Absolute “must-have” travel items for 2018:
New travel gear you’ll want to pack in your bag in 2018
No “click-bait,” numbered page slide shows here (where you have to visit 20 pages in turn to see all the recommendations)! All our gear recommendations are on one page, all easy-to-read, no-nonsense suggestions for yourself, or ready to buy as a gift for those you love who travel a lot or want to take that lifelong trip and want to be as best prepared as possible! (See last year’s recommendations here: https://www.gninsurance.com/blog/news-and-helpful-links/travel-items-for-2017/)
So here we go: Our best travel items of 2018/travel gear for 2018
1.) Hydroflask/Yeti bottle –
You always want to have clean water overseas at hand to stay hydrated. Last year we recommended various water filters you could take and use abroad, but what about keeping iced drinks cold or your coffee hot on planes, on trips, etc.?
Be aware that hydroflasks are not yet “en vogue” in European restaurants and other locations. They might frown at you for bringing one in and setting it on your table. See a comparison of double-walled bottles here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ShA3mIjo_k
2.) FlipBelt –
Instead of a money belt, consider a flip belt (used by runners) to stash your valuables – https://flipbelt.com/
One of our top travel items for 2018 and a big favorite for a lot of people. Use it to stash your passport, your ID and cash, anything you want to keep safe and secure under your shirt or clothing. Of course, always keep a few bills in local currency in a pocket where it is easily accessible for fares or occasional purposes so you don’t have to dig into a big wad of concealed cash when out and about (that defeats the purpose).
Available at REI or Amazon.com.
Not only is the flipbelt comfortable, but it is reuseable after you return home, when you workout, which is nice.
3.) Web Dominators (pack of 6) –
Have a backpack or any kind of bag with dangling straps? Concerned about straps on checked bags or trying to walk down the aisle on the plane stepping on webbing straps and belts? Web dominators are cheap little plastic clips that will make you wonder what you ever did before you owned them. One more way to make your life on the road a little easier. Purchase at: https://www.amazon.com/ITW-Web-Dominators-Pack-Black/dp/B005IAAZUC
4.) A cable bag (examples by www.Greenroom136.com):
“The Ottobook is usually geared more towards being a travel planner/organizer but I find it perfect as a cable bag/gear organizer bag as well!”
– Purchase Ottobook, Wannabie, or Pocketbook Deluxe at https://www.greenroom136.com/shop
5.) An Ultra-lightweight packable windbreaker –
For sudden downpours, or when you forgot the umbrella or need to keep your gear dry, having an extra waterproof shell to protect against wind or rain can be the difference between a sudden downpour and a ruined day.
Cheaper: The Rab Windveil Jacket for men or women (https://www.amazon.com/RAB/b/ref=w_bl_hsx_s_sp_web_5371350011?ie=UTF8&node=5371350011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=RAB), Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie (https://www.amazon.com/Salomon-Mens-Hoodie-Jacket-Flame/dp/B01M5GZHY8), Montbell Versatile (https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2328276) or Outdoor Research Helium II (https://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-Research-Helium-Jacket-Glaciehttps://www.amazon.com/RAB/b/ref=w_bl_hsx_s_sp_web_5371350011?ie=UTF8&node=5371350011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=RAB)r/dp/B005BV87WQ?tag=weltramil0c-20).
More expensive: Montbell Torrent Flier (https://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2328280) or the Patagonia M10 (https://www.rei.com/product/809233/patagonia-m10-jacket-mens)
Granted this is a men’s jacket. Some are also available in a women’s cut/fit. Sorry, I cannot speak to women’s ultralight jackets as I have never purchased or tested them. For more suggestions, try https://welltraveledmile.com/10-best-lightweight-rain-jackets-for-travel/ or https://www.theadventurejunkies.com/best-rain-jacket-for-hiking/.
NOTE: Personally, I like having a windbreaker/jacket that is also “classy” and can be worn out and around town without looking like a backpacker – Choose colors and style to fit your needs/trip.)
