Travel Gear We Use: Five items I never travel without

On average, I travel twice a month, either by car or plane. I’m in airports at least once a month. This is not as much travel as some people, to be sure, but it’s enough that I’ve pared down my carry-on luggage to include only the essentials. Whether I’m traveling with my kids or solo for work, these five items are always with me.

Five items I never travel without

Number 5: My S’well insulated water bottle

I own and love many insulated water bottles. You can read my most recent round-up of best water bottles here. But S’well wins for #1 travel water bottle, because of its shape. This narrow, thin bottle fits perfectly in every side pocket of every travel backpack or tote I use (and I use a wide variety). I save a lot of cash by not purchasing plastic water bottles everywhere I go, simply refilling at airport water stations. By the way, are these stations more abundant in the Pacific Northwest, or am I imagining things? Plus, S’well bottles are sleek and stylish, too. They have many sizes, but this is the one I own. Pick up your own for about $30.


Number 4: My RFID-blocking travel wallet

Becoming a victim of identity theft sounds like a real bummer. I highly recommend an RFID-blocking wallet, and I travel with this one from Dante Women, because it’s just substantial enough to double as a clutch for those fancier nights out. (Who the heck wants to travel with a full purse on top of a travel backpack or tote? Not me.) The one I use is about $30, but you can find them much cheaper, too. My wallet fits easily into whatever travel tote or backpack I’m using at the time, and if I’m doing something active, like mountain biking or hiking, I can use a much smaller wallet like this one, or leave it all in the safe at my hotel and use Apple Pay.

Read a review of my all-time favorite travel day pack.

Number 3: My Kavu Pretty Poncho

You know how you always wish you had a cozy blanket on the plane or in the car, but you don’t want to lug one around with you? Trust me when I tell you that Kavu makes a shawl-style number for women called the Pretty Poncho that solves this problem and more. This thin, lightweight woven poncho looks great…it drapes in a flattering way and looks elegant. Plus, it serves as that cozy blanket you need, and stuffs down small in your day pack when you don’t need it. I absolutely love mine, and always have it in my bag. It looks nice when you want to dress up a simple shirt and pants for dinner out, too. It costs around $50, and is well-worth it, considering how often you’ll use it.

Number 2: My Bose QuietComfort 35

This is a pricey one, but trust me…it’s worth it. A quality pair of earphones are crucial to a stress-free travel day. Airports are noisy, chaotic places, and isolating myself from the sounds of a terminal or airplane cabin provides me with a sense of personal space. Listening to my favorite classical music (I know, I’m a dork) instantly relaxes me. And since I hate dealing with a tangle of cords, wireless is the only way I’ll go, when I can help it. I can even get a bit of sleep wearing my Bose QuietComfort. They’ll set you back about $350, but are such high quality, they’ll last you a long time. For a more economical pick, I also like my Sol Republic MasterTracks, which are not noise-cancelling or wireless, but only cost about $90.

Read a review of our best electronic travel accessories for kids.

Number 1: My Sleep + Sound MINI

A lot of people have trouble sleeping in strange hotel rooms, and everyone has different ways to combat this problem. My solution has been my Sleep + Sound MINI. This sound machine adjusts automatically to muffle sounds that might disturb you (or your sleeping kids), such as an elevator door opening or people’s voices in the hallway. It has 12 audio programs, with additional settings for a total of 48 unique soundscapes. I’m boring and like the ‘industrial fan’, but you can also set it to play ocean sounds, birds chirping, and rain, just to name a few. Yes, I could use an app on my phone, but guess what? Phones next to your bed wake you up…I want mine charging on the other end of the room.

Do you have a travel item that always comes with you on trips? Let us know about it in the comments!