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CHRISTINA DODWELL, writer and explorer: I don't stir without my water bottle - it gives me independence. It means I can set off into anything and it doesn't matter if I get lost for the night. My other essential is my set of roll-up saddle bags. I made them myself out of the flysheet of a tent. They're green super lightweight nylon, and mean I can just jump on a horse and go. ROBERT ELMS, presenter, Travelog (C4): Wherever I'm going, even into the jungle in Borneo, I always take one well-cut suit made by my tailor. You never know when you might be called on to meet the local mayor or bump into Michelle Pfeiffer. A suit's not very heavy, but it means you do have to travel with a hard-backed suitcase.

HILARY RUBINSTEIN, editor, The Good Hotel Guide: Plenty of reading matter for unexpected disaster en route. One thing I have often wished I had in my suitcase is a lightbulb, because the lighting in hotels is so often inadequate for reading. If someone could invent an unbreakable one, then I would pack it.

SIR RANULPH FIENNES, explorer: Antisthan, an anti-mosquito cream. When you get bitten, it stops the itching, and it smells very pleasant.

TOM BAKER, National Ex-press coach driver: I cover around 700 miles in every 24 hours, and I always make sure I take a briefcase with a coach guide, which is a list of all the timetables that run, a ticket book, a torch and a small toolkit with all the things that will get me out of trouble if I need them. I don't really need to carry much else, but I normally have two or three packets of Extra Strong Mints on me.

ELIZABETH WALKER, executive fashion and beauty editor, Marie Claire: My Rowenta steamer. I always take my own because the ones you buy at airports never work. However carefully you pack, you always get some creases, and that old tip of hanging your clothes by the shower and turning it on to create steam really doesn't work.

SIMON CALDER, travel correspondent, The Indepen-dent: The only essential I always carry is a Sony short-wave radio. At home, BBC Radio is a pleasant back-ground warble; overseas it becomes a potential lifesaver. In Tegucigalpa, seeking advice about whether or not it was safe to cross into Nicaragua, the British Embassy was unable to help; but the strident tones of the BBC, its eyes everywhere, advised caution.

GARTH MORRISON, Chief Scout: I'm a sailor as well as a scouting man and no good sailor is ever without a knife, preferably the Swiss army type, which has all the attachments - including a cork-screw. The most important part is a good strong blade.

GARRY THOMAS, assistant editor, Climber magazine: A flask of tea with honey in it. It doesn't matter what kind; I like it fairly weak, made from an ordinary tea bag. It gives you lots of warmth and energy if you suddenly feel a bit burnt out. My flask isa stainless steel one; they're hard wearing. It's a real psychological thing now; if I'm off for the weekend in the hills and find I haven't got my flask with me, it's a disaster.