My Favorite Travel Gear in 2016

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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:

Packing

Here are some of my favorite packing-related items right now:

Osprey Farpoint 40 bag

Osprey Farpoint 40

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!

Packing cubes

Packing cubes

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

Toiletry kit

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

Mansov 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.

Dry bag

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!

Clothing

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:

Mosquito jacket

Mosquito jacket

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 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.

ExOfficio undies

Exofficio undies

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.

Electronics

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:

Olympus camera

Olympus

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

Belkin 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!

Skross adapter

Skross adapter

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

ZeroLemon 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.)

Misc.

And now a few things that don't fit anywhere else on the list:

Micro fiber towel

Travel 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

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?

A LensPen

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?

 

Best travel gear of 2016

 

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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22 Comments on “My Favorite Travel Gear in 2016

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  1. LOVE!! Going on a bunch of trips this year and excited to try out some of your suggestions! Thanks so much!

      You’ll have to let me know if you find any new favorites!

    Good tips.
    Specially the day pack advice.
    I can relate to some of this advice’s. I also plan to downgrade my osprey Farpoint 55 to something smaller. Although the 55 is a great bag but is just a bit bulky and heavy when fully loaded.
    Does the osprey 40 come with a day pack?.
    BR.

      No, the Farpoint 40 does not come with a day pack since it itself is a carry-on bag. That’s where a packable day pack would come in handy!

    I really like some of these tips! My backpack is in need of changing so I’m going to investigate if the Osprey 60L would serve my need. The mosquito jacket is definitely an investment which I’ll make for the sake of my body. Microfiber towels might seem logic, but I don’t have them yet, so I’ll get them for my next trip as well.

    I’m still looking for the perfect easy-packable beach towel, in case you (or anyone) has any tips!

      The Osprey Sojourn is a GREAT bag. I only use it as rolling luggage, but there are optional backpack straps that come with it, too. (And it’s also $80 off on Amazon right now! http://amzn.to/29FdXAJ)

      As for a good travel beach towel, I don’t have a good recommendation there. Though you certainly could use a microfiber towel!

      I use a Turkish bathtowel as a beach towel. They are cute, light, dry quickly, and all cotton. They also double as a shawl or blanket. You could also use a sarong. Takes up almost no space and you can wrap it around you after a shower or use as a sheet.

    Just ordered a few of your tips for my upcoming trip to Africa. Can’t wait for them to arrive and try them out. Have a few more trips planned that they should all come in handy for. Thanks for the links!

      Nice! Africa is awesome – I used many of these things for my own trip there not long ago! (And when I eventually write my packing post for overlanding Africa, you’ll find quite a few of these items repeated there!)

    I really want to get an Osprey bag for a carry on! I’m going on a trip across Canada in 2 weeks, and still don’t have a carry on bag (I’m only using a carry on).
    It is so hard to pick just one bag though when they all look so great!

      I definitely feel your pain! I always agonize foreverrrrrr over things like luggage. I really like the Osprey Farpoint, though. It holds more than enough stuff, is really well made (my very first Osprey bag still shows basically no wear even though I’ve been traveling with it for more than 2 years now), and is a very comfortable backpack, to boot.

    I honestly think the reason I bought packing cubes last year was because I read a review on your blog about them. They have seriously changed my life. I’ve used them for two trips while using my backpacking pack and they made packing for Scotland and England weather a breeze!

      That’s awesome to hear, Amanda! They don’t work for everyone, but I personally never travel without them!

    I recently used travel cubes for the first time for a month in Japan, and they definitely made things easier to find. That toiletry bag might be the next thing on my list – at the moment I just shove everything into a carrier bag and have to take it all out to find that tiny bottle right at the bottom!

      Yessss another packing cube convert! 😉

    Amanda, good stuff. Can you use the power strip and the voltage adapter together to recharge more things overseas? I have an unnatural fear of blowing out my phone or camera battery, etc. I like the external battery pack, too. Thanks for the very practical, helpful suggestions!

      Hey Amy! Yes, you can use the Belkin strip and Skross adapter together. But the Skross adapter is NOT a voltage adapter – it only converts the plug to fit the correct wall outlet. The good news is that almost all electronics these days (including phones, cameras, laptops, tablets, etc.) are automatically made to handle worldwide voltages. So you don’t have to worry about converting voltage with any of those things. (The only gadgets you do have to double-check are things like hair dryers and straighteners – some are dual voltage these days, but many are not.)

    Great list! It’s always nice to see what fellow travelers consider a ‘must’ and several of the things you mentioned are also my ‘musts’!

    I’m curious…did you try charging the solar charger by the sun alone? I’m curious how long it takes. I haven’t had much luck with solar chargers…

      I did not try the solar charger using the sun for juice, no. No clue how well it would work – it seems like from the manual that it would take a while, though, and would probably only be useful if you were in a serious emergency and just needed a little juice for your phone.

    You have a great assortment of travel gear and accessories. I love to use Teva or similar sandals. The style of travel adapter you show is excellent (albeit illegal to sell in Australia and New Zealand). A travel towel is important and I like the extra large Travel Ideology travel towels.

      Why would the Skross adapter be illegal in Australia and New Zealand? First I’ve heard of that!

    These are really very simple yet important accessories while travelling. Well can say i have just 1 from all these 🙁 .. Need to stock up all for my next adventure for sure. Dry bag…getting it today…so useful. I damaged one camera at beach 🙁

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