Between the steamer trunk and the hand-bag exists the traveler who goes lightly, but not entirely without those small artifacts of civility. For my wife, these are capra goat hair makeup brushes, at least four sizes and individually wrapped in tissue paper. She is otherwise a very sensible companion. My small cache of home comfort consists of three utilitarian items, not one of which has ever raised the suspicions of a surly border agent.
A thumb-sized purse might have slipped into irrelevance with a move to the US where the $1 banknote made carrying coinage unnecessary. It rode in the center console of my car for some time holding quarters, but even parking meters are paid in plastic these days. It now is essential when I travel, holding collar stays, cuff links and the occasional tie-pin (for windy, tie-wearing occasions abroad). Pig skin, double stitched with a nickel zipper. Despite physical abuse, not to mention multiple existential upheavals, it endures.
A shoe horn might seem an obvious-enough accoutrement to travel, but try finding one small enough that doesn’t require unfolding or some other switch-blade-like action alarming to security guards and spouses. Mine is black leather embossed in gold with the words “Made in England,” a calming phrase which must defray some of the shoe-horn’s threatening nature. I have no idea where it came from; it appeared one day in my carry-on like some sort of talisman of a future without crushed heel-cups.
The final, and most recent addition to my arsenal of creature comforts is a mitten of shearling and pebble grain leather for the purpose of buffing one’s shoes while away from the full complement of emollients and horse-hair brushes. The design is ingenious, rolling up to save space (and, presumably, the purity of the sheep pile). I have not yet had the opportunity to test the full patience of a border agent with this device; it can’t possibly be any more offensive than individually wrapped cosmetic brushes.