A list of things I rarely travel without (in order of necessity):
Disclaimer: I value high quality, so this list isn’t cheap.
Victorinox Packable Backpack
It’s a slim, lightweight backpack that folds down to about the size of an iPad Mini. I always throw this in the bottom of my bag just in case. You never know when you’ll need extra space after too many souvenirs, or a quick day bag. They are better than folding duffel/tote bags because they’re more supportive and versatile. Cons: The thin material lacks padding, so make sure to pack accordingly. I own an older version of this Victorinox brand bag because I like the quality, but you can find some decent cheaper ones here.
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
Every traveler needs a good camera. My current camera is the Canon Rebel SL1, a great entry-level digital SLR camera in a smaller/lighter body than the other EOS’s. The smaller frame is perfect for my girly hands, but I especially recommend this compact frame for travel and the lightweight EF-S series of lenses, as opposed to the heavier EF series. Cons: Neither the body nor the lens will get a full-frame image, but unless you’re a professional photographer ready to spend another decimal point, don’t worry about it. If you don’t have $500 to cough up, or aren’t sure which camera to buy, check out BorrowLenses.com to rent cameras/lenses for a weekend or upcoming trip!
Ona Bowery Camera Bag
I wanted a padded bag to protect my gear, without screaming “This is a camera bag!”, and Ona provides some very handsome options that pass for a casual purse (or manly side bag?). I have the small Bowery size, which fits my camera, with the standard attached 18-55mm lens, plus a second telephoto lens, and small pockets for extra battery/SD card, or I could also add my iPad mini to the back pocket! When I don’t need the 2nd lens, I use the other compartment to carry my wallet and cell phone, and it becomes my purse for the day. Cons: Price – you’re paying for style (and excellent quality). Also, the waxed canvas gets scratched, but I actually think that adds to the rugged, well-traveled look.
The North Face Women’s Mezzaluna Hoodie
I love my fleece hoodie and wear it everywhere. It’s lightweight fleece, which will keep you warm in most chilly climates, has a feminine cut, and pockets! They come in a variety of colors and I love them so much, I’ve had three over the past few years. Cons: They keep tweaking the style. They got rid of the fun thumb-holes and added pull-ties which makes it look more casual.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones
I don’t take these EVERY time; it depends on the trip. But when I do, they are wonderful for flights over 3 hours. They don’t block out all noise, but they cut out the white static and allow you to hear your in-flight movie perfectly. If you’ve ever tried earbuds or crappy headphones, you’ll know that you’re pushing the volume to max and still can’t hear very well. What’s more, I never worry about battery life, and the carrying case makes it easy to travel with. Cons: Price – you’re paying for quality of Bose brand, but it’s worth it. Other brands are less effective. Also, space – I often won’t bring them because I need room for more important stuff – and don’t want to worry about them getting stolen in a hostel.
My most recent purchase was a handsome backpack from the Swedish company – Sandqvist (est. 2004). I love the retro canvas style and although it’s a smaller backpack, it is perfect as a carry-on. It even has a pocket for a small laptop or iPad. If you’re in N. America, and don’t want to pay to ship from Europe, I recommend the Canadian brand Herschel Supply Co. (est. 2009) which has similar styles and a bit more support. However, if you want the O.G. version (where this style was born) go with Swedish company Fjällräven (est. 1960), also found on Amazon.