Useful travel items: bracelets


I’m gaining quite the little collection of travel bracelets – it’s got to the point where it’s not actually that comfortable to wear them all. I wear a watch any time I’m out of the house, a big chunky metal one, and I don’t like wearing bracelets on the same wrist because of the way they clatter with it, so all the bracelets have to go together on the other wrist. I have two really useful practical bracelets and two that are… cool but less useful.


Useful number one is my ID bracelet. When I went to Iceland in the summer of 2013, I had a bus passport and a tent and I was travelling on my own through the mountains and I had visions of falling over a waterfall or into an abyss or just something bad happening to me. And I thought that it would be a good idea to have an ID bracelet with my details and my emergency contact details in case anyone needed to identify my body or call my parents – no medical details, because I have none, not that it’s anyone’s business.

My bracelet is from and it’s a black velcro sports band with an engraved steel plate on it and reflective stitching around the edges. I chose it partly because it’s easy to wear and partly because it didn’t have any medical symbols on it. They don’t do my exact one anymore but they do hundreds of others in hundreds of styles and also there are plenty of other websites that do the same sort of thing. I think it’s a useful thing to wear whenever I’m away. And to quote one of my ex-Rangers, “you’re really sensible sometimes.”


Useful number two is my Hiero band. And you can’t have it – at least, not at the moment. This was something I supported on Indiegogo (it’s also on Kickstarter). I sponsored a mere $10 (~£8) back in October and promptly forgot all about it until mid or late November when I got an email saying that the bands were being shipped and then a couple of weeks later, a padded envelope popped through the door.

Basically, it’s a charm bracelet but every charm is an icon of something you might need when travelling – a bus stop, a toilet, a bed, a water source etc – and rather than trying to find the right words to make yourself intelligible to someone, you can just point at what you need. They come in string or elastic versions, with wooden, white or turquoise beads and I was sent one at random so mine’s string with wooden beads. And I accidentally pulled the beads off the ends of the pull strings so I need to get out a needle and re-thread them. It’s a good-looking bracelet to just wear even if you’re not travelling. It’s a little on the big side for my little wrist and it felt heavy at first but now I’m used to it, it doesn’t. They’re available to pre-order at their website but I don’t know when they’ll actually be available so you might want to keep an eye on them if you can see yourself making use of a Hiero band.


Cool but not-so-useful: my El Camino bracelets. El Camino is a little start-up in Oxfordshire that makes kind of Pandora-style bracelets. The bracelets themselves are woven and come in half a dozen colours and in either single or double lengths. When I ordered mine, double was out of stock for about a year and a half so I bought a single, filled it and bought another single00. You buy the bracelet and then you can buy “steps” to put on it – stainless steel rings laser-engraved with place names. The big ones are countries and the smaller ones are places – cities, states, islands etc – and you can get either size custom-engraved. There are also region steps – glass beads in various colours representing continents, geographic regions & places that go together. And in between are wooden spacers and you can arrange it all however you like. They’re just a little souvenir, really, but they’re pretty tough and have a good backpacker vibe to them.

My first one is red, which they don’t do anymore. When they were smaller, they also tended to do custom colours just because they were asked and they’d randomly make interesting colours just to see what they looked like. These days they’ve settled on assorted shades of blacks, browns, blues and purples. My second is black. The red one, for some reason, tends to pick up bits of fluff. I am forever picking off strips of the soft lining of whatever I was wearing, and that makes it look perpetually grubby and nowhere near as red as it really is. The black one doesn’t seem to have that problem – I don’t know if it’s because it’s less easy to see but looking closely, it really doesn’t appear to have that problem. I have my Nordic steps on the black bracelet and all the others on the red one and I wish I didn’t have such an addiction to returning to Iceland, Norway and Finland because that’s not helping me gain new steps!

I also have a couple of home-made paracord emergency bracelets but they’re bulky when I’ve already got this much on my wrists and I’m kind of disinclined to pull them apart anyway – I’d rather just keep a few coiled yards of paracord in the bottom of my bag.