6.) Good coffee on the road –
Maybe your next trip doesn’t include Italy, or France, or Ethiopia where a good cup of espresso is easy to find on any street corner.
Get the AeroPress for under $30 (http://www.aeropress.com/) or the Cafflano Kompact (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWgFnnXvMoI) or Cafflano Kompresso (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bJCt7CgFhM).
Okay, call us spoiled but good coffee is a “must” wherever you happen to be.
You maybe also want to allow for a heavier metal tamp in your bags. And always buy high-quality, ethically and sustainably-sourced coffee beans to grind fresh or right before your next trip (pre-measured zip-lock baggies work great for these french-type press coffee gadgets)!
7.) A telescoping flashlight –
A flashlight when you travel is a must. One that also has a telescoping handle and flexible head will help you even more. (Some telescoping flashlights also feature a small side “lantern” mode using LEDs which is nice in a brownout or where you may not have electricity.) The one you buy should have a magnetized head. You will want that feature as well if you travel a lot/drop things/are clumsy.
Shop at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=telescoping+flashlight
The higher the lumens (brightness) and the higher number of positive customer reviews, the better!
8.) A good travel pillow!!! –
Are you really going to trust a good night’s sleep to chance? You’ve planned and invested so much time and energy to make your trip special. Take a extra few minutes to figure out ahead of time the best, most comfortable sleep option and take it with you from place to place. Everyone has a preference. The trick is to find something that works for you so that you are not at the mercy of a hotel or guest bed or have to roll up a jacket! (Make sure you give a few minutes to get back to full loft/fluff up your pillow if filled with down or fibers rather than air! I am not a “blow up pillow” person, but if combined with a good top layer of fiber fill/down, then they are a good pick.)
- Check out the Kickstarter “Candy Cane” inflating pillow here! We are backers ourselves. (https://kck.st/2DsCyYA)
- ExPed Down pillow and/or REM pillow (Our top pick! ) – https://www.amazon.com/Exped/b/ref=w_bl_hsx_s_sp_web_2591569011?ie=UTF8&node=2591569011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=Exped
- Paria Down Backpacking pillow – https://www.amazon.com/Down-Backpacking-Pillow-Ultralight-Comfortable/dp/B06XS938PJ/
- REI duck down travel / backpacker pillow or the Kelty Luxury Down Pillow – https://www.rei.com/product/794982/rei-co-op-backpacker-pillow
- Co-op Home Goods Bamboo Camping pillow – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015D8XIDY/ref=psdc_3401681_t1_B06XS938PJ
- Thermarest Compressible pillow – https://www.rei.com/product/719843/therm-a-rest-compressible-pillow
- Teton Sports Comfort-Lite self-inflating pillow – https://www.tetonsports.com/Cot-and-camp-pads/Camp-Pads/Comfortlite-Pillow.htm
- Sea to Summit Aeros pillow – https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Aeros-Pillow-Premium/
- Cocoon Ultralight air core travel pillow – https://www.amazon.com/Cocoon-Ultralight-AirCore-Travel-Pillow/dp/B001DXCSSK/
9.) Rode lavalier mic:
If you record travel videos, or vlog on your travels, you will want to grab on of these lapel mics by Rode! They will improve your audio especially if you would otherwise just use your built in mic on your camera or phone.
More on Rode at http://en.rode.com/microphones/mobile
10.) Travel sketch kit/Travel watercolor kit –
Artists are incredibly picky about their tools. So you will probably want to find out what works for you in terms of pencils, charcoal and pens, making up a travel sketch kit for yourself with the supplies you prefer. But bring it with you overseas. Schedule the time to draw, sketch or paint rather than check Facebook for the 10th time!
