As someone who spends a third of their life on the road, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way when it comes to travel hacks. From signing up for credit cards that help me avoid baggage fees and grant free lounge access, to setting up a tent in the least amount of time possible, there are tons of great products on the market that make traveling easier.
While I still haven’t mastered the art of only toting a carry-on (some day, I swear!), there some fantastic travel items that I almost always have on hand no matter where I’m going. Without further ado, here are the products I hope you come to love as much as I do.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: packing cubes are a game changer. Not only do these zippered bags keep everything perfectly organized in your luggage, but they also compact your gear (read: you can squeeze more in your suitcase!). There are plenty of colours available, so many households that use packing cubes designate one colour to each family member to help keep everyone organized.
You just never know when some sticky fingers might find their way into your suitcase, so don’t take off on your next trip before buying a TSA Approved luggage lock. You can pick one up pretty much anywhere (airports, drug stores, WalMart) for less than $10, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
READ MORE: How to avoid getting robbed while travelling
MEC Rolling Continent Travel Pack
Admittedly my backpacking days are over (I think) but I still maintain this is one of the best bags out there for those hitting the Europe/Southeast Asia backpacking circuit. Rolling travel packs are tops when it comes to doing double-duty, in that they combine the best features of a backpack with the most handy aspects of a rolling duffle bag. They look like a backpack, can be carried like a backpack, and are as durable as a backpack, but I love that they have wheels on the bottom so that when you’re hoofing it through the train station or airport you don’t have to throw out your back at the same time—plus, you can actually access the items stuffed at the bottom of your bag.
I have yet to find anything that can compete with a GoPro when it comes to the best way to document an adventure. From heli-hiking to swimming with whale sharks and being pounded with waves while tidal bore rafting, my GoPro is always on hand to capture every thrilling moment. Sport Chek was kind enough to upgrade my old GoPro and send me a new Hero5 Black, which means I can take advantage of its touch screen and voice control options (no more guessing if my shot is framed properly) and I love that it has built-in waterproofing so I won’t need to mess around with external housing any more. I’m also thinking about picking up this GoPro Floaty, as I’ve seen a few too many pricey devices slip away to the bottom of the ocean floor!
I was always a Windows girl…that is, until Apple wooed me over with the sleek, ultra-light, thin MacBook Air. It weighs about the same as a hardcover book and effortlessly slips into my carry-on bag or purse, which means I have no qualms bringing it everywhere with me and I can get all my work done on the plane. Being able to edit all my vacation photos before I’ve even touched down on the tarmac is a huge win in my books!
Aquapac Waterproof Case
Planning to hit the water or head to the beach with your smartphone in tow? Then be sure to have an Aquapac waterproof case on hand. This one is brilliant because all you have to do is slip your phone into the case and slide the tabs on top to waterproof it: easy-peasy! Since it’s not form-fitting you’ll be able to use it on different models which is great if you end up upgrading your phone—not that you’ll need to be too worried since the case only costs about $30! I also love that it has a lanyard on it, which has come in handy on rafting trips when I want to have my phone close but don’t have any other way to hold it.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
These Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones are a lifesaver for flights. Not only are they comfier than crappy earbuds, but they do a stellar job of blocking annoying noises out. The propeller plane is making a racket? There’s a baby crying in row 14? I wouldn’t know—I couldn’t hear anything over Jack Johnson’s sweet melodies lulling me to sleep.
Speaking of sleep, I had three horrible experiences in a row of being kept up all night by noisy hotel guests, which is when I finally bit the bullet and invested in a white noise machine. Fortunately I don’t find myself using it too often, but I’m sure glad to have it when I hear people stumbling around the hallways and I’ve got an early morning excursion planned!
RELATED: The best tricks for getting a good night’s sleep while travelling
Portable Battery Charger
Surely I’m not the only one whose iPhone can’t hold a charge for the life of it? With that in mind, I never head out without a portable battery charger to keep my phone juiced up all day. I love this Kate Spade one, which not only delivers a full charge and is super slim, but also ultra chic.
FOR THE PLANE
A Priority Pass
Even if you’re not in the top one per cent, you’ll feel like it as soon as you settle into a first-class lounge despite holding an economy class ticket. Priority Pass is a fantastic program, which lets you hunker down in airport lounges all around the world. Anyone who’s had to spend more than four hours in an international terminal knows that $25 doesn’t go very far in the food court—plus you don’t get showers, food, alcohol and wi-fi. To me, investing in a Priority Pass is a no-brainer for anyone who regularly finds themselves biding their time on a layover.
I still maintain that those doughnut-shaped pillows you can buy at the airport are the best bet for in-flight comfort, but the truth is they’re not the easiest to haul around. That’s why I love the next best thing: MEC’s therm-a-rest compressible pillow. The stuffing is made from foam which makes it uber-comfortable, and it has a built-in drawstring that helps squish it down to the size of your forearm once your plane touches down. It’s also been a lifesaver to have on-hand when hotel pillows look a bit suspect, or I’m out camping. Highly recommended!
