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Our Favorite Travel Gear.

When I was about ten, my family took a summer vacation around Europe. Given the extended length of time, we’d be away from home and how much that scared my ten-year-old self, I attempted to pack as much of it with me as I could, stuffing full a giant suitcase that I could hardly pull. As we walked through the stair filled tunnels of German train stations, I was unable to keep up, yielding my bag to a nice German man, and breaking down into tears when we finally caught up to my family and realizing I had no idea how to thank him in German. After learning the word, I wrote it down on the only thing I could find, a napkin, and carried it around for the rest of the trip, adding words when people would give them to me so I wouldn’t forget them. I never have forgotten the kindness of the man, how to say thank you in German, or the importance of packing only what you need.

Over the following years, I’ve grown up, traveled a lot and honed the packing process, with a backbone of essentials that I always carry with me. Because I seem to consistently be somewhere new, I’ve had friends and family ask me about what I like before they embark on their next adventure, and so for future reference, here is a shortlist of things I like taking up my precious space. I’ve also included male equivalents, along with Kalem’s opinion on them.

1. Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack & Millican Miles 28L Duffle

Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack: Kalem loves this pack because it has great organization. He normally carries a camera, drone and GoPro along with him and there seems to be a pocket for everything, including his clothes. We’ve both carried it on long weekend excursions, week-long summer trips with family, and longer international backpacking trips. For this last scenario though, the Allpa fell a little short. The front pockets of the interior felt a little restricting, and the weight sits a little too far away from your back to be comfortable day after day. Next time we embark on that type of trip we both plan to carry our backpacking packs, which make up for what they lack aesthetically in utility and comfort.

Millican Miles 28L Duffle: I personally prefer my Millican Miles 28L Duffle, the interior is one large compartment accessed by a central zipper down the top of the pack, and a laptop sleeve pads the back. It has unpadded shoulder straps and lacks the hip straps that the Allpa includes, but the weight seems to be distributed better and I’ve never had a problem with them digging into my shoulders. Again, I wouldn’t use this for an extended trip abroad, but for 90% of my travel, I love the streamlined design and how easy it is to carry.

2. Reusable water bottle, Nalgene bowl, titanium spoon

Nalgene Water Bottle: I would never wander far from home without my water bottle. If I don’t have it with me, Kalem wonders where I’ve lost it. The thick walls of the bottle are perfect for holding hot water too, and I’m constantly filling it with hot water to drink tea and warm me up. The size and weight are great, it holds a lot of water and doesn’t ever seem to be burdensome.

Nalgene Bowl: My Nalgene bowl is one of my most prized possessions. I know it looks unassuming but is far superior to any other bowl. The vacuum seal and twist lid allow me to pack any solids or liquids, and they’re accompanying gases without fear of getting all over everything else in my bag.

Titanium Spoon: This is the perfect utensil in combination with my Nalgene bowl. It’s lightweight, the long handle works wonders at getting the last bit of ice cream from the bottom of the container and the thin edge helps to cut through larger chunks of whatever you’ve loaded your Nalgene bowl with.

3. Journal & Camera

I prefer to write out my experiences throughout my life and especially during my travels. Kalem prefers to take pictures with his camera, but they both serve the same purpose of processing what you’ve been seeing, doing and pondering.

4. Joggers

Lightweight joggers don’t take up that much room and they are the perfect all-around travel pants I’ve found. They are extremely comfy and I can’t stop wearing them. They are especially nice when there is hot weather, or when I’m hiking in rainy/wet regions because they dry out fast. The quick-drying also helps when I need to hand wash them on ultralight international traveling where I may only have a couple of pairs of pants.

5. Lightweight Multi-Use Scarf

I love the thrill of thrift shopping and frequent thrift stores near my house regularly. This summer, before spending the semester abroad in Jordan I found a Lululemon “Vinyasa” scarf that worked super well. It’s functional, keeping you warm, spreads big to be used as a blanket or towel and packs down small, or can be easily worn layered alongside whatever else while traveling. Kalem brought a similar item, a simple Egyptian cotton towel, that could function the same way, being worn as a scarf for layering if necessary, or used as a towel or blanket while traveling.

6. A Good Hat

My most-worn accessory is probably my hat. I love this one because of the strap that keeps it on my head when it’s windy, the fact that it can be packed and bent without destroying it, and that it both keeps my head warm on cooler days and cool on hot days, blocking the sun and wind and cold. I feel that it instantly makes me look more put together too, and always hides hair that has gone a day or two more than it should without washing.

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