We use many items/tools to make our travels as smooth as possible. Here is an ever-evolving list of our current travel tools that have really helped so far. We will continue to update it as we find more travel ‘hacks’.
Blink – We love Blink so much that we created a Page dedicated to discussing the value. Security as you travel! Blink will allow you to look into your hostel room, Airbnb room, or hotel. We also use it to check in at home while we are away. Get these batteries for best performance.
Kindle – The go-to travel tool for reading on the road. Books can really fill up the backpack – this helps eliminate that.
Audible – It’s sometimes easier to listen to books than to read them. Using the subscription keeps the prices down and great books in my ear like my favorites Love Yourself, As a Man Thinketh, Tools of Titans, or Ego is the Enemy.
Schwab – The best banking on the road. If you travel internationally and hate getting stuck with ATM fees when pulling out local money, this is the card to have! You don’t get hit with those nasty fees. We got back over $55 US in our first month!! A top pick on the travel tools list.
Airbnb – This is our main way that we book our room, apartment, hostel, you name it, on the road. The service does a great job of lining up a reliable place to stay. With reviews, you can trust and a very cost friendly approach, it makes it easy anywhere in the world. Use our link to get a discount on your first booking – http://www.airbnb.com/c/mjavit1
Uber – We love using Uber where its available because it puts you in a car that you can trust. Some countries have super cheap taxis or tuk-tuks that you will want to take advantage of but in places where the costs of taxis are similar, we go with Uber. The rating system and technology give us a trusted ride in places where we might be new to. Use our link to get a discount if you haven’t used the service before – https://www.uber.com/invite/91bwh
Google Fi – I heard about it on a podcast by a successful tech investor that travels the world. This is Google’s worldwide phone network that makes it possible to travel the globe, keep the same number, save money, get the data plan you need, and make it all VERY simple to use. We have loved the fact that it gives us FREE texting anywhere in the globe and taps into the best local plans. Check it out for yourself – we are glad we did. Use our code with this travel tool for a discount – https://g.co/fi/r/N2J2FM
ExpressVPN – Being secure on the road is a necessity! Having a VPN means that you are using a PRIVATE network when you are in a Starbucks in Peru, a hostel in Croatia, or a hotel in Japan. This travel tool helps keep your data secure when using the internet. It also helps you if you are looking to use your streaming video services as well. Not all countries allow you to use Sling, Hulu, or Netflix. By using a VPN, you can use servers in the US or other countries that allow you to. It is also great when looking into flights. If you look for a flight in a foreign country, it might help you save a few bucks as well. http://bit.ly/MattExpress
Dropbox – The best way to share documents while on the road. The service makes it easy to send a link to a family member, co-worker, or anyone that might need quick access to help you while you are on the road. Back up photos, videos as well. It is a great tool all the time, not just as a travel tool, and one that I have used for years. Download it now – Desktop, mobile, everywhere you go – https://db.tt/TpYS7oVM
Evernote – This travel tool is more like an all-the-time tool. Keep your life organized with Evernote. Notes, web clips, project sharing, many uses. I use it to get my travel diary of all the amazing things we are living right now. It has saved me a ton of time over the years.
Groovebook – A great photo sharing app that I saw on Shark Tank a few years ago. It allows the user to create photo books – real physical photo books – that you can share with friends and family for less than $3/month. So we decided that instead of sending postcards during our travels we would upload the 40-100 photos a month that you get with the subscription. The recipients have really enjoyed it. Get a month of Groovebook on me! Use code – JAVIT63
Priority Pass – LOUNGES!! Why are you still spending money at restaurants or bars at the airport? Why are you using the same Wifi as everyone else on the Public Airport wifi that is super slow? Get a comfortable seat between flights, a quick beer or cocktail, a snack or meal, and great wifi. Lounges make life great at the airport. I now often book longer layovers so we can catch up on emails and have free drinks/snacks. I’ve even used them to shower up and refresh after those 6+ hour flights. Definitely look into this if you have not already. It is one of our favorite travel tools and you will be surprised how cheap it is. You can get your money back after one or two flights.
