There’s a lot of great gear out there to play with. Lots and lots of cool toys. 🙂 Our technology constantly evolves and I update this post now and again as a new piece of gear comes across my radar that’s exceptional and improves the traveling experience significantly. Your top 10 may vary from mine, but this is a good starting point for reference when considering the most essential things to bring with you. I’m going to list them as usual and then break them down below. Most of the things on this list are the places where I don’t skimp financially. They’re too important to compromise very much.
- The right backpack. Read my post here all about them.
- Your smartphone or a good camera. Or both.
- RFID travel wallet / organizer.
- Portable battery charger / power bank.
- AmphiPod Microstretch Waistpack.
- Portable Water Bottle.
- International Power Adapter / Charger.
- Darn Tough Socks.
- Ear Plugs.
- Wooby. 🙂
The right backpack. As I mentioned, I wrote a whole post about backpacks which you can read here. suffice it to say, having the proper fit and a excellent quality backpack can mean the difference between a really nice, fun trip, and a miserable one.
Your smartphone or a good camera. Most of us have a smart phone these days, and most of them have really excellent cameras. They’re more than enough for capturing candid photos and videos on any trip. If you want to take your photography and videography up a notch, then you’re going to want to invest in a dedicated camera with interchangeable lenses. This will cost a fair amount of money for the initial investment, but it’s well worth it in the long run. Almost all of the nicer cameras that are made today will last for years and years. I’m going to have a post down the road all about cameras with specific recommendations. The thing to know is that if you go with any of the major manufacturers like Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, Canon and Nikon, they all make excellent cameras. People like to pretend that one of them is infinitely better than the others, but that’s false. Essentially, they’re all sports cars with awesome options, and they all take amazing photographs. At the end of the day, you just have to choose which one you want to drive and which options you want. 🙂
RFID travel wallet / organizer. Protecting your identity, credit cards, and money is of paramount importance when you travel. A good RFID travel wallet will not only help you keep your stuff organized, but also protected from being scanned by unwanted people. There are a lot of different varieties out there, and I recommend you go to Amazon.com and search for one that has good customer reviews and a style you like.
Portable battery charger / power bank. A good power bank, or portable external battery as they are also known, is essential for travel. They’re great to toss into a backpack to recharge any of your mobile devices or most other electronics on the go. I really can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the road with a low battery warning but still had photos and videos to shoot. I was able to simply plug my phone in and get a full charge, and not just once, but multiple times. There’s lots of good ones out there. The company Anker is known for making a really good ultra high capacity one which I will link to here, but do your own research. This field of technology changes often and it’s worth seeing what the latest and greatest is.
AmphiPod Microstretch Waistpack. Waist packs are awesome. And thank goodness the company Amphipod has made them stylish and cool. A lot of runners and athletes use their products, but they are fantastic for travelers. Their airflow products are even more exceptional. The one I use stretches to accommodate my wallet keys and the largest iPhone and it’s very comfortable. I also use this when I’m home, out exercising / riding my bike, or doing anything athletic. I use it extensively when I travel. They’re perfect for holding your small essentials and leaving you hands-free to enjoy your life. I know I’m rambling on about this, but I really can’t tell you how much my life improved when I started using one of these. I love feeling unencumbered when I’m out and about and my amphipod makes that easy. I actually have two of them. One for exercise and one for day-to-day life. And then I get to have two colors. 🙂
Portable Water Bottle. Single-use plastics are already being banned around the world and I believe plastic water bottles will eventually be a thing of the past. Much like most grocery stores make you bring your own grocery bags with you now, very soon most people will be responsible to carry their own water bottle with them. I think this is a great idea and really helps the environment. I’m a huge fan of my Yeti and Ozark Trail mugs. They’re basically the same thing from two different vendors. The Yeti is more expensive because of the name. The Ozark Trail I purchased at Walmart for 1/3 of the price and I honest-to-God can’t tell the difference between them.
They’re both awesome.
There’s other vendors as well who make insulated and portable mugs. As with most gear, do your own research, read some reviews, and get the one that not only serves your function, but whose style you like. There’s some really cool ones available! At the end of the day, the more important thing is that you actually have one. Make sure it’s empty when you get to the airport and take it with you through security. Once you’re through, you can refill it anywhere and not have to purchase plastic bottles. They even have cool slings and a variety of holders for your bottle that you can easily throw in a backpack or over your shoulder no matter where you go.
International Power Adapter / Charger. Obviously this only applies to international travel. If you’re going to a foreign country, make sure you check to see what kind of power they use. If they use a different one than you do, you will need to take a power adapter with you. I know I repeat this phrase a lot, but there’s a lot of really good gear out there these days… and many companies make really nice portable power adapters. The one I have also has multiple USB ports for charging multiple phones and devices, which comes in very handy when we’re abroad. We power two laptops, charge two phones, and also charge multiple camera batteries all at the same time from one adapter.
Darn Tough Socks. It took me years to find the right socks. That may sound silly but I’ve come to learn that there are truly excellent sock manufacturers… and there’s everybody else. The company called Darn Tough is located in Vermont and they’re not only really cool people, with good customer service, but they make the best socks on planet Earth as far as I’m concerned. Check out their website and if you have any questions, give them a call or send them an email. Yes, the socks are a little expensive, BUT… I still have every single pair I’ve purchased and not one of them has a single hole or substantial wear and tear on it. We walked over a hundred miles around Europe in those socks and they’re still as comfortable as ever. My only complaint about their socks is that the women’s socks tend to be more vibrant and colorful and I like those styles better than some of the men’s. I simply purchased my size in women’s for the styles I wanted, and they fit great!
And they look cool. Did I mention that? 🙂
Ear Plugs. When I was a child, if I didn’t want to brush my teeth, my dad would look at me and say, “Well… just brush the teeth you want to keep.” The same principle applies to earplugs. Protect the eardrums you want to keep.
It’s a noisy world, my friends. A good set of earplugs will really help you out, whether it’s in a movie theater where the sound is too loud, a city where the construction noise is bothersome, or a plane ride where the baby behind you with colic is having a rough ride. Earplugs are relatively cheap, and they are absolutely essential. And most of them even come with a cool little carrying case you can put on your key chain!
iPad. This is a more personal choice, as it’s not essential for every traveler, it’s just essential for me. I don’t like to travel without my iPad. I use it for a lot of reading, research, writing, and of course watching lots of good TV shows and movies in our downtime. It’s incredibly lightweight, the picture is better than most TVs, it doesn’t get hot like a laptop, and I’m also able to keep up with the world when I want to. If you have the budget, they’re a really worthwhile investment. I know there’s other tablets out there as well, and many of them are very nice. I just happen to be an Apple person and that’s why I have an iPad.
Wooby. This bonus entry is a more humorous one. In the 80’s movie “Mr. Mom,” Michael Keaton’s child has a security blanket that he doesn’t want to let go of. He calls it a “Wooby.” We all have something that either makes us sleep better when we’re away from home. It can be a security blanket, a childhood stuffed animal, or your favorite pillow. I have my own version and I’m not the least bit ashamed that I don’t ever leave home without it. And neither should you leave without yours. 🙂