The Best Travel Gear For Solo and Family Travelers

Best Travel Gear for Solo and Family Travelers

We’re going to start this off with some brutal honesty. There are thousands of other sites out there claiming to have a list of the best travel gear. Sure, there are some good ones, but the vast majority of them are complete garbage. In fact, a lot of the travel items they suggest for a trip packing list are laughable. Some of their so-called travel necessities are items we would never consider bringing with us. Not because we weren’t smart enough to think about it. But, because it’s a completely useless “travel item” that won’t get used and just takes up space. The other thing we see a lot of is gear that really is a travel essential, but they’re recommending a bad product. It’s great that you might have learned about a new travel must have, but if it’s not a quality product, what’s the point?

To much honesty? We don’t think it was. There truly are necessities and there’s also gear that’s not so essential. We include both of them here, but if it’s more of a want and not a must have, we’re going to tell you. For instance, we do a lot of travel journaling. It’s important to us, but certainly not a travel item that everyone must have. However, we included it because we know many avid travelers also enjoy it. One more example, and this time we think it’s a travel essential. Power Banks to us are a travel must have. There is nothing worse than a much needed device with a dead battery. This essential travel item practically eliminates the chances of that happening.

Travel Gear Contents

We think you’d enjoy reading it all, but if you’re short on time you can jump to a specific section here.

  1. Get Organized
  2. Best Travel Gadgets
  3. Get Packing
  4. Best Travel Camera
  5. Best Travel Entertainment
  6. Health and Hygiene
  7. Best Travel Accessories
  8. Best Family Travel Gear

Travel Gear To Stay Organized

Borgasets passport holder

Staying organized is always important, but not being organized when you travel could end in disaster. Constantly struggling to find certain travel items, or even losing them can really ruin your vacation. These travel items will keep you organized and will help ensure you have a happy vacation, and not a stressful one.

Passport Holders

The passport holder is what we would consider an essential travel item. No one should be traveling with their passport just randomly thrown in their bag or purse. All of these passport holders have RFID blocking and will keep your most important travel document safe. We use these to carry our passport, a credit card and some spending cash. And that is pretty much it. We keep our other credit cards, ID and more cash secured in a backpack that we always have with us. The Borgasets passport holder (above) is what we use most and have been very satisfied. Frequent travelers know that it really does make traveling much simpler and safer.

Travel Packing Cubes

These are a real game changer when it comes to travel organization. Are packing cubes one of those travel necessities? No, they aren’t really an essential, but you’re missing out on simplifying your life if you aren’t using them. And you’re really causing yourself more pain than needed if you don’t have packing cubes while traveling with kids. We have never looked back after we started using the Shacke Pak Travel Cubes. No more digging to the bottom of your bag for underwear, or finding kids socks mixed in with your own. Once you get a packing cube set of these you’ll be considering them a must have travel item.

Travel Toiletry Bag

This isn’t the kind of travel gear that you necessarily need, but it’s one we use often. For a long time we would use plastic zip lock bags and we always felt it was such a waste. Besides being a big waste, they aren’t very good at keeping things organized. And when you’re on the go as much as we are the cost starts to add up after a while. The other benefit comes when we’re reviewing our trip packing list before we leave. It’s much easier to look in an organized toiletry bag to confirm everything is there compared to a plastic bag with everything just tossed in it.

We don’t have one just for the kids, but as they get older we’re sure they’ll be getting their own. For now the girls share the BAGSMART Toiletry Bag and the boys share the Gonex Toiletry Bag. If you really want to step up your organization and stop throwing away plastic bags we suggest you get one of these.

Best Travel Gadgets

Anker Powerbank for Travel

Sometimes when you hear the word gadget you think of some quirky electronic that really doesn’t serve much of a purpose. That’s not what you’re going to find here. Depending on where you’re going, these travel gadgets should be with you every time. When we think of travel necessities, every one of these items comes to mind. And when putting together a trip packing list, these should be toward the top.

