The 3 Best Travel Insurance Companies in 2019

Here at Extra Pack of Peanuts, we know how exciting travel can be. It lets you break out of your comfort zone, see places and people you never imagined, and return home with an appreciation of the vastness of our planet.

Yet while traveling can be fun, it’s also important to leave home prepared. One of the key things to do before you leave for any trip (especially international travel) is to get travel insurance.

If you’ve never heard of travel insurance, don’t worry. Not too long ago, we hadn’t heard of it either. But now, we never leave home without it.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at what travel insurance is, why it’s so important, and our favorite companies for buying travel insurance. (more…)

The 49 Best Gifts for Travelers

[UPDATED: November 13, 2018]

Every year, for the past six years, we’ve scoured the globe to find the most unique, most useful, and best gifts for travelers on the planet (tough life, I know).

And in those past six years, our annual “best gifts for travelers” guide has become the #1 travel gift guide in the world!

So if you’re struggling with what to get the traveler in your life, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered again this year.

From less than $5 to over $1,000, and with gifts ranging from backpacks to books and from cashmere to coffee, there’s something here for everyone.

Here are the best gifts for travelers – so start shopping, and happy holidays!

Want to skip to a certain section?  Just click a link below:

Best Travel Backpacks & Gear

There’s no more important item to a traveler than a good piece of luggage and over the years, our opinions have been split.

While I don’t travel anywhere without a backpack, Heather prefers a rolling suitcase.

Which is perfect for you, because no matter which you prefer, we’ve got an option that you’ll love.

1. TORTUGA OUTBREAKER BACKPACK

tortuga-outbreaker

Years on List:  3

While I’ve loved my Tortuga Backpack for the past four years, two years ago they came out with the Outbreaker – and all I can say is…wow!

Not only does it look cooler than the previous version but it’s also:

  • Waterproof
  • Laid out with more pockets and easier storage systems
  • The first height-adjustable travel backpack in the world, and
  • Made of sailcloth (which they use on racing boats) and which won’t rip, scuff or fray

Plus, it still has a separate sleeve for your laptop (a huge perk) and now it comes in two sizes.

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Price: $299 for 45L, $269 for 35L Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

2. THE BIGGER CARRY ON BY AWAY TRAVELaway_medium_sand

Years on the list: 3

As most of you know, Heather is definitely a “rolling suitcase kind of girl” who does not enjoy schlepping around a backpack.

After rolling a beat up Samsung suitcase around the world for the past 5 years it was time for an upgrade – and the Away suitcase has been just that.

Just a few of its many features include:

  • Scratch-resistant surface
  • Range of sizes with great colors
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Battery for charging electronics

We’re obsessed! 

The "Bigger Carryon" by Away Travel Price: $245 The Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

3. Tortuga Setout Packing Cubes

Years on List: New This Year!

We were hesitant to try packing cubes at first. But after using them over the last year, there is no turning back.

Now, Instead of our bags exploding when we get to a new spot we can easily pull out the packing cubes to find what we want. 

Yay organization!

Tortuga Setout Packing Cubes Price: $35 Tortuga Setout Packing Cubes Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

4.  UNiqlo Packable Puffer Jacket for Men or Women

uniqlo-puffer

This product was recommended by our good friend and packing expert, Fred Perotta, founder of Tortuga Backpacks.

Years On List: 3

Typically, we prefer travel that involves shorts, swimsuits, and flip-flops.  But occasionally we’ll venture to colder climates, and when that happens, a down packable puffer jacket is a lifesaver.

Uniqlo is known for having good quality products at affordable prices and this jacket is no exception.  It’s super warm, stylish, and packs up really well, making it an essential piece of travel gear for men and women!

Uniqlo Packable Ultra Light Down Jacket Price: $69 Available for both men and women and in a host of colors! Uniqlo Packable Ultra Light Down Jacket Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Travel Gadgets

Every traveler worth their salt knows that certain gadgets can make life much easier on the road.

Grab these gadgets and know that you’re prepared no matter where you’re headed.

5. Macbook Air 13″

Macbook Air

Years On List: 5

Really want to spoil your favorite traveler?

Give them, hands down, the best travel laptop.  It’s powerful, lightweight, and durable.

As someone who used to lug around a Macbook Pro, we’re glad we made the switch.

Bonus Tip: make sure to get them the 256 GB size instead of the smaller 128 GB – it’s well worth the extra $100.

Macbook Air 13" (Newest Model) Price: $1,096.80 Macbook Air 13 Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

 6. iPhone XS Max

Years on List: New This Year!

Remember back in the day when you had to carry around a DSLR camera AND a tablet?  #firstworldtravelproblems.

Now, all you need is Apple’s newest smartphone and you’ll be able to take amazing pictures and surf the internet on a screen you won’t need reading glasses for – all on something that fits in your pocket!

