Quite possibly the first guide book to include practical travel information as well as sightseeing advice, Travels on the Continent: Written for the Use and Particular Information of Travellers(1820) was penned by English author Mariana Starke to help British tourists discover a newly peaceful, Napoleon-free Europe.

Besides detailed tips on budgeting, food and accommodation, it featured a rating system using exclamation marks rather than stars, and provided an extensive and illuminating packing list. This included basic necessities such as a room lock, tablecloths and napkins, as well as “portable soup”, Iceland moss, Walkden’s ink-powder, sulphuric acid, pure opium, mustard, cayenne pepper,
a silver teapot and a good many other sundries.

Almost 60 years later, in 1878, British writer Isabella Bird travelled through Japan on her way to Hong Kong with an India-rubber bath, a folding camp bed, “my own Mexican saddle and bridle, a reasonable quantity of clothes, including a loose wrapper for wearing in the evenings, some candles, Mr. Brunton’s large map of Japan, volumes of the Transactions of the English Asiatic Society, and Mr. Satow’s Anglo-Japanese Dictionary”.

While Bird was exploring Japan, Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island (1883), spent 12 days walking through southern France, on a journey made famous in one of his first travel books, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879). His packing list included a self-designed, custom-ordered sleeping bag (before such were commercially available) fashioned from a railway blanket, “a leg of cold mutton, a bottle of Beaujolais, an empty bottle to carry milk, an egg beater and a considerable quantity of black bread and white”.

Modern travellers, of course, are usually less encumbered, and have the luxury of packing-list apps for reminders and suggestions. Offering something more old-fashioned (though without India-rubber baths or legs of mutton), Lonely Planet is publishing a new Packing List. Perhaps a useful companion to 2016’s How to Pack For Any Trip, it contains 80 tear-off sheets and features all the essentials required for various kinds of overseas travel.

For a preview of Packing List, visit shop.lonelyplanet.com. Starke’s Travels on the Continent has just been reprinted by Forgotten Books and can be previewed and purchased at Amazon.co.uk.


Now you can rent a Jabbrrbox at New York’s LaGuardia Airport

Eight Jabbrrboxes – self-contained booths that can be rented for 15 minutes or more – now call New York’s LaGuardia Airport home. Each Jabbrrbox contains a desk and seat, secure Wi-fi, USB charging and other business faci­lities, and is priced at US$10 for 15 minutes, US$15 for 30 minutes or US$30 for an hour.

The company hopes to expand worldwide eventually, and Hong Kong is one of the potential new destinations that you can vote for at jabbrrbox.com.


Deal of the week – a Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City package

A two-night stay at the Caravelle Hotel with Farrington Vacations’ Ho Chi Minh City package starts from HK$2,930 per person (twin share). Prices at the Park Hyatt Saigon start from HK$4,490 and if you pay for an extra night (from HK$2,950 per person) you can get a fourth night free. These prices include economy-class flights with Cathay Pacific and daily breakfast, and will be available, with occasional high-season surcharges, throughout the summer.

For more hotel listings and other booking details, visit farringtonvacations.com.hk, where you will also find a similar package but with business-class flights from about HK$2,650 per person extra.