Since I love travel gear and everything related to the packing process, I decided to share the packing techniques, packing lists and travel gear ideas I have learned from others. Monthly, I will summarize 10 of the best travel gear related posts in the Travel Gear Recap series. I will also tweet all of the posts on Twitter with the hashtag #travelgear. If you have written a travel gear related post and would like to have yours considered for the Recap Series, please leave a link and short summary in the comments below.
Here are the top 10 posts for Travel Gear Recap #2 in no particular order:
Catia from Vagabond Roots has the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3* which I have heard many great things about lately. Specifically, it works great for still photographs, but also takes high quality HD video. Check out Backpack with Brock’s video blog to judge the HD video quality since he also uses the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. I am seriously considering ditching my Canon Powershot SD750* and investing in the Lumix instead for both video and still shots.
Catia ditched the money belt of which I have never been very fond and never found a need for one during our trips to Chiapas, Mexico. But, then again, I was never robbed, either. I guess I assume that those who prey on travelers know all about the “money belt.” I suppose it is a personal preference. Similarly, she packs a door wedge, which I assume is to help keep hostel doors closed, etc. Although, I am still trying to determine if a door wedge is really necessary. Catia, can you enlighten me please?
I was really impressed with Catia’s recommendation for using a coffee filter to filter particles from river/water sources before using the SteriPen* instead of buying expensive filters. Shove a dozen of them into a ziplock bag before hitting the road and you are all set. (Ziplock bags are also found on her list, which have a million and one uses)
Ultimately, Catia is a rebel because she travels with a pair of jeans. I give her props for breaking out of the mold because I don’t think I can make it 6 months without bringing at least one comfortable pair either.
I love Art of Backpacking for many reasons, but I especially love Michael and Teresa’s practical packing tips. In their first post, they too recommend bringing Ziplock bags, but more importantly they suggest baby wipes. I can’t count the number of times in Chiapas when baby wipes would have come in handy… like the second trip when we went 7 days without a shower. I am kicking myself in the bum right now that I didn’t think of bringing them along. A mini flashlight would have also come in super handy when we were trying to find the “bathroom” in the pitch black jungle. In addition, I love the suggestion of bringing along business cards, even if you are not traveling for business. I imagine they will be perfect when meeting fellow travelers and exchanging email addresses/travel blog website information. I am considering designing our cards through Moo.com*.
I definitely plan to bring a Skype headset along, but I have yet to purchase one. I am leaning towards the Plantronics Avaya folding headset*, but would love some feedback on which ones work best for travel, on Skype and with a Mac. If any of you have recommendations, please leave a message below. I’ll finish off their recap with their recommendation to bring rubber bands for which I can already predict the usefulness. Not to mention the fact they are lightweight and add essentially nothing to your pack.
Jane packs 3 pairs of shoes including flip flops, a comfortable pair, and a nicer pair which are especially important for those who plan to work while traveling. On our trips to Mexico, I only brought flip flops and tennis shoes, but I am still considering adding Vibram FiveFingers* or another type of sports sandals to the mix. She also packs a hair dryer and flat iron which makes me think it may actually be feasible for Linda to bring hers along. Considering we will be traveling without many creature comforts, maybe I should be more supportive of her packing her blow dryer and hair straightener.
Matt Hope over at Backpacking WorldWide includes a video and photos in his gear list. He is also a Gorillapod* tripod user. I am starting to think we might need to bring one along just to satisfy Linda’s self-photo cravings. Plus, between the two of us, I think we can find space for it. He includes a nice video in his post with some of the highlights of his travel gear. Prior to reading his post, I had ruled out bringing a dry sack* along since my pack (being designed as we speak by Kamiliun Bags) is supposed to have a built-in rain cover. However, I neglected to think about traveling with the daypack most of the time and getting caught in unexpected downpours. Since the daypack might not have its’ own rain cover, a dry bag makes perfect sense to help keep my electronic equipment dry. It will also come in handy when traveling on boats and partaking in water activities. Matt also mentions bringing along clothespins and string for hanging laundry, but I have been leaning more towards packing binder clips instead for their strength, durability and versatility. Any feedback on clothespins versus binder clips would be greatly appreciated.
Travellerspoint has a very comprehensive list of many things you might want to consider taking on your trip around the world. I really appreciated their tips for bringing some cash in the currency of your destination. This is especially important if you will be arriving at night or on holidays when banks and money exchanges are closed. In many places, you can use US Dollars as a last resort, but you may blow your budget for a few days in the process. As Travellerspoint mentions, don’t forget the fun stuff such as a pack of cards, hackey sack, or other recreational items. I recall reading one blog where they always brought along a Frisbee which doubled as a bowl/plate. We are addicted to a dice game called Phase 10* which is not much bigger than a deck of cards and was a life saver on more than one rainy day while stuck in our room.
Similar to the rubber bands mentioned above, safety pins are also small and inconsequential to pack. They have already proven themselves invaluable to us when Linda’s Bikini top broke in Cancun and they have unlimited uses such as when you lose a button on your pants, need to secure a hole in a mosquito net, break a shoelace, break a zipper on your backpack, etc. They also recommend bringing an alarm clock, but in the modern age of ipods/iphones/smart phones, you can always download a free alarm app and save some space in your pack.
Travellerspoint’s packing list can also be downloaded in a pdf, Word or Excel format.
Yeah Yeah…I know… I may idolize Tim Ferriss ever since reading The 4-Hour Workweek(4HWW) back in ’08, but I don’t think any travel gear/packing list recap series would be complete without featuring his post from 2007 about traveling the world with 10 pounds of gear or less. Not to mention, he has a decent video illustrating his packing list essentials (I am a sucker for travel gear videos. I am a visually oriented person and I think videos do more justice for a packing/gear list than photos or words can ever do). Although his list may be a bit dated considering the fact some of his links are dead, there are comparable items available elsewhere which are definitely worth considering. For example, the Lewis N Clark Flex Lock he mentions is a dead link on Amazon, but you can find a comparable item mentioned below under Gap Year Escape.
