There are endless lists of ultra-fancy travel gadgets that advertising agencies think we cannot live without. Many of them cost hundreds of dollars and take up valuable luggage space. I figure if I’ve made it this far without the $80 airline seatback organizer or $150 travel hoodie with 20 pockets to organize all of my crap, I can manage my future travels without them.
I only pack things that are compact and useful, because everything has to fit in my 360 carry-on suitcase along with my clothes, shoes, and toiletry items.
For all but one item, I’ve suggested affordable solutions that cost around $20 or less. Also, nothing I’ve listed requires a rocket scientist or tech-savvy 12-year old to teach you how to operate it!
I find it extremely difficult to only pack clothing that is wrinkle-resistant. However, my travel clothes steamer makes this a non-issue. Small and compact, I simply fill with tap or bottled water, plug it in, and in just a couple of minutes I have prolific amounts of steam. Wrinkles almost instantly fall out of virtually any fabric, so I look fresh and wrinkle-free instead of looking like I’m living out of my suitcase. The unit also has a built-in converter, so only an electric plug adapter is necessary for it to work in other countries.
In this fully-connected world it’s amazing how many items we plug in every day: clothes steamers, hairdryers, shavers, and chargers for our phones, tablets, camera batteries, and other gadgets. Since most of these items have built-in converters, the electric plug adapters are usually all that’s necessary. Luckily, these are pretty cheap, so I buy plenty of them to take on overseas trips.
3.) Money belt
I know multiple people who have been pick pocketed while abroad, but I never have because I monitor my belongings at all times, keep my wallet in my front pocket, and for extra security, I wear a money belt that holds my passport as well as extra cash and credit cards. If you’re looking for something more fashionable or with easier access than inside your pants, you can opt for a neck wallet, travel scarf, or one of the new lines of travel clothing with hidden pockets. However, keep in mind a simple money belt is the most affordable option, and if worn correctly, no one should ever see it.
When I’m on a long flight where I need to stay awake, I love my comfortable Bose noise cancelling headphones. They eliminate the loud jet sounds and help me to forget I’m even on an airplane. I can relax and watch movies, listen to music, or read in a much more peaceful atmosphere. These are by far the most expensive item on my list, but they really make long distance flying much more enjoyable for me.
Travel books provide a wealth of information all in one location, so I typically pick a few up from the library before I travel to get some good ideas on things that are worth my time. Then if there’s one I particularly love and think it’s worth taking with me (like many of Rick Steves’ books), I’ll purchase it and reference it while I’m on the go. In remote locations where I can’t get cell phone service, I’ve been able to figure out a good place to eat or learn more about a specific attraction, which helps me appreciate it more.
6.) Selfie stick
Let me just say I’ve had my selfie stick for almost 10 years, and I love it. I use it with my wide-angle point and shoot camera, and I can get great pictures of my wife and myself when no one else is around. It also helps me get photos above a crowd and at unique angles. I might look like a maniac wielding a camera on a stick, but I think it’s worth it.
7.) RFID protection
Ever since a stranger decided to use my credit card to buy a plane ticket to Turkey and not invite me along, I started using an RFID wallet to block criminals from attaining my credit card information. Individual RFID sleeves are available in all sizes to protect your credit cards, identification card, and passport, so you can be protected even if you put your cards in your purse, pocket, or daypack.
8.) Travel pillow
I’ve found that in order to sleep well on a plane, a travel pillow is a necessity, and those flat as a pancake pillows the airlines provide just don’t work. While there are all kinds of travel pillows available, I prefer the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow because it allows my body to lean against the pillow and simulate the feeling that I’m lying in bed while being forced to sit up. It inflates easily and packs in a tight roll that can be snapped onto my carry-on handle and not take up any space inside my luggage.
9.) Toiletry bag
When traveling abroad a toiletry bag is an absolute necessity. Most bathrooms do not have nearly enough counter space to store all of my wife and my products, so a compact case with a sturdy hook that can hang on a towel bar is perfect. While a toiletry bag isn’t as necessary domestically as it is overseas, it still keeps all of my toiletries nicely organized and in one location.
10.) Travel hair dryer
I don’t use a hair dryer, but my wife does, and she takes her travel hair dryer with us no matter where we go. Hotel dyers are almost worthless, and most Airbnb locations don’t provide them. If we are abroad and our Airbnb host does provide a hair dryer, my wife will use it to save her travel dryer from the extra work of having to convert the electricity, but her travel dryer has worked well in every country we’ve visited.
Again, these items easily fit in my carry-on suitcase because I can’t afford anything to be big, bulky, or not worth the hassle of carrying around.
All of the 10 products I’ve listed are Hawaiian Brian tested and approved, and they accompany me on nearly every trip I take. I literally wouldn’t leave home without them.
If there’s a travel product you don’t leave home without please tell me about it! I’d love to know what I’m missing out on!
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