My Best Gear For Travel

January 20, 2018   1 Comment »

If you read my blog then you probably like to travel and likely have a trip or two planned for 2018! Remember how Underdog comes in to save the day? Well that’s what this post is all about. As you plan for your upcoming travels in 2018 this post will give you some great ideas on what you should bring with you and what type of gear you’ll need to make your vacation lightweight, simple, and awesome. Isn’t that really the goal of a vacation after all?

I’m not someone who likes a lot of stuff.  I lived out of a suitcase for 11 years so it was imperative that I made gear choices that were light, durable, and necessary.  I don’t like a lot of bells and whistles, and quite frankly most travel stuff is crap and stuff that you don’t even need.  My travel gear list tried to stick to the necessities for the traveler who wants to remain light, adventurous, and simple.

Whether you are shopping for a trip for yourself, or a favorite traveler in your life this gear is what you need to make any trip awesome – even a work trip!  These are all products I have used for various amounts of time as I traveled around the world for the last 11 years.

When you live out of a suitcase, you don’t have room for stuff that isn’t awesome.

Best Gear For Travel

Some of these are brands I swear by and have used for years and some products are new to me this year but I love them enough to recommend them.  The one thing I can guarantee you is these are all items I use. Granted – I’m a female, so this list is geared more for the female traveler, but don’t let that discourage you – most of it applies to both genders!

This travel gear list is for all types of travel but if you are looking for a more specific type if trip check out my other gear guides and packing lists for:
Hiking trips
Rainy trips
Antarctica trips
Photography trips


Favorite Travel Bags For Checking Luggage

Best Travel LuggageI told you I love my Eagle Creek gear and this No Matter What Flatbed 32 Suitcase  suitcase is one of my greatest loves! I’ve been using this suitcase/duffle now for 4 solid years.  It goes everywhere with me. Why I like it: There are no bells and whistles or special compartments – it’s just basic – and that’s what keeps it light and versatile. You can fit a TON into it when you have to. The material is durable, waterproof, and lightweight. I use Eagle Creek packing cubes and organizers to keep everything organized in the bag and it works perfectly for a long term traveler!

However – starting in 2018, I’m going to switch to a new version of this Eagle Creek bag – the Expanse Flatbed 32 – same simple, versatile idea with a few updates!


Awesome Daypacks for urban or adventure hiking

best travel gear daypackI use the Lowepro Photo Sport as my primary carry on bag and put all of my expensive photo and computer equipment in it as I refuse to check those things for obvious reasons.  This is truly a hiking daypack for photographers – but when I’m traveling I use the back section that normally holds a water bladder for my 13 in Macbook Pro and it works great. Why I Like It:  This is a great solution for the truly active photographer who needs a bit of hiking and photography gear.  I’ve always been on the lookout for a good camera backpack that was part proper day pack and part Pro camera gear holder. I finally found it in the Lowepro Photo Sport!! I am able to bring my camera plus 2 additional lenses, a Gopro and accessories with me easily and it’s has easy access to the gear.  From a hiking standpoint it’s a great daypack, I was able to pack in rain gear, extra socks, snacks and a water bladder. Plus it has an easy way to carry hiking poles.


Best travel gearDry sacks like this Earth Sack are great daypack for wet environments. I used them in Vietnam for Rainy Season all the time! I also regularly use them when I’m kayaking and I take gear with me I want to ensure stays dry even if I tip the kayak! I normally carry two – a small one for my smart phone, and a larger one for my DSLR camera. Why do I like it: This Earthpak one is really sturdy – I took it with me to Antarctica and it was great to have on the zodiacs in rough waters!

Favorite Handbags That Transform For Travel

best travel gearA camera bag that looks and acts like a purse…yes there is such a thing!  I started using the  Lowepro Passport Sling III a couple of years ago and now it goes everywhere with me.  I love things that have dual uses when I travel.  This is a photography bag, but it’s also a nice purse.  Why I Like It:  It looks and acts like a purse but it’s much more than that!  I can fit in my small mirrorless camera plus an extra lens and filters. Plus I bring my wallet and other essential purse items. It actually expands and I can even fit my 13 inch MacBook Pro in it too with a little jiggling around of items! So it’s perfect to take out exploring a town and you can actually carry everything with you if you need to.  I use this as my ‘small/personal item’ carry-on when I fly and can fit a bunch of stuff in it!  It might not work for a fancy night on the town, but it’s a great all purpose travel bag for the photo enthusiast!

Sherpani TempestThis is a new addition to my travel gear arsenal and I love it!  I just started using the Sherpani Tempest Tote/Backpack for trips that are less active and more business oriented. Why I Like It: Sometimes you just need to have something versatile and nice and the Tempest is just that.  It looks like a business tote, is fashionable, and holds my camera and my laptop.  However it also can easily switch into a backpack and leave your hands free which is great when moving through airports or on buses/trains.  You don’t even have to unhook anything for it to switch from tote to backpack!  Check out all of Sherpani’s products (they are a Colorado owned company – yay!), because they all have a bit of a travel edge to them, but you’d take them out day to day too!  Plus they are all ethically sourced, many like the Tempest is hand painted, and they use vegan leathers.



Packing Essentials

Best packing travel gear

The Pack-It Specter Tech™ Starter Set is an ultra lightweight packing solution. These ultra-light packing organizers organize and compress the contents of your travel bag. Packing organizers are the key to packing happiness – they turn your bag into a piece of furniture. I use mine to organize my different types of clothes, just like I would a dresser; one has t-shits, one has pants, one has sweaters. You get the idea – it’s packing bliss. I use and love Eagle Creek packing solutions. Not only do they keep me organized, but you can’t even imagine how much more I can fit into a suitcase or bag thanks to these!

