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Packing Cubes – These are a godsend for anyone traveling anywhere. I didn’t understand them, and then I bought them. I use them ALL THE TIME! Literally. Gone for two days? Packing cube! Two weeks? Packing cubes! Two months? Packing Cubes! They let you separate all of your things, like shirts in one cube, pants and shorts in another. This way, you can just take one out of your backpack instead of everything when you just need that pair of shorts.
Sleeping bag liner – You’re bound to end up in a dodgy hostel at some point where the floor looks much more appealing to sleep on than the sheets. Not anymore if you have a sleeping bag liner! I only used it a few times, but I’m glad I had it with me.
Waterproof headlamp – Headlamps are perfect for hostel dorm dwellers. They let you pack in the middle of the night, into your quiet packing cubes, without turning on the lights to wake everyone up. It’s perfect for walking at night on beaches or in places where power outages are frequent and unexpected. They even double as a book light if you’re not using a Kindle. I used mine all the time, I even do at home on occasion.
Turkish Towel – I got a new travel towel before I left for Taiwan and I hated it. Then, also before I left, I decided to get a Turkish towel and I love it! It doesn’t take up much room, they’re gigantic, super absorbent, and come in lots of fun colors. I think they are perfect for traveling for all the reasons, and they can double as a pillow/blanket.
LUSH Solid shampoo – I was skeptical of this, but fell in love with it very quickly. It smells heavenly, I get the Jumping Juniper, and works very well. Mine did get stuck in the tin though, so watch out for that. I also used it as soap because I didn’t want to carry more things. Karma Koomba is my new favorite (it smells SO GOOD) and I get the square tin so it’s easier to take out.
STERI Pen – I got this instead of water purifying tablets or drops. It kills bacteria with UV light making tap water safe to drink. I only used it a couple times, but I didn’t get sick when I used it, so it has been successful so far. On one set of batteries, it can purify up to 150 liters of water.
Hydroflask Insulated Water bottle – I LOVE this water bottle. Love it. Yes, it’s a little bulky, but after living in the desert for six months, it’s going to be worth it. Hydroflask water bottles are insulated and keep your water cold, or hot, for pretty much ever. Ice will stay in it for a day or two and the water is always perfectly chilled. They come in super fun colors, too.
Car Camping Gear
REI Passage 2 Tent – We just got this tent last summer and I really like it so far. We’ve used it quite a few times and it’s been great. It’s good for two people, but can be a little cramped if you move around too much. It would be perfect for one person car camping but is still good for two.
NEMO Viola sleeping bag – I got this sleeping bag at the same time as the tent and love it! It’s good in cold weather, not freezing, but in the 40s with leggings on, I was totally fine. It has zipper vent things on the top that are supposed to help it cool down when it’s hot. I don’t know if it really did that. When we camped in south Florida, I was still pretty warm with them open and it was probably in the 60s. I would still definitely recommend it though and it’s not super heavy, but not ultra lightweight either. It’s a great car camping sleeping bag.
REI Camp Bed 3.5 – I can’t find the exact one I have, but this one looks similar and is less than mine was. It is self-inflating but still needs a little help to get all the way. I think this is a great sleeping pad for car camping because it’s comfy, you don’t need a pump to inflate it, and it’s not super bulky. I haven’t been able to get it totally deflated to fit back in the bag, but I think it’s easier to re-inflate it then. That said, I love it and have no problem sleeping on it.
LuminAID lantern – I love this lantern. It’s great for getting around your campsite in the dark, lighting up campground bathrooms at night, and even during power outages at home. You can plug it in to charge it or just let the sun do the work. It’s lightweight and compact making it easy to carry with you. They have a few different versions and one works as a phone charger. You can read a whole review here.
REI Ruckpack 18 – This is the daypack I have and it’s awesome. It’s lightweight, has water bottle pockets that my 40-ounce Hydro Flask fits in, and it comes in nice colors. I have it in a dark green, which they don’t make anymore, but the other options are great and I actually like a couple of them better. They also have a 40L and 65L version. I believe the 40L is the new version of the backpack I used to travel abroad, the REI Vagabond 40 pack. If I need a new bigger backpack, I would definitely try this one.
REI Camp Wrap – This is totally unnecessary, but I love it. It’s basically a blanket poncho to keep all of you warm, not just your burning shins, when you’re hanging out by the campfire. Or just around camp, I suppose. It also doubles as a good blanket for sleeping in warmer weather. I used it two nights in south Florida and it was perfect for the warmer nights when my sleeping bag was too hot.
Macbook Pro – I’ve officially upgraded and LOVE it. It’s way smaller than my older model, which looks archaic next to my new one. Sorry, Patrice (my old laptop) I do still love you though! It’s perfect for editing photos and doing everything I need. It’s super light, but one downside is there is no CD drive (I use my laptop to watch movies, no TV) and you need a USB-C dongle to use regular USB plugs. That’s annoying, but I’ll survive.
Kindle Paperwhite – This is my favorite thing and it goes almost everywhere with me. It’s perfect for reading in the sun or in the dark and you can change the brightness to your liking. And they can hold approximately one zillion books.
iPad Air – If you don’t work online when you travel, this is perfect. It’s (fairly) small and lightweight. This is what I used in Central America. It was good for web browsing and planning ahead, but not blogging. That’s when I wish I had Dear Sweet Patrice (My laptop). I would suggest a 64GB one, as my 16GB one is pretty much full.
Canon G10 – This is the camera I brought with me to Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. It’s not the top camera out there, but it’s compact and still takes great pictures. There are newer models but this one has worked great for years. If you don’t want a basic point and shoot or a DSLR, this is a great option.
