Even though I try to keep the list of products I use and love updated on my Packing Lists page, at least once I year I like to highlight all my current packing go-tos. From bags to organizational tools to my favorite tech gear, here's a look at what I'm loving in 2016:
Here are some of my favorite packing-related items right now:
Osprey Farpoint 40 bag
I've been traveling for the past couple of years with a 60-liter Osprey Sojourn, which is a convertible rolling backpack that's the perfect size for a lot of trips. But the downside is that's it's too big to act as a carry-on for shorter trips. So I recently added to my (embarrassingly large) collection of bags by purchasing the Osprey Farpoint 40, which is a great, laptop-friendly backpack that IS carry-on friendly. The backpack has three zippered compartments, a padded laptop sleeve, and a comfortable hip belt. This has quickly become my new go-to bag!
I'm a huge fan of packing cubes; in fact, they appear in just about every post I write about my favorite travel gear – because yes, I swear by them that much! I use packing cubes to organize whatever bag I'm taking, be it a carry-on-sized backpack or a larger suitcase. I usually use about 3 cubes: one for tops, one for bottoms, and one for miscellaneous things like sweaters or dresses. This makes picking out an outfit SO much easier, since you don't have to dig through every article of clothing in your bag.
Hanging toiletry bag
In the past, I used to just use a plastic bag for my toiletries. But more recently I've found a dedicated toiletry bag that you can easily hang on the back of a door or on a towel bar to be much more useful. Not only does it help you be a little more organized when packing all those little 3-ounce bottles, but it also makes it much easier to get to them once you're in your destination.
Packable day pack
Having carry-on-sized luggage is great, but sometimes you need something even smaller for a day trip or active tour. I have a decent-sized purse that I take with me when I travel, but it's not appropriate for things like boat tours or short hikes where I might need to carry a bottle of water, sunscreen, an extra layer, and maybe a snack in addition to my camera gear. Earlier this year, I bought a lightweight day pack that takes up virtually no room in my luggage, and yet is perfect for the times when my purse just won't cut it.
You’d be surprised how handy a dry bag can be on your travels. I’ve used mind for kayaking trips, rainy hikes, and even a boat trip where we had to swim to a beach (I was the only one able to bring a real camera with me!). I never go on a trip without my dry bag – because when you spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment, you want to make sure you can keep it dry!
I don't own a ton of travel-specific clothing (I tend to just bring comfy things that I like to wear), but I do have a few items that I can't go without:
I hate mosquitos. And you probably hate mosquitos, too. When I decided I was going to visit places like the Ecuadorian Amazon and Southern Africa in 2016, I knew I was going to have to get serious about preventing mosquito bites, especially considering all the scary diseases you can get from them. I bought an ExOfficio Bugsaway Damselfly jacket back in February, and it's been my go-to defense against mosquitos ever since. And I'm happy to report that I haven't gotten one bite while wearing it!
Teva Verra sandals
Teva makes some great outdoor sandals that are perfect for traveling. I used to swear by my Teva Tirras for a long time, but this year I picked up some Teva Verra sandals and am in love all over again. These are lightweight and super comfortable for walking on all sorts of terrain, AND they're not bad-looking, either. So far, my Verra sandals have been to Africa and Europe, and have done some hiking in Ohio, too.
It might seem a bit weird to talk about underwear on a travel gear list, but hear me out. ExOfficio makes great underwear that are both breathable and quick-drying, making them perfect for traveling. I love these Give-n-Go bikini briefs so much, in fact, that I wear them all the time at home, too. (And they make them for men, as well!)
Speakeasy hidden pocket travel scarf
I never go anywhere without a scarf (seriously – one is ALWAYS in my bag, no matter where I'm going), and if you're a big fan of both form AND function, then Speakeasy's hidden pocket travel scarves are for you. These infinity scarves not only come in soft fabrics and cute patterns, but also come complete with a hidden zippered pocket that's the perfect size for a passport, credit card(s), and some cash. These are perfect for travel days – just put everything important in your scarf, wear it like normal, and skip the part where you worry about your essentials getting stolen in-transit.
Curious about what kind of tech gear travels with me on a regular basis? Here's a peek at a few of my must-haves:
My go-to camera these days is my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with a 12-40mm Pro lens. I love this camera for a lot of reasons (it takes amazing photos and good-quality video, too), but mostly because it's small enough to fit into my travel purse or day bag. It's also weatherproofed and comes with built-in wifi, which are both huge bonuses for a traveler like me.
Belkin power strip
With 3 regular (US) outlets and 2 USB outlets, I never travel with out this Belkin surge protector. It doesn't take up a ton of room in my bag, but really comes in handy when I find myself in a hotel room or hostel with too few wall outlets. This is also one of the most affordable items on this list, so there's really no reason not to have one!
When you’re traveling to multiple countries/continents in the same trip, keeping all those outlet adapters organized can be a pain. Enter this awesome little adapter from Skross. It will work in all corners of the world, AND comes with built-in USB ports.
ZeroLemon external battery
When you use your smartphone, GoPro, and other electronics a lot, you run through a lot of battery. I’ve started traveling with a portable charger to make sure I don’t run out of juice in the middle of the day, and this ZeroLemon one is the king of all external batteries. I bought the 20,000mAh SolarJuice for my overland trip in Africa and did not have to re-charge it once in three weeks. You can also get a little extra juice from the sun with this power block, meaning it would be great for camping or hiking, too.
(Alternatively, if you're looking for a power block that's a bit smaller and not quite so beefy, I also like this one from EasyAcc.)
And now a few things that don't fit anywhere else on the list:
Micro fiber towel
Traveling with a quick-dry towel is a must for most travelers (me included). And these microfiber ones from EcoDept are my favorites out of all the travel towels I've tried. You can get them in full-towel sizes, and they're soft and just as quick-drying as they promise to be.
A laundry bag
Lastly, it's always nice to be able to keep all those dirty clothes away from the clean ones in your backpack or suitcase. And what better way to do it than with a fun travel-themed laundry bag?
Whether you have a fancy DSLR camera or a small point and shoot, keeping the lens clean is something every camera owner should be concerned with. I never travel without my LensPen for this exact reason. It's perfect for removing dirt, dust, sand, and those annoying fingerprints while leaving your lens scratch-free. It's also the size of a marker, meaning you don't have to worry about it taking up extra room in your bag.
Do YOU have any favorite travel gear right now?