Pretty amazing.

iPhone XS MAX Price: $1,399.98 iPhone XS MAX Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

7. Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones

This product was recommended by our good friend and travelista Natalie Sisson from The Suitcase Entrepreneur.

Years on List:  2

There are two types of people when it comes to Bose Noise Canceling headphones – those who swear by them and those who have never tried them.

And while they are expensive, a good set of noise-canceling headphones can quickly become a traveler’s best friend when trying to relax or get some sleep during a brutal long haul flight.

Bose QuietComfort 35ii Noise Canceling Headphones Price: $349.00 Bose QuietComfort 35ii Noise Canceling Headphones Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

8. MOPHIE JUICE PACK

Years on List: 3

This was, hands down, one of the best gifts we received in the past few years – and something we now recommend as essential to any traveler!

Travelers use their smartphones for everything – taking pictures, GPS, finding the best places to eat, posting on social media – which leads to the dreaded “dead battery syndrome” halfway through the day.

Enter the Mophie charger, which can fully recharge a phone two times!

And you can choose when to charge the battery by switching it on and off, saving the battery boost for when you need it most…like when you’re trying to find your hotel at midnight! 

Mophie Juice Pack Price: $49.99 Mophie Juice Pack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

9. Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Years On List: 4

We love reading physical books as much as the next person (and probably even more), but carrying around multiple books at a time isn’t feasible when you’re trying to travel light – and you’re trying to travel light, right?

So grab the absolute best e-reader on the market and have the entire world’s library at your fingertips.

Make sure to splurge for the Paperwhite version, as the built-in backlight will pay for itself many times over.

Kindle Paperwhite Price: $129.99 Kindle Paperwhite Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

10. Bestek Universal Travel adapter 

Years on List:  2 

For years, we recommended carrying a travel adapter AND a surge protector that would give you extra outlets.  Now, those two items have been combined into one awesome piece of travel equipment!

The Bestek Universal Travel Adapter:

  • Converts to that country’s voltage (no more frying your power strip with the hairdryer)
  • Gives you 7 (!) ports for charging – 3 outlets and 4 USB –
  • Comes with adapters for over 150 countries in the world.

Bing. Bang. Boom.

An absolute must-have for any traveler – and our #1 most purchased gift from last year’s gift guide!

Bestek Universal Travel Adapter Price: $36.99 Bestek Universal Travel Adapter Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

11. Roost Travel Stand

Years on List: New This Year!

If you work on your laptop on the go, this is a must have. Creating an ergonomic setup for your laptop can stop that permanent hunch you’ve got going at the coffee shop!

At only 5.8 ounces and 1 inch thick, you’ll save your back and still have plenty room in your bag for other essentials, like that extra pair of underwear or the wine you want to bring home from Tuscany!

The Roost Travel Stand Price: $74.95 The Roost Travel Stand Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

12. The Jetto App

Years on List: New This Year!

Trivia time:  What’s the best type of gift?

Answer:  One that saves you more money than you actually spend on it!

And our new app Jetto does just that, sending notifications directly to your phone when crazy cheap flights from your airports pop up (like roundtrip flights to Europe for under $350)!

With each deal saving you an average of $400+, the $39/year price tag for the premium version makes it a no-brainer and will add money back into your pocket year after year.

Jetto App Price: Free to download, $39/year for Jetto Platinum Jetto App Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Sleep/Health Travel Gifts

No one wants to be sick or overly tired when traveling.

Make sure you’re always in tip-top shape with some of these gifts.

13. Mack Ultrasoft Foam Earplugs

macks earplugs

Years on List: 6

Whether it’s to drown out a screaming baby on the plane or unwanted construction during an early morning in Bali, earplugs are one of the most important things any traveler can bring with them.

And none of the earplugs we’ve tried my in life compare to Mack’s.

Grab a 50-pack and give them away as the perfect stocking stuffer (and maybe even keep some for yourself)!

Mack's Ultrasoft Foam Earplugs Price: $10.79 Mack's Ultrasoft Foam Earplugs Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

14. DryFox Microfiber Travel Towel

Years on List: 2

A travel towel is one of the very few “must have” travel items, and last year, we recommended a brand new one – the Dryfox travelPOUCHtowel.

Readers went nuts for it – they loved that it was larger and more comfortable than other travel towels and had a built-in water resistant storage pocket.

Plus, it was cheaper than other travel towels and created by EPOP reader Samantha Peck.

Well, we’ve got good news – this year it comes in brand new designs that are reversible!

You literally could not ask for more in a travel towel, which is why this towel comes with our highest recommendation possible.

DryFox Microfiber Travel Towel Price: $34.99 DryFox Microfiber Travel Towel Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

15. Gotoob Travel Bottles

travel tubes

Years on List: 4

These travel bottles are long lasting and will not break in your luggage – which makes them well worth the few extra dollars as they don’t need to be replaced after one trip.

