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’.
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.
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 regularly use, like ‘staying on Yellow’ during our trips. We both carry these pens all the time, and they go 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 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). It’s 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 the organization of important cards or documents. The RFID card protectors that come with it have been a HUGE benefit in the attempt to stop credit card theft for us.
Resistance Bands for Working out – You can’t always find a gym to work out 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 on 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, and 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.
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 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 to your computer, the other to the HDMI input on the TV.
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 and 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. This video with the Seals in South Africa was captured on my GoPro.
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, and 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.
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 is 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.
TrustedHouseSitters – Can you imagine getting free housing during your travels? Do you love watching or interacting with pets? This website does an excellent job of coordinating free stays for travelers while providing a service for pet owners. If you are in the category of owning pets, pet-loving, or responsible enough to watch another person’s home, you should check out this website. Use our link to get a discount on your membership.
WorkAway – Do you have skills that are worthy in the market? You can get FREE stays during your travel by working through their amazing app. We have done several of these in places like Chile, Ecuador, Greece, and South Africa. You can hear us talk about it more in this Podcast Episode. Be sure to check out the website to understand more.
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.
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, and 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
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!