Some suggestions if you are just getting started:
Travel sketching? Teoh Yi Chie has many helpful videos like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k34LtO3Iw8. Differences between sketching with pencil vs. ink? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h2ZVZZDurA. We really like his great recommendations on sketching books and supplies on his YouTube channel (subscribe!) and blog.
You can also start here: https://www.amazon.com/GHB-Sketching-Graphite-Charcoal-Professional/dp/B06XTK28YX/
Add a mechanical pencil (either black or blue lead) and add pens such as Copic, Sakura Pigma Microns, Pilot G2s, or Staedtler Pigment Liner Pens.
(I discourage taking Rapidographs with cartridges due to the air pressure flying which can cause them to leak or have issues)
Watercolor art supplies for travel sketching:
Meeden for beginners – https://www.amazon.com/MEEDEN-Watercolor-Field-Sketch-Paint/dp/B06XYGV8VS/
Windsor Newton Cotman Watercolor Field Box (what I use) – https://www.amazon.com/Winsor-Newton-Cotman-Water-Color/dp/B00M7HPFJ0/
D’Artisan Shoppe with Watercolor Kolinsky Sable brushes – https://www.amazon.com/Watercolor-Kolinsky-Professional-Supplies-Sketching/dp/B01MSJJ6B6/
Maybe a fountain pen for drawing? (For beginners): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIHbu9jjiHc (at 31:00 mark)
Let me also recommend the Goulet Pen Company which makes great YouTube instructional and product videos. They have a great selection of products at https://www.gouletpens.com/fountain-pens-for-sketching/c/426
Refillable watercolor brush pens: https://www.amazon.com/Kuretake-Water-Brush-Small-KG205-20/dp/B001C0TRRO/
and/or Ink brush pens such as Kuritake: https://www.amazon.com/Aitoh-DT140-13C-Kuretake-Sumi-Brush/dp/B000EBJIKS/
11.) Consider a travel sketching course
Rather than continuing to make one LONG rather varied travel sketching recommendation above, we’ll add another travel idea, a travel sktching course you may want to consider. More here: https://sketchingnow.com/foundations-course/
You could also choose a beginner to intermediate drawing course at Udemy here: https://www.udemy.com/the-ultimate-drawing-course-beginner-to-advanced/ and the recipient can take the course at their own pace from anywhere in the world. If you choose “Gift this Course” at the top right hand side, they give you a choice of when you’d like the recipient to get the email letting them know (You can also add a personal message).
12.) Make the switch from liquids to solids:
Lush solid shampoo is a revelation and MUCH EASIER to travel with. As a friend stated, “Solid shampoo cleans just as well (if not better) as the liquid stuff, smells just as fantastic, lathers brilliantly, works flawlessly as a body soap and comes in treatment types of every flavor. And it doesn’t leave lingering product.” Lush also uses environmentally-friendly, ethically-sourced ingredients.
You may also want to consider: Creating Harmony Solid conditioner or solid perfume. Solid toothpaste. Solid shaving soap (you know, like grandpa used to use?!). And stick sunscreen.
Another perfume/cologne solution is to buy a set of mini sampler bottles and fill them yourself from your larger bottles. (It is important to make sure the atomizer mist sprays out fine enough regardless of whether you choose the mini 3ml sample sizes or the 6ml size travel sizes – Color selections can help you know which perfumes you have with you if you carry multiple scents.
What does a dentist have to say about solid toothpaste tablets? “If you like foam, then you will love using Toothy Tabs. These things can foam up a storm.” More at https://www.marylandsbestdentists.com/blog/oral-hygiene/toothy-tabs-better-or-worse-than-toothpaste/ Another dental review at https://summerleadental.com/clinicinfo/lush-toothy-tabs-dentist-review/.
13.) Japanese wash cloth/skin cloth:
Where have you been all my life? I HATE wet, smelly washcloths that never seem to dry out and that hold too much moisture/germs. Round scrubby pads never seem to fit anywhere and either take up the shower or end up on the floor of the shower. But it doesn’t have to be like this!
