I’ve had a few of you ask me to write a little more about my favorite travel products and gear this year, so I figured now is as good a time as any to start. Throughout my 8 years of on-and-off travel I’ve picked up a few recommendations and pieces of gear that have particularly stood out to me.
I value traveling minimally and I generally only carry a backpack as opposed to a suitcase so I can get around easier and be on the move at any given time. With that said, I’m also a travel blogger, so I probably still carry more than the average backpacker, but I try my best to minimize where I can.
The majority of these products are ones that I’ve used regularly for years and a few wish list items – *ahem* photography gear! – that I’m wanting to buy ASAP.
Without a doubt, there are gaps in this gear list and it’s not meant to be an exhaustive one. I still haven’t found travel clothing that I would swear by (besides maybe an abundance of scarves), I’ve never bought proper hiking boots, and I’m still on the look-out for a good day pack (I’m taking suggestions!).
However, hopefully this list can at least give you an idea of a few of my favorite travel products and maybe even give you a head start on thinking about what type of products you would enjoy for your own travels. Especially if you enjoy documenting adventures as I much as I do.
- Canon EOS Rebel T3 – This is by no means a top-of-the-line DSLR, in fact, it was the first DSLR I ever bought when I was a junior in college and I still travel with it today. It is the epitome of entry level and it has served me well for my basic photography needs. It has given me gorgeous pictures without having to know all that much about the inner workings of the camera.
Now that I’m getting more into photography and looking to upgrade, I’m probably going to retire this baby soon. Regardless, I would still recommend it for those travelers who are beginner photographers but still want nice pictures from their trip.
- Olympus PEN E-PL7 – One of those cameras I’m looking to purchase soon, my favorite feature of the Olympus PEN E-PL7 is its lightweight nature and great vlogging capabilities. Great video and a selfie screen that flips out to make sure you’re in focus while filming a vlog.
- Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II – My ultimate wish list camera at the moment, I’ve heard wonderful things about the Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II and I can’t wait to use it as my main camera in the near future. It’s a splurge but one that will be well worth it for my photography goals. I’ve also become quite taken with the mirrorless cameras vs. DSLRs, I’m ready to start traveling with a lighter main camera than my clunkier Canon.
- 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro – the standard lens that is a great one to travel around with for daily photography.
- Ultra Wide-Angle Lens 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO – I love the creatively you can have with wide-angle shots, so this one would probably be the next lens I purchase after the more versatile 12-40mm one.
- 8mm Fisheye PRO – And if I have a shit-load of money to spend at some point in my life why not a fisheye lens?! Fun and another creative lens you could do a lot of interesting experiments with.
- GoPro Hero4 – I still have the original GoPro but I’m hoping to upgrade it to the GoPro Hero4 in due time. I’ve heard great feedback about this model and I’m ready for better quality and (slightly) better sound than the original. I would also love to be able to see my videos right after capture, instead of taking a full day of footage to only find when I get home that there was a huge spot of water across the lens the whole time. Doi.
- Underwater Housing – Since my boyfriend and I try to get in a lot of diving when we travel, purchasing the underwater housing would also be highly beneficial for the video quality. If you plan on taking a lot of footage under the water’s surface this is a must.
- Unlocked iPhone 6 – Unlocked iPhones are my favorite to travel with for their photo quality and their international sim card accepting nature. I also just got hooked on olloclip lenses for the iPhone. My Apple guru brother gave me a wide-angle and a macro lens for Christmas and I’ve had a blast trying them out and seeing the professional looking results from them. You’ll notice a lot of my recent Instagram pictures use these lenses, and it makes a huge difference!
- 13.3-Inch MacBook Air – I’ve gone back and forth between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. I moved to Australia with a Pro and came back with an Air after the motherboard failed on me. The Pro was slightly too heavy for my taste but the MacBook air doesn’t have quite the same processing capabilities which hurts sometimes for video and picture editing. I think this also has to do with the fact that I bought the cheapest possible MacBook Air at the time since that’s all I could afford in Australia, and there’s hardly any usable space with only 120 GB. Um, all of my external hard drives are at least 500 GB or larger. Yikes! Lesson learned if you’re going to be doing a lot of travel blogging type of stuff on your computer, splurge on the most space possible.
- Remote/Wireless Shutter Release – Great if you’re using a tripod or GorillaPod and want to take a picture with no one behind the camera. The remote shutter release allows you to take a picture without you having to frantically run into placement in front of the screen after the self-timer starts its doomsday beeping.
- PNY Memory Cards – I’ve found the PNY Memory cards to be some of the best quality and durable SDXC cards. Perfect to use in a DSLR, mirrorless, or GoPro camera
- External Hard Drives(s) – I currently have a few different 500GB hard drives that I travel with, but I would like to eventually narrow this down to a 1 terabyte external hard drive to save space. These are great if you have a storage challenged computer like mine, or for backups of your photos, files, videos, computer, etc. I also love when I’m in a hostel and the guy on the bunk below me has a full hard drive of new movies or music that I can put on my own hard drive and BAM! I now have 6 months worth of long bus rides covered. It doesn’t hurt to be that person either.
