Key Travel Gear and Accessories

Patty and I have traveled a lot the past five years, so we’ve figured out which travel accessories and gear cut the mustard and which items aren’t worth their weight or space.

Our 3 1/2 week, around-the-world honeymoon was especially challenging as we needed to pack for three continents and multiple different climates.

Based on our experience, I’ve created a list of some of the best travel items here and I’ll continue to update this page as we identify other high-value travel products.  If there are other travel items you think should be included, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

All right, let’s get to it…

1. Travel Backpack

Perhaps the biggest key to our success in packing for a 3 1/2 week trip was a spacious travel backpack to supplement a checked bag.  If our trip was shorter and involved only warm weather locations, we may have been able to get away with simply a large checked suitcase each.  That wasn’t the case though.  Before our trip we each purchased a spacious, multi-compartment travel backpack made by eBags.  It was a lifesaver!

You can buy eBags items through their own website.  Sign up through this link and get 20% off your first order!  You can also buy their items through Amazon.com.

There are many similar travel backpacks available, some of which are a little better looking, but none seemed to offer the value of the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible (also available through eBags site directly)Though it’s spacious it comes in within the carry-on limits of most airlines.

If that bag is a bit large for you there is a “junior” version of the same bag: eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior (also available through eBags site directly).  It measures about two inches shorter than the standard bag.

You should always keep valuables with you, either on your person or in your carry-on (not your checked bag!).  This bag makes that possible while leaving gobs of extra room.  That space can be used to pack a clothing outfit, which will come in incredibly handy if your checked bag is lost or delayed or the plane is uncomfortably cold/hot.

2. Packing Cubes

I had seen others mention “packing cubes” over the years but I also dismissed the idea.  I thought, Why would I insert another unzippering/zippering action into the process of getting an item out of a suitcase?  Yet I still kept reading glowing reviews of these products.

Just before our trip I gave in and decided to try them.  I was very glad I did.

With 15+ pairs of socks and underwear and almost as many T-shirts, my suitcase would have been one garbled mess of clothes after a couple days.  The packing cubes, which aren’t as much cubes as they are pouches, allowed me to segregate items.

You can buy eBags items through their own website.  Sign up through this link and get 20% off your first order!  You can also buy their items through Amazon.com.

Partway through the trip I transitioned to using them to separate dirty clothes from clean clothes.

3. “Brick” and/or “Lipstick” Style Phone Charger

We used our smartphones a lot on our honeymoon.  From accessing TripIt to taking pictures to watching videos on planes, they were busy.  The batteries on our phones would have been depleted often if not for a portable charger.

On our trip we toted around a hefty, high capacity charger bank.  It was capable of charging both of our phones completely while still retaining some energy.  From one of the two ports it delivered 2.1 amps, meaning charges were also very fast.  Designs have advanced since we purchased that unit.  A comparable but newer version of ours is the RAVPower 16750mAh Portable Charger which puts out a whopping 4.5 amps.  It can charge two phones or even two tablets simultaneously and fully!

The downside to these large capacity power banks is of course their size and weight.  It’s common for one of this electrical capacity to weigh in at 3/4 of a pound and take up more space than a wallet.

Over the past several years, battery technology has improved just enough to make the “lipstick” style chargers appealing.  They’re only good for about one full phone charge and with a max current output of about 1 amp charges can be a bit slow.  However, the form factor is very convenient – you can easily store one in your pocket without walking with a limp!

4. DSLR Camera

If your destination is intriguing enough that you’re wanting to be there for an extended period of time, there’s a good chance you’ll want to have some photos to remember it by.  You could use the camera on your phone or a little point and shoot.  The former can really disappoint as phone cameras almost universally lack optical zoom.  The latter can certainly be enough in some situations.  If you really want photos that you’ll be thrilled to review years later you may want to invest in a DSLR.

Patty and I bought a Pentax K-500 DSLR prior to our honeymoon and we were very glad we did.  We look back with great happiness at some of the photos we got.

Here I’ve linked the incredibly popular Canon EOS Rebel T5 camera bundle.  This is the number one DSLR bundle on Amazon and it’s up there for a reason.  Canon’s DSLR cameras have a strong reputation and because they’ve sold thousands of them there is quite the user community for their products and a ton of accessories.  This bundle has many items.  A key one is the 75-300mm telephoto lens that is included.  It will allow you to capture faraway subjects with clarity and ease.  I used the telephoto lens quite a bit on our safari and was thrilled to capture sharp images of animals that were sometimes a good distance away.