Skyscanner – This is a top of our travel tools and has already saved us a couple of times on the road. We used to rely on Google Flights but after a few errors and miscalculations, Skyscanner is our go to. It will help you find the cheapest flights, hotels, or rental cars.
Tony Robbins – As you may know, Matt is a self improvement junkie! Always reading, listening, and researching ways to improve our lives is a daily part of our journey around the world. Tony Robbins is the best life coach in the industry and will help you tap into a part of you that you never knew was possible. He did just that to us in November 2016 before we made the final decision to travel the world fulltime. Your best you is waiting to be discovered!
WPEngine – If you are thinking about starting your own blog on WordPress, definitely use this service. I used another WordPress hosting service and was burned. That service was even more expensive than WPEngine. These guys just know the business better than anyone else. Believe me, the time and energy wasted on a bad hosting service will drive you nuts. Look, if we can do a blog, so can you! Dig into your creative side, get on WordPress, and go!
Sometimes the best Travel Tools are just Particular Products that make our lives easier, better, or more secure. Here is a list that has helped a great deal so far:
Portable Charger – It is extremely important to have a way to back up your cell phone power when on a long bus ride or if you are taking a TON of photos at an amazing location like San Pedro de Atacama. This charger from Anker has come in handy many times.
Tactical Pen – I first read about this top travel tool in the book Spy Secrets that can Save Your Life as we were preparing for our travels. I got several key tips in this book, written by former spy Jason Hanson, that Nikki and I use regularly like ‘staying on Yellow’ during our trips. We both carry these pens all the time and they through customs and airport checks. I hope we never have to use them(self defense, breaking a window) for nothing more than writing (works really well as a pen) but it helps to feel a little more secure.
Travel Adapter – Many countries have much different plugs than the US. Instead of getting one every time you go somewhere new, this adapter has helped us get plugged in wherever we are.
High Powered Handheld Flashlight – MAN!!! This has been a huge benefit and one of the travel tools that almost didn’t make the backpack. We all tend to rely on our phones for flashlights these days but those can be a pain to turn on in a pinch. I had to use this once when almost attacked by dogs in Chile late at night (wild story). Its bright focused light backs off intruders and could be used for defense in a bad situation. I kept one by our bed when living in the States and do the same on the road. Glad we packed it!
Combination Luggage Locks – You have to keep your stuff locked up! These locks are flexible, durable, and skinny. We use them on our bags to make sure we are locked up in airports, on lockers when we have the chance to go to a gym, or at a hostel to keep our goods secure. Some of the smaller locks that aren’t built like these are too big. These have been a great travel tool for us and something that you could use at home as well.
RFID Money Belts – We weren’t sure about these when we first hit the road. There are blogs that highly recommend them and others that say they are a waste. We have found them to be useful in certain situations and great for organization of important cards or documents. The RFID card protectors that come with it have been a HUGE benefit in the attempt to stopping credit card theft for us.
Resistance Bands for Working out – You can’t always find a gym to workout at and, if you have a beach nearby, why would you? Just grab these bands and create a workout. I (Matt) do 95% of my workouts on the ‘living room’ floor, on a beach, or a patch of grass. Mostly doing a lower back-focused yoga called Foundation Training that I have been committed to since my three-disc replacement surgery in November 2013. I can’t recommend Foundation Training enough if you are having any back or neck issues – it has been a lifesaver for me and without it, there is no way that I could be traveling like we are. Along with the exercises, I use these bands to work on areas that I want to focus on – biceps, shoulders, triceps.
Travel Wedding Rings – If you are doing long-term travel, adventurous activities, or going to a place that might be a tad bit dangerous…..leave the good stuff at home. We packed these for our travels and kept our other rings in the bank safety deposit box at home.
Chromebook – This ‘budget’ computer (less than $300) has been amazing! In a time that everything sits “in the cloud”, this is all you need to get all the work done on the road.
