When we set out to explore the Petite Ceinture, Paris’ abandoned railroad, earlier this year there was one big obstacle: light.

More than the fences, the potential for getting caught, and the fear of the unknown, the thing that ultimately limited our exploration was long stretches through very dark areas. In particular, the tunnel below stretched seemingly forever. The floor was made up of jagged rocks and abandoned rails, so walking in the dark was mildly perilous.


Before we set out, we bought a small, very weak flashlight in a nearby store because it was all we could find. But really, we wished we had brought some sort of real light.

We ran into similar issues while exploring parts of the Oregon coast.

Now as we’re packing again, we’re not making the same mistake a third time; we’re bringing a flashlight.

We’re strong believers in packing light, but over the years we’ve run into enough situations where a flashlight would be handy that we’ve now added it to our regular list of things to bring. As I write this, we’re packing for a trip to Europe, and we’ve chosen a couple of very small, lightweight lamps to bring:


Here are some of the situations where a flashlight might be handy while traveling: night trains; hostels where you’re sharing a room with people who are asleep; power outages; checking under the bed of hotel rooms for lost items; exploring ruins; exploring caves; camping; and telling ghost stories.

The point is that while a flashlight isn’t as obvious an item to bring as, say, a toothbrush or extra clothes, it is up there with a laundry line and a sink stopper as an under appreciated travel essential.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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