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5. Rechargeable Batteries

If you’re bringing a DSLR or another battery-hungry electronic device you’ll want to consider bringing rechargeable batteries.  Using disposable batteries on a long trip can be costly and the quantity needed will equate to a significant amount of weight.

I used rechargeable AA batteries in my DSLR throughout our honeymoon.  The four of them powered our camera throughout a full day of heavy shooting.  It may actually be time for me to get some new ones though as eventually they do degrade in terms of energy retention.

Panasonic’s Eneloops are one of the most popular rechargeable battery types on the market.  The charger that comes in this bundle is lightweight.

6. Travel Perfume/Cologne Container

A standard perfume container is large, even for a long trip or honeymoon. So do you leave your favorite perfume or cologne at home?  You don’t have to.

The Travalo Black Refillable Mini Perfume Bottle Patty got before our trip did the trick.  She was able to transfer enough perfume to it to last the 3 1/2 weeks.  Carrying it versus the full-size perfume bottle saved about 12 ounces of weight.  That may seem trivial but it definitely is not when you’re on a long trip and have many other items to include in your luggage.

7. Earplugs

When you’re sitting on a plane for an extended period of time and there’s a baby nearby screaming its lungs out or your neighbor is snoring, you might be willing to pay about any price for peace and quiet.  At that moment, ear plugs are invaluable.

Howard Leight Laser Lite Foam Earplugs No Cords (20ct) are my favorite brand/type of noise-stopper.  I first started using them fifteen to twenty years ago when motorcycling.  I still swear by them. They’re very soft and very effective at blocking noise and they’re reasonably priced.

8. Fast-Drying Underwear

If you’re going on a truly long vacation or honeymoon you have three main options when it comes to underwear – you can rewear it (that’s sort of gross), you can pack every piece of underwear you own, or you can wash your underwear at some point during the trip.

At first it might seem like washing any clothing on a trip is a major hassle.  Don’t think laundromat and coins though.  With the right, fast-drying clothes, and specifically underwear, you can wash and rinse in a minute or two and then set aside for air-drying which can take as little as a few hours.

The ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs linked here have an incredible “cult following.”  Thousands of people swear by them for athletic activities and for their quick-drying nature.  Check out the 3,200+ reviews on Amazon – they’re almost all five stars!  The price isn’t necessarily cheap but in addition to a reputation of high performance, this underwear is known for durability too.  Many reviewers have used these for four, five or more years.

9. Electrical Adapter

If you’re traveling internationally you may encounter electrical outlets that differ from those in your home country (check this site).  An electrical adapter is a simple device that allows you to use plugs that are different from the outlet type.  Note that the device you’re plugging in must still be compatible with the electrical output of the outlet.  If it’s not, you could damage it.

Fortunately many modern electronics (including most phone and laptop chargers) are compatible with various input voltages/frequencies.  For those devices, all you’ll need in foreign countries is an electrical adapter like the eForCity Universal Travel Adapter.

If you’re bringing an electronic device that is incompatible with the electrical standards of the area you’re visiting, consider a combination adapter/converter like the Conair Travel Smart All-In-One Adapter and Converter Combo Unit.  Combo units weigh more than the simple adapters though so don’t bring a combo unit if you don’t actually need it.

10. eBooks

I love a good old-fashioned paper book.  But if you’re heading out on a long trip you have a lot of other heavy items to pack.  So it makes sense to carry your reading material electronically on a long vacation or honeymoon.

There are a lot of options for reading eBooks.  You can download some material in standard PDF format.  Some libraries use other readers, like one by 3M.  Perhaps the most-used reader/format though is Amazon’s free Kindle offering.

I’ve installed the Kindle reader on my smartphone, turning it into an eBook reader.  The screen is just large enough to make reading pleasant.  The Kindle library runs incredibly deep so you shouldn’t have a problem finding the book you’re interested in.

11. Nail Clipper

You may not usually bring nail clippers on a vacation.  You might be surprised though at just how much your nails grow during a two or three week trip.  If your vacation or honeymoon is going to last that long, you’ll want nail clippers with you.  You can save a bit of weight and space with travel nail clippers instead of common nail clippers.

I’ve been able to bring nail clippers in my carry-on luggage many times but if you’re not sure whether or not that’s allowed where you’re traveling, stow them in your checked bag to avoid losing them.

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