In the past, I’ve simply listed new additions to my travel accessories and gadgets on my Travel Gear page, but I have decided that going forward, I’ll do an annual round-up of the best things that have been added to my packing list. That way it is easier for you to see what I’ve bought that I think makes a great addition to my travel gear.
I thought Black Friday would be a great day to kick off this new series, because if you see something on my list that you think you could use for your next trip, you may be able to get a Black Friday discount on it (Note: Most of Amazon’s Black Friday Deals are valid until 27 November 2017).
1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
I’ve been wanting to buy a portable speaker for a long time, but I couldn’t decide which one – there are so many out there! I finally found the one this summer – I was cat-sitting for a friend and used hers – and I love the sound quality. The Oontz Angle is probably not the best speaker out there, considering the low price tag, but for me it is more important to have a lightweight speaker that I can travel with, that is water resistant, and one that is not too pricey because I know I’ll lose it sooner or later. I use this speaker all the time – not just on the beach, in the park or in my hotel room, but also at home.
Tip: The Oontz Angle is about $10 less now than when I bought it – not sure if it’s a special Thanksgiving deal or if they dropped the price in general.
Price: $24.99. A newer, improved version of the Oontz Angle speaker, the Oontz Angle Ultra, is now available for $49.99.
2 A Nicer Set Of Packing Cubes
I’ve been singing the praises of packing cubes for years, and I still have (and use!) the first set of eBags I bought years ago, but recently I decided that it was time for an upgrade. I opted for a larger set, which in addition to four cubes in different sizes, has a shoe bag, a laundry bag and two smaller pouches – perfect for cosmetics or electronics. This way I can organize my things even better, and have a cube for each type of clothing item (underwear & socks, pants, T-shirts, dresses/skirts).
Check out Packing Cube Sets here, prices range from $15 to $24.
3 MyCharge Portable Charger
My absolute favorite new travel gadget is the MyCharge portable charger. I still love the Anker charger I’ve used for several years, but what I love about the MyCharge is that the charger cables – it has two – are integrated into the charger, so you don’t need an additional cable. Not only does it charge my phone, but the second charger is a micro-USB cable, which I use to charge my wireless headphones, my Kindle, my Sony A6300 camera, and my Skyroam WiFi hotspot. You can even charge your phone and an additional device at the same time. And the light-weight charger recharges up to 50% faster than other portable chargers.
3 Collapsible Bag
One thing that caused me a headache when I was packing for my five-week hike through Spain was that I couldn’t put anything in my backpack that I wasn’t willing to carry on my back for six to eight hours every single day. But what about souvenirs? What about stuff for a mini-vacation after the hike? The answer to all of this: a collapsible duffel bag! For someone like me who loves to bring back local delicatessen and grocery items from a trip, this is perfect! On my trip to London I filled my brand new Eagle Creek Duffel Bag with lots of British candy and other goodies to gift to my friends in New York. The bag, which folded up in my luggage, barely took up any space, and was perfect for this – it carries up to 40 liters.
Price: Around $29
4 Travel Money Belt
I loved the Travel Money Belt I was wearing while I walked the Camino this year, but I did wish it was a little bit larger. It fit my credit cards, cash, phone and portable charger, but that was it. When I finally upgraded to a larger phone, I stumbled upon the perfect money belt by accident – I was actually looking for something to hold my phone on my daily runs, because the armbands I’ve used up until now aren’t that comfortable anymore with a larger phone, and a belt seemed more practical. The StashBandz Travel Money Belt doesn’t only hold my phone and my portable charger, but it also fits my passport. It has four large pockets, including one concealed zipper pocket, which is perfect for my keys and credit cards. I found that it is also perfect for traveling and it’ll replace my small waist bag with this larger one from now on.
5 Passport Holder
After not being allowed to board a plane to Indonesia because of the state of my passport (you can read about this debacle in detail here) a couple of years ago, I have been ridiculously anal about storing my passport in a safe place. Up until this year I stored it in a waterproof plastic zipper-pouch, but I decided it was finally time for a proper passport holder. I went with the Lewis N. Clark #SheTravels RFID-blocking passport holder, because I figured I can’t be protective enough, especially after having experienced credit card cloning firsthand (see below). The passport holder has additional spaces for your credit cards, drivers license and other cards, as well as a zippered pocket which I’ve used to hide cash.
6 RFID-Blocking Wallet
I never paid much attention to RFID-blocking gadgets, because I wasn’t really sure if they were really necessary – until my credit card was cloned in an airport book store. While I was browsing the magazines and books, somebody else paid their $65 purchase with my credit card! I am still not sure how this technique exactly works, but I’ve been freaked out ever since about this happening again, so I decided that RFID-blocking gadgets aren’t such a bad idea after all. I use the small RFID-blocking aluminum wallet for my credit cards and ID.
As you can see on this list, I am not someone who spends hundreds of dollars on fancy travel gear – I prefer good value items, which don’t have to be expensive. The only pricey new acquisition this year? A mirrorless camera, something I’d eyed up for a while. I’ve finally reached the point where my Canon dSLR camera, which I’ve used since 2009, got too bulky and too heavy for me.
It took me forever to decide which camera to go for – everyone seems to have a different favorite. Some people love the Fujifilm X-T20, others swear by the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II, and the Panasonic Lumix G85 also has millions of fans. So, which one to go for?
I finally chose the Sony A6300. This camera has gotten rave reviews by many of my fellow blogger and videographer friends, so I figured it’d be perfect for the kind of footage I am shooting. And so far, I am loving the camera, which I got in a kit with a 16-50mm & 55-210mm Zoom Lens.
Tip: This kit is now $200 cheaper on Amazon than when I bought it, so if you’re looking to upgrade your camera, now is a great time!
9 A Better Kindle Fire
I still love my Kindle Fire 7 dearly, and if you are looking for an amazing deal, it is only $29.99 on Amazon right now, which is an incredible steal for a tablet/eReader combo. I use my Kindle Fire every single day – and for so much more than just reading books. I use it to listen to Spotify, I watch Netflix and YouTube, I read articles in my Pocket app, and I surf the web. I honestly don’t know how I existed without a Kindle Fire. The only problem, as with all of my devices, I fill them up to the brink. My laptop, my iPhone, my iPod Touch.. all have the same problem, at some point the storage fills up. When this happened with my Kindle Fire, and I saw that the Kindle Fire 8 with 16 GB was on offer for $49, I didn’t think twice: I bought it. There is also a 32GB version for $79.99, but 16GB is double the storage I had on my 8GB Kindle Fire 7, which is enough for me… for now. Other improvements? The Kindle Fire 8 display is 8’’ (instead of 7’’), it is HD, and it has up to twelve hours battery life (instead of the 7’s eight hour battery life).
Price: $49.99 for the Kindle Fire 8 with 16GB, $79.99 for the Kindle Fire 8 with 32GB
10 Laptop Adapter Charger
I had about fifty near-meltdowns when I walked the Camino and often found myself unable to charge my laptop because my adapter was too big to fit the European power sockets. I wish I had known about the Innergie PowerGear ICE, a super high speed USB charging adapter. It comes with three interchangeable socket plugs, and I’ve already used them all! Instead of having to deal with adapters, I just change the socket plug and since they’re small, they always fit the power outlet perfectly. The charger comes with six tips that are compatible with my Acer laptop, Lenovo, HP, Dell and most other notebooks.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. As usual, I am not recommending any products that I haven’t personally tried & tested – and I would buy every single product I recommend here again. I recommend these items because I find them helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel they will add value to your next trip or your daily life.