Travel essentials: Don't leave home without them

By Ayesha Durgahee, CNNUpdated 9th March 2012
Have you ever found yourself standing hands akimbo in front of your suitcase in your hotel room thinking "I knew I'd forget that," or "why did I bring five pairs of shoes and just one pair of trousers?"
I'm guilty on all counts. Ever since, I've developed a habit of packing three times, especially if I am flying long haul.
I don't like being rushed or packing last minute, so I always start three days before I travel. The first time, I allow myself to throw everything in I'd ideally like to take in case of any change in weather or impromptu dinners or downtime (my tennis racket unfortunately never makes the cut).
The second time, I pack with conviction and whittle it down, packing just for work -- how many interviews and locations I'll film and whether or not I need different outfits for those shoots.
All zipped up, I test the weight. If I can easily pick the suitcase up, say an inch off the ground, it's about 19 kg. Then I leave it for a day, unpack everything and pack one last time folding everything, using every inch of the suitcase as it fills up. Chargers and adapters in shoes, that sort of thing! If I'm staying at a one or two-star hotel I'll pack little bottles of shampoo and conditioner that I've collected from a nicer hotel from previous trips!
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When it comes to hand luggage, I'm very particular. I pack my handbag in my suitcase and just travel with a waterproof shoulder bag in case it rains or in case I spill drinks everywhere.
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I pretty much travel with the same things on every trip. I stopped taking fruit with me ever since I forgot I had an apple in my bag when we arrived in New Zealand back in 2006. I was fined $60 because I had failed to declare it. It was the most expensive apple I've ever bought -- sorry, that Richard ever bought. He was my hero but also the one who made fun of me the most about it!
Anyway, now my travel essentials are:
- Note pad and pen
- Cardigan and pashmina for any change in weather.
- A second purse to hold foreign coins
- IPad -- great for browsing newspapers and twitter feeds, storing photos.
- A book. I still haven't fallen in love with e-books. I'm currently reading What Makes Business Rocks by Bill Roedy.
- My yellow headphones -- always more comfortable wearing your own than airline headsets and music is a great escape for little windows of downtime.
- Digital camera -- I am an aviation enthusiast, planespotter, plane geek! When I can, I prefer to fly during the day so that I can take photos from the window seat of the aircraft wing, winglets or engines during sunsets complete with the Moon or with cities down below.
Follow Ayesha on twitter at at @AyeshaCNN.