I love traveling. So much so that in 2012 I left my life of a steady 9-5 job, leased apartment, car, bed, and so on to travel the world full time and pursue a life that felt exciting and truly fulfilling for me. Since then I’ve been joyfully living out of a backpack as I travel and spend varying amounts of time in places. In the winter months, I tend to spend my time abroad in tropical countries such as Thailand, Costa Rica and Peru. During the warm months I like to explore my favorite destinations in the USA, such as Austin, TX, southern California, and the northeast, living in various places or more recently living out of my RV.
Throughout all of this time I have come to appreciate the items that I keep in the 19-liter Tom Bihn backpack I live out of. It is fun for me to continually reassess and downsize what I am carrying to best serve my life. Today I’ve made a list of my top 5 travel items to share with you. You can find links to many of these on my Items I Love page.
I travel with and love the iphone 6s. Traveling with a smartphone that is unlocked, where you can replace the SIM card in new countries you are in for local service is awesome. And even if you do not have this option with your phone, it is great to use it with WiFi wherever you are.It’s no secret that smartphones are basically like a laptop, camera, ereader, GPS, MP3 player, and so on all mixed into one these days. Some of my favorite functions on my phone no matter where I am are Google Maps, Camera, Chat, Google Calendar, Instagram, an internet browser, music playback (such as Itunes and Spotify) and a timer for meditation or fitness.
2. External Speaker & Headphones
I have been traveling with the JBL Clip external speaker for about 6 months and totally dig it. The volume power it has for how small it is is impressive. You can connect it to your musical devices via bluetooth or AUX cable and it charges with a USB cable. I like to set this up in a park when I’m about to practice acrobatics and in my own space if I want some tunes or increase the volume of what I’m viewing on my computer.
When I want to have a more internal listening experience, I choose my headphones.
3. Eye Mask
I have come to love sleeping with an eye mask so much that I no longer just do it when the world is bright outside, but rather whenever I close my eyes to slumber and have had much more restful sleep because of it. It’s awesome to have an eye mask handy if you want to catch some extra rest on a plane, train, bus, etc and there is light or distractions around you (I also recommend earplugs for this situation). I suggest getting an eye mask with enough padding that it blocks out all the light when you put it on. Also, it’s nice to find one that is comfy to wear and sleep on in all positions. I originally got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond some 4+ years ago and would now recommend purchasing one online.
I have traveled with a sarong for about a decade and love the versatility of it. I use it as a towel, a blanket, something to lay out on, a dress, a skirt, a scarf, a head wrap, and so on. It dries super quickly and takes up less space than most towels. I have seen both men and women rock them in all styles. They are easy enough to find in tropical destinations, especially those near beaches.
5. Awesome Backpack with Packing Cubes
I cannot recommend the Tom Bihn Synapse 19L enough. I love this bag (check out this video where I share more). Before this I traveled with a Deuter ACT Trail 28L and enjoyed that as well. I also recommend other bags in this video.
Most importantly, I suggest finding a badass bag that you love. Here are some questions to ask yourself when searching for your ideal pack.
Is it the ideal size for you?
Is it comfortable to wear?
Does the way it’s set up make it easy to live out of? (Think about the compartments, how they open, how they are sectioned, etc).
Is it well made, have good zippers, durable? (Waterproof is also a great plus).
Does this bag look the way I want it to? I used to have a bag that looked like a backpacker’s pack and have over time gravitated to a small, simple-looking black pack. What suits your needs and the way you want to appear while traveling?
Packing cubes are a great way to organize your pack. I have one half-sized cube for my clothing, which is double sided. There are lots of options depending on how many items you are looking to organize in your pack. There are a lot of companies that make cubes now and are easy to find online or at your local outfitter.