Fuji XT2 – This is the camera I use now and love it! It’s mirrorless, so it’s smaller and lighter than a traditional DSLR like Canon or Nikon. The picture quality is a million times better than the Rebel T3i I was using. (The rebel is a great beginner DLSR, but I was ready for something better.) It took a little getting used to, but it’s pretty easy to use once you figure out where everything is.
50-200 mm lens – This is the larger zoom lens I have and it’s worked really well so far. It’s got a great zoom range and the quality has been great.
18-55 mm lens – This is a great starter lens, but it’s not the best out there. That said, the quality is still really good but if you’re a pro, I’d get something better. If you want this one, I would get it with the body (that’s what I linked) instead of separately.
Canon Powershot ELPH 130 – Again, I used this in Central America. It takes good pictures as long as you don’t need to print them wall sized and it fits in pretty much any purse and even (most) girl jean pockets. It’s also pretty user-friendly.
Sorel Tivoli Boots – I just got these boots for the winter and already love them. They are warm. They are comfortable. They are tall enough to keep snow out, so far. And they look good with jeans and leggings. Can’t go wrong with that. The price was pretty nice, too. I was expecting to have to spend a lot more on boots, but at $100, it was hard to say no.
Minnetonka Slippers – These are more of a home thing, but if you have cold feet all the time or live somewhere cold, they are wonderful! I wear mine all the time, even in the summer, and my feet are always toasty. I have these, too and LOVE them. I found them at TJ Maxx and couldn’t not get them. I can wear these most of the day without my feet hurting, which is awesome. And I’ve wanted a pair of these for yeeeears. Maybe this year. or next year.
North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket – This wind-blocking jacket is also perfect for winter. The price is a little high, but pretty average as far as jackets go. I would definitely say it’s worth it. It keeps the wind out and keeps me warm. What more could I ask for?
Patagonia Re-tool Sweatshirt – I looove this sweatshirt. I wear it all the time. It’s warm, soft, and great for hiking. I also wear it at work a lot, too.
Forsake Patch Hiking Boots – I LOVE these hiking boots. I wanted hiking boots that didn’t look like regular hiking boots and these are the ones. They are comfortable, waterproof, and come in a few different colors. I have the black pair but almost want the green ones, too. I won’t get them now because I don’t need them but I want them.
Chaco sandals – I live in my Chacos. I love them. I personally prefer the style with no toe loop. I tried both and hate the toe loop, but I know some people swear by it and will only buy those. They are really comfortable and come in tons of colors and styles. Plus, they’re great for hiking in water and water activities since they were made for rafting. They do take a while to break in though, so don’t give up on them too fast.
Travel services (plus some others)
Hostelworld – This is my favorite hostel-finding source. If I’m going to a city in the US I’ll usually check it to see if they have any and how they compare to hotels. I always use it if I’m traveling abroad.
Skyscanner – This is usually how I find flights. I’ll check on where I’m planning to go occasionally to find the cheapest tickets. I also love that, if you’re flexible, you can search for flights anywhere and by the cheapest month, which is cool. It’s super easy to use and it’s my go-to flight booker.
Tailwind – This is a boring blogging tool, so if you don’t blog, I’d skip this one. This is what I use to schedule my Pinterest. It’s a little confusing at first, but it’s so convenient and I love it.
Poshmark – use the code REDAROUNDWORLD to get $5 off your first order! I buy and sell on Poshmark. It’s a great place to find second-hand clothes for affordable prices. It’s also a great way to make a little extra money to afford your trips. I think it’s best for buying brands you’re familiar with size-wise because there are no returns, but you can re-posh if something doesn’t fit. I’ve made a few hundred dollars with it so far and I don’t have big designer stuff.
Mercari – You can get $10 off your first purchase with that link! This is another great app to buy and sell used stuff. It’s great for clearing out your house in general or before a big trip. They take 10% of the sale as opposed to Poshmark’s 20%, which is nice. I think I’ve had more luck on Mercari, but it’s more for stuff than clothes. I’ll keep using both since it doesn’t cost anything to things listed. I’ve also made a few hundred dollars from this, but it’s been more Lush stuff than anything.
Swagbucks – I’m starting with this because it can earn you Swagbucks for gift cards to places like Amazon, where you can get the stuff down below! You can answer surveys, buy stuff, watch videos, play games and just search the Internet (with their search engine) all for Swagbucks. I don’t qualify for most surveys, but with the search alone I’ve gotten one gift card already and I’m on my way to another. It’s an easy way to earn extra money. I don’t want to sound salesy with this, but I really do love using it. As of March 2019, I’ve made $150 from it with casual use.
Skillshare – Skillshare is an online learning space with over 17,000 courses so you can learn to do pretty much everything from making the perfect grilled cheese to building a website. I’ve been learning how to draw and watercolor paint, as well as improve writing. It’s a super fun way to stay busy and learn new things or pick up new hobbies.
Scribd – This is my new go-to reading app. I usually just get free books on my Kindle, but they can be pretty hit or miss. On Scribd I pay $9 a month and can read as many books as my heart desires, which is a lot. You can find classics, new releases, popular books, audiobooks, newspapers, sheet music, and more. Totally worth it if you read a lot or listen to a lot of audiobooks.
Moo – Moo is the best place to print business cards and other things like that. It’s on the pricier side, but the quality is awesome and they have so many options! If you want to see the paper types before ordering a lot, you can get a sample pack for free! AND you can get 20% off your first order through that link!
Blog posts you might like:
- Not-so-typical Travelers Gift Guide
- Best Gifts For The National Park Lover In Your Life
- Why Chacos are the Best Adventure Shoes
- Packing lists
- Books I love
Follow along on Pinterest and check out these awesome gift guides and must-have gear guides!