The story so far: every traveller, whether to Torquay or Tegucigalpa, faces the same challenge: to carry possessions stylishly, comfortably and securely. In recent years my valuables have been removed by villains in Barcelona, Cartagena, New Orleans and Havana (the latter two in the same week), and frankly I was getting fed up. So The Independent teamed up with the youth and student travel specialist STA Travel to present a challenge to some of Britain's brightest young designers, and the Central St Martin's School of Art.
The winning design was the "amazing armband" devised by Rachel Atkinson, which conceals valuables close to your skin. Money can't buy this summer's top travel fashion accessory - but 10 were specially made up for readers who came up with the most original travel essentials.
Judging the entries took longer than the average count in most constituencies, but after several recounts these winners emerged:
Fabian Acker, London SE22: "A screwdriver to (a) force open sealed windows in air-conditioned hotel rooms, (b) disconnect loudspeakers from lifts, lavatories and corridors."
Alison Rutter, York: "A 150ml bottle of Ariel Travel Wash. It's good for washing socks and pants so I can reduce the number I pack, and it has the bonus that the lid makes a watertight sink plug in most basins for soaking, and for saving water. PS: I don't work for Procter & Gamble!"
Matthew Cole, Manchester: "A pack of cards. They help while away delays at airports and stations, and, in extremis, you can try to increase your cash reserves with a game of poker."
Mrs I White, SRN, London SE3: "A pack of three condoms, just in case. Being a family planning nurse, I spread the word - not disease. It can be open to misinterpretation, but better that risk than any other!"
John Prosser, Blackpool: "Blackpool rock. People in many parts of the world have never seen (or tasted) anything like it. Puts the town on the map, too."
Tilly Willis, of Taunton: "When travelling in regions where fresh vegetables are not always readily available, eg the desert or the former Soviet Union in winter, I take a small bag of dry mung beans. By adding a little water to a handful of beans in a sealable jar, you'll have, within a few hours, once the beans have softened, a crisp, nutritious snack, packed with vitamins. Convenient, highly portable and no cooking required." [Ms Willis kindly supplied a snack's worth of beans - very nice, too.]
Alexandra Harley, London SE22: "I find a musical instrument essential. Violins and recorders are most appropriate. Both of these I play particularly badly; when busking I can raise a great deal of money very quickly in order that I move on."
Michael Stace, Tonbridge: "Gaffer tape can do anything, from mending holes in luggage to administering Apollo XIII-type repairs to broken-down vehicles."
Roger Sawtell, Northampton: "South of Suez, water is seldom plentiful. A used wine box inner makes a useful water store with tap. Costs nothing, packs flat. Weighs about 50g, much lighter than the traditional wine-skin made from a dead goat."
Last, and most concise, is from Fiona Samson, of Edinburgh: "Take a travel iron - smoothes cottons, flattens muggers."
Thanks to all who took part.Reuse content