The way that each of us travels is very personal, as is the travel gear and services we use. You may be thinking to yourself, What kind of travel accessories could this guy share that I don’t already know about?! Maybe you’re right…or maybe you’ll be surprised.
One thing is for sure: I don’t leave home without every single one of these items packed in my bag.
We all have our favorite travel gear and more than likely you already own a great bag/suitcase and you know what kind of clothes you like to wear. If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of hearing about the “latest, greatest travel bag” being marketed on Kickstarter.
Yes, we’re impressed. Your bag is waterproof AND it has two extra pockets! <insert audible gasp here>
Ok, I know I’m being a bit over-the-top here, but hopefully you know where I’m coming from. Most of the time these lists of travel gear amount to nothing more than what you already have or can’t afford. I’d like to change that with a few surprising travel accessories I’ve grown to love.
Take it or leave it, but I think you might just love one or two of them as well.
*Note* Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to purchase an item listed below. You can rest assured that I don’t recommend anything I haven’t personally used and love, and your support helps keep this website free. Thank you!
1. Portable Espresso Maker (for the Coffee Addict)
I really don’t like hotel coffee. I’ve also tried the instant coffee packs and I’m not a big fan.
Then I came across the travel-sized espresso maker.
This thing is a game-changer for the traveling coffee-addict. Heat water in a microwave or over a fire, pack in the coffee, pump by hand to add pressure and then…voila! Instant espresso.
The Handspresso that I use isn’t heavy, but it also feels sturdy – as in, it’s not going to break as I pump to add pressure. Pouring a shot to a small cup of milk is great in the morning and the cleanup is surprisingly easy.
I know this kind of special travel gear won’t appeal to everybody, but if you’re a coffee lover and a traveler, you’ll love this.
2. Packing Cubes to Organize & Contain
I probably wouldn’t have bought packing cubes on my own, but ever since they were given to me, I can’t stop using them.
At first, I thought packing cubes were only used for compression, a means to pack more things in a smaller space. While that’s certainly true, especially for those people packing large winter jackets, what I’ve found is that I use my packing cubes more for organization.
Here’s an example for you: there are times when my wife and I share a piece of luggage for a short trip. When we’re both packing our belongings together, it can get messy.
When I use my packing cubes (there are many, but the ones I use are made by Paper Signal), all of my clothes have their own packing space and I can easily take it out when we arrive at the hotel.
When I travel with my backpack, packing cubes allow me to pull out the entire cube instead of digging through the backpack for that single item of clothing. Like I said, I never would have bought these for myself, but since using them I’ve absolutely loved it.
BONUS: If you want to give packing cubes a try, I’ve got a promo code for the ones I use that will get you 15% off. Visit the Amazon page and use the code PSJOSH15.
3. TSA PreCheck to Avoid the Security Lines
If you’re a US citizen and you don’t have TSA Pre-Check clearance, you’re just plain crazy. Just last week I forgot to put my “Known Traveler Number” on my flight ticket and I had to go through regular TSA lines. Oh my word…never again.
Whether you apply for PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100), it all translates to one thing: shorter lines at airports.
When I go through airport security now, I don’t have to take off my belt. I don’t have to pull out my laptop and put it in a separate bin. I don’t have to take off my shoes or wait my turn for a humiliating pat down.
Nope, none of that. I put my bag through the scanner, I walk through a metal detector and I go on my way.
You can apply through the TSA website or, if you’re super-savvy, you can receive PreCheck as a perk when applying for certain traveler credit cards.
4. 2-Factor Security Key – Personal Online Security
When traveling, I’ve found that my online identity is sometimes more important to keep secure than my own home. Case in point: if you lose access to your email or have your bank accounts frozen due to fraud…you’re screwed.
Late last year I had the triple whammy happen to me. 1) My email was hacked, 2) my social media was hacked and 3) someone opened a credit account using my identity.
It was a bad week, trust me.
The end result was that I doubled down on my personal online security. I made some big changes, including setting up what is known as a “security key”. You can think of it like 2-factor authentication that never leaves you.
Instead of getting a text with a code, I have a trusty USB key that I keep on me at all times. I can’t log into my email or social media without having the key on me, so that even if somebody has my email password, they still can’t get into my inbox.
I keep the security key on me at all times while I’m traveling. It’s a fairly cheap item (<$50) and requires a one-time setup. In a world where international attacks are happening over the internet, investing in your own protection isn’t a bad idea.
5. All-in-One Battery / FileHub Travel Gear
I could recommend an external battery for those times when your phone runs out of juice. Or I could point you toward a number of computer dongles or cables that connect mobile devices and computers to your favorite travel camera. I could even tell you to buy a device that turns a wired internet connection into a wireless hotspot.
Or I could just share with you my RavPower FileHub that does all of that at once.
This sucker is about as small as a pack of playing cards, and yet it’s such a great tool for me as I travel. I’m able to backup my phone to a hard drive without having to use a computer as well as charge my phone/tablet on the go.
It acts as a WiFi connection point for up to 5 devices at once and turns any wired internet connection in an old hotel in China into a wireless one.
If you’re a tech-savvy traveler who uses a lot of electronics as you fly around the globe, you might find this device as useful as I do.
Final Thoughts | Surprising Travel Gear
The way that a traveler prepares for a trip says a lot about them, I believe. It’s not only how they pack, but rather what they find important.
It doesn’t always have to be an item like the ones listed above. Perhaps you’re one of the smart ones who values your health while traveling and insists on investing in a good travel insurance plan. Or maybe you know that you’ll be traveling to a part of the world where internet censorship is heavy (like China) and you know you’ll need a good VPN for China.
Whatever the case, don’t be ashamed! Travel how you feel comfortable and don’t let somebody tell you that you have to a certain type of bag or a specific brand of travel pants.
You may be surprised at the kind of travel gear you need…and just how little you can get away with. 🙂
Are there any items that you simply can’t travel without? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!