Absolute must-have travel items for 2017: Recommendations on new travel gear you’ll want to pack in your bag in 2017
Do you hate those click-bait, travel slideshows of Best Travel products for 2016 where you have to click 20 pages to see each recommendation? Me too! Here is your one-page, quick guide to the 17 Best Travel Items we recommend for 2017 ((See our 2018 travel recommendations here: https://www.gninsurance.com/blog/travel-smarter/travel-items-for-2018/) Especially for those travelers who don’t follow the crowds, who volunteer in far-off countries, who like adventure travel and/or follow their instincts rather than a map:
1.) The LuminAid PakLight
Solar-charging, small, inflatable lantern or flashlight, and inexpensive at $10.00. Leave it behind as a gift, or keep it in your bag at all times as an emergency light for your next backpack or camping trip! (You might also want to consider a headlamp. It looks dorky but it is useful for hands-free reading on the plane, or any place you want light. You can always hold it in your hand as a flashlight when you want to! You don’t have to always wear it on your head.)
2.) Translation and Travel Apps
Check out some of our favorites at https://www.gninsurance.com/resources/essential-travel-apps/. But be aware some apps do not securely handle your information and a reminder to always use a VPN overseas (A great article explaining VPNS overseas can be found here).
3.) Sawyer water filter
Blocks/filters 99+% of germs and bacteria that makes you sick. Plus, it can be easily back flushed so there are no additional cartridges to buy, ever! Whether you are traveling to remote areas or filtering water from streams, etc. the Sawyer Filtration technology is the best. Once again, a great item to use for yourself if traveling to an area with poor water/unclean water, or for using overseas and then leaving it behind with a family or friend there!
There are a lot of different Sawyer filters to fit specific needs. See https://www.shorttermteaminsurance.com/news-and-events/clean-water-for-volunteers/.
Business Connect World also has a model where Sawyer Water Filters can be purchased through them and income goes towards local Sawyer representatives that can then continue to sell additional units or repair units locally to help the local economy and local area business! We love their model.
Another option would be a Grayl ultralight water filtration bottle (See a review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK88XRkJzf0). Especially if you already always carry a refillable water bottle on your flights.
4.) A good travel towel
Can also be used as a blanket in a pinch. There are countless travel towels of different sizes made out of different materials. What you need is a solid size, quick-drying, non-bacterial towel made of state of the art materials, that packs light and small. A towel such as one by www.YogaDesignLabs.com or http://www.nomadix.co that is 72in x 24in or wider that can also be used to change clothes behind, wrap up in (like a sari) while washing clothes, or use as a blanket or sheet when sleeping for extra warmth. Some people just as surely recommend a 100% linen bath sheet (http://snarkynomad.com/the-best-travel-towels-arent-where-youll-find-them/).
Don’t skimp on the size or materials or you will have much less flexibility. Trust me.
If going to a sandy environment or beach consider this sand-free blanket/towel originally designed by the military for helicopter landings: https://www.amazon.com/CGear-Sand-Free-Multimat-CS001-Cgear/dp/B003NAZ1FI/
See a video at http://www.cgear-sandfree.com/video.
5.) A good fold-away knife
It may not make it on the flight, but definitely carry one in your packed luggage! The CardSharp credit card knife by Ian Sinclair. I swear these are the handiest, sharpest, best new technology out there. There are now a million imitation versions (many even stamping “Sinclair CardSharp” on their copies), but these knives are the real deal to cut rope, straps, peal off stickers, cut bread or cheese, you name it. I am never without one.
6.) The Free Jet-Lag Guide – “The Definitive Guide to Jet Lag”
From GNI: https://www.gninsurance.com/resources/guides/beating-jet-lag/
Okay its a pitch for our free guide, but “jet lag” is no laughing matter and most people can’t afford to waste 2-3 days getting acclimated to a new time zone. Or spend time at home trying to readjust while being effective back to work. And this is the best, all-around guide featuring different strategies to help you cope or defeat jet lag and perform at your best, no matter how far away you are traveling.
