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Best travel gear – pack the essentials

I’ve been travelling most of my life but it’s only recently that I’ve learned to only take the things I need.  Let me show you how to choose the best travel gear and how to pack the essentials to take with you on your trip.

Choosing the right travel gear is personal.  What works for me, may not work for you but it is important to get it right.  In saying, here are our best tips so that you pack the right things with you, the first time round.

Let me show you what I believe to be some of the best travel gear available, and give you the heads up on the essentials I pack for every trip I take.

Start with the Best Luggage for your Travels

Travel gear

What type of luggage suits you best?

It has taken us years to finally settle on the best luggage that suits our style of travel.  As frequent travellers, believe me, we’ve tried everything.   Different trips often require different luggage options!  The variations are endless, but it really does come down to what suits you best.

Do you want to travel with carry-on only or are you intending to check a suitcase?  A large suitcase?  Do you want a small or a large backpack?  Would you prefer a soft-sided duffel bag?  What kind of holiday are you taking, and what will work best for you?

If you are travelling frequently, hiking, using trains and other transport it may be that smaller soft-sided luggage suits best.  Suitcases are great if you want your things to pack flat or if you’re taking a business trip or vacationing in a hotel or resort.  If you’re taking a short road trip perhaps a backpack or an overnight bag will do the job and carry your essentials.

Choosing the Best Travel Luggage

Choose the right luggage

Choosing the best travel luggage is often about personal preferences.

I’m only 5’2” and prefer lightweight luggage that I can manage easily.  After many lost-luggage situations I’m more comfy travelling with a change of clothes, my toiletries, camera and laptop in my hand luggage.

I usually check in a mid-sized suitcase.  My favourite suitcase is a sturdy 28″ Samsonite S’Cure hardside suitcase with 3 solid TSA combination locks to secure it.  It’s seemingly indestructible and has survived many baggage handler’s wrath, conveyor-belt seizures and other forms of torture.

Tall Trev at 6 foot checks in his soft-sided wheeled duffel bag and carries a mid-sized backpack onboard for his tablet, camera and cycling magazines and other bits and pieces.  I should note here, that neat packing is not his strong point!

Backpacks as Carry-On

I have been using a Travelon anti-theft backpack as a carry-on for about 3 years now and I’m pretty happy with it.

It’s one of the smaller backpacks but it is big enough to take my electronics (ie: camera, tablet, laptop, headphones etc) and has room for a change of clothes as well.  This backpack is small enough to use as a day pack too.

The Travelon backpack has great security features with RFID protection pockets, lockable zippers, cut-proof fabric and straps which was one of the reasons I chose it.  It wasn’t super expensive so I’ve been impressed by how well it’s travelled over time.

Trev loves his Samsonite backpack for it’s durability, tons of space and with a extra padding for comfort for his back and shoulders.  It’s got pockets for everything!  He’s had it for a number of years says he’d buy the same one again as it’s perfect for his needs.

Day Packs for sightseeing

When choosing your day pack, try not stand out (too obviously) as a tourist.  Your day pack should be lightweight, weather resistant, secure and roomy enough to take your camera, notebook and incidentals like sunglasses, purse and other bits and pieces.  

I am a big fan of the Travelon Anti-theft range and currently use their crossbody Heritage Hobo bag when sightseeing, going on short hikes or taking day trips.  It’s big enough to take my camera and lens and has room for a notebook to jot down any notes for my upcoming post.

Trev uses his lightweight sling bag Ripcurl Crossbody as his day pack.  It also has anti-theft features such as RFID protection, and cut-proof zippers.

It’s big enough to carry his camera and is fitted with a USB charging port and an adjustable shoulder strap.  The crossbody sling offers him flexibility when we’re out walking or in busy places amongst the crowds.

Travel Organisers

My fav is the BUBM Universal Travel Organiser.  Nothing drives me more insane that tangled cables.  I have no patience to sit there and untangle them!

It packs flat and when opened I can see which cable or connector I want, immediately.  And you guessed it, nothing is tangled!

Toiletry Bags

We carry a small toiletries bag each when travelling with everything we need for the trip.

Trev’s toiletry bag is my envy and I keep meaning to buy myself one like his.  It hangs on the towel rail and zips together to pack when we’re travelling.   The toiletries bag I’m using at the moment is a bit bulky so … note to self, buy another toilet bag!

Pack a Travel Towel

We’ve made it a habit to pack a towel each when we travel.   Invariably, we find a beach or a waterfall so carrying an quick-dry towel has been a great option for us.

