We like to travel, like, a lot. By now, we hope you’ve caught on to that. But because we travel so much, we also have become particular about how we like to travel. It’s not just about scoring points and miles for free and better travel experiences. It’s also about figuring out what the essentials are when we travel, and what gadgets and gear will make our lives easier when on the road. The holidays around the corner, and one of two things are for certain: Either you’ve got a traveler in your life who deserves a special gift or two (or three), OR you deserve to award yourself with some of the travel items we consider must have’s! So check out our must have Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers…

Laura and I have become better and better at packing. I’m the son of a former United Airlines employee, so early on I learned a simple rule: Always go carry on. Leave the giant bottles of liquids at home, everything you might need can be found at your destination. Or if you must have a certain type of shampoo, buy travel sized bottles and put it in that. Whether we’re traveling for a weekend or 6 weeks, we’re always able to live out of a backpack or small roller each, nothing more, nothing less.

Clothing Must Haves

Before we even talk about what to pack, we’ve got to talk about what to pack it in. Laura and I get a lot of free swag from our two jobs. I promise you, working at a university, I have enough LMU t-shirts to last me till retirement. But one day Laura came home with the best swag ever- a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag!  We’ve been big Timbuk2 fans and our original messenger bag has been with us through some incredible times. So it’s no surprise that the travel backpack that impresses us most is the Timbuk2 travel backpack!

You’re about to the road, and you shouldn’t go anywhere without a Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover Pen. Stains happen, and you want to tackle them instantly when on the road. This small pen fits easily into your backpack, purse, or front pocket!

– I never bring more than three pairs of underwear on a trip, and I’m beginning to think I really only need two (a pair I am wearing, and a pair in my luggage). Yes, that includes our previous six week voyage through Asia. The reason is simple- ExOfficio. This breathable undergarment company makes boxers and briefs that are comfortable, easy to wash, and quick to dry. Underwear almost always takes up more space in your luggage than it needs to nowadays.

And ladies, fear not! ExOfficio has you covered as well!

Finally, we’re not big money belt fans. We usually stick with what we use in the United States but are more vigilent (my wallet often goes from back pocket to front pocket). But recently we had to carry a big sum of cash (sounds shady, it’s not) and we decided a money belt might be wise. We liked the sleek Eagle Creek Travel Gear Hidden Pocket, and we now actually use it to carry our passports and small items we want to keep on us but don’t need to pull out and use regularly. It’s durable, light weight, and small enough to not be noticed when you slip it over your belt loop and tuck it in your pants against your thigh.


Stay Connected (and charged)

A common concern is how to stay charged and connected while traveling. We’ve all entered a hotel room and struggled to find enough electrical outlets for our gadgets. Even worse, who has not sat in an airport with a dying phone battery, looking in vein for an electrical socket.

Monster makes a great portable power strip. It folds up easily, is light, and it will make you a hero at the airport when you allow more people to use the limited charging stations! It’s a must have for us anytime we’re on the road!

As great as a portable power strip is, sometimes your charging needs don’t allow you to sit around and wait. You’re on the move, your phone is dying, and you just need to get it some juice, with no time to waste. This portable charger has gotten me out of many a jam. It’s not too heavy and easy to carry in a purse or your pants pocket. Sometimes, I connect my phone with the handy and small charging cable they provide (which can charge mini-USB, iPhone5+, and the old iPhone and iPad charger) and have it in my jeans, charging while I am exploring a new city.

Staying Organized

Grid It by Cocoon is one of our newest toys! If you’re an organizational freak (like my wonderful wife) this is for you. Grid it holds a variety of items firmly in place, and ensures you don’t have a tangle of charger cables and headphones to sort through!

While this won’t make you any more organized, it will make you look a heck of a lot more sophisticated. If you’re accident prone and need one of those bullet proof phone cases, skip beyond this. But if you’re not and you want your phone case to get numerous compliments, look no further than cases by Carved. Our favorite is the world map option!

What are the must have gadgets?

We’ve got to confess, neither of us are huge gadget people. We rarely take photos when traveling and we think the combo of our iPhone and iPad is more than enough to get us almost anything we need. But we spoke to fellow travel enthusiasts, and they gave us their must have suggestions for you gadget and camera happy folks!

First things first, the GoPro is legit. It’s probably the next thing we’ll splurge on. If you’ve got one, you already know this. But it’s not just about your camera, it’s the accessories that matter as well!

If money is no option (feel free to buy us one as well then!) go with the top of the line GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition. It’s smaller, has a longer battery life, and a gnarly wide angle perspective. If money is a concern (like us), keep it simple with the white edition. It’s $200 less!

Finally, there are a ton of accessory options available. The must haves seem to be simple: A camera extender, Mounts, straps, and scuba gear.  A friend in film says he has two go to extenders- the GoPole compact grenade grip and sticking with GoPole for an arm extension. As for mounts, scuba, and more, one of my favorite bloggers has a great post about this, and it just so happens, he agrees about the extenders!

Other Cameras

Without a doubt, there are other camera options that you should look at. DSLR is of course the most popular option amongst the big photo buffs. We surveyed a few friends in this category, and all but one said the best DSLR for under $1,000 is the Canon ESO Rebel series.

If a DSLR is too big for your travel style, there’s a cool hybrid product becoming more popular. Not quite DSLR, not quite point and shoot. The Micro Four Thirds Camera is becoming a hit in the travel community, and I think we’ll be passing a DSLR and heading to these smaller (and often more affordable cameras) for our next purchase. We like photography, but we’re not expert photographers. Thus, to us, the trade off makes sense: Smaller size and price works!

Sony has some great priced options like the Sony Nex 6L.

But Panasonic has won my heart and that of a friend who is a photographer, and so I’d love to get my hands on a Panasonic LUMIX GM1. It’s incredibly compact, has wifi connectivity for instant sharing, and is incredibly fashionable!

That’s our list! What would you add?

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