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Travel Gear & Travel Planning Resources
As frequent travelers, we have tried all kinds of different gadgets, tools, and resources. Here are our travel gear and resources that we use to book our trips, the things we always have in our bags and more helpful tips on what to pack for and how to book your next trip to Europe. We recommend only companies that we love and the products we use. Some of these links are affiliate links, so we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you!
Our favorite flight search engine is Skyscanner, because time and time again, they give us the cheapest deals. I recently booked a “round the world trip” from San Antonio – Baltimore – Iceland – Germany – China – Philippines – China – San Francisco – San Antonio and paid about $1,800 for ALL flights together.
Secret Tip: Use an Incognito Window to book your flight, as many Booking companies like to increase the price if you let some time pass between your research and your booking.
We actually have our own Hotel Search Engine on EuropeUpClose, which gives you the best deals found on Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Booking.com, GetARoom.com and many more. So if you are looking for a hotel, just click here and know that you will get a good deal!
Tours and Things To Do
GetYourGuide is a great resource to book fun activities, day trips, and tours during your vacation. From active adventures like kayaking to cooking classes with locals or guided museum tours, GetYourGuide aggregates the best tours and activities in regions all over the world for you. Just put in your travel destination, the dates, and your interests and you get a list of fun things to do and to sign up for. What we love about GetYourGuide is that you know the names of the tour operators, which make it much more comparable and transparent to other tour company aggregators.
Travel Insurance is a must. Often, it is included as a perk on your credit card, but if your credit card does not offer this service, we highly recommend that you sign up for Travel Insurance. SafetyWing is a great choice and we can highly recommend them! They cover COVID-related issues as well as regular medical emergencies, lost luggage, delayed and canceled flights, etc. They offer monthly coverage starting at only $40/month. Check them out here>> Worry less about the unexpected. Make sure you’re covered!
Hunting down WiFi abroad is not fun and roaming charges can be expensive, especially if you travel with family or as a group. I recommend a portable WiFi device that allows you to share internet. I tested this Pocket WiFi device and can highly recommend it.
Take a look at my top 15 items of travel gear that I never travel without!
Packing Cubes are such a simple yet effective travel gear. You can organize your clothes and save space in your suitcase. They are especially useful if you pack and repack your suitcase multiple times during a trip or if you use a backpack. They will make packing quick, organized and save space. Perfect for us.
The eBag Carry-on Backpack is perfect for a quick weekend getaway. They come in a few different sizes and have great functionality. Best of all, you have your hands free for your coffee and travel documents.
If you do prefer a roller carry-on, we highly recommend this one: The Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 is an amazing piece of luggage. The wheels roll like on butter and the fabric is soft and sturdy. For carry-on luggage, we prefer soft shell material, which makes it easier to fit into the overhead bin. You will get a 10-year warranty for your luggage, so you know that you get high quality and make a worthwhile investment that makes traveling so much easier.
For longer trips, or when you travel as a couple/family, we recommend the Eagle Creek Orv Trunk. This is a beast and you won’t have a problem to pack it up to (or even over) 50 lbs. This suitcase is a bit of an investment, but it will last you. Eagle Creek is a great company and this suitcase is a great fit, no matter where you end up going on vacation.
A luggage scale is always a great investment, especially if you travel with budget airlines or tend to overpack. Avoid those hefty overweight charges and frantic re-packing at the check-in counter with this useful travel tool! Remember to pack it, so you know how much room you have for souvenirs!
There is nothing more annoying than running low on battery on your cell phone or camera when you travel and you can’t use useful Apps like Google Translate or Maps to help you, or if you miss the perfect snapshot because your battery is empty. This nifty solar charging battery pack can charge up to two devices simultaneously and you don’t even have to worry about plugging it in. Perfect addition to your travel gear, if you like to do outdoor adventures with infrequent access to electricity or even as a safety backup for at home.
If you are more of a city traveler with regular access to a power plug, we recommend this 22000 mAh battery pack. It has a little bit more power than the solar charger.
Travel Adaptors are a must when you travel internationally. Make sure to check if your electronic device is a dual voltage device. Most laptops, phones, and eReaders are but check for hair dryers, shavers, and cheaper devices. If you don’t have dual voltage devices, you need a Converter (which is often an adaptor as well, but not all adaptors are converters).
