Six months on the road has taught us a lot about traveling! Specifically some awesome products that have made our nomadic lifestyle even more comfortable. We don’t have many luxuries, so the few things we do have need to count!
Here’s a list of our favorite travel gear we use regularly that make our lives easier and more organized. We’ve included links to the products on Amazon or the brand sites, but we can’t stress enough searching locally first. Always better to support your local small-businesses!
We use these almost daily. Since they’re water resistant, we know they’ll hold up whether we go hiking or are simply bringing our laundry down the street. They fold up small so on travel days we can easily fit them inside our hiking bags.
Nick bought this bag while he was still working for Enerpac. He used this to carry his heavy catalogs and computer across the country. Now we use it to carry our computers, travel yoga mats, snacks and all the rest. It’s been 3 years, and this bag is still good as new. We love that it has so many different compartments to keep things organized, and is easy to lock up.
Close to 10 years ago now I purchased an Osprey hiking pack. This bag has gone with me across Europe, Egypt, Tenerife, Curaçao, and Panama, all before we even began this trip. It is still holding up extraordinarily well!
Last year at Pack & Paddle’s annual Pint Night, I won another Osprey pack. These two bags are what we have thrown all our gear in. We have truly put them to the test, and the only things “wrong” with them are either due to age (for Nick’s at least) and rough handling from airport workers (even so, it’s only one small broken buckle).
These bags are fantastic for what we’re doing. We’re able to throw these on our backs, buckle them up high on our waists to keep the weight off our shoulders, and haul them for miles comfortably. They weigh on average about 13 kg stuffed to the max, which helps us stay under weight for most checked luggage regulations.
Although these bags are treating us very well, we know in the future we want to upgrade to Douchebags.
They are also a reflection of what our future travels will look like. Right now as we're backpacking, Osprey Packs are the smartest route. In the future, we won't necessarily be hopping from place to place as much, spending more time in each destination.
Douchebags are definitely a jump in price and luxury, which is why it’ll be a future present to ourselves! If you’re looking to invest in excellent quality, durability and ease, we have seen that these are the way to go. You can find them on Amazon, but the selection is scarce and insanely higher in price. Best to go to their website.
Packing cubes are such a game changer. We learned about this from my best friend and her boyfriend who have been traveling for the past 4 years.
Coming in different sizes, these cubes allow you to organize your bag efficiently. There have been a few times we’ve just thrown our stuff in without really utilizing them (*cough, lazy, cough*). It’s amazing how we can barely fit everything in without them!
These are not your ‘90’s kid fanny packs! We got these as a wedding gift from some fellow traveler friends. Surprisingly, these have really come in handy!
Some places we’ve gone we’ve been warned against wearing any purses or backpacks due to snatchings and muggings. These fanny packs are more like a belt, so we can stealthily keep our valuables close to ourselves. Unintended bonus, when Nick’s pants started to get too loose, it doubled as a belt!
Really though, Mum's Memory fanny packs are awesome. Water resistant, small, durable and stretchy. They expand to be able to hold an entire water bottle!
TSA Locks & Security Cable
I had never traveled with locks or a cable before, and I’m kicking myself for not getting these sooner! Obviously it adds a safety aspect, but I appreciate the peace of mind it provides.
For example, when we hiked down to Klingking Beach on Nusa Penida, we made the mistake of bringing my fully-packed camera bag. It was so heavy it became dangerous to bring it down with us. We ditched it on the trail, locking it with a cable around a post, and felt completely fine continuing on without it.
Whether you’re staying in Airbnb’s, guest houses, hotels or hostels, there is absolutely no guarantee your valuables are safe. Having at least one bag that you can lock your computer, camera, passports, whatever in and secure it to a piece of furniture is simply good practice.
Additionally, if you’re staying in hostels, you won’t always be provided with a lock, or it may cost money to rent one. Skip the maybe, get one for yourself.