Portable Power Bank

When you’re making a list of things to pack for a trip, this better be on it. Like we said in the beginning, we would tell you if we thought something was an essential item. Well, this truly is one of those travel necessities that every traveler should own. There is nothing worse than arriving at a destination only to find the battery in your camera or phone is dead. Sure, you can charge your device before you leave your hotel for the day. But, when you’re in crowded tourist spot your phone will often drain faster than it normally would. When networks get congested your phone has to search for a signal more often which leads to battery drain. With a portable power bank you won’t have to worry about this. These have quickly become absolute necessities for us.

We have been using the Anker PowerCore Essential for some time now. It’s small enough that we can carry it around without noticing it, but powerful enough to charge our phones roughly five times if needed. We also recently purchased the Omni 20+ Laptop Power Bank. It has a little more bulk than the Anker device, but still not noticeable when carried around in a backpack. It gives us more charging options and will be used more for camping, or when staying in more remote places.

Universal Travel Adapter

If you travel internationally you will need a universal adapter. We use this EPICKA Travel Adaptor and have had no complaints. One of the features we really like is the multiple USB ports which allows us to charge up to six devices at once. Two adults and two kids equals multiple devices, so this adaptor is perfect for our family. No need to carry more than one when we’re overseas. There isn’t really much more you can say about a world travel plug other than to make sure you buy one.

Apple AirTag

The Apple AirTag might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning a trip, but they could be extremely useful. We’ve recently went all in with them and aren’t looking back. Remember those passport holders we told you about earlier? Well, they have an AirTag in them. Our check-in luggage and even our carry-on; also AirTags in them. And when we’re traveling with our kids, they have an AirTag on them.

It’s not that we’re some super paranoid people, but the AirTag provides a little peace of mind when we’re traveling. Things can get hectic at times, and because of that, things can get lost at times. Placing an AirTag on important items gives you a chance to actually retrieve them if they go missing. You walk away without your bag and you’re retracing your steps for who knows how long. With an AirTag there’s a really good chance you’re walking right back to where you left it. And knock on wood, we haven’t misplaced a kid yet. But, we visit some crowded places and with kids it only takes a second to get really separated. It doesn’t hurt to keep one in their pocket while we’re out.

For how cheap an Apple Air Tag is and the benefits they can potentially provide, they were a no-brainer for us. If we’re traveling there will be AirTags with us. To date, they’ve only been used to find car keys lost in our house, but that’s a good thing. At least we know they’re working.

Best Luggage For Any Trip

Burton Kilo Backpack

Whether you’re looking for carry-on travel bags, or what works best for checked luggage, we have something for you here. Avid travelers know there is not one bag that works for every situation. And when we think of absolute necessities for travel, a good bag is one of the first things we think of. These are the best backpacks, carry-on bags, and checked luggage for every kind of traveler.

Carry-On Backpacks

Most of the time our preference for a carry-on bag is a backpack over a roller. Now, with that said, we have the luxury of traveling as a family of four, so there is often a mix of both. It also really depends on the trip we are taking. For a shorter trip our go to is the Burton Kilo 2.0 Backpack. If you know anything about us, you would know we travel with skateboards just about everywhere we go. For this reason the Burton backpack is great since it has straps to attach a board. Even without that design feature we would still love it. There is enough room for at least a few days of clothes and it also has a sleeve for a laptop. It’s also small enough that it can be used while we’re out exploring wherever we might be visiting. Overall the Burton bag is versatile and has been proven to be extremely durable. Whether you skateboard or not, it’s a great backpack to consider.

The Nomatic Water Resistant Travel Pack is our newest carry-on backpack, and really one of the best backpacks we’ve ever owned. It’s loaded with 20 pockets to fit all of our travel accessories and has a clamshell design which makes packing simple. We also love that it has an RFID lockable security pocket. This is perfect for keeping credit cards, cash or anything else we want to keep secure. It’s priced a little on the higher end compared to the other bags listed above, but really is well worth the extra cost. Think of the Nomatic backpack as one of those items that’s going to cost you up front but you won’t regret it once you start using it.