Backpacks – Yes, we are living out of one backpack each. How is that possible? We still don’t know. That said the one that we picked, after a ton of research by Nikki, is the perfect one. It has enough space to carry all you need, it has separate compartments to stay organized, it’s built to keep your stuff secure, it looks good, and, most importantly, it is the right size to be a CARRY-ON internationally so you don’t have to check it when flying.
Shoe bag – This was a HUGE win in the travel tools department that was a last minute call for us. Each bringing three pairs of shoes, it is important that the other two in the backpack isn’t getting everything messy when traveling. Just wrap up your shoes with these covers (yes, they fit Matt’s size 15 shoes) and all that dust you picked up walking the streets of Casco Viejo, Panama doesn’t get on your clothes. Must have.
HDMI cord – For those that are traveling with a computer and streaming video, this is a great travel tool to display on the screens around the world in your hostel, hotel, or apartment. Most TV’s that you will find on the road now will have the HDMI input in the back. This is great when we want to watch a Youtube video together on a bigger screen or catch a comedy act streaming on Netflix. Connect one end into your computer, the other into the HDMI input on the TV.
Mizzen and Main – Matt’s pants. I packed 2 pairs of these (blue and grey) and a pair of jeans. Yes, they are expensive but it’s worth it over the long haul. I owned them for about a year before hitting the road and it was a no-brainer to pack them with me. They have a very versatile look (church, dinner, hiking), are extremely durable, and they move with me in tough situations (I wore them when trekking Machu Picchu). I love these pants!
Clothesline – Some countries don’t have dryers. Check that, a LOT of countries don’t have dryers. If you are doing an extended trip, you will need to wash (hopefully with a washer) your clothes then air dry them. It’s not always easy to have found the best way to dry in a budget situation. This clothesline has been great in several situations.
GoPro – If you plan to do anything adventurous on the road, the GoPro does a great job of capturing it. With the new apps to help edit, it is a great media tool. I know, your phone can get most of your video needs covered but the unique situations need a unique camera. We own the Session which is much cheaper now than when we got it. This video with the Seals in South Africa was captured on my GoPro.
Socks – Durability! Ability to Breathe! Tough! No, I’m not describing a Hall-of-Fame NFL Lineman, I am talking about my Darn Tough Socks! These bad boys are it! Merino – I had no idea what it was until I wore it. Pay the extra price and have socks that last!! Plus it gets cold out there…keep those dogs warm!
Water bottle/filter – It’s not always easy getting clean water. This device will help you create your own. It’s easy to pack, convenient to take on the go, and works. Stay safe in odd situations with good water.
Eagle Creek pack it fold bags – Maximizing your backpack or suitcase space is critical! With these bags that help fold your clothes down, you will get every inch of usage. I wish I had these for years. They keep everything neat, well organized, and it looks good. A great price point to save you time on the road. Definitely, consider even if you don’t plan on doing long-term travel. Its a great travel tool for a long weekend or three weeks in India.
Long Cords for your phone or other devices – You will not always have the convenience of having a plug right next to you. These are critical for that long charge that you need often. Airports are the worst for when you need to get your phone right. These cords help in those situations.
Electronic Organizer – Let’s be real…half of your bag or suitcase is electronics. Keep the accessories organized and ready to show TSA with this small bag. Nikki keeps all of our vitals in there and ready to jump into at a needed time. Chargers, Blink System, Fire Stick, etc. It’s in there and organized. At less than $20 it’s worth the time it will save you with TSA.
Door Stopper – In that situation when you want to make sure that the door is secure, put one of these underneath and you are good. We also used it on a heavy door in Chile when the hostel room wasn’t smelling too good. Prop the door and let the air in.
Door Stop Alarm – In situations where you are sharing space, it is nice to have an alarm so others know not to mess with you. Much like the Blink System above it is more about perception and preventions. Tell the folks that you are living with that it is more about you than them and they will understand. It sets off an alarm if the door is opened. Great if you are taking a shower in a shared home, sleeping in a hostel room, or have a door with a questionable key. Be safe, feel secure.