You can also use the more durable Eagle Creek Packing Cubes – I also have a set of these!


packing essentialsCompression sacks are a must for winter travel! It’s hard to pack all of that bulky winter gear and sweaters, but compression sacks will make winter packing possible! I love these Swiss Gear Space Saver Travel Compression Sacks!  Just put your bulky gear in, seal it and then press all of the air out and it will be reduced to half the size. They are also reusable!



travel yoga matThis might not be essential for everyone, but this Manduka Travel Yoga Mat is so thin that it’s easy to put in the bottom of your suitcase! I’ve been trying to make sure that I’m doing regular exercise even while I”m on the road and this yoga mat keeps me on track! It’s just nice to lay out on a hotel room floor and do stretching!  For yoga on the go I normally just stream Yoga by Adrienne – it’s free and only 30 mintues – perfect for travel!


Some of my other packing essentials are a first aid kit, Travel Towel, Travel washcloth, and I always have Dramamine (just in case!) packed in my bag!

Clothing You’ll Always Find in my Bag

best travel gear for womenIt’s essential that I have a pair of hiking pants on every trip.  That’s becuase these PrAna Halle Pants are so great I even wear them when I’m not hiking! Why I Like Them: They are stretchy and comfortable – so often I wear them on flights! They are great for hiking becuase they are durable and have a number of pockets – but they can also dress up a bit when they have to!

Royal RobbinsThere are a number of brands I love for travel clothes I’ve talked about Exofficio  before, but this year I also started wearing Royal Robbins travel clothes too.  They are a company that has been around for years specializing in travel clothes that are fashionable, but perfect for travel.  Pictured are some of the items I tried on my recent trip.  I wore them for a work conference – but I could also wear them out exploring in the desert – they are versitle, non-wrinkle, and easy to launder – perfect for travel clothes!

best travel gearBuffs are great for so many uses – a hat, scarf, eye mask, tube top, wash cloth, helmet liner and even handkerchief. I’ve used mine for every single one of those situations… and never leave ‘home’ without it!

My feet sweat a lot – but I’ve found a solution! Smartwool socks are GREAT for travel. They dry really fast, don’t hold odor, and they stay warm in the cold and are cooling in the heat. Because they don’t get smelly, I only have to take a couple of pair in my suitcase. I run in them, hike in them, and wear them to bed when my feet are cold and have no one to snuggle with. They are the only socks I travel with!

These are best on the market when it comes to travel underwear. Why are these Exofficio underwear special? They dry super fast – which means you can only take a couple of pairs and wash them out in a sink at night and they will be dry in a couple of hours. Seriously – I’ve done this many times! Plus – they are comfortable. And if you want to vamp it up – you can forgo the sporty ones I get and get the lacy thongs if you wish.

Essential Travel Shoes for Outdoor Adventures

best travel gearTrail running shoes are the perfect active shoe to bring becuase they can be used for multiple activities.  And anything that has dual uses – I love! Why I Like Them:  These Brooks Trail Running Shoes are with me on every trip.  I can use them for walking around a city, running, and for light hiking in the mountains.  It’s the perfect answer to the “Should I bring my hiking boots?” dilemma!

I’ve tried many different water/adventure sandals and I keep coming back to these Keen Whisper Sandals. I’ve been using them ever since I lived in Vietnam and had to endure rainy season. They are super for all kinds of hot adventures and I’ve even hiked pretty substantially in them. Plus…they make you look like a badass when they get muddy.

Don’t Forget the Electronics

Stay connected on your travels and rent a MIFI device.  No matter where you go in the world you’ll be able to be online – it’s much easier than dealing with international roaming. Plus you can connect up to 5 devices to the mifi device – perfect for group or family travel! I have been using Telecom Square Mifi devices for the last 5 years. They’ve been a life-saver on my Niece Project trips! Here’s how you can rent a Telecom Square Mifi Device for your next trip


If you are traveling internationally, you’ll need one of these Universal Plug Adapters.  However the good news is that you’ll only need one, no matter where you go!


With the number of electronics we now depend on while we are traveling you must have a backup for your essential items when they are low on battery.  I decided to invest in a good portable battery charger – one that might be a bit bigger – but charges more.


More electronics means more needs for plugs in your room.  Even nice hotels are sometimes deficient on plugs or on easy to reach plugs.  Bring this Travel Power Strip with you and the problem is solved!


Be Prepared for Your Flight

I’ve tried many different neck pillows, but I keep coming back to this one!  This memory foam Neck Pillow provides enough support AND it folds up pretty small – the best of both worlds!


If I could marry these Bose Noise Canceling Headphones and have it’s babies I would. I love, love, love them. I actually just started using noise canceling headphones this year and my first reaction was “Oh Baby…where have you been my whole traveling life?” I don’t know about you but I adore shutting everyone out and just being in my own world for a bit and that’s exactly what these do – better than any other on the market. They remove all of the low level hums and buzzing from our completely plugged-in world, making you realize just how loud the world is.

Planes can be really noisey,  so be prepared with ear plugs. However don’t bother with those soft squishy ones, use silicon earplugs. I was actually introduced to these when I hiked the Camino de Santiago trail. The silicon earplugs block so much more noise, I didn’t even hear people getting up and packing around me in the morning! You can use them for a few days and then replace with another pair.

Don’t Leave Home Without Insurance!

Don’t forget the most important travel gear item – travel insurance! I always get travel insurance mainly for the medical coverage and emergency evacuation coverage.   But it’s also great for delayed baggage, flight cancellations and more. I use Allianz Travel Insurance to determine my choices and choose a plan that worked for Antarctica. They also have a great phone app that will help you fill prescriptions abroad and find care wherever you are in the world.

Allianz Global Assistance Travel Insurance. Get a free quote.



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