After living out of our suitcases for 4 years, we’ve almost perfected the art of packing. Here are our must-have travel products to help you pack smarter for your next trip!
Before we started traveling full time, packing was a long process for me. It usually consisted of multiple trips to the store, a chaotic bedroom turned upside down with clothes scattered everywhere and the result was an overpacked, extremely stuffed piece of luggage.
Fast forward a few years and my process became much more streamlined. I went from taking a good 24 hours to pack for a 3 day trip, to being able to pack for a month long trip in about 20 minutes. There are a few tricks and good habits I’ve learned (such as, no one needs 6 pairs of shoes for a week long trip), but more importantly I’ve learned the key is having a good process, and a few must-have travel products to help you along.
I’ve put together a list of my go to travel accessories and favorite luggage pieces as well as some tips, I’ve learned along the way. When I take everything, marry them together, I start to nail down a process and things start to get a lot less chaotic. Hopefully the below will help you too.
We’ve had backpacks, duffle bags, hard-sided rollers and soft sided pieces of luggage throughout our adventures and have come to realize that a high quality piece of luggage is absolutely essential. The last thing you want to do is deal with is broken luggage on your trip. So after much trial and error, we have found that a perfect piece of luggage does not exist, yet there is a some that do come pretty close!
Our go to luggage is a Tumi hard sided roller bag, known as the Tegra Lite Expandable. We’ve had this bag for a few years now and love how lightweight and durable it is. We also love that it has 2 separate compartments, tie down straps, and most importantly, a built in garment bag to keep our dress clothes looking good.
Now, one issue we have noticed, is that because it’s hard-sided and smooth, it does get scratched up pretty badly during a flight. So before we check in the bag at the airport, we always put a luggage cover over it. Also, I love Tumi’s customer service. Over the years we’ve occasionally needed some repairs done, and we always been able to find a Tumi store in most major cities that enables us to get our luggage repaired on the go!
Carry on Luggage
Again we turn the Tumi for our carry on bag. The quality has us sold, so we’re pretty loyal in that regard. Plus, we love that it matches our full-size suitcase, so we don't look completely mis-matched while walking through the airport or checking into our hotel! Whichever model you choose, make sure you look for an International model that falls in line with carry-on limitations of the airlines you tend to travel with most often.
When shopping for a computer bag, you must make functionality more essential than style. Our computers, hard drives and other equipment are our livelihood, so we make sure to protect them wisely. When looking for a computer bag, we make sure there are plenty of slips to separate our different devices, pockets to keep things organized and padding to add some protection. Another detail to look out for is that there is a back sleeve that slides over and secures the bag over luggage handles, which makes it much easier to walk around with through airports and city streets!
It took me a good year of full time travel to give into using packing cubes. Being the sensible one, Chris always swore by packing cubes, but I just hated the way the look and made my clothing look less-glamorous. It wasn't until I started watching how easily Chris could pack that I took the packing cube seriously. He always had all his clothes organized, knew where everything was, and was able to pack up really quickly. And after giving packing cubes a try, I quickly came to the conclusion that these are probably the most important item in my suit case.
Eagle Creek is my favorite brand, mostly because they have compression style cubes (that give me a little extra space) and a folding garment cube that helps keep some of my nicer things pressed. Between the two of us, we have around a dozen cubes and use them to pack up everything that goes in our bag! I use the small ones for socks, underwear and smaller items, while the large cubes are perfect for jeans, sweaters and shirts. I treat each cube like a drawer and my luggage like a dresser. Each cube has its place and function!
After one messy spill of shampoo in my packing cube, I made the immediate change to a proper toiletry bag for my liquids and products. The key difference here, is to make sure that your toiletry bag is waterproof and zips up fully, so that you can contain and easily clean any spills.
Since we travel around so much, travel adaptors have become absolutely necessary for us and our menage of electronics...but I tend to lose them or misplace them way too often. So some sound advice is to buy a few worldwide ones, and just keep them in your luggage. This way you always have them when you need them! You don't need to spend a lot on one, but you do get what you pay for. Also, many newer adapters come with USB chargers built-in -- a huge plus if you carry many of portable electronics that need constant recharging!
Where to Buy
Because we travel so much and are rarely in one place over a week, I heavily rely on online shopping and expedited shipping :) One of the websites I turn to is WorldTraveler.com . I love the selection they have, and the prices are always competitive with other online retailers. Plus they have a great mix of luxury items and reasonably priced necessities.