Whether you are going on a trip around the world for nine months or just taking a short trip and want to make your life easier, I’m going to show you what I found that works and I find essential.
But first, let’s talk about a few things that made sense when I heard about them, but turned out to be items I never used or too “techy” for the purpose they served.
What You Won’t Need
You might come across some of these items on various travel gear lists on the Web. In my experience, they are not necessary.
This is a combination of a fork and spoon, and sometimes a knife too! Unnecessary unless you go camping. You will find utensils everywhere, even if you have to go to a fast food restaurant and “borrow” some plastic ones.
A collapsible bowl
Again, an item that might make sense for camping only.
Headphones are just fine, and you can buy a cheap “splitter” to have two people use the same headphone jack when watching a movie together on a laptop.
Just hang your clothes to dry anywhere.
Such as the “Inka” pen that works in space apparently. But just get the pens you find in the cheapest or most expensive hotel room. The only time you’ll use it is to fill out the immigration form. And worst case scenario, you’ll just borrow one.
A pack towel
This is a highly absorbent towel. Again, an item that makes sense for camping but not for regular trips. I’ve rarely used mine!
A sink stopper
Used to wash clothes in your hotel room, which might happen. But really, anything can be used instead of carrying this!
I sometimes carry a Fenix flashlight, which used to be an essential item! But nowadays the flashlight on a smartphone is good enough for occasional use. Uses for flashlights are many: walking in places with minimal sidewalks (such as in Hawaii) at dusk or evening or night. When I car is coming, I turn on my light, so they see where I am. A strong flashlight is also useful against thieves and stray dogs. Just flash the light in their eyes! I’ve never had to use it for the former, but the latter yes. Anyway, I still travel with a flashlight, but it’s not essential. I recommend this one.
So now that we’ve covered the useless stuff let’s get into the essentials!
Essential Travel Items
Yes, this $300 pair of headphones is essential to any savvy traveler. I use them all the time! They block out ambient noise not only on airplanes but in other situations as well when you want peace and quiet. Watch a movie, or listen to music with them and the plane ride goes by very quick. Check it out here. They now make a wireless version, which is what I would get if I were buying again.
This is a backpack that packs into the tiniest bag you can imagine. I love it so much that I use it as a regular, light-weight bag. It’s perfect to use anywhere you want to carry stuff without the weight. Not used to bring laptops but used for “day trips.” And it takes no space at all. One time I forgot to take it, and I missed it the entire time! Check it out here.
A dry pack for your cell phone and keys
Let’s say you go to the beach (and this WILL happen). What are you going to do with your car keys? Or your phone? Or your cash? You could leave the phone in the car, but you might want to use it to take pictures. You need your keys. Now you’re going swimming. What are you going to do? The most obvious solution is to leave the stuff to a person who stays with you. But what if you both want to go swimming? What if you’re alone?
This is why a dry pack is essential. I’ve used it snorkeling, swimming, and in many other circumstances! Even if your phone is waterproof, like the iPhone 7, I would still feel it wise to keep it in a dry pack, along with other valuables.
Here’s the one that I use for small stuff, but it won’t fit the bigger phones. It does fit an iPhone 5s AND keys.
Note: Don’t pay attention to some of the negative reviews on Amazon. This is the model to get!
These tiny Go-Tubb containers are super useful! I almost never use the larger sizes. But I use the smaller ones all the time. For example, to carry little things such as medication, natural or otherwise (I bring a few aspirins, motion sickness medication — just in case). You can put seasonings in them, supplements and whatnot. Check it out here.
Outlier New Way Shorts
The best shorts ever, for guys at least! On my last trip, I carried three or four pairs of shorts, but I ended up wearing the Outlier ones all the time. They are water resistant, look “normal” and can be used as swimming short. They dry rapidly. Outlier products are expensive and are NEVER on sale, nor available on Amazon. But they are worth it. Only one pair of shorts can last an entire 6-month trip or longer. Check it out here.
Most savvy world travelers travel with only a few shirts made of “tech” fabrics such as merino wool or polyester. Cotton is especially bad in the tropics. Again, I haven’t found the “perfect” shirt yet. There are many companies from which to choose. Here’s an example of a good travel shirt to bring for women and men.
Here’s my thinking on minimalist traveling past the age of 30: Although living in a backpack is cool and trying to get it under 15 pounds is possible, it makes much more sense to travel with a carry-on AND a small backpack. You can roll the carry-on, keeping as much weight as possible off your back. You have more wiggle room in case you want to bring a few extra items. And if you get the right piece of luggage, you can travel the world with it without ever checking in luggage.
My all-time favorite suitcase is made by Briggs and Riley. It’s the Transcend International Carry-On. It fits all international regulations and is just the perfect size. Plus, the quality is top-notch and it’s virtually indestructible. It comes with a lifetime warranty! Check it out on Amazon. This is my favorite model of all.
Computers, Tablets, Etc.
I really don’t have any recommendations here. I use a Macbook Pro, which is fairly light but not the lightest. Maybe one day they’ll make a computer that’s super-powerful but also super light. It’s getting better and better every year. I also have an iPhone 7 Plus, which I love! It’s replaced most other devices. If I’m not going on a trip where I won’t need to work, that’s the only computer item I’ll bring.