7.) Sanuks. The best shoes (or 2nd pair of shoes) for travel
Check out Sanuk for both men’s and women’s closed toe, super light, super comfortable, packable travel shoes for shower, plane, beach, and more. The all-purpose backup pair of shoes to have in your travel bag. Like going barefoot with the proper toe spread and with zero drop they can be used in the shower or washed in the sink. More info and a couple alternatives (including Lem’s) can be found at the following link:
8.) A Kindle
Long battery life, decent reading experience, and much lighter than hauling 2-3 books! Honestly, I am not a big fan of digital books. They are hard on my eyes and even though I own hundreds and hundreds of digital titles, I keep finding myself buying and reading real books. However, the Kindle is much easier on my eyes, keeps me from killing my phone battery on long flights, and has really come down in price. I recommend the cheaper, non-color version like the Paperwhite, e-Reader, or even the pricier Voyage, than the Fire. https://www.amazon.com/b/?node=6669702011
You can also check www.craigslist.org for a slightly older, used one and get an even better deal if you are not sure you will ever use it again after travel or are worried about it being stolen overseas.
9.) Extra phone battery or a high-capacity power bank.
You should always travel with a spare OEM phone battery or if you cannot remove your battery, make sure you carry an ultra-high capacity, flat thin power bank that can even recharge laptops storing 20,000-30,000mAh such as the RAVPower 22000mAh battery pack (or others at Amazon). Note that the very high-capacity power banks are still cutting edge, so pay attention to customer reviews for reliability, satisfaction,…If you use Amazon, try searching for “Deal of the day, powerbank” since you can often get an extra 30%-70% off an already top-rated powerbank.
10.) A portable bluetooth speaker
Like the JBL Flip 3.0 or UE Roll 2 or UE Boom 2 (which we own and will review soon) for sound on the go. Okay, so this is a luxury item that if you are watching weight, or only taking a carry-on, you may want to leave behind. But if you are traveling for pleasure, or like listening to audiobooks on the beach out loud, you can’t beat these sealed, water-resistant (or waterproof) drop-proof units with long battery life and outstanding sound. Realize that your phone’s battery life is going to take a hit when using bluetooth to send sound to your speaker if you cannot easily recharge.
11.) Noise canceling headphones (in the ear or over the ear)
Such as Bose’s QuietComfort 25. Expensive, yes at $300, but there are more affordable options such as the AudioTechnica ATH-ANC7B or the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Headphones with crazy 40-hour battery life, or even the reliable and easily recommendable Sony XB950BT. For airplanes, sleeping in noisy hotels over the street, etc. whether you want to listen to crisp music without interruption or simply listen to the quiet without ambient noise. In some cities such as Cairo, people use their horns both night and day to talk to other drivers. The pre-dawn call to prayer can also startle you awake if your hotel window happens to face the mosque. Noise-cancelling headphones can be a life-saver in these situations.
On a budget: For under $100, you may also want to check out these Senso ActivBuds S250 in-ear noise-cancellation headphones. They are usually priced around $160., but Amazon has them for less than $36.00 right now. They can also be paired/connect to two devices (both your phone and computer or tablet) without un-pairing either one to connect to the other. See our YouTube review here.
And as mentioned in our Jet Lag guide above (see No. 6), they can be part of an important strategy on the plane for beating jet lag.
12.) A lightweight, multi-plug/splitter extension cord and travel power conversion kit.
One outlet is all you’ll get overseas. When busy running around, you will usually need two or more outlets for the short time you are in your room, or sitting at one place. Power outlets are usually never where you want them in your room. It’ll be behind the bed or in the corner and your cord will never be long enough. This goes for travel overseas and business trips in the states. Every savvy traveler knows an extension cord (and proper international plug configurations) is the solution. Don’t travel without them. You may also want to consider power suppression to protect your expensive equipment from power surges and spikes. (Some even include a warranty for your stuff if it gets damaged but you will probably need original purchase receipts.) Ask someone who has lost a laptop overseas due to a late-night power surge while traveling in a developing country, and they’ll tell you to be acutely aware of the need for surge protection! [You may also need to adjust European power outlets (220-230 volts at 50 Hz frequency) for U.S. devices (120volt at 60 Hz). See outlet configurations here: https://www.shorttermteaminsurance.com/news-and-events/travel-packing-tip/.]
If staying in areas with U.S.-style power outlets, you can check out Belkin’s Travel Surge Protector with Hidden Swivel Plug at https://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Travel-Protector-Hidden-Swivel/dp/B0006OCFFS.
Another non-surge option is the Ultra Slim Wall Plate for Travel. https://www.amazon.com/Ultra-Slim-Wall-Plate-Travel/dp/B00BWDQ46I.
