My boyfriend’s job isn’t a standard nine-to-five, and regularly takes him away from home overnight. He’s great at packing in a hurry, travelling light, and running through his mental checklist. But none of those skills are any help when he doesn’t get a chance to go home before he has to hit the road. Once he arrived at the office and was despatched off-site immediately — and then his day-trip turned into an overnighter.
When my boyfriend has to travel unexpectedly, he doesn’t always have the luxury of stopping to buy a toothbrush and a change of clothes — and who wants to own six toothbrushes anyway? I hated the thought of him sitting in a hotel room with none of the comforts of home, so I created his emergency away-from-home kit!
Here are some tips to prepare yourself or your other half for unexpected trips.
What to include
Something to read. I wanted a book that he could dip in and out of — so no novels or taxing non-fiction. I chose QI: The Book of General Ignorance, but he has since replaced it with Does Anything Eat Wasps? Engaging enough to keep him amused, but easy to put down at the end of his unscheduled trip and forget about until next time. If you’re making a kit for someone who doesn’t enjoy reading, a book of Sudoku puzzles might help the time go faster.
A mini stick of sunscreen. My boyfriend works outdoors, so I couldn’t leave this out, but it’s not essential for everyone. Lots of companies make these in compact sizes — I bought a Moisuturising Mini Stick from Soltan, which is about the size of a lipstick and most major brands have an equivalent (sometimes marketed for kids). Space-saving win!
Handcream can be very useful for people working outdoors in cold weather.
Socks and underwear
A polo shirt. Polo shirts are smart enough for work, and doesn’t get creased if it’s rolled up tight.
Comb or small folding hairbrush
A note or a card
I almost included a five euro note so he could have a drink on me while he was on the road. I decided not to because I knew that someday I would face a financial emergency, break into his kit and steal it back to buy a chai latte, which defeats the purpose a little.
What NOT to include
I didn’t bother with anything that hotels usually include as standard (shampoo, shower gel, soap). But if you are making the kit for someone who favours a particular brand, it’s nice to include those too.
Chocolate. I also put in a bar of chocolate that he could enjoy with his tea. Obviously it was going to melt after a few months in his car (and, since he is an engineer, it is reassuring that he figured this out) so he broke into his kit and enjoyed it while it was still good. If you do want to include a treat, something well-wrapped that doesn’t melt would be a better bet.
Full-sized bottles of toiletries — if they break or open accidentally, the whole kit will be flooded.
What to put it all in
I bought a standard toiletry bag big enough to fit the book, and then crammed everything else in around it (the benefit of choosing a shirt that doesn’t crease!). These often aren’t cheap, so any bag or box that can be moved easily and that won’t get lost among the detritus of the trunk of a car will do fine.
Keeping it cheap
You may be counting the cost of this on your fingers and wondering how much I spent on it — the answer is that it can be done on a budget. You can pack socks, underwear, a shirt and teabags or coffee sachets that you already own, decant toiletries into smaller containers, like the plastic containers used for air travel (just make sure the lids are on tight). Or pick up bargain miniatures in the supermarket at the end of the summer holiday season.
How to use it
Keep your kit somewhere you will always have access to it. My partner keeps his in the car, but he has had to train himself to remember to bring it with him if he’s using a different car for work.
If you use something from the kit, replace it ASAP. If there is a feeling worse than thinking you have clean underwear and finding you don’t, I don’t want to have it.
Once the kit has been assembled, don’t look in it. Especially if it has a book or some treats inside. When you’re unexpectedly away from home, it’s nice to have a small surprise to look forward to.
The emergency kit has been great and could be a real time and money-saver for someone who regular overnights away from home without notice.
Now the question is, what would y’all put in YOUR emergency away-from-home kits?