- Portable USB Chargers/Power Bank – Although sometimes these take too long to charge back up or they run out of juice too quickly, having one or two portable USB chargers and/or a power bank can save a lot of stress over low smartphone batteries. These helped a lot during our 2 month road trip up the California coast whenever we went off the grid for a few days and we were still able to have fully functioning technology the whole time. I know, it sounds counter-productive, but you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re a digital nomad.
- Universal Adapter + Surge Protector – For years I have used the same cheapo universal adapter + surge protector I bought in San Diego when I was 21, before heading out to a summer in Europe. It has never let me down and it pretty much covers every imaginable international plug and voltage situation. Seriously, so much better than trying to remember which country uses which plug all the time.
- Portable Wi-Fi Device/Router – I don’t have this yet, but I’m contemplating buying a portable WiFi gadget for when I move to Asia. When I’m constantly freelancing and having to work on the road, WiFi can be a stressful item to worry about on a daily basis and I don’t like being stuck in one cafe all day – and I’m sure the staff that works there isn’t a big fan either. These portable routers from WorldSim basically allow you to have WiFi anywhere in the world when you travel. Beach work days anyone?
- Women’s Osprey Ariel 55 – I traveled with this pack through Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the California coast and it has been my all-time favorite backpack. It’s the ideal size for my packing tendencies at 55L and it’s designed specifically with women’s bodies in mind. There are plenty of little pockets but not an overabundance of them, and it’s a highly comfortable backpack to walk with over long distances. I’ve even done a 3-day hike with this one. I researched backpacks extensively before purchasing this Osprey, so I can say with confidence that it’s the perfect pack for me.
- L.L. Bean Duffle Bag – I will probably end up trading this in one day for a day pack as that would be the more versatile option; however, I love my personalized L.L. Bean duffle that I’ve probably had since I was about 16. It’s perfect for a week long trip – and that’s including all electronics and clothing – and a great carry-on item as you can squish it easily into overhead storage.
- Classic Black Purse – It’s always good to have a classic statement item to go with any outfit while you’re traveling. I love the look of a decently sized simple black purse that I can fit my laptop and/or camera in when I’m out walking around town and wanting to be conspicuous. Also, great for brunch dates and miscellaneous outings where you’d like to look more put together on the road. I recently bought a new black purse that fits all of the above and it only cost about $20 from Forever 21. Win win. Just always make sure to get one that zips as opposed to a snap to discourage pickpockets.
If you are looking for backpack with wheels, check out our detailed post on the Best Wheeled Backpacks.
- Stylish Sandals/Flats – Similar to the idea behind the black purse, I always like to have a few items that I travel with that will make me look presentable if I decide to have a night out on the town or find myself at an impromptu networking event (it happens more often than you think when you’re a travel blogger). This item changes regularly, but I currently have some fashionable sleek black & gold sandals I bought inexpensively while I was in Florida this year after my homemade pair from Vietnam broke.
- Keen Waterproof Sandals – I remember my stepmom suggesting these for my first trip abroad and my 18-year old self looking at them in slight horror with how gawky they looked. Needless to say, I bought them anyway since I figured she knew best and these have turned into the most practical hiking/waterproof sandals that I’ve traveled in. They’re particularly good for hiking in tropical and warmer climates since they have open slits on the side, although closed toes. They’re also practically meant to walk through water, so they’re great when you come across slippery rocks on the way to that glorious waterfall. Gawkiness aside, Keens rock.
- Sneakers – A good pair of sneakers is always a good item to carry around with you on your travels as well. These don’t have to be the quintessential dorky American running shoes, but a practical pair that offers you support and are easy to slip on and off. I traveled around Europe almost solely wearing my red crocheted Tom’s. In other countries I’ve had look-alike Ked’s, my classic Converse, and Vans as my go-to sneakers.
- GorillaPod – After drooling over GorillaPods for awhile I finally got my own over Christmas and I’ve had such a fun time using it so far. I don’t carry a full tripod with me in order to reduce space, but the GorillaPod is the next best thing – and you can pretty much attach it to anything. It’s great for solo travel and taking those introspective shots of you looking out into the distance when you’re short on a travel buddy.
- Catalyst Weatherproof iPhone Case – Always one to go against the grain, I decided to not invest in the popular LifeProof case and instead found this slightly cheaper knock-off in a Florida dive shop. I’ve tested it now in snow, sand, rain, and extreme cold and it has worked great.
- Collapsible Tupperware – Another recent Christmas gift that has turned into a staple travel item. Collapsible tupperware is not only a better option for the environment when you’re traveling and constantly getting takeout, but it’s so easy to collapse and fit nicely into your pack. Most of them even come with a tiny travel fork and knife, cute and versatile.
- Reusable Water Bottle – Depending on where you’re traveling to and how
suspect the water supply is, I would either recommend the Clearly Filtered water bottle or the Vapur. Clearly Filtered has you covered with safe-to-drink water for over 100 gallons (about 6 months of regular use). Vapur, on the other hand, has only one micro-filter bottle style and the rest are non-filtered, but it is potentially the most compact water bottle I have ever seen. When you’re done using it, it’s deflated and you can easily roll it up and fit it into your pack. It’s all up to personal preference really.
Do you have any favorite travel gear that you would recommend? Any ideas for a good day pack? I’m all ears.
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