A multi-plug extension is also helpful in the airport when you need to share the limited power outlets with other travelers. And an extension cord will keep you from sitting on the floor next to the outlet. In the first case (creating additional outlets) you don’t want something with a long wire because you are trying to “share” the plug with other users. The examples on the left both cost less than $2.50 at Walmart. (Just make sure the plugs are three-prong in U.S. electrical currency, not the two-prong variety, as many electronics/power bricks will not work since they are “grounded” aka three-prong.)
13.) A basic scarf and a black wool or camelhair dress jacket/suit jacket
Whether you call it a shemagh, keffiyeh, ghutrah, cemedani, or any other term, a scarf by any other name can be used to stay warm, as a breathing filter in sandstorms, as a hat against sunburn or unexpected rain, as a camp towel, a dishrag, and more, scarves have been called the “Duct tape of the Middle East” for a good reason. Personally I recommend staying away from a $120 or $550 cashmere or designer scarf and get something practical that can be used for a variety of purposes including wiping your mouth or sneezing into and later washing. The jacket can be worn to dinner, can dress up any outfit, can be rolled up as a pillow on flights or worn if the flight is too chilly, gets softer over time, resists wrinkles, and is warm when wet. I am never without my black camelhair jacket! A favorite.
14.) Bluetooth “Tiles” to keep track of your stuff(?)
These new(er) tiles can be hidden in your bag or in a passport case and connect to your smartphone so you always know where your bags are at using GPS technology. They also can be used to foil pickpockets. There are now also a number of “leather covers, and accessories for Tile on Amazon to disguise them or make them look more classy.
15.) An immersion water heater
For boiling water to wash with or shave or to make tea (uses a wall outlet). Or a small collapsible camp stove if you will not be near a power outlet/civilization. These small coiled wires that have a plug on one end seemed to be very common for making a cup of tea in dorm rooms and homes back in the day, but I rarely see or hear about them these days. A brilliant older technology that needs to make a comeback. Can also often be purchased very inexpensively overseas with the right plug set-up to plug in locally.
16.) A Dopp Kit (toiletries bag)
Okay, it’s time to quit trying to remember to pack soap or a razor or have it all rolling around loose in your bag or trying to remember to take it all with you to the bathroom at the hostel. Get a dopp kit or toiletries bag that will fit all your necessaries. Then, go out and buy duplicates of everything you use at home (except in small versions for liquids) or get a few small travel bottles and fill them up with your shampoo and hairs spray. You can even find small sampler refillable cologne bottles online. Now, when you travel, you grab and go one toiletry bag and no need to worry if you forgot the toothpaste because you used it the morning of your flight, OR yoy can’t brush your teeth because the toothpaste is packed away. Many of them have easy carry handles and may even hang on a towel bar so that everything is easily accessible.
17.) The Midori Traveler’s Notebook or its equivalent
http://blackcover.net/japanese-minimalism-the-midori-travelers-notebook/. For holding receipts, taking notes and random ideas, as well as showing off your savvy, literate, urban-side. See the millions of YouTube videos on how to customize your midori notebook and combine it with a fountain pen by Lami or the Pilot Metropolitan (especially with a fine point if starting out with fountain pens) and a super-vibrant ink of your choice to really show off! Yes, fountain pens can go on board planes/pressurized cabins without making a mess with a couple pre-planned modifications. http://gouletpens.com/ or https://www.youtube.com/user/TheInkNouveau
So there you go, our best travel items for 2017, and best travel gear recommendations for 2017!
Without gimmicks (or even Amazon links that we make money off of!), no click-bait, and no slideshows to garner additional page views. Just real, trusted travel recommendations by travelers for travelers.
We left out common items that every traveler should carry with them overseas (such as gallon ziplock bags, duct tape and twist ties!) and also held back from recommending travel bags and carry-on luggage because those are often such personal choices depending on what you carry, look, weight and type of travel you will be doing. Check out our 17 Top Travel Tips for 2017!
Maybe we’ll post another “must-haves” of common items you should always have with you when you travel. Leave your best travel item recommendations below. what are your “must-haves” when on the road? Maybe we’ll add a new contributor post in a future with your travel item recommendations!
Don’t forget to check out our “must-have” travel items for 2018 here: https://www.gninsurance.com/blog/news-and-helpful-links/travel-items-for-2018/