I am always looking for ways to make my travels easier, especially when I have three kids in tow. Too often, however, what seems like a great idea turns out to be another useless gadget on which I have wasted my money. Below I have listed my top 10 list of travel gear that I either cannot live without or cannot wait to buy. If you have experience with any of the gear listed below or if you can add to this list of must-have gear, leave a comment with the details.
Balanzza’s Mini Digital Luggage Scale. Everyone who checks luggage on an airplane needs one of these scales. I used to try and balance my luggage on my home scale trying to keep the weight below 50 lbs. On the road, I became an expert at guessing the weight of the bags. Nothing is worse than shuffling clothes between bags at the check-in counter trying to keep the weight of each bag below 50 lbs in order to avoid yet another charge by the airline. These scales are small, accurate and a must have for my family. $25 www.balanzza.com.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector. Not only does this surge protector protect your electronics when you are visiting sketchy areas, it also allows you to charge up to 5 electronic devices with one adapter. It has 3 AC outlets and 2 USB outlets. Our family is always fighting for the outlets in hotel rooms to charge everything from phones, ipads, computers, Sony Vistas (some sort of handheld video game)...you get the picture. Our family needs two of these devices, but they are cheap and easy to store in the luggage. $27 Amazon.
Heys Hardside Luggage. Four spinning wheels on luggage has been a game changer for me. I found my set of Heys Luggage on Rue La La for around $150. I just saw Horchow sells the same set for $450. The luggage won’t last a lifetime like Tumi, but I really don’t care. It is so easy to just push the luggage rather than tilt it on two wheels. The kids are now a huge help since they can easily push the luggage. I love the look of these hard cases, and they are really lightweight!! Another great perk is that each piece nests within the larger piece, so I really just need room in storage for the largest piece of luggage. http://www.heysusa.com.
ipad. Before the ipad, how did we watch movies on a plane, provide endless entertainment for kids, provide endless entertainment for me, check email without pulling out reading glasses, work, shop, read, find the nearest restaurant, check our flight connection at the next airport, take videos or take pictures of our adventures?? $459 (for the Mini with 3G) www.apple.com.
LaCie Rugged Hard Drive. This is one of those devices that you don’t think you need until you lose all your data. Now that everyone takes hundreds of great photos on one or more memory cards every trip, it would be such a bummer to have the memory wiped clean or to lose those tiny cards. Take this hard drive with you to back up your photos and video. $170 Amazon.
Compression Socks. Although these are not cool by anyone’s terms, they can be a life-saver. Many people don’t know they are susceptible to deep-vein thrombosis until it is too late. I know I am at risk, so I like to wear these during long flights are car trips.
Grid-it! I love the Grid-it! It comes in many configurations, but this one holds an ipod mini and just about everything else I need to have close by me. It has an interesting woven elastic retention system that keeps anything, any size firmly in place. There are no belts, buckles or velcro to adjust. This company has lots of other innovative organization gear. Take a look. $27 www.cocooninnovations.com.
Hide-Away Tote Bag. I NEVER travel without my hide-away tote bag. Many companies sell many variations of the same bag. It is a must-have for my travels. It folds up into it’s own zippered pouch. Mine is about the size of a grapefruit. I tuck it into my luggage before each trip. When I’m packing for my return trip home, I inevitably have souvenirs that won’t fit into my luggage. I pull out this bag for all the extra stuff. In fact, before I had my mini-digital scale, I would pull out this tote bag to hold the clothes that are making my luggage exceed 50 lbs at the check-in counter. I have also used it as a day bag during tours. Price varies. www.thenorthface.com makes mine.
Clothing with Concealed Pockets. When I am traveling through a sketchy area, especially when I’m responsible for multiple passports and money for the whole clan, I like to have this shirt. It is comfortable and not nearly as dorky as a traveler’s vest (with lots of zippers) or the bulky money wallet hanging beneath my clothes. Check out this line of clothing. They have lots of choices, and one option should be right for you. $29 http://www.clevertravelcompanion.com.
Huge Designer Purse. For the ladies, you need to look stylish while you travel, and if you are traveling with kids, you need to hang onto the dream of still being stylish. Thus, you need a great bag. I highly recommend you find the largest purse possible, since the airlines don’t count it as a carry-on. Gucci Link.
Let me know about travel gear that you find indispensable and whether you use any of the items I have listed. Happy travels!!