Ultimately, Tim Ferriss has coined the phrase BIT method (or Buy it There method) which may be a practical option for many things you can find around the world. However, for those of traveling to multiple countries during one trip, it may not be very realistic or “budget practical” to buy certain items multiple times throughout your trip. For example, I’d rather pack a feather light rain jacket than buy an umbrella in 6 countries around the world. But, then again hauling around a tent might be silly considering they are available for rent in most places you will need one. Do the math on the price and the weight of the item and then decide.
I have a nice semi-hard case for my Arnette sunglasses, but space is precious. That’s why I really appreciate Tim’s recommendation of using a soft sock to keep them somewhat protected. If you are like me and prone to losing or breaking your sunglasses, I would not recommend taking expensive shades on your trip anyway. But, if you must, try the sock method. Since mine will be nearly 3 years old by the time we depart, I am not too concerned about bringing them and will definitely be storing them in a sock to protect what’s left of them.
Tim also brings along a MSR pack towel* which I will definitely be purchasing before we leave. All the reviews I have read lead me to believe this is the best option for showering and beach trips. We already have a bag comparable to the Kiva Key chain bag Tim mentions. However, our bag is similar to a shopping bag and is perfect for trips to the market, but having one in the shape of a duffel* bag would also be nice. As Erin, from Never Ending Voyage, mentioned in the comments of the last Travel Gear Recap, a featherlight waterproof jacket is a must-have on my list. Similarly, Tim carries a Marmot Jacket which fits in your pocket. The current line of Marmot Precip jackets* also come in a large variety of colors.
Rolf Potts is currently in the process of completing a six week No Baggage Challenge sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and BootsnALL where he will travel to 12 countries on 5 continents without carrying any baggage at all. While this method may not be practical for me, he does mention several items which I will likely add to my packing list.
I have considered purchasing SCOTTEVEST’s Ultimate Cargo Pants*, but have read such mixed reviews regarding the quality of materials used, I may go with something comparable made by another company. If any of you have SCOTTEVEST’s Ultimate Cargo Pants and can offer some feedback on how they work for you, that would be awesome.
I am really impressed with how Wes from Johnny Vagabond displays an interactive photo of his travel gear which really helps the reader visualize how much he actually packed. He chose to take a pair of Keen Sandals of which I have read some great reviews, especially their Newport H2’s*. Thus, I am still debating between those and the Vibram Five Fingers (as I have now mentioned incessantly). He sparked my curiosity with the USB recharger and USB mini-hub. I am going to have to sit down with all of my electronic gear and decide if those items will be worth their weight. I currently have the Griffin Tunejuice* to power my ipod in a pinch, but am not sure I have a true need for it, let alone the other two.
Wes updated his readers with the second post discussing how he sent his tent gear home. After all the posts I have read about camping gear, I am seriously reconsidering bringing my tent despite the fact it only weighs about 4 lbs.
Although Six In The World completed their trip around the world in 2008, their blog still holds invaluable information for those planning their first trip. As they mentioned, the latest trend is to carry an unlocked smart phone, but I am not sure how much I would really use it considering I can use Skype and email on my laptop and will have quick access to wifi with the ipod touch. It is still worth considering though. Another item they mention on their gear post is a reminder not to forget bringing along some “Pens, pens, and more pens (including a Sharpie).” Since I am a pen geek, I can appreciate this reminder. I am known to carry 40-50 different types of pens/markers around for my journals, but I think I am going to have to downsize just a bit for this trip. I recently found 99¢ Mini Sharpies* in the checkout stand at Michaels and grabbed a handful. They are small, lightweight, durable, and can be attached to practically anything.
Amar’s post led me into what seemed to be a never ending rabbit hole. I originally planned to recap his backpack review post also, but I will have to save that one for next month. Thanks for all the great information Amar.
He begins the gear part of his post by mentioning a travel towel made by Lifeventure from the UK. Since I had never heard of Lifeventure before, I started digging around bit and found that they make some great travel products. Based in the UK, Lifeventure may not be the greatest choice for travelers based in the U.S. as the additional shipping costs likely outweigh the benefits. Regardless, in Amar’s post and on the Lifeventure website, I found two great travel locks. The C400, which is similar to what Tim Ferris recommends above, weighs in at around .23 lbs and the SG400 is a sliding gear lock which seem more versatile and only weighs around .75 lbs.
And, the rabbit hole continued… On the Lifeventure website, there is a link to Lifesystems Big Planet which is a great informational site. Lifesystems has downloadable travel gear checklists which are broken down into the type of trip you are taking: Desert, Overland, Jungle, Expedition, etc… Furthermore, they sell numerous first aid kits which are also based upon your type of travel. They have a very thorough pdf download with a detailed comparison chart of all of their first aid kits.
Ultimately, Amar has other unique recommendations such as the Powermonkey* Solar Charger. However, I cannot justify buying one since it is unlikely we will be without power for long periods of time on our trip. For those of you traveling to very remote areas or hiking for days at a time, this might be a wise investment.
Flashpack is a new blog that was launched this month by Colin Wright who is better known for his blog Exile Lifestyle. At Exile Lifestyle, he illustrates the 51 things that he owns and it is apparent he thrives on minimalistic living. I anticipate this new blog will focus more on gear for flashpackers. So, keep an eye out for Colin on his new Flashpack blog.
What did you bring on your rtw adventure that we did not cover here? What do you regret bringing? What item will you never leave home without again?