Carry-On Rollers

We have a lot of travel gear at our house. Some might even say we go a little overboard with it. But if we didn’t, we couldn’t write in-depth gear lists like this and be honest about it all. The going overboard continues with our carry-on luggage. We have the carry-on backpacks that we mentioned above, but we also have many carry-on rollers. Everything we own serves a purpose. We can often be away from home for long periods of time with only two rollers and two backpacks and never have to worry about checking any luggage. This is accomplished by purchasing the right travel items. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s four of us and two of them are only eight and ten. They tend to take up less space in a bag.

Our standard carry-on roller is the LEVEL8 Grace Expandable Hardside Carry On Luggage with Front Compartment. We own two of them and they’re the only carry-on rollers we use.

The Best Checked Bag For Most Travelers

When it comes to checked luggage, our family has a love/hate relationship with it. We hate it because we prefer to have everything near us. And of course, who really wants to deal with checked luggage? The love of checking luggage is because it usually means we’re going somewhere for a really long time. If we’re checking a bag, we’re either not coming home for a while, or visiting somewhere that a roller bag wouldn’t be ideal. Either way, we do our best to avoid it, but unfortunately that’s not always a possibility. If you do have to check your bags be sure you don’t forget your luggage tags.

Most of the time, if we’re checking a bag, it will be the LEVEL8 Grace 28″ Hardside Suitcase. Pretty much the same as our LEVEL8 carry-on, with the main difference being it fits more. If most of our trip involves cruising through an airport, or staying at the same place most of the time, the LEVEL8 will usually be our go to bag. This is the kind of bag most travelers travelers will want to purchase.

The other bag we use when we know we’ll be checking luggage is the Osprey Atmos Backpacking Backpack. This bag is used when we’ll be moving around a lot during our trip, or maybe we’re using trains or buses more often. It’s much easier to throw the Osprey on your back when you’re moving from place to place, or traveling via train or bus. For some of the places we visit, the nice wheeled LEVEL8 just isn’t practical once you leave the airport. At 65 liters, the Osprey Atmos has a ton of space, but because of the anti-gravity suspension it feels like you’re carrying less weight than you actually are. The adjustable strap also makes it easy to fit different body sizes. It’s a solid backpack that we highly recommend if you don’t want a wheeled bag.

Travel Gear That Captures

Sony a6400 Travel Camera

Most people these days use just their phone for a camera. They’ve come a long way in recent years, and many of the cameras on them take really great photos. We use our iPhones often when traveling and are happy with many of the pictures we take with them. But they do have their limitations, and they aren’t always the best option for what we want to do. For this reason our trip packing list includes two other cameras. And if you’re looking to take your photos and videos to the next level, your packing list should include these as well.

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera

This was maybe one of the best travel gear purchases we made in recent memory. We were looking to really improve our photography and knew we couldn’t with just our phones or the old point and shoot we had. After many nights of research, the Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera is what we decided to move forward with. Almost every review we read was a positive one, and the price was within our budget. After using the camera for a while we can say we’re more than happy with the purchase. Of course there was a learning curve with it, but that’s part of the process. We weren’t looking for something as simple as our phones. We wanted to dive deep into travel photography, but not to the level of a professional photographer. The Sony a6400 was the happy median we were looking for. And that happy median produces some pretty amazing photos.

GoPro HERO12 Black

Over the years we’ve had a few different action cameras. We started with a GoPro HERO6 and used it all the time when we traveled. Then we lost it and really didn’t want to spend the money to replace it. They aren’t cheap, and when you lose one it will make you tear up a little. Our next action camera was some knock off brand we found on Amazon. It was a fraction of the price and had a decent amount of reviews. Want to know where that camera is now? It’s sitting in a cabinet somewhere, because no matter how many reviews said it was better than a GoPro, it was not. Now we’ve moved on to our newest action camera, the GoPro HERO12 Black.

