Sausages – and of course, teabags: how many of these travel ‘essentials’ are on your packing list?

'Nearly half (43 per cent) of Britons like to take their own tea bags' - Catherine Falls Commercial
'Nearly half (43 per cent) of Britons like to take their own tea bags' - Catherine Falls Commercial

A new study reveals that nearly half (43 per cent) of Britons like to take their own tea bags whenever they travel, and one in five takes their own kettle. But it seems that many of us need more than our perfect brew when abroad.

For instance, a quarter of British people like to take a pillow from home with them to guarantee a good night’s sleep. Other esoteric travel favourites included tins of beans (18 per cent liked to bring their own), orange squash (13 per cent), a favourite mug (10 per cent) and condiments (7 per cent.) The study, commissioned by M&S Bank, involved 2,000 grown adults, yet one in 10 admitted they still like to pack their childhood teddy bear whenever they go away.

Among these “essentials”, some vital things get left out in the shuffle to pack the toilet seat covers (3 per cent): 7 per cent of travellers remembered their quirky must-haves – but managed to forget prescription medication and even passports before heading to the airport.

“If you absolutely must travel with a pillow, you can definitely buy smaller travel versions; I have a Tempur memory foam pillow in the travel size, which can easily fit in my shoulder bag along with my laptop,” advises Kathy Boate, packing expert and CEO of Cartology Travel.

“To make sure everything fits, I’d use packing cubes [compression storage containers] for your suitcase and always remember to pare back your outfits and shoes – you never use as much as you bring. Same thing for toiletries – get travel-size everything, and transfer your perfume to a refillable atomiser.”

Here, Telegraph travel experts and columnists reveal the (often quirky) things they can’t resist packing when they go abroad. How many of these “essentials” are on your packing list?

Telegraph Columnist, Hannah Betts:

“The item that sets me apart at security is a giant Spode Blue Italian number. I am the mug with a mug. A good many of my fellow countrymen journey abroad with tea bags stashed in their underwear.

Telegraph columnist Hannah Betts - John Nguyen/JNVisuals
Telegraph columnist Hannah Betts - John Nguyen/JNVisuals

I am so baroquely Brit that I carry a quarter-litre cup because tea in a small receptacle doesn’t count. Plus, as a born-again sober type, tea is all I have: Lapsang by day; decaffeinated Earl Grey by night. I used to buy myself a suitably capacious keepsake on arrival: a German tankard from a Florentine flea-market, say. However, said purchase couldn’t always be secured. When I caught myself sipping the brown stuff out of a Dutch flower pot, I knew I had to take matters in hand – via a trusty earthenware handle.”

Telegraph Recommended Editor, Simon Lewis:

“I don’t go anywhere without my Bose bluetooth speaker for in-room entertainment. I’ve nerdishly created playlists for France, Italy, American road trips, even a Turkish disco one once. My wife hated it. Perhaps that’s why she always brings a pack of earplugs (though that could be to block out my snoring).”

Explorer and Telegraph Travel writer, Levison Wood:

“I don’t leave home without a white linen shirt. You never know who you’re going to bump into, even in the middle of the jungle, and need to look smart(ish). I’ve run into tribal chiefs, ambassadors and local governors before, so it pays to be prepared.”

Telegraph Magazine Editor, Lisa Markwell:

“After too many kitchen disasters, I always travel with my own sharp knives. (This means I can never be a ‘hand-luggage only’ traveller, for obvious reasons.) The same goes for a corkscrew – life’s too short to try and get a cork out of a bottle with a shoe or a wooden spoon handle and, believe me, I’ve tried.”

Daily Arts Editor, Ben Lawrence:

“Friends think it odd that I always take my St Christopher pendant with me. For one thing, I am not religious. But when I don’t take it, things go wrong. On the way back from Cambodia, I got stuck at Kuala Lumpur airport for 18 hours. In Rajasthan I got dengue fever. Recently I had a spring clean and I am now unsure of its whereabouts. Given that I am off to west Wales in a few weeks I feel anxious. Those mountains in Pembrokeshire can be torture.”

