Since being married a year ago we’ve visited 8 states and 10 countries and over those travels, we’ve identified our travel necessities. This is the gear that always makes the packing list, the things we don’t leave home without!
Carry-on Travel Backpack
We both have resorted to taking carry-on backpacks as our primary bag when we travel. When we do have the luxury of checking a bag we generally stash some extra stuff in there and lighten the load from our backpacks but we’ve found that we end up not using a lot of things we bring when we take much more than a couple of backpacks. Obviously, this isn’t conducive to the way everyone travels but we do have a couple that we would absolutely recommend. We love the way they pack and the way they look.
Jeff – My primary backpack of choice is the Cotopaxi Nazca 24 L travel bag which can be found on Amazon here. It’s only 24 liters so you have to be picky with what you pack but I generally can get away with using one side of the bag and then Ellie can use the other side and we can use that space for toiletries because she tends to take a smaller bag.
If you are looking for something a little bigger take a look at the eBags Mother Lode (we’re giving one away this month – drawing September 1, 2019 – for filling out our travel survey here) which can be found and bought here. I started out using the Mother Lode when I went to a conference in San Diego but it turned out it was bigger than I needed. My dad continues to use it to this day though and absolutely swears by it.
Ellie – I tend to go with Cotopaxi’s smaller backpack, the Tarsa 16 L travel bag. This works well with Jeff’s bag because this one has a dedicated laptop/iPad pocket so when we’ve traveled during the school year we’ve been able to take one of those devices to share. Jeff’s backpack also has a dedicated pocket so we can switch things around but it definitely adds the versatility. The front pockets we generally use for snacks, our cords to charge electronics, headphones, portable chargers, toiletries, and possibly some games depending on where we are going and what the itinerary looks like.
Because this backpack is so small it doesn’t get too heavy if we have to walk a long way but it still can hold a ton of stuff! My sister-in-law, Sarah borrowed it for her latest trip to India and loved it so much she bought one herself for her trip to Jerusalem! This backpack can be found on Amazon here.
One of the downsides of taking only backpacks when we travel is the limited space it provides. One solution we’ve found to this problem is packing cubes. We found these compression packing cubes. Essentially there are two zippers so you fill it up and then zip it closed and then use the second zipper to compress out the air. These not only save a ton of space but they keep the clothes folded the right way. It’s like the vacuum bags without needing a vacuum and they don’t make your clothes as wrinkly.
Traveling, especially to different countries, presents electronic challenges. We learned from our honeymoon that we always need to have at least one portable charger around. We take a lot of videos and it tends to drain your phone battery pretty quickly.
PO-CHA (Portable Charger)
A few years ago we were on a family vacation when my sister asked my mom for a po-cha. None of us had any idea what it was but it turned out to be her abbreviation for a portable charger and the name has stuck in our family ever since. We prefer a power bank that has 2 USB ports as well as the capacity to charge an iPhone at least twice (once for each of us).
I got mine at TJ Maxx and it has been awesome but I’ve never been able to find the same one again. After some searching on Amazon this INIU portable charger would be the one I would go with if I was somewhat on a budget and if I was looking for something I know I could rely on I would look at the Anker brand power bank. I’ve owned a few Anker electronics and every single one has performed reliably and lasted a long time (I don’t know of any of mine that have broken to date.)
Personally, I think it’s worth the extra money to go with the Anker one simply based on reliability but the cheaper option definitely gets good reviews and looks like something I would use as well. Totally up to you but there’s a starting point if nothing else!
When we first started traveling, keeping our cords organized presented some challenges. We both have iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, portable chargers, and occasionally laptops. Hotel rooms tend to be stingy on the number of outlets provided so taking our electronics presented some charging issues. Then we found an awesome Tessan Cube extension cord. It had 3 USB slots on the top and then 3 standard 3 prong outlets around the sides of a cube. The shape of the cord allowed us to plug in way more stuff than a typical outlet so we started bringing it along on our trips as part of the cord ensemble we tend to tote from place to place.