Of the three action cameras we’ve purchased, the GoPro HERO12 is our favorite. It takes 27MP photos, shoots 5K HD video, has insanely good stabilization and has both front and rear screens. One of the most useful features for us is being able to pull 24.7MP photos from videos. There have been many times we wished we would have taken photos along with video. With the GoPro HERO12 it’s possible to get both. To say it’s the most impressive action camera we’ve ever owned would be an understatement. We love this little camera and would definitely shed more tears if it ended up like our first GoPro. Maybe we should glue an Apple AirTag to it?

Best Travel Gear To Stay Entertained

Amazon Kindle

Entertainment is important when you’re traveling, and most of it should come from the places you’re visiting. However, we know there are times we need some extra help from our devices. This is especially true when you’re traveling with kids. Our packing list contains multiple electronic devices for entertainment purposes. But, we have some pretty strict rules when it comes to their use. If we’re sitting in an airport or traveling across what might be considered a boring landscape they can be used. If you’re on your device when there’s something worth looking at it’s getting taken away. Devices for entertainment should be included in your travel gear; just make sure they aren’t taking away from the travel experience.

Amazon Kindle and Fire

These are two of our favorite entertainment devices. Everyone should know what a Kindle is by now and if you aren’t traveling with one you’re missing out. With such a low device price and the option to get unlimited books with a monthly subscription, the Kindle blows away any other reading options. We’re currently using the Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite, so sitting at the beach or by the pool with a good book is worry free. Our Kindles are probably the most used devices when we’re on the road. And that’s a good thing since it’s reading instead of binge watching Netflix for hours on end.

Now for the devices used to binge watch Netflix. We use and recommend the Amazon Fire HD 10 over an Apple iPad. Yes, we know the iPad is a more capable device, but we aren’t really using them to work on. Most of the time we have a laptop with us, so we don’t need the computing power. These devices are for entertainment, not working. And the Amazon Fire excels at that. Another reason we use the Amazon Fire is the price. We can buy four of them for less than a single iPad. The price is a game changer when you have kids and are frequent travelers. We won’t be happy if we lose or break our Fire, but the cost to replace it is minimal. If you’re looking for a new tablet, skip the iPad and go with the Amazon Fire.

Nintendo Switch

We know, some of you are laughing at a video game system being listed under the best travel gear. If you are, there’s a good chance you don’t travel with kids often. The Nintendo Switch has come in handy during long flights, or road trips. And lets be honest, it’s no different than giving them a tablet to play on. The rules we mentioned above still apply, and we always limit their time on the device. It’s just another tool we use when traveling and are happy we have it. Plus, when the kids fall asleep on the plane the adults can get some game time in. Hopefully this thing has Zelda on it and I don’t have to blow in the cartridge.

Noise Canceling Headphones

We have an entire post dedicated to the best travel headphones which we recommend reading. But with that said, our absolute favorite pair of headphones are the Sony WH-1000XM4. We have owned or used many different noise canceling headphones and nothing comes close to these. The sound quality, battery life, and even comfort hasn’t been matched. You can read a little more about them in the post we mentioned. And you can also find some lower priced options as well. Accessories like noise canceling headphones aren’t an essential item, but once you get a good pair they will always be on your vacation packing list.

Travel Journaling and Scrapbooking

Now for our favorite devices to keep us entertained; our journals. You were probably thinking we kept our faces buried in a screen all day, but that’s just not true. Our entire family finds a lot of joy in writing in our journals and creating scrapbooks about the places we visit. Over the years we’ve found that it really adds to our trips. And it’s something that each of us do in one form or another while we travel. If you’ve never thought about travel journaling we can’t begin to recommend it enough. You can read our guide, A Travel Journal For All Types Of Travel to help you get started.

Stay Healthy and Looking Good

Travel Beauty Products

In our opinion, this is the part of travel that gets ignored the most. When you’re trying to figure out what things to pack for a trip, health and beauty needs to be front and center. These are travel necessities and they’re extremely important. All the best travel gear in the world can’t make up for bad health. And this includes taking care of yourself both inside and out. Travel can do a number on your body, but with a little help from some of these products you can prevent it.