After trying a few brands over the years, the Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Travel Towel was our favourite.  They’re great for camping, swimming, going to the beach and taking to the gym.  They’re lightweight, dry quickly and very absorbent.  Best of all though, The Youphoria was a win-win as it comes in 3 sizes.  Trev loves a giant towel while I prefer a smaller size.  

Best Travel Gear – Pack the Essentials

Packing clothes to take on my trip used to be my travel nightmare.  For years I packed so many extra things ‘just in case’ and arrived home with many of them, untouched.  Usually this means extra luggage and often, excess baggage.  Most of the time, I’d bring home unworn items.

Today I have it under control but there are a few things that I always take when I’m travelling.  These are my not-negotiables.

  • A hat or a beanie – whichever suits the weather.
  • Coordinating layers that work for every climate.
  • A large natural fabric scarf suitable for both warm and cool weather.
  • Comfy underwear that can be hand washed in a hotel sink.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Thongs (flip flops).

Pack enough clothes for 5 days

The secret is to pack enough clothes for 5 days.  That’s it.

I prefer to wear wash ‘n wear skirts or jeans, lightweight quick-dry Tshirts which I can layer or pop on a light jacket if it becomes cool.  Trevor mostly wears jeans or shorts depending on the weather.  He usually takes 1 button up shirt incase we go out to dinner somewhere.

When travelling in other countries, or visiting temples and the like we’re always mindful of cultural expectations and cover up as appropriate.

For tropical weather

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 light cotton slacks
  • 4 skirts or shorts
  • 5 T’shirts (short sleeve)
  • Walking shoes
  • Dress sandals for dining out
  • Thongs (flip-flops)

For cooler weather

  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 1 track pants
  • 5 T’shirts (long sleeve)
  • Fleecy zip up sweater
  • Weatherproof Outdoor coat
  • Walking boots & woollen socks
  • Thongs (flip-flops)

Trev will generally pack a button up shirt as something a little dressy for going out for dinner.

We tend to pack our favourite clothes.  For example; #FavouriteHubby loves his Queensland football jersey so if he knows the weather is likely to be cool, he’ll pack his (well worn) Maroons jersey … except if we’re travelling to New South Wales (the opposition)!

Washing clothes

I try to pack enough clothes for 5 days.  Washing every fourth or fifth day suits me best when I’m travelling.

It’s easy to hand-wash light quick-dry shirts and underwear using shampoo or hand soap.  Most things will dry overnight in the tropics with fans or air-conditioning.

Finding a laundry is usually fairly easy.  DIY laundromats are available in Australia, Europe and the US.  If you are in Asia, there are local laundry shops which will take in laundry at very affordable prices.  When we were in New York City and Boston we found a place not far from our hotel which did ‘wash and fold’ for $10 a bag.  Bonus!

Most hotels will have their own laundry service, but these can be expensive to use.   I made that mistake on my first overseas trip to Singapore.  What an expensive lesson!

Shoes for warm climate travel

Comfortable shoes can’t be underestimated when you’re travelling. I carry lightweight trekking sandals.  Ecco Yucatan are my current favourites.  They fit snugly on my feet and are one of the most comfortable hiking sandals I’ve worn.

I pack my comfy old faithful Converse All Star slip-ons and a pair of slip-on casual pumps for dining out or heading down to the hotel bar.  I also pack my favourite rubber thongs Havaianas (flip flops) if we’re staying near the beach.

Trev takes along his much loved Teva sandals which are great for walking when he’s not wearing his hiking boots, going to the beach and easy to get on and off when visiting temples and other tourist attractions.

For casual nights out, you’ll find him chilling out in a pair of comfy memory-foam sketchers.  A nice relief for tired feet after a busy day walking!

Shoes for cool climate travel

When visiting cold, wet or snowy terrains I pack my leather Ariat Womens Terrain Boots with rugged grip soles.  It came as a hard lesson when we visited Niagara Falls in winter and I came to grief with some treacherous black ice.

I quite like Calvin Klein socks, as they have extra cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot, and when you’re doing as much walking as we do, that’s important.

Trev normally takes his comfy Sketches for casual wear and always packs his Timberland ankle boots for walking as they are comfy all rounders.  He prefers to wear thick dri-tech socks with padded soles.

Best Travel Gear – Pin this for later

Some of our best travel gear is listed here, but if you know of something that should be considered, please drop me a note and we’ll test it out for other readers.

Here’s some other posts you might like to read:

As we travel we discover new things that might be useful, so watch this space as we add to our travel gear favourites – It’s a work in progress!
Let me show you what I believe to be some of the best travel gear available, and give you the heads up on the essentials I pack for every trip I take.