Looking for awesome new travel gear before your next trip? Over the years we’ve come across some really useful travel books, clothes, and equipment.
To make it easy for you to get ready for your next adventure we’ve made this carefully curated list of our personal favorites.
These are the top items that have made our travels easier, cheaper, safer, or just more fun! We’ll add to the list as we discover great new travel gear to share with you.
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Lonely Planet guidebooks – We have used Lonely Planet guidebooks since our first international trip together, to Italy in 2004. Right now we’re finding the Lonely Planet Thailand and Southeast Asia on a Shoestring guides very helpful.
Rough Guide guidebooks – Recently we’ve been supplementing our Lonely Planet books with Rough Guides as well. We usually just get whichever one has been published more recently. The Rough Guide to the Philippines was great for our recent adventures there.
The 4-Hour Workweek – Matt read this book over the winter of 2013-2014 and it was a major inspiration for our current long term travel adventure. Tired of the grind? Then check out this book. It’s an engaging and entertaining read and at the very least has some awesome tips for finding more time in your regular routine.
Travel Gadgets and Accessories
eBags Packing Cubes – We are new converts to these organizational miracles. We used to waste so much time rummaging through our bags to find the one thing we needed. No more! We have a variety of sizes and colors, with each family member assigned a color. Need Jasper’s t-shirt? No problem, just look in the big green packing cube.
Double Loop Cable Lock – These locks are small and light, with flexible cable loops. One loop goes through your zipper pulls and the other around a suitcase handle. This prevents someone from breaking into the zipper, then sliding the locked zipper pulls back and forth to re-close the zipper and hide the forced entry. They can also be used to lock your bag to something else, like a luggage rack.
Source Hydration System – There are tons of these on the market, but we love our 3 liter reservoirs from Source. They’ve been durable through several adventures, they have a really easy to use wide mouth opening for filling and cleaning, and the bite valve mechanism is great (it’s survived toddler chewing where others have not).
Camelbak Kids Water Bottles – We got these as a gift from our awesome friends Zack and Niki after mentioning we were looking for good kids water bottles. They are indeed excellent and have held up beautifully to the rigors of being tossed, dropped, thrown, and chewed on.
Bubble Bum Car Booster Seats – Inflatable booster seats that are super easy to install and take out of cars. They inflate with just a few breaths and then pack up small in an included pouch. They help position the seat belt to fit properly on kids. We used ours a ton recently when driving around California. Keep in mind that they use the car’s seat belt so if there’s no belt they won’t work (like in a tuk tuk in Thailand).
Puddle Jumper Life Jacket – While not specifically travel gear, these have been perfect for us while traveling. Having spent the better part of two months on the beach in the Philippines these were indispensable. The twins are just learning to swim and these give them great confidence. They are also great for boats, and fit much better than even the smallest life jackets typically available on board.
prAna Convertible Pants – These pants are amazing. Matt wears his nearly every day, mostly in the zipped off “shorts mode”. Kat has 2 pairs and wears one or the other just about every day too. They are lightweight, they stretch in every direction, and there are tons of pockets including some with zippers. Super easy to wash, you can scrub them in the sink at night, wring them out, and they’ll be ready to wear in the morning. They also look like regular pants, which can be hard to accomplish with a lot of travel clothing. We have the men’s Zion, and women’s Monarch and Sage (not currently available).
KEEN Sandals – We love our KEENs. These shoes do it all. We’ve hiked to and from the Underground River in Palawan, Philippines with these sandals (over 10 km through hilly, muddy jungle) and also worn them snorkeling to protect our feet from sharp reefs. They’re easy to wash and come in a huge variety of colors and styles. We have the men’s Newport H2 and women’s Whisper.
Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack – New to our luggage arsenal is this great internal frame backpack. It’s big enough for everything one person needs, but still passes as a carry-on (at least the small/medium size, which fits 5′-9″ Matt just fine). There are a couple of handles sewn on the outside which is super convenient getting in and out of taxis, tuk tuks, buses, etc. It also features a ton of pockets so you can organize to your heart’s content. We compared it with many other options and the value for the price just couldn’t be beat. It’s held up great during it’s first couple of months of heavy use.
Victorinox Werks Rolling Luggage – These bags have been the mainstay for us for years. Ours are a generation or two older than the current models but they’ve held up to dozens of flights worth of abuse. They’re lighter than most rolling bags their size which is great with strict airline weight limits for both carry-ons and checked bags. From rolling through city streets with toddlers strapped into carseats strapped onto the suitcases, to rolling through the sandy path behind Boracay’s White Beach, these bags have met every challenge we’ve thrown at them. Werks bags come with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects as well as damage caused by common carriers (like airlines).
GoPro Hero 4 Silver – The ultimate travel camera, we absolutely love our GoPro. Being able to bring it to the beach, into the water, and basically anywhere is huge. The wide angle lens captures the world the way you see it, making it easier to bring home those amazing travel memories. It takes super high resolution photos and videos. If we had to choose just one camera to travel with, it would be this one.
Canon Rebel Digital SLR – Luckily we don’t have to choose just one camera and the SLR is a great complement to the GoPro. It gives more creative control by being able to blur the background and shoot effectively in low light. There are many shots that are simply not possible with a GoPro, iPhone, or other point and shoot camera. We’ve toted the XT model with us since 2006 and it’s held up to various drops, kicks, and bumps (the link is to the current entry level model which we haven’t used, but would expect to outperform our nearly decade-old version which we still love). We’re still searching for the ideal travel lens solution. The Sigma 18-250 is probably the closest we’ve come so far, with it’s giant range and excellent image quality, though it met an early end after some typical travel abuse.
Kids Education and Entertainment
- Unless otherwise indicated we’ve used all of these items ourselves.
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