Ben Lawrence likes to take a St Christopher good luck charm - Clandy-Images
Ben Lawrence likes to take a St Christopher good luck charm - Clandy-Images

Telegraph Columnist, Judith Woods:

“My husband takes a knife sharpener – self-catering cottages always have terribly blunt knives that counterintuitively makes them more dangerous as you have to hack and saw. Personally, I like a bag of porridge oats. You never know when your tummy will need a night off from fine dining.”

Food Editor, Amy Bryant:

“No matter our destination, my partner and I always bring a corkscrew and a wine saver, along with at least five bottle stoppers. We take a minimum of three wines, and double the number of inflated bottle sleeves to bring plenty back too.”

Food Editor Amy Bryant
Food Editor Amy Bryant

Telegraph Columnist, Michael Deacon:

“I’m a minimalist packer. My son, by contrast, fills his rucksack with all manner of intriguing items. The last time we went on holiday these included a spirit level, a key ring with no keys, and a solar-powered calculator. He didn’t use any of these, or even take them out of his bag. Still, I’m sure they appreciated the change of scenery.”

Travel Writer, Chris Moss:

“I always take an unnecessarily large amount of stationery, on the basis that if I get stuck I can write about it, or write rescue messages, or draw a map. Twenty pens and pencils. Three notepads. Easily. Maybe I have a desert island syndrome of some kind.”

Telegraph Head Of Digital Features, Jess Benjamin:

“My family always bring home comforts on holidays. My dad brings Weetabix and a chess board on sailing holidays. My mother once packed her favourite pâté and cheeses in our campervan fridge for a holiday to... France. Best was when my grandmother carefully placed her favourite Welsh sausages in her suitcase for a holiday to Spain, only for the case to get lost by the airline for a full five days. She has stuck to tea bags since then.”

Head of Digital Features Jess Benjamin's father always packs a chess board - Vladimir Blinov / Alamy Stock Photo
Head of Digital Features Jess Benjamin's father always packs a chess board - Vladimir Blinov / Alamy Stock Photo

Travel Writer, Benedict Allen:

“I take a polybag of PG Tips – anything to avoid the dreaded Liptons – and also Colman’s mustard to perk up less palatable dishes in the jungle/scrub/arid wastes, which are my ‘natural habitat’. My 13-year-old son Freddie insists on travelling with Marmite because, he says, life seems better when a bit of Britishness is added.”

Publishing Editor, Andrew Baker:

“I always take Dr Stuart’s Valerian tea with me, which is hard to find both at home and abroad. It is completely essential to my bedtime ritual. My wife always takes her favourite pillows with her – even to Barbados. These are also light but not quite so easy to transport…”

Publishing Editor Andrew Barker takes Valerian tea - Geoff Pugh
Publishing Editor Andrew Barker takes Valerian tea - Geoff Pugh

Travel Writer, Ed Grenby:

“Is a cummerbund a weird thing to take? What about one you wind around your head? I wouldn’t know, because by the time I’ve tightened the velcro on my silky wraparound SleepMaster, I can’t see my fellow flyers’ looks of fear and derision. It’s the one truly effective eye-mask I’ve encountered in decades of professional plane travel. N’night!”

Travel Writer, Simon Parker:

“I can’t do without a decent cup of coffee so I always take a camping stove and a moka pot with me. On a recent 3,500-mile bike ride around Britain, it became something of a mascot and I learnt to be self-sufficient and brew up an espresso or two with an epic backdrop.”

Travel Writer and Adventurer, Phoebe Smith:

“I will never go anywhere without Olbas Oil. A dab under my nose can override any obnoxious odours from fellow travellers. It’s got other handy qualities – from using it to help relieve a cold, to rubbing it on my limbs pre- or post-hiking – it allows me to take a literal home comfort with me wherever I go.”

What are the (inessential) travel “essentials” you wouldn’t go anywhere without? Let us know in the comments section below.