Taking Care Of The Inside

One of the most important things to remember when you’re traveling is to stay hydrated. It’s important whether you’re traveling or not, but when you travel the risk of getting dehydrated is elevated. You’re on the go more and maybe you’re over indulging from time to time. Whatever it is, the risk is real, and staying hydrated is the first step to staying healthy when you’re away from home. We carry a Kemier Collapsible Water Bottle with us at all times. It collapses to save valuable space, but is also sturdy when filled or empty. It’s also dishwasher safe and can be used for hot or cold drinks. The other thing we always pack is Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier. They’re a great way to help with hydration when it’s really needed.

Besides the two helpful health items mentioned above, it’s worth mentioning something useful that money can’t buy. And that is not overdoing it on vacation. Take care of yourself the same as you would at home. Eat good, drink water, don’t overdo it at the bar. It’s fine to indulge when you’re on vacation, just try to have some balance. And if you ignore the last few sentences be sure you have the items listed above on your trip packing list.

Taking Care Of The Outside

Travel is just as rough on the outside as the inside. And sometimes the outside of your body can take the brunt of it. Having quality personal hygiene and beauty products is essential to fending off the effects of travel on your body. Keeping beauty products like Yes To Facial Wipes in your bag can bring a refreshing feeling to your face after a long and often dry flight. Even the sunscreen you bring can have a big impact on your skin. Our preference is this CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen. It doesn’t contain the chemicals that most sunscreens do and it leaves our skin feeling good.

Health and beauty travel products are something that could take up an entire post. Our trip packing list contains a lot of it, and for that reason we have shared what’s on it. Travel Products You Need For Every Trip will show you the health and beauty necessities you need for your next vacation.

Best Travel Accessories

Kids Travel Pillow

The catch all of our best travel gear; the travel accessories section. From travel pillows to laundry bags, these are the travel items we’ll be talking about. Not forgotten, but not quite fitting into the rest of the lists. No worries, it doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Some of these items are travel necessities that many will want to bring with on every trip.

Get Some Sleep

What’s one of the most important things while traveling? Sleep! Really, it’s super important to get some good rest when you travel. Some people have no trouble falling asleep on a plane, and others, well if you’re one of them you know what it’s like. We fall into the category of having trouble sleeping when we fly. For that reason we’ve learned to always fly with our travel pillows. The adults both have the MLVOC Memory Foam Pillow (comes with an eye mask) and the kids are currently using the BCOZZY Chin Supporting Pillow which comes in a variety of colors. And yes, the kids have to be different colors.

There is nothing worse than trying to use the window as a pillow the entire flight. Well, maybe accidently falling asleep on your neighbors shoulder is worse, but probably more embarrassing than anything. Every traveler has been there, and depending on the build of the person, you might be able to skip the travel pillow. But, if you don’t want to rely on your new travel buddy, do yourself a favor and pack a quality travel pillow. For our family a neck pillow is an essential travel accessory, and especially while on a long-haul flight.

Staying Safe While Traveling

Safety should always be on your mind when traveling. We know people that don’t even give safety precautions a second thought. They live with the mindset that they have nothing to worry about. Hopefully, you’re in the real world and you don’t approach life this way. This isn’t meant to scare anyone, but things happen and it’s better to be prepared for them. Just a few cheap and simple safety items can go a long way towards keeping your belongings safe.

The first travel safety item we use often is the Zero Grid Travel Security Belt. Losing your wallet with your credit cards and money is far from ideal. With the Zero Grid belt you can easily hide away some extra cash, so if anything happens you will always have a backup. And a quick side note; you should never be walking around with all your cash and credit cards. Leave most at the hotel, or if you’re en route be sure to not keep it all in the same bag.

Another travel safety device we use is the SABRE Door Stop Security Alarm. It works as a wedge to help prevent the door from being opened and hopefully scare off any would be intruders with the alarm. We use this when we’re on road trips and end up stopping at some less than desirable places. Sometimes you can’t control where you have to stop, and this adds a little peace of mind.

