For eighteen months of travel, I had me, myself, and I — plus two bags. As a self-proclaimed collector of things and trinkets, becoming a minimalist was definitely a learning curve. Limited by weight and custom declarations, I quickly became an expert of multitasking beauty products, techy gadgets that make life (and work) easier, and wardrobe staples that function well, sans wrinkles. After more than 100 flights — and mastering the packing-unpacking-packing routine — I developed deep loyalties to specific products and brands. After all, when you’re in the midst of the chaos that often comes from an unpredictable life on the road, having the right carry-on bag, external battery, pair or kicks or tummy meds, can make or break your day in a new city.
So, when in doubt, I always ask the pros what to pack. Travel influencers who share their treks with thousands (or millions!) have discovered the most effective and reliable gear and goods out there. Here, they share the travel accessories they never, ever leave home without.
What it is: A compact drone
Why it’s awesome: “I don’t take a trip without my DJI Spark mini drone! It literally fits in the palm of my hand, so it's compact enough to fit in my small travel bag without issue. The cinematic aerial shots can't be beat. You can see it used in my ETR TV episode in Ticino, Switzerland (check it out 1:20 in)," she says. "It takes a few test flights to feel comfortable with flying, but it is simple to control. It’s also amazing for traveling solo because it has a tripod feature and can actually help you take selfies. It is simply the best travel companion for versatile video and photo capture.”
What it is: A daily supplement
Who loves it: Travel journalist Kinga Philipps, who writes two travel stories, hosts for the Travel Channel and is a regular contributor to plenty of publications and broadcasts
Why it’s awesome: “After months of travel from Ethiopia to Peru to remote islands off Scotland and mountain tops in Jordan, our worn out, sleep deprived, banged up and thoroughly spent team collectively agreed that this formula was pure magic," she says. "It’s designed to support the immune system when under physical stress -- and nothing quite says physical stress like traveling to remote and exotic destinations, trekking through jungles, and exposing your system to all sorts of new microbes. The fact is that when you are hosting a show or covering a story, you don’t have time to get sick.”
What it is: Portable digital reading device
Who loves it: Lisa Nivers, the founder of We Said Go Travel, which is the third rated travel blog by Rise Global (plus, she is the top female travel blogger!)
Why it’s awesome: “When I am traveling I have to be able to read on long flights and at night in hotel rooms," she says. "I love my Kindle. It holds so many books, and my favorite feature is that I can highlight passages to use in articles. It also has a dictionary and can tell me the definition of words. I also like that I can change the font size for easier reading. Kindle is essential for my travels.”
What it is: A neck-support travel pillow
Who loves it: Freelance journalist Anne Roderique-Jones, who is always on the go and sharing her experiences with Vogue, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, Shape, and countless others
Why it’s awesome: “I think I’ve tried every neck pillow on the market and didn’t find one that worked until I used the trtl. This pillow is really more like a furry neck brace that supports you while snoozing. According to the company’s website, the Trtl Travel Pillow is scientifically proven to work, half the size of a U-shaped pillow, and it's machine washable. I did have to watch a YouTube video on how to actually work the product, but I now stuff it into my backpack, along with my laptop and a thin blanket, on every long-haul flight -- and I sleep like the dead!”
What it is: A soothing essential oil formula
Who loves it: Travel writer and photographer Megan Zink, who has an active website and Instagram following that continues to grow, much like her writing portfolio, as she contributes to Far & Wide, Wayward Collective, and others
Why it’s awesome: “I am a bit of an anxious traveler — I’m not scared of flying, but I hate crowds and sharing personal space -- especially in small spaces, like airplanes -- and I also tend to have slight germaphobic tendencies. To top it all off, I usually can’t sleep anywhere but a bed," she says. "This blend, which is TSA-approved and travel-friendly, comes everywhere with me and helps to combat travel-related stress. It keeps me relaxed and sometimes even helps me fall asleep! It’s a great remedy to find some calm in a pinch, especially when you can’t escape an airplane. I especially like to apply it and listen to a calming playlist or meditative podcast/app.”
What it is: A portable, streaming media player
Who loves it: Writer, editor, and entrepreneur Mark C. Anderson, who contributes travel content to the San Francisco Chronicle, Edible Monterey Bay, Shakers, and more.
Why it’s awesome: “It packs very efficiently, but with a wallop — makes streaming all sorts of Netflix and YouTube and digital entertainment from phone or laptop to a TV screen.”
What it is: A travel case for your glasses
Who loves it: Alicia T. Chew, of the eponymous travel blog, who has collaborated with many brands including Boston USA, Visit New Orleans, Walt Disney World, The Ritz Carlton, and many others
Why it’s awesome: “If you wear prescription glasses or like to travel with multiple pairs of sunglasses, this product is right up your alley," she says. "I like to travel with this chic case from Warby Parker to keep all of my shades protected and in one place. It also doubles as storage when I'm at home as well.”
What it is: A supplement for tummy woes
Who loves it: Freelance writer and travel blogger Christabel, whose Instagram following is just starting to skyrocket
Why it’s awesome: “A fellow traveler enlightened me on the benefits of traveling with activated charcoal especially since I spend a significant part of the year in India. It has saved me on multiple occasions from succumbing to the dreaded Delhi-belly when eating out in India," she says. "Activated charcoal is known for its adsorption properties, and when ingested, it provides the ability to prevent toxins from being absorbed by the body. I am just finishing a month-long trip through Northern India and the lower Himalayas, and unfortunately got a bout of food poisoning on my last day in Udaipur. Since I never travel without my activated charcoal, I was able to mix a few tablespoons with my water and drink it over the course of the day. Twenty-four hours later, and I was back to feeling better and ready to continue the rest of my travels.”
What it is: A travel water bottle with a built-in filter
Who loves it: Kristen Gill, an award-winning travel journalist and international photographer who has produced series for BBC’s The World, Public Radio International, NPR, Travel Weekly, Time Out, and many more
Why it’s awesome: “Everywhere you go, you need fresh water. Even more so when you travel and get dehydrated on planes. This water bottle allows me to steer clear of the single-use plastic bottles that are littering our earth and oceans. It also filters any water source to make it drinkable, which is great when you are visiting locations where you might not know the safety of the water," she says. "Plus, if you're an adventurer like me, having one of these bottles on the trail means I can drink fresh water from lakes and rivers, reducing the water weight I need to carry. A win/win for you...and the environment.”
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