Vapur Water Bottle
You wouldn’t believe how many of my fellow passengers have stopped to ask me about this Vapur water bottle when I whip it out on the plane, and honestly, this thing is brilliant. First off it’s collapsible, which means there’s no clunky bottle to lug around once you’ve drained the contents. When empty it’s essentially flat and weightless, making it perfect to bring to the airport and fill up in a water fountain post-security or on the plane, so you don’t get dehydrated on board. But my favourite feature has to be the carabiner that doubles as a handle, so you can attach it to your backpack or hang it on the seat in front of you.A Passport Holder
I resisted buying a passport holder for a long time, as frankly, it seemed unnecessary. But then I found an ADORABLE case at kikki.K in Australia and couldn’t leave the country without it. It turns out a passport case does a lot more than just look cute when you pull it out at customs: it also protects your passport, has sleeves for travel documents and cards, and also makes it a lot easier to find your passport after it inevitably gets buried at the bottom of your bag.
Anything Lululemon. Buy it. That is all.
OK fine…I’ll explain why in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard about this iconic Canadian brand. Basically all of their clothes fit amazing, are ridiculously comfortable, will last forever, and just so happen to ward off dirt and odours which makes them the perfect staple in any travel wardrobe.
Chancery Water Resistant Boot
Function and fashion don’t always mix, which is why I’m so obsessed with my Chancery leather boots that prove the two can co-exist. They’re incredibly comfortable thanks to the shearling interior, yet you’d never know they’re UGGs thanks to the chic, buckled leather design. Perfect for a winter visit to Europe!
Deciding which shoes to pack for a trip is always tricky. Not only do they need to be comfortable during all that sightseeing, but they should look half-decent and not take up your entire suitcase. Enter Tieks.
These leather ballet flats come in every colour under the rainbow, and are famous for their turquoise soles. Favoured by supermodels and celebs like Oprah, Tieks are also popular with travellers as they can fold up into the size of a fist, which means you can tote around as many pairs as you like!
North Face Rain Jacket
From climbing up to Machu Picchu to whitewater rafting in Yukon, Canada, this durable rain jacket has kept me warm and dry through various adventures. Not only is it great for keeping the rain away, but also does a surprisingly good job of blocking out the wind and has a nice, slim cut (read: it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a poncho!).
Hanging Toiletry Bag
It’s mind-boggling how many hotels still haven’t figured out that their guests need counter space in the bathroom. Fortunately, that hasn’t really been an issue for me since I picked up this Eagle Creek toiletry bag. Not only does it have tons of handy compartments for storing all my stuff as well as a built-in mirror, but it also has a handle which means I can hang it on a hook and save that precious counter top space. Also super-handy for camping, because yuck have you seen those bathrooms?!
L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra-Rich Body Lotion
Anyone who’s ever been to my homeland of Canada can attest that it is one dry country, and the long winters can wreak havoc on skin. That’s why I’m addicted to L’Occitane’s ultra rich body lotion which is like a miracle worker for dry hands and feet. I always have this creamy balm on hand, and love that it comes in a squeeze tube so it won’t explode all over my luggage.
Aveda Hair Spray
Aveda products are absolutely heavenly, from the way they nourish skin and hair right down to the fragrant scent. While I’d love to have a whole bag full of their products, I’m always sure to keep a travel size can of their Air Control hair spray on hand, which does a fantastic job of keeping my backcomb in place without that gross, sticky look.
Saje Wellness Products
Essential oils not only cleanse the air around you, but also act as natural remedies which is why I love the travel-friendly kits from Saje Wellness. I always have the Pocket Farmacy kit in my purse, which includes five roll-on blends to combat things like stress and digestion problems (the immune booster is my favourite, and a life-saver for when you feel a cold coming on or just got off a long flight). Frequent travellers should also check out the Travel Safe kit, which includes a jet lag remedy, a reviving mist and healing ointment.
It turns out dryer sheets aren’t just for laundry days. I always slip a few between my clothes in the packing cubes, to help ward off that airplane stench and keep my wardrobe smelling fresh on the road.
HotHands Hand Warmers
As someone who spends a lot of time freezing their @#$ off (because Canada), I’m addicted to HotHands warmers. Whenever I head to the ski hill or out for a day of adventure on the frozen tundra, I’m sure to throw a few of these in my bag to keep my fingers and toes nice and toasty. In case ya didn’t know, frostbite is the ultimate buzz kill.
Travel-Size Laundry Detergent
If your vacation is scheduled to last more than a week, chances are you’ll need to do laundry at some point—and laundry service isn’t cheap. Enter these laundry detergent packets, which mean you can easily wash a few key items in the sink. Just make sure you have enough time to let everything dry before packing up again!
Hangry is not a good look on anyone, which is why I like to carry around a few Clif Bars when I travel. They’re delicious, hold up well in a suitcase, and are a relatively healthy way to tide yourself over until the next meal.
I have a confession. I once rated this eye mask as one of the world’s most ridiculous travel accessories, because it kinda looks like you’re wearing a bra on your face. But then in the quest to find the perfect eye mask, I circled back to this one and bought it. And bought another. And once that one’s all stretched out, I’ll probably buy another. Why? Because it doesn’t let any light in, and since the fabric is raised away from your eyelids it doesn’t squish up against your face and is way more comfortable than other masks I’ve tried in the past. Sure I may look ridiculous in it, but it’s worth it.
Pop Up Tent
Pretty much the only reason I go camping is so no one can judge me for day drinking (amirite?), so I don’t love that it usually takes over an hour to set up a campsite which seriously cuts into my wine time. That’s why I was psyched to come across the Coleman Instant Tent, which is exactly what the name implies. Thanks to its brilliant design which includes built-in poles, I managed to set up the entire tent by myself in under two minutes—and I bet I could get it down to 45 seconds now that I don’t need to read the instructions. Game changer.
What’s your all-time favourite travel accessory? Share in the comments below!
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