to bring when traveling: swimsuit, computer charger, your kids, etc. While living in hotels for the last several years, there are a few travel hacks I’ve discovered along the way that are now a part of my essential travel routine. Maybe you’ve thought of some of these, maybe you haven’t. Either way, each of these things has improved my life and made traveling easier. Here are eight things I don’t leave home get on the airplane without

1. Cable Ties

Some people might prefer a full-blown cable bag like this one but I find it a little too bulky. I’d rather keep things as slim as possible with just my laptop, ipad, some paperwork, and usually a book. And how many cords does one really need when traveling? For me it’s probably 6 or 7. But I live out of a suitcase. I use these simple velcro cable ties to keep my cords from tangling. I have all the cords in one pocket and can reach in and within 2 seconds have the one I need. It’s a time saver and makes me feel far more organized than I am. Also when bought once you have them for life. When I unroll the cable for use I put the tie back around so when I’m done I have it ready to go.

2. Extension cord

How many times have I been working on the computer or watching the ipad with a low battery and haven’t had an outlet within reach? Answer: most of the times. A cheap extension cord from any CVS or hardware store is my solution. Six feet might be fine for you. But mine reaches around huge couches and under king size beds. I use a TWELVE footer. It rolls up around my arm, I give it a half twist, wrap it with a cable tie and boom, it’s the size of a smushed softball and it goes in my carry on. Most useful? When the outlet next to the bed is for some reason…not next to the bed. Also, to plug into that hidden outlet at the base of the palm tree at the pool…

3. Selfie Stick with Tripod and Remote

This baby is essentially a camera ready TRIPOD. It stays standing sturdy by itself and is handy for: facetiming, taking pictures with you in them, or getting amazing shots OVER a crowd of people. Its uses are limitless. Sure, maybe you don’t wanna be the person holding the 4 foot selfie stick in the air. When you’re home from your trip, you, your Instagram, and TikTok followers will be gald you did.

*The cameraman never gets to be in the picture right? Wrong! Fully extend the selfie stick to get the phone camera up high, kick open the tripod base, and snap that pic! Frame the group, get in the pic, and hit it. (The remote…)

4. Black Gaff Tape

I’m a theater person. In the theater we have a saying, “GAFF TAPE SOLVES EVERYTHING. Gaff tape can be many colors but most commonly is black. It’s essentially black duck-tape but not shiny. It’s matte. Tiny blue light shining out of the cable box when you’re trying to sleep? Black tape. Tiny red light blinking on the fire alarm? Tiny piece of tape. (Won’t interfere with the alarm.) Small hole in your suitcase? Temporary fix it with Black Gaff tape. Don’t want people to tripping over your 12 foot extension cord? Tape it to the carpet. The cap to your hairspray won’t stay on? BLACK GAFF TAPE BABY. I’ve been on the road for two years and I’ve run out twice. I use it that often.

*As an actor I’m constantly auditioning from my hotel room by making a tape to send to casting. I have a grey piece of fabric that I’ve cut from a larger photo backdrop that I tape up on the hotel wall with, yep, my black gaff tape. Leaves no residue and doesn’t hurt the wall.

5. Valet Tray

For many years I would empty my pockets onto my bedside table. It was always cluttered and ugly and I would knock stuff onto the floor when reaching for something. Then I found this snapable valet tray. It unsnaps and packs flat into my laptop bag. When I get to the hotel the first thing I do to make myself at home is snap it up and drop it on the bedside table. Keys, wallet, airpods, money, it all goes in. Pug in the phone charger and I’m good to go. Looks classy and arganizes all the loseable little things.

6. HDMI Cable and Multiport Adapter

You just never know what the TV setup is going to look like. With an HDMI cable and a Multiport HDMI to USB-C computer adapter you will always have your streaming services with you. Because it has a USB port you can even plug in your blue tooth mouse and use it as a remote from bed. I tried a Google Chromecast. I tried the Firestick. The only fireproof way I’ve found to always be able to watch my Prime Video and Hulu in ANY hotel is with a direct connect through the USB port. Yes some hotels will have free streaming services, some Hyatt’s even have a built in Chromecast so you can cast right from your phone. If they do you’ve won. But if you walk into the room and see a beautiful gigantic TV but the don’t have any streaming options you’ll feel like McGuyver as you get out your HDMI cable.

7. Wallet Tool

In my checked mag I keep a leather man, and hex key, a pocket knife and several kinds of tape. The average traveler might not need those. I use my wallet multi-tool ALL the time. It’s a box opener, a bottle opener, a cellphone stand, a wrench, 3 types of screwdriver (even for tiny eyeglass screws!), and a bunch more. It fits in my wallet and is with me wherever I go. Wobbly chair? Your glasses are too loose? Twist that loose screw right back in.

8. Packing Cubes

Okay mayyybe you already travel with these. For me packing cubes have been a game changer. I was so tired of destroying my organized suitcase as I tried to get my jeans out. Packing cubes are made to suitcase size specifications, they come in different sizes, and you can even take them out of your suitcase and throw them right into a drawer. For me, it takes the stress out of packing and unpacking. I use 2 small ones, one for socks and undies and one for rolled up tee shirts. Then I use medium one one for shorts, pants, and a couple button down shirts. When you get to the hotel and open your suitcase you will look at the organization and feel like a mad genius. Wahahahaha!

This is the tip of the iceberg for me. As I wrote these a bunch more came to mind. If you found this useful please let me know in the comments and I’ll lay out some more.

Travel Safe,



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