The Odds And Ends

These are the random odds and ends that are often overlooked by many travelers. Travel items like the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella that actually can handle some decent wind. This compact umbrella fits perfectly into any bag, so leaving it at home just doesn’t make sense. Or one of our favorite travel accessories, the Travel Laundry Bag. Sounds silly to say a laundry bag is a favorite of ours, but we hate putting dirty clothes in our luggage. And if you haven’t noticed, the plastic laundry bags at hotels are complete garbage. These bags are built to last and are washable. They’re well worth the tiny investment to keep your dirty clothes out of your luggage and plastic bags out of the garbage.

Best Family Travel Gear

Kids Traveling

We are firm believers in traveling with our children and have no problem taking them just about anywhere. Is it hard sometimes? Of course it is; I mean, we’re traveling with kids. But is it worth it? Yes, without a doubt in our minds it’s always worth it. We’ve been trying to expose our kids to as many new places as possible from a very young age. Our daughter took her first flight at eight months old, and at eight years old has been to more places than we had in our first 20 years. It’s not always easy, but lucky for us parents, there are some great travel products to help along the way.

For When They’re Little

These kids travel items are pretty much essentials when they’re little. And needing them is what’s often used as an excuse not to travel. We have good news for you; with these products you can’t use that excuse any more. The excuse has always been everything is too big and bulky to carry around. It’s too much of a hassle to fly with a car seat, stroller, or high chair. Well, none of these are too big and they’re actually really easy to travel with. Excuses over, time to start booking some flights.

One of the worst things to travel with has to be a car seat. We used to hate switching them between cars, so loading one of them onto an airplane sounds miserable. With the WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat you won’t have to worry about that. This thing weighs only eight pounds, yet it’s meets U.S. safety standards for both car and air travel. It also folds up to a pretty compact size and comes with it’s own carry on bag. If your child is still using a car seat it’s a game changer when it comes to traveling.

Another great kids travel product is the Bugaboo Butterfly – 1 Second Fold Ultra-Compact Stroller. Traveling with a stroller was a nightmare before this came out. In the past you would wheel the stroller up to the gate not knowing if you could carry it on or if it would be checked. With this stroller you no longer have to worry about that. It folds up to a small enough size that it qualifies as a carry-on item. With the products listed here, you can solve some of the worst problems of traveling with little kids. Stop making excuses and start making better purchases. The world is waiting for your kids to explore.

For When They Get Older

As kids get older traveling with them gets easier? It gets easier as in you don’t have to worry about strollers or car seats anymore. And it’s more of a keep them interested and occupied kind of deal. We already listed some great options to keep them occupied. But another important thing is to keep them interested. As an adult you’re probably thinking how could you ever lose interest in traveling? For kids, many aspects of travel can be extremely boring. Sitting in the airport, long flights, or even longer car rides can make them lose interest fast. Giving them something to look forward to and buying them travel gear with a style that fits them could really help.

One thing we started doing for our daughter is giving her things like a Travel Drawing Art Set for long trips. Sure, she has plenty of things to draw with at home. But buying this ahead of time and giving it to her when we arrive at the airport builds excitement. She’s getting something new to occupy her time and it takes her mind off waiting to board our flight.

Another thing we have for our kids is this BlueHills Soft Travel Blanket. We have them for the adults as well, but we actually bought these for the kids first. They always seem to get cold when we travel but we didn’t want to buy some bulky blanket. This one is really compact, it’s super soft, and they can clip it to their backpacks. Solved a problem we had and it also gave them something that was theirs for whenever we travel.

Give Me More Travel Gear!

If you’re still looking for more travel gear, you might have a worse addiction than us. No one ever said traveling was easy, but everything we shared with you is meant to make it easier. It’s meant to make travel what it’s supposed to be; enjoyable. For us, life without travel would be unimaginable. But also for us, it wouldn’t be possible without many of the items we listed. It’s really up to you and how you travel. Some will get by with the bare minimum and others will want it all. We like to think we fall somewhere in the middle.

Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. If there is a travel must have that you don’t see listed we want to know about it. We love trying out new products, so don’t be shy.

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