Before I lived in Australia for a year, I never imagined the many reasons I should pack a light source on my travels. I’d packed a book light or mini flashlight on previous trips, sure, but I used it so rarely that I wondered if it was truly a necessary item on my packing list.
After weeks of living in hostels and three months road tripping around Australia, I know that one of the following lights will always be on the list.
Reasons to pack a light…
- If you need more reading light on the plane or overnight bus
- If you want to read in the hostel bedroom after others have gone to sleep
- When you return to the hostel bedroom once others are in bed and you need to pack or unpack
- To help you pack up last-minute items in the hostel if you have an early plane, train, or bus to catch
- If the electricity goes out – or when there is no light to begin with
- To navigate your way around a campsite
- If your exercise routine has you up early or out late and outdoors
- For group tours at night
Types of lights
There are a variety of book lights on the market, and while these may be designed to assist with reading, this light can really be used anywhere.
I recommend looking for one with a compact design that folds for easy packing. I brought one with me to Australia to help me find my way from the hostel bed to the toilet at night! Instead of turning on the overhead light in the bathroom, I simply turned on the book light.
Most designs offer a flexible/adjustable arm, but I think this style may be more difficult to pack.
>> Buy book lights on Amazon
The mini flashlight may be the most popular style of light for travel – at home and abroad. They’re easy to carry anywhere as they fit in the palm of your hand, pocket, or purse and only weigh a few ounces. Manufacturers offer them in a variety of colors and slightly different styles (some include a lanyard/strap and others have a keychain ring).
>> Read about a time Brooke wishes she’d had her flashlight
I’ve never thought about purchasing a head lamp for at home use or travel, but I know several ladies who own one! As you expect, head torches are worn around the head – a band fits around the top of your head and a light is situated in the middle of your forehead.
I have seen women wear a head lamp on early morning or evening jogs and hikes. One female travel blogger loves using hers as the light source when the power goes out during her travels in Asia.
>> Buy head lamps on Amazon
Credit card sized flashlight
I remember seeing these in abundance a few years ago, but it seems they have fallen out of favor. At one end of a thin, credit card sized piece of plastic was a small but powerful LED light. You could easily slide one into your wallet with your driver’s license and credit/debit cards.
Online searches now yield a very creative spin on the credit card sized flashlight – a thin card with what appears to be an image of a light bulb on the card. When you want light, you simply pop the light bulb to a 90 degree angle from the card and you have instant light! To turn it off, simply return the paper-thin light bulb to the flat card.
The iPhone iTorch app is available in a free version or in a couple of paid versions, which offer additional features. In my free version, a bright light shines from the iPhone 4’s camera flash. In other versions, the phone’s screen can display a flame or bonfire, and with a slight shake of the camera, you can change the color of the light.
I was so grateful to have the iTorch on the 2.5 month road trip I took around Australia with two friends. When camping in remote places, we had no light to rely on but the one inside our van, one mini palm-sized flashlight, and two iPhones with the iTorch app. One afternoon, we returned from a nature hike to find a flat tire as dusk quickly approached. With no cell phone reception, we made camp for the night. On a pitch black, windy night, the three of us ventured to the two lone toilets at the park with the aid of the iTorch.
What type of light source to you travel with and when has it come to your rescue?