His & Hers: 5 Travel Essentials By Darwin, Discovered

Happy Friday! Since we’ve had packing on our mind this week (3 more days till Peru!), we thought we’d bring you a few of our travel favorites.

His

(From Darren)

1. New Trent Portable Battery charger
Don’t know where I would be without this one.  Now that I use my phone for everything when travelling (mostly looking at google maps for places to go and yelp for places to eat), I can always count on my battery dying at some point.  With a portable battery charger, especially one that has 5200 mah or 7000 mah, you can charge your phone 2-3 times while you are out.  Or if you don’t like carrying something extra (or your girlfriend dislikes carrying your gadgets in her purse – AHEM), I also use a built-in extended battery case like the Mophie JuicePack Air, which you can find on Groupon for half the price every so often.

2. TripIt
I’ve gone with four electronics devices as my other four travel essentials, so I might as well continue the theme.  TripIt takes a little while to set up to the way you want to use it, but once it is ready, you never need to worry about printing itineraries again.  It syncs everything online, so whether you access your itinerary from a computer, or on your phone, you’ll know exactly what’s next.  You have two options in the free version: you can forward your confirmation emails to TripIt, and it will automatically add it into your itinerary, or you can allow it to search through your emails for confirmations.  I use the former, and it works great, but if you use the latter, I would love to hear your experience!  TripIt is free to use, with a paid “Pro” version ($49/year) that enables instant alerts (like flight delays, cancellations, gate changes), frequent traveler points tracking, and seat alerts.

3. JVC Marshmallow Earphones
I’ve had several iterations of these for the longest time now, mostly because my ear canals are so oddly shaped that normal buds don’t stay in.  These I chose because they have a memory foam tip, ensuring a snug fit regardless of the activity.  They are dirt cheap (<$12, even for the one with the built-in remote) so you won’t kill yourself if you leave them on a plane, or in a cab.  BONUS: the snug fit of the memory foam makes sure creates a semi-noise-cancelling effect, perfect for drowning out the hum of an airplane engine.  Or a screaming baby.

4. Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad
This thing is awesome.  One, it serves as a sleek, magnetic cover for your iPad, complete with matching aluminum-casing, so you almost look like you are carrying a really small MacBook.  In its other form, it serves as a sleek, full-functioned bluetooth keyboard so your iPad really becomes your laptop replacement.  Keys are quiet, the stand is sturdy (and magnetic), and the battery life is off the charts.  Get one, and say good bye to lugging your now (relatively) brick-like MacBook around.

5. Belkin Dual USB Power Charger
Hotel rooms suck at having enough power outlets.  We’ve all had that issue where you’ve got one plug, and your phone, laptop, iPad, and/or camera aren’t going to charge by themselves.  Enter a dual USB Power Charger, of which you can get a branded one like this Belkin, or you can go brand-less and get one of these.  You can charge two different usb-powered devices at once (so what, if it takes a little longer?) and in some versions, you even have extra power outlets built in! You could always use a little more room in your suitcase that you get from not having to carry around 3 or 4 charging “bricks.”

Hers

(From Winnie)

1. Rick Steves Packing Cube Set
I recently discovered packing cubes, and they are FAB. No more messy suitcase with clothing thrown all over hotel floors. I have the Rick Steves set of 3 and sort my clothing in the following manner: outfits in the big cube, workout clothes in middle cube #1, underwear/accessories in middle cube #2. For women, I would actually recommend these E-bag ones instead- bra strap hooks tend to get stuck in the mesh portion of the Rick Steves cubes (but still no rips). I also tried these Kiva compression packing cubes but found that the zipper wasn’t sturdy enough for my taste.

2. Samsonite Silhouette Sphere Spinner Exp 21″
For the past two years, I’ve brought my Samsonite everywhere and back. If this Sami was a kid, my toosh would be in jail via children’s protective services for the amount of abuse that it endures. Yet somehow it still looks as new as day one. Why is it so awesome? It has: handles in all the right places; four spinning wheels that make transport easy even for the laziest traveler (raises hand); the perfect amount of sub-compartments; and a rugged exterior that won’t break when you drop it on your fellow travelers’ heads (*nods sagely* I have done this). Oh, and it fits in the carry-on compartment- because really, who checks their baggage these days? Invest in this. You will thank me.

3. Sony NEX-F3
You want cute pictures, but the thought of carrying around a DSLR in your purse makes your shoulders ache. Earlier this year I invested in the Sony Nex-F3, an ILC (interchangeable lens camera) that offers DSLR quality in a point-and-shoot size (ish). If you have a little extra to spend, the NEX 5R has some additional features that I wish I had thought about (ability to use a remote, WiFi capabilities, etc) when purchasing. Other well-reviewed ILC options include the Olympus PEN EP-1 and the Panasonic Lumix GH3.

4. Nalgene Containers
Here’s my dilemma: I use far more conditioner than I use shampoo, and far less face wash than I use shampoo. But the travel containers they sell at Target come in one size only-3 oz., and females, let’s be honest: there’s no way all those liquids we want to carry will fit into the TSA-approved ziploc bag if we’re using the 3 ounce bottles. Plus, those bottles are cheap and break real quick. Enter the Container Store and their Nalgene containers. Don’t have 3 ounces of face wash? Buy a 1 ounce bottle instead, silly! I also really like MUJI’s travel containers.

5. Packable Duffel
It happens to everyone: you go on vacation, vowing to only come back with what you brought. Come return flight, you’re sitting on your suitcase, wondering where all this extra stuff came from. Pack a packable duffel- say what!? When not in use, it folds into a tiny bag that you can stash in your suitcase. I actually bought this Oakley duffel for our Machu Picchu hike, since we are limited to 7.5 kg of goods per person. Other options include this sleek number by Tumi, this simple one by Herschel, and this larger Mountain Hardware duffel. No need for a duffel? LeSportsac makes a fun travel tote, and Tumi has this classic shopper.

Readers, have you tried any of the products we mention above? Did you love/hate them? What else is on your travel essentials list?

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