Nick hit the lottery here. We also bought these at Pack & Paddle in Lafayette. When we get back, he’ll probably buy a few more pairs. He has the Renegade Pants, which are particularly fantastic for travel. The pockets are all conveniently placed, including zippered pockets that add a little extra security for money & keys.
Although made of synthetic materials, they don’t make that ‘swish’ sound as you walk. They are hydrophobic, keeping you warm in all weather conditions, and have a very comfortable stretch.
They also have women's wear but I can’t speak to it as I don’t own any. If Nick’s pants are any indication, though, I’m sure they’re awesome.
Call your local outdoor wear shop to see if they carry the brand. Options are limited on Amazon.com, so we recommend checking out their website if online shopping is your only option!
These shoes are dope. Although pricey, investing in your feet when you’re going to walk around the world was one of the smartest things we’ve done. On Cloud Cloudflyers, plus the insoles we purchased with them, have enabled us to walk for 10+ hours straight and still feel great. We didn’t even get those new shoe blisters! Really couldn’t speak more highly of them.
We even got some waterproofing spray while in Czech to make them that much better for hiking! Speaking of which, I found these shoes were perfect for trekking. Excellent grip and support, perfect for all terrain!
Nick’s flip-flops were unintentionally one of the best purchases. Chaco is an amazing company creating durable, supportive shoes. We both have flat feet, but Nick is always so much better off on leisurely walking days because his Chacos have arch support whereas flip-flops do not.
Nick's Chacos have held up in all matters of abuse. He’s taken them into the ocean, up mountains, through rivers and waterfalls, travel days when we’re walking miles, you name it!
He’s given them some extra stitching to reinforce the strap after taking them into the water a few too many times, but other than that they’re still good as new 3 years later.
This is an eco-friendly habit to get into, and the best way to stretch your dollar. We bought 3 bars of J.R. Liggett’s Coconut & Argan Oil Shampoo Bar. Six months into our trip, I only just opened the 3rd bar! They’re easy to pack, wrapped in paper, and made of natural ingredients.
Now, some people don’t like these specific bars because it leaves a waxy residue in their hair, but for my curly hair it compliments it well. There are tons of different options for shampoo bars, so I recommend trying out a few to see what you like. There is a bit of a transition period, so use the whole bar before you decide whether you like it or not. We have a little cloth bag from another purchase that we pack it during travel.
Laundry Detergent Bar
We had not seen this before Tanzania, but it’s come in handy. You can get detergent anywhere, but we like these bars because powder tends to leak out and generally be very messy! These bars are great for doing small loads by hand when access to a washing machine is difficult.
Again, these are generally more eco-friendly since there are more options with natural ingredients! We bought some locally-made detergent in Tanzania, but here is a link to a brand with great reviews.
Almost every country you go, you can find standard replacement razor blades. Why not skip the plastic? These are again one of the small switches you can make that will allow you to be more eco-friendly, not to mention get a way closer shave than standard disposable razors.
I got one of these right before we left for our trip and I’m never going back. There is a learning curve, and which type you get is certainly a very personal choice. The benefits of menstrual cups are significant; here are some of the reasons I made the switch:
- Tampons are known to have many unnatural chemicals. Menstrual cups help maintain proper pH and healthy bacteria.
- Tampons are expensive
- There is no guarantee that I will be in an area where I can easily purchase period products
- Creates unnecessary waste
- With menstrual cups, there is no risk of TSS
- Can be worn for up to 12 hours, making travel days on my period a breeze
- Can be used regardless of “flow”. No need for different types of tampons.
- Small and easy to pack
- Easy to clean and maintain
I know for some this can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it is well worth it. In the 6 months of using these I have saved at least $30, feel way more comfortable during my periods (which lets be honest, is the real selling point here!), I have way more freedom, I feel happier knowing I’m minimizing my carbon footprint and being healthier.
Below is a link to one of the cups I have; I initially bought a couple to see which one I liked the best. This collapsible one is the easiest to travel with!
Unfortunately, having your own reusable water bottles don’t do much good when you don’t have access to good, clean water. We’ve had to purchase water all across South East Asia because tap water is never good to drink and not all the places we've stayed provide fresh drinking water.
