In domestic life you might need a new waffle iron, a lawn mower, or a snuggie. As a world traveler your needs are a bit more specific and usually smaller.
Throughout our years of travel we have found several bits, bobs, and gadgets that make our lives easier. When everything you own (and need to survive) is carried in a bag or two slung across your shoulder, you tend to become pickier with your possessions.
In the travelers gift guide below you won’t find neck pillows and 62-in-one multitools, but you will find many secret items that people forget to mention. These are all the little things that make extended travel easier for the vagabond in all of us.
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Travel Electronics and Accessories:
Mophie Powerstation 4,000mAh Cell Phone Charger
One of the greatest accessories I use (on an almost daily basis) is my quick charging external battery. While traveling you can put your cell phone in “airplane” mode but you will probably still be taking lots of photos and videos that drain your battery.
With an external battery you can keep your phone topped up to full or quickly recharge other usb powered devices in a flash. Practically invaluable for gear heads or anyone with a smart phone these days.
International Travel Power Plug Adapter and USB Charger
Do not leave home without one. Period. Your electronics simply won’t work without this. It’s easy to forget that elsewhere around the world both the voltage and plugs used are different.
Some electronics like the Apple Mac Book Pro have an international plug adapter kit, but with a dedicated universal adapter you can carry just one plug that will work for almost any device.
It’s important to check whether your electronic device can handle the higher voltage that many EU and Asian countries use though, as not all plug adapters have voltage regulators or converters. Using the wrong voltage on an incompatible device could fry it… or in the case of Ashley’s curling iron, super heat it and melt your hair right off!
Universal Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer
Gear heads, or basically anyone in this new digital age, might balk at the shear amount of electronic accessories and cables that are require for all the different gadgets they use during their world travels.
It seems that each gadget has it’s own cable or adapter, and random bits appear over time that are invaluable to the successful operation of all your phones, tablets, e-readers, cameras, hard drives, and laptops.
Even if you are trying to travel very light, a certain amount of gadgetry will take up room in your pack. Short of having a dedicated pocket just for all the little random items, a simple and small organizer like this is needed. 10/10, can recommend.
Amazon Kindle ebook Reader
I read constantly. I consider it important for my ongoing education, improvement, and entertainment. Have some down-time during a layover? Read a book. Stuck in a queue? read a book!
Unless you are ok with picking up a paper back, reading it, then discarding it, an e-reader is a must for traveling light while still engaging in arguably one of the most important past-times that people of all ages should participate in.
The Kindle Paperwhite’s screen is easily readable in direct sun light (1000% better than any cell phone or computer screen). And as an added bonus, models with a back-light can be read in bed with the lights out. Plus you can bring 1000’s of books with you on the road.
Can you tell I am a reading advocate?
Toiletries and Personal Care:
Hanging Toiletry Bag Travel Kit Organizer
Perhaps you’ve noticed a bit of a trend here; small, simple objects that do many things. A toiletry bag is no exception. It can carry your razor and shave cream, your toothbrush, your hair product, your shower accessories, and if you ladies opt for it during your travels, your make-up too.
In the past I bought a fancy leather dopp kit in the old fashioned style. But as it turns out it was too rigid and bulky to go with the carry-on only style of travel that we are doing now.
Instead I am using a small travel toiletry bag that is soft and collapsible. It will essentially take on the shape of all the items inside of it and only take up as much room as it needs.
When picking out a toiletry travel organizer, challenge yourself to take less. Don’t pack full bottles of shampoo or pressurized cans of shave cream. Think minimalist and embrace the tao of travel.
TSA OK Carry On Liquids Travel Bottles
The TSA restricts carry on liquid containers to just over 3 ounces. This can be inhibiting to taking your favorite shampoo or body lotion. While it’s almost trivial to buy a “travel size” shampoo or soap product at almost any grocery store across the US, often your favorites are not available in the appropriate size.
A small and reusable bottle is a great (though not completely necessary) addition to your bathroom bag.
Travel Hack! Yoink some shampoo, soap, or lotion from whatever place you stay at. If in doubt, ask your host if it’s ok that you refill your soap from their supply.
Microfiber Travel Towel
In The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy they famously recommend a 42″ travel towel as the #1 travel accessory. And while it’s true that it can be used is a variety of ways I usually just use it to dry off.
Because it is a single use item, I don’t want it taking up too much space so I pick microfiber. I typically hand squeegee myself off, then use the microfiber towel to pat down all the areas that don’t air-dry out easily.
Unless you feel like you need it large enough to wrap around you for privacy, I would opt for a smaller towel that is just big enough. Depending on the climate and how well you squeegee yourself, it might take more than a day to dry though.
Miscellaneous Travel Accessory Recommendations
Organizational Luggage Packing Cubes
This is a recent addition to my travel gear. In the past I just threw everything into one big hiking backpack. After a while though it became a jumbled mess. I would end up “organizing” it in piles on the floor wherever I stayed.
Organizational luggage packing cubes have been a god-send. I put my socks and underwear in one small cube, shirts in another, pants in yet another. Then, once we get to our destination I can take them out and stack them or put them in a drawer for easy organization and quick re-packing later on.
Save yourself the headache in packing later by staying organized throughout the entirety of your stay.
Sleep Eye Mask and Ear Plugs
As much as possible during travel I try to optimize my sleep schedule to manage jet lag and optimize REM sleep cycles.
Blah blah blah, what YOU need to know now is that a sleep mask and ear-plugs can be instrumental in helping you catch a few winks. If you are on a noisy plane or amid a bustling community hostel room, a sleep mask and ear plugs can go a long way to ensuring you get the sleep you need to go out and adventure successfully.
Travel hack! Get a free white noise generator on your smart phone and use it with headphones to block out noise while you doze off.
Small Travel Entertainment Card Game: Love Letter
But traveling with a full sized board game is cumbersome and impractical. Not only that, but most board games are complicated and take a while to explain; not an ideal situation when there may already be a language barrier.
Simple playing card games or this particular one called Love Letter are perfect for travel and are a fantastic way to break the ice or engage more deeply with a recently acquired acquaintance.