Essential Travel Gear

Essential travel gear to get you started on your international voyages

Any affiliate links in this post are mine, so if you decide to make a purchase using that link, I will get a small percentage.

Travel Gear

You don’t need the newest, fanciest, most expensive gear to enjoy your travels. I’ve met plenty of nomads who made do with very little, including one Slovenian guy who rode a motorcycle through Central Asia with just one pair of pants.

Having said that, you could make your travels more hassle-free and enjoyable by investing in the items I’ve outlined below. These are things that I consider essential travel gear:

1. Your Brain

Didn’t think I was going to get all intangible on you, did you? Well, the very first thing you should pack before going on a trip is your brain. Do research beforehand. Be aware of your surroundings. Know yourself and what situations trigger you. Lastly, keep an open mind to the adventures awaiting you.

2. Travel Backpack

I 110% recommend you get a travel backpack. A good travel backpack is a serious game-changer, and I don’t use that term lightly. In fact, I wrote an entire article on what to look for that you can read here: How to Choose the Best Carry-On Travel Backpack.

My first travel backpack was an old Tortuga V2 44L that I got on Craigslist for $50. Since then I’ve upgraded to a Cotopaxi Allpa 42L, which I really love and recommend. However, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Tortuga offers newer, more advanced models such as the Outbreaker and the Setout, in 35L and 45L versions. These backpacks have actually won various awards for best travel pack from Carryology and other websites. If you’re looking for something functional, durable, highly rated, and stylish, I would recommend you get the Tortuga Setout 45L.

Kristen uses the Osprey Fairview 40L, which is the women’s version of the Osprey Farpoint 40L. It’s sturdy, very well-designed, comfortable, and has plenty of space for her things. She loves it. The Fairview and Farpoint are priced a little more competitively than the Tortuga packs, and they are some of the more popular models in use today.

Men’s Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

3. Packing Cubes

Another game-changer. These simple little nylon pouches keep your clothing compressed and organized, so you can fit more into your pack. The Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes that I use are dual-sided so that you can keep clean clothes on one side and dirty laundry on the other.

Eagle Creek Specter packing cube, medium size

4. Packable Daypack

Once you get to your destination, you’re probably not going to want to take your travel pack on all your excursions. Rather, you need a smaller daypack for holding your water, camera, and other essentials.

I personally use one from REI Co-Op that fits into its own pouch. It’s about the size of a small disc golf disc when packed. There are ones that pack so small they can fit in the palm of your hand, but keep in mind that the smaller you go, the thinner the material is going to be. The straps on that kind of pack are going to cut into your shoulders with any kind of weight in it. I like mine because it packs pretty small but it still has some padding on the straps. REI doesn’t seem to have the exact pack I use on their website, but they definitely still have them in stores. You can find another example of this kind of pack below:

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Another advantage of this kind of pack is that, if you’re on a long trip and just couldn’t fit every little thing into your travel backpack, you can use your packable daypack for extra space. It will count as your personal item, so still no checked bag fees.

Super Bonus: Want to travel even lighter? Revelar Workshop Kickstarted their line of CubePacks, which are packing cubes that double as daypacks. As of May 2019 these are not being shipped yet, so I haven’t been able to review them, but it could be a piece of equipment to keep your eye on.

5. Collapsible Water Bottle

There are many different versions of this, from pouches that fold up to bottles that compress into a spiral. The idea is that you have an item that does not take up much space when it’s not in use. I personally use a Vapur water pouch. It folds down nice and small, stands up on its own, and holds 700ml. Also made in the USA and comes in cool colors.

Vapur 0.7L Collapsible Water Bottle

6. First Aid Kit

You always want one of these with you. Be sure to move it from your travel pack to your daypack whenever you’re ready to go out exploring, even if you’re not going into the wilderness. On top of the usual contents, I would add some water purification tablets and extra headache and allergy medicine.

66 pc. Mini First Aid Kit

7. Combination Lock

This one’s for those of you planning on sleeping in the dormitory rooms in hostels. You definitely want to bring a lock to secure your belongings in the hostel-provided lockers. For sure err on the side of having a smaller lock, as some hostels I’ve been to have tiny latches for their lockers. And get a combo lock so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of a key.

Master Lock Combination Lock

8. Travel Adapter

If you’re going to be in foreign countries, chances are they’re going to use different outlets than what we have in the US. To make sure that you can charge your phone and other devices, you’ll need a travel adapter.

I use the Epicka Universal Travel Adapter. It has extendable prongs that can accommodate outlets in over 160 countries and has 4 USB ports, in case your hostelmates also need a charge. This one even has Type-C charging capability and comes with a spare fuse in case of a short.

Epicka Universal Travel Adapter

9. BONUS: Travel Insurance

I might get a lot of negative feedback for saying this, but…I personally have never used travel insurance. As a budget traveler, and someone who doesn’t usually take trips longer than a week, I would not say that this is absolutely necessary.

However, many people swear by travel insurance, and if you opt for it, check out World Nomads. They’re the undisputed industry standard, and they even run a fun and informative podcast.

Conclusion

With this equipment, you should be able to tackle most any adventure out there. Is there anything else you never go overseas without? Let me know in the comments! And I would appreciate it if you Liked, Tweeted, and Pinned the post using the social media buttons below.

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8 Responses

  1. Sabrina says:

    Wow! What a great post! I feel like I’m ready to travel the world after reading this! Nicely done!

  2. fpdorchak says:

    Nice post, Alek! Most of your images are loading for me, however.

    I was surprised to learn that these travel backpacks zipper on the OUTSIDE, though. I thought sure they would have learned from photographers to zip on the INSIDE…against your back…so that when you stand in lines or are caught up in busy locations with shoulder-to-shoulder people you don’t have to worry about thieves unzipping your goods. One such example is the Lowepro Flipside line (https://www.amazon.com/Lowepro-Flipside-Backpack-Compact-Mirrorless/dp/B073C5B4Z6), where your main gear is protected from such nefarious activity by an inside zipper against your back. It’s really cool, and I’m surprised more backpacks aren’t designed this way!

    Anyway, great post! Thanks for the cool info!

    • AlekZD says:

      Thank you!
      Yes, Lowepro is one of the best makers of camera bags out there today. Sadly, not many travel bags feature this design element, although many do allow you to use TSA-type locks to keep your valuables secure.
      Are you saying that a lot of the images are not showing up? Sometimes they get pushed down when displayed on a mobile device. I’ll look into that, as I’m constantly experimenting with new formats for the blog. Thanks for letting me know!

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