Fortunately there is an awesome solution! Our friends Angelica and Dimitris just told us about Steripens, a pen that uses UV rays to sterilize water. It can sterilize a full liter of water in just 90 seconds!
Angelica told us that they have only purchased 2 bottles of water their entire four month tour in South East Asia. They're able to fill their water bottles right from the tap, sterilize them thoroughly and be on their merry way!
Having a drone is such a great way to differently explore the places you travel. I particularly love this drone for many reasons:
- Compact, this drone folds up to the size of a water bottle and only weighs 1.62lbs (734g)!
- Records video in 4K. Anything more our eyes can’t process or differentiate, so this is really top of the line!
- It has gimbal technology. Usually drones use Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) which crops the video, diminishing the quality. Also with EIS, if you pan too quickly it will create black edging. With the gimbal, the camera is able to maintain its quality and has amazing stability!
- We can fly it for a good 27 minutes on a single charge
- This little drone packs some power! I can fly it 4.3miles (7km) away! To maneuver it, I connect the controller right to my phone and open the app.
- Provides a cool perspective we wouldn't otherwise get!
Before you travel be sure to look up what the drone laws are in that area. Sometimes permits are required, and applications must be done weeks ahead of time. You can look up worldwide drone laws and more online at UAV Coach.
For more information about the DJI Series, click here.
Health & More
Coriander Seed Oil
Traveling and stomach problems go together like peanut butter & jelly. It’s an unfortunate reality, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer! Coriander (cilantro) seed oil is a natural antibacterial and antifungal. It can greatly help alleviate any stomach issues. Truly a must if you plan to travel 3rd world country.
The downside of Coriander Seed Oil is that it kills all the bacteria in your gut, not just the bad. Therefore taking some probiotics to keep the good bacteria healthy is very important!
Traveling can do a number to your gut in general. If you are dramatically switching your diet, taking probiotics will help keep you regular.
Collapsible Water Bottles
These were another gift we received for our wedding! These water bottles are awesome. They are collapsible, rolling up into its carabiner making them easy to pack. The carabiner also makes it easy to clip it to whatever bag we’re using! BPA-free, flexible and holds an entire liter.
One caution, since they are a flexible plastic, they don’t need to displace air. This seems obvious, but that didn’t stop us from choking on water a few times at first.
Bamboo cutlery is not only a great way to cut down your waste, but is super helpful. When traveling you won’t always have access to silverware, so having your own can be very helpful. What’s great is these can be used even when you get home!
The link here includes your own reusable straws plus a nifty little pouch to carry it all in.
Our friend, Renee, is currently traveling around with these for us until we can meet up in Ho Chi Minh City in two weeks!
These cups are going to be fantastic to have. There have been so many times that we wanted our own cups. Whether we wanted to save some plastic when we bought a coffee, or we needed cups after buying a bottle of wine for an impromptu picnic (this happens more often than not).
Easy to carry since they’re collapsible, they have caps because we’re messy as hell, AND we get to feel good about reducing waste. Thanks Renee for bringing them halfway around the world for us!
Travel Yoga Mat
As a yoga instructor, it's extremely important to me to maintain a strong personal practice as I travel. These foldable mats are so light, and a much better solution than a standard mat!
Personally, I don't believe they're the stickiest mat, but I have a friend who claims they are stickier than her LifeForm mat. Regardless, we also travel with a mat towel, which more than makes up for it!
Yoga Mat Towel
These are surprisingly versatile. The obvious reason for buying it was for working out and keeping us from slipping on our yoga mats. But they've also come in handy if there are no towels provided by our accommodations or for putting on a hostel bunk to create a little nook.
As we continue to learn from our travels we’ll keep updating our list! We hope this will give you a great start, or give more ideas to you veteran travelers.
An extra little plug, if you purchase any of these items through these Amazon.com links, we will receive a *very small* commission. This will allow us to continue to update our travel products and continue our travels in general. Your support is greatly appreciated!