Traveling can be expensive. There are times you can choose to save money on essentials and times you should really invest in your gear. No one wants to keep buying the same items for trips just because they can’t hold up to the wear and tear of traveling. You want to invest in high quality items that will last over time.
Here is a list of our top 10 travel essentials that are worth spending a little more money on.
We cannot count how many suitcases and bags we have gone through over the years. And yes, there is a big difference between a $20 piece of luggage and a $250+ piece of luggage.
We have been those people running for a train and a wheel falls off one of our bags and we end up just dragging our bag on the ground. There have been holes that appear in our bags and zippers that tear and eventually, you come to realize that it’s worth the investment for an upgrade.
We all are tough on luggage and you need a bag that can withstand the rigors of travel.
Whether you choose the route of traditional suitcase or a backpacking pack, it is worth spending more for quality. We chose to use backpacks for our travels, as they made more sense for our purpose. Dax used the Men’s REI Crestrail 70 (since discontinued — High Sierra makes a nice alternative pack) and Laura used the Women’s’ Osprey Ariel 65.
2. Day Bag
This item is often overlooked as an essential in packing for a trip. Many people end up using their purse or any other bag that they have handy and by the end of the day your back and/or shoulders hurt. Invest in something that is made to spend a day on your back. You want something that can hold all of your essentials and feel comfortable at the same time.
We use the Deuter Speed Lite series bags for our day trips. They come in various sizes, depending on if you are a light packer or need more space in your bag.
Usually when you’re traveling you spend long days on your feet. Whether it’s a day spent traveling through airports or a day exploring ancient ruins, you’ll want something comfortable on your feet! You’ll also want something appropriate for the activity that you are doing. For example, if you’re walking around a city you probably won’t want to be wearing your big heavy hiking boots.
Dax wears his ultra-comfortable Nike LunarGlide running shoes most days of travel and Laura wears her Lems shoes. Lems are lightweight shoes to pack, however, if you don’t like low profile shoes, these might not be for you.
4. Multi-Purpose Jacket
When traveling you want to carry as little weight as possible. At the same time, you want a jacket that will keep you both warm and dry. Finding the right balance can be tricky. We prefer down jackets that check all these boxes. They are light weight, plenty warm, and extremely packable. The greatest feature we found is that you can use them as travel pillows!
Laura uses the BCBG Women’s Packable Jacket on our travels. It’s not as water resistant as she would like, but it is very warm and doubles as a great travel pillow!
A men’s version can be seen here.
A good camera can make a difference when traveling. We have traveled using only our iPhones and depending on what we are doing, that may be enough. But if you want high-quality pictures and video of your trip, you’ll want a high-quality camera. What better way to capture the memories from your vacation than by having a camera with a lens that actually zooms in and can take that picture you could have never taken with your phone.
We use two cameras on our trips, a Nikon D7200 and a Sony Cybershot. We love both of our cameras. The Nikon takes gorgeous photos (and we are not photographers) and the Sony captures great video, especially underwater!
6. Portable Charger
This day in age, we all carry electronics around with us all of the time. If you have long days of traveling, this sometimes means that you may never be close to an outlet. There are a lot of cheap portable chargers out there — you may have even got one for free as a promotional item. However, it’s worth the money to invest in a portable charger that holds a large battery charge.
We traveled with a portable charger that had 15,000mAh, and anything that size or larger will be perfect for your travels. Prices have come down since our purchase, and you can get a 26,800mAh Anker charger for $60. Well worth the investment for peace of mind when traveling.
Traveling with regular books or even a laptop can be heavy and cumbersome. A great alternative is to invest in either a tablet or an eReader. This expense is worth it as you can have thousands of books at your fingertips with an eReader like Kindle. You can now even borrow ebooks from your local library!
Be careful with these items and consider investing in a proper cover for your eReader or tablet. Laura cracked the screen of her Kindle on the seat belt of the first plane ride we took!
8. Noise Canceling Headphones
Ever been on a noisy plane with loud engines, babies crying, and people talking? What if we told you a good pair of noise canceling headphones could drown that noise out — almost entirely! These things are truly worth their weight in gold for travelers. You never realize how much tension you carry when there is a lot of noise pollution and you have no way to escape it. With these headphones you’ll forget that you’re even on a plane. You can listen to your music or watch movies without the background distractions and stress.
Dax uses Bose Noise Canceling Headphones and loves them!
Nowadays, everywhere you go you are expected to have a smart phone. Having a good smart phone that you can use internationally makes a big difference. We use our unlocked iPhones abroad and have found that there are so many capabilities that make travel simpler. Check out our article on How to Use Your iPhone Abroad.
10. Passports and Document Holder
There are many articles out there that say you should carry passports and credit cards in RFID-Blocking cases. This is to protect you from unwanted scans. We prefer to have a high quality travel organizer that has everything in one place (whether or not it’s RFID), that is durable and can easily slip in and out of a carry-on.
What are some of your favorite travel essentials?
We’re always looking to travel smarter and would appreciate any suggestions!
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