Then in after 6 months of happily using the Tessan Cube, we were caught by one of Amazon’s Deals of the Day. We found the Anker Powerport 6 Lite which changed the game again. We still use our Tessan at home (and love it) but with the Anker Powerport we can plug in all of our USB cords to one place and then we just take that with us with everything still plugged in! When we get home, we don’t have to spend time sorting through cords we just pull it back out and plug it into the Tessan and we are set. This way we have 6 USB ports and then if we do take a laptop then we can use one of the other plugs in the room to charge that. It really is an awesome way to go for traveling.
BONUS – As I was browsing for the portable chargers as well as looking back at my Amazon history I found something pretty neat IF you’re an Apple user. This cord from Mesky charges your iPhone and Apple watch at the same time. I have no idea how well it works but I thought I would put it out there since it would help alleviate some of the pain points I know I experience when I travel.
Of course, if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a power converter. One thing to note with these is that going cheap can really cost you in the long run. Different countries use different voltages and a lot of the converters can step up or down the voltage to compensate without frying your device. If you just buy a cheap converter there’s a chance your device won’t play nice with the different voltage. Just something to be aware of. I don’t know that there is a best converter but this is the one we use.
Photos and Videos are some of the most important things you take away from your travels! As much fun as it is to experience the moment it is always fun to be able to relive it through a photo or video. We started out taking a lot of photos but found out quickly that those don’t get as much attention as some of the videos. Lately, we have been taking a lot more videos and compiling trip videos. We just had a family party where we were talking about FineOuting and our family asked to see some of our videos. We’re no professionals but we do have some stuff that we use when we are trying to create those lasting memories!
DJI Osmo Series Gimbals
Since we’ve been making more videos for family trips we looked into getting a gimbal for our phones so that we can get more stable pictures as well as get some different kind of shots like time-lapse or motion-lapse for my videos. The one that got the highest reviews was the DJI Osmo Mobile 2. We ended up settling on this bundle, which basically gets you a case and tripod for free, and we have loved it!
DJI just came out with the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 which looks even better. One of my biggest complaints about the Osmo Mobile 2 is that it doesn’t fold down very compact. The Osmo Mobile 3 solved this. DJI is a highly trustworthy company that makes great products. If you’re looking for something like this I would definitely start with them.
One last side note – and I haven’t ever used it – DJI also makes the DJI Osmo Pocket which looks pretty phenomenal. It is a whole lot more portable than even the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 but it does come with a pretty hefty price tag. You can find a pretty good looking travel bundle here.
I guess this one is pretty self-explanatory. I (Jeff) had been using the iPhone 7 very happily until my camera broke and since have upgraded to the XR. I’m very excited to take it on our next trip and compare.
I (Ellie) have the iPhone 7 and it has served us well. You can find our Youtube channel of our latest travel videos here and see what we’ve been up to as well as what kind of things we try and film and include in our videos!
Adobe Premiere Pro
I (Jeff) do most of the editing for the videos and Ellie manages a lot of the pictures! For video editing, I always use Adobe Premiere Pro. I used to use iMovie which works just great if you have a Mac and don’t want to spend any money on movie software. But for a few years (up until last year) I didn’t have a Mac so I found a different software. Although Premiere Pro has a bit of a learning curve I now like it much better than I like iMovie because of a lot of the customization that is so much more intuitive.
The Last Word
Overall Traveling Necessities are subjective and beauty (and functionality) are in the eyes of the beholder. We’re constantly buying new travel items and accessories trying to find what works best for us so this list is constantly changing! We’d love to hear from you in the comments your thoughts on these things!
See something we missed? Let us know what your top travel necessities are in your own blog post by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t want to write a whole post but have some travel tips to share you can always fill out our survey to be entered into a drawing to win a monthly prize. For September 2019 it’s an eBags Mother Lode backpack so if you’re wanting to try it out but don’t want to spend the money definitely fill out a survey HERE! We need our contributors to keep the site running and are so grateful to hear about all the hits and misses of traveling you’ve experienced!
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