For frequent travelers, we recommend investing in an eReader. The Kindle Paperwhite is a great choice because it has a backlit display, so you can read in darkness, yet still has a great battery life that lasts weeks. Another benefit of a dedicated eReader is the anti-glare display, which makes reading even in full sunlight no problem. Reading on the beach with your phone or iPad is almost impossible in full sun.
And if you are a book lover like me, sign up for Kindle Unlimited. Read as much as you want, for the price 1 average ebook per month AND you get unlimited free audio books as well. You can try it out for 30 days for FREE.
High-quality headphones are a lifesaver when you travel often. Tune out the world around you and listen to music or the latest audio books. I have the Bose Soundlink 25 because they fit my small head and ears and feel very comfortable. They do a good job canceling noise but are not 100% noise canceling. My husband swears by the Bose QuietComfort 35, so if noise canceling is important for you, check these out.
If you travel with a bunch of electronic gadgets and small travel gear, it get’s easy to lose and forget the thousands of chargers and accessories you carry along with them. This Electronics Organizer is a great solution to make sure you got all your cables and accessories in one place and you are less likely to forget something.
Photography Travel Gear
If you are serious about taking good travel photos that will bring you joy for years, we highly recommend the Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera. It is compact and lightweight, has excellent low-light capabilities and takes fantastic photos.
While the 16-55 mm kit lens is quite good, we recommend you add these two additional lenses. They will cover your basics and then some. Of course, if you are into specialty photography, such as Macro photography or are planning on taking a lot of wildlife photos, you will need specialty lenses.
The Sony SELP 18-105mm G f4 is a perfect travel lens that is a great fit for almost all situations. The f4 maximum aperture is perfect for low-light, landscape, and zoom situations.
The Rokinon 12mm f2.0 is an amazing lens for ultra wide angle shots. With this lens, you can take stunning landscape photos that come close to pro level. If you want to try your hand with astrophotography, this is also a great choice.
Aside from Camera and a decent lens, this is the one tool that can take your photography to the next level and open up so many possibilities. A good tripod is a golden investment that you won’t regret and this Manfrotto Travel Tripod offers good value for the money. Weight is worth a consideration, as you are more likely to take your tripod if it doesn’t break your back.
A few months ago, I picked up the 360fly action camera as a replacement for my old GoPro. Why did I switch from GoPro? Because the 360 Camera offers pretty much the same specs as the GoPro Hero 5, but also includes the 360º photo/video option, which I found pretty neat.
And my latest toy is super exciting: I am fascinated with aerial photography and videography, so after months of research, I finally took the plunge and bought the DIJ Mavic Pro. I bought this bundle because it came with a bag and 2 additional batteries, so I could extend my fly-time to almost 1.5 hours vs 27 minutes on one battery. I am still learning, but it has been a lot of fun to play around with this fun drone. As by recommendation from other drone pilots, I also bought a set of polarized ND filters to be able to shoot in sunny conditions.
Filters sets can be cheap and useful tools for your photography as well.
A UV filter is a must, as it protects your lens from dirt and scratches (and worse!), a polarizing filter helps you get the amazing blue skies and are great if you want to take photos through reflecting glass and ND filters are a must, if you like to experiment with long exposure settings.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to lose all the amazing quality of your high-end lens by putting a cheap filter on it. A good rule of thumb is that the filter should be around 10% of the value of your lens. Also, make sure that you buy the right size for your lens!
This and That – Travel Gear
If we count all the hotel rooms that don’t have enough space to put our toiletry bags. A hanging toiletry bag is so useful when you are traveling. Easy access to all your toiletries without digging. Keep everything tidy and organized with various pockets.
A silk cover for your bedding is a great way to make you feel more comfortable as you hop from hotel room to hotel room. It is almost as good as sleeping in your own bed, which honestly is the only drawback of frequent travel, isn’t it?
A scarf is a must-pack for travelers. Airplanes, restaurants, and museums are notoriously freezing and a scarf can come in handy when you visit churches or mosques. This scarf has another trick up its sleeve: A hidden pocket that lets you store your passport, cash reserve, or cell phone inconspicuously.
Travel Gear and Resources – Pin for later