Longer than a normal washcloth, more hygienic than cotton, exfoliating like a loofah, and fast drying – This little secret from Japan should be traveling with you all over the globe. As well as standard use at home (Buy two of these inexpensive Japanese wash cloths!). Available in a wide array of colors.
14.) Lightweight roll-up recycled beach/plane bag
For local shopping trips, grocery bag, gifts, etc. you can never go wrong purchasing and packing a bag for local use. When you need to bring additional items, including fragile items you will carry on-board the aircraft, it also saves you taking an extra bag with you overseas.
– Chico Bags (https://www.chicobag.com/)
– Spencer Divine MD Assam Market Bag (http://www.spencerdevine.com/assam-market-bags/sm-assam-market-bag-teal-stripe)
15.) Lightweight TRX training straps and gear:
https://www.trxtraining.com/ or WOSS straps (Now out of business after lawsuits from TRX): https://www.stevejenkins.com/blog/2016/01/woss-titan-review-affordable-trx-suspension-trainer-alternative/
Here is a training routine: https://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/full-body-exercises/suspended-mass-trx-workout
And another: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/the-perfect-do-anywhere-workout.html
Why TRX ? Because it can go with you! No more excuses when on the road, or overseas.
Looking for a cheaper alternative? Here are some options (Or you can make your own!): https://www.suspensionrevolutionreview.org/best-suspension-trainers/
16.) A “Rice Love backpack”
By https://ricelove.org/. Every backpack is one-of-a-kind! The burlap pieces are recycled from authentic Indian rice bags. Expect slight imperfections. Between fabric, the seamstress who made it, the family who received the rice, and you, every bag has a different story.
Yes, when you buy a bag, you are a part of the story. Your purchase of a bag provides 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of rice to a family in need in India. Indians typically eat rice three meals per day. 1 kilo will last the average family of four a little over 1 day (4 people x 3 meals = 12 meals total).
They also make pencil cases (in case you are buying art supplies above!), and other products as well.
17.) A travel photography course live and “in-person” overseas with our personal friend and travel photographer / photojournalist Matt Brandon! He is an expat that offers amazing travel photography workshops overseas a couple times a year – See http://thedigitaltrekker.com/. Every time they offer a course it sells out soon after opening for registration. What sells the trip are the photographic opportunities, the luxurious and exotic accommodations/locations and the student teacher ratio/personalized instruction.
He also has a free eBook on his website “Twenty-Five Tips, Tricks and Gear Suggestions for Traveling Photographers” that will help you immediately get better at photography, as well as great camera and gear reviews on his blog.
17.) Our VP’s Pick: Bose QC35 Series 2 noise cancelling headphones now with Google Assistant
Last year we recommended the Bose Quiet Comfort QC25. This year we are repeating our recommendation but with the newest and latest model based on the recommendation of our Vice President. The primary difference between the QC25 and QC35 series I versus the QC35 series 2 is Google Assistant which works with both Android and iPhone as long as you download the app (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8qMYKNutb4). With the update to the downloadable app you can also now adjust the amount of noise cancellation. Wear them for hours and hours on the plane and stay comfortable. The 20-hour battery life should get you from door to destination with a few hours to spare in case you can’t charge them again immediately upon landing. Plus, if you have 15 min. while waiting for the next flight, a 15 minute charge (using the microUSB plug) will get you another 2.5 hrs. of playback incl. noise cancellation. (Another review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykz2YRqxX3M.)
So there you go. Some travel ideas for 2018 or for just in time for gift giving!
Some cheap, some pricey, some exotic, some practical. Of course this presumes that you already have a good travel insurance policy or international health insurance plan (If you are living overseas/are an expat). A good plan will work behind the scenes, protecting both you, and your finances.
So, how did we do? Let us know your best travel gear ideas in the comments! Please no fundraisers, sales or appeals, just give us your best gear advice/tips/selections that other travelers might benefit from.