Those 99-cent bottles from Target?  They always end up deformed and broken.

Time to upgrade!

GoToob Travel Bottles Price: $13.69 GoToob Travel Bottles Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

16. Gotubb Travel Containers

This product was recommended by adventure travel expert Stefan Loble, founder of Bluffworks. 

Years on List:  2

The PERFECT compliment to the GoToobs listed above, GoTubbs can be used for storing vitamins, pills, knick-knacks, or even that pesky spare change you always seem to accumulate.

Plus, you can open the GoTubbs with one hand – how cool is that?

GoTubb 3 Pack Price: $7.99 GoTubb 3 Pack Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Stocking Stuffers for Travelers

These smaller but essential pieces are perfect for stuffing the stocking of your favorite traveler.

17. One80 Peripheral LED Headlamp

Years on List:  2

When the power goes out in the third world country you’re traveling through, you don’t want to be the one stuck without a light (speaking from experience).

And having a headlamp makes a lot more sense than carrying around a heavier, and less useful, flashlight.

But even traditional headlamps only show you what’s right in front of you, leaving you with “tunnel vision”.

Imagine having a headlamp that illuminates an entire 180-degree field so you can have full range of vision?

That’s exactly what the (aptly named) One80 LED headlamp does – and because it comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts 7+ hours on low, you’ll never be in the dark again.

The perfect stocking stuffer!

Special Offer:  Use the promo code EPOP at checkout to get 10% off!

One80 LED Headlamp Price: $49 Don't forget to use the promo code EPOP to get 10% off, which lowers the price to $44.10! One80 LED Headlamp Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

18. Headphone Splitter

Headphone splitter

Years on List: 6

It’s simple and unsexy, but if you’re traveling with a companion then a headphone splitter might be the best bang for your buck on this entire list.

It allows you to watch all your favorite tv shows and movies together without having to play the whole “left ear for you, right ear for me” game that gets old after a few hours minutes.

Headphone Splitter Price: $3.76 Headphone Splitter Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

19. TILE slim

tile-slim-2

Years on List: 3

This is probably the best $30 you will ever spend – especially if you’re someone who loses their wallet in multiple countries (coughTravcough).

This small device that you can adhere to your keys, wallet, laptop, etc. so that you can find them when they’re lost – instead of spending your vacation at a Parisian police station.

Tile Slim Price: $28.95 Tile Slim Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

20. MOLESKINE NOTEBOOK

moleskin

Years on list: 4

The perfect size for carrying around in your pocket or purse and jotting down important travel notes, like where to find the best baguette in Paris or best gelato in Florence.

We never leave for any trip without at least two Moleskines at our disposal.

Moleskine Cahier Journal (Set of 3), Pebble Grey, Soft Cover Price: $9.95 Moleskine Cahier Journal (Set of 3), Pebble Grey, Soft Cover Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

21. Buff

Years on List: New This Year!

Popularized by Survivor (yes, it’s still on and yes, we still love it), buffs make the ultimate travel companion because of their versatility.

Able to be worn as everything from a headband to a tube top and used in hot climates to wick away sweat or cold climates to keep heat in, packing a Buff for any type of adventure is a necessity.

And with hundreds of different patterns and colors, you can always find one that matches your style.

BUFF Original Price: $20.00 BUFF Original Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

22. Vagabond Heart Travel Patches and Stickers

Years on List: New This Year!

We love collecting mementos of our travels, but far too often the choices look too “tourist-trap-gift-shopey”.

Thankfully Mike from Vagabond Heart (and EPOP fan) thought the same thing and decided to make patches and stickers that actually look cool.

Like, really cool (Vancouver, Mexico, and Havana are a few of our favorites)!

His vintage-inspired travel stickers currently adorn our laptop, and they make a perfect gift for any traveler!

Vagabond Heart Travel Patches and Stickers Price: $4.95 per sticker, $7.95 per patch Vagabond Heart Travel Patches and Stickers Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Travel Books & Magazines

What’s the best thing to do when you’re not traveling?

Read about other people’s experiences!

If you’re stuck without a trip in the near future, get lost in someone else’s adventures with some of our favorite travel books and magazines.

23. A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer

Years on List:  3

One of the best books, of any genre, that I’ve read.  Ever.

Not particularly interested in North Korea?

No problem, neither was I before I started this book.

Now?  I’m fascinated – and there is no better starting point than this true story of a kidnapped filmmaker, his star actress, and a young dictator’s rise to power.

Do yourself a favor and pick this book up…and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down.

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power Price: $9.99 on Kindle or paperback A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

24. The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon

Book - Hidden Europe

Years on List: 5

Ever dreamed of exploring Eastern Europe?  You need this book!

Have no clue why anyone would want to explore Eastern Europe?  You need this book!

Francis Tapon’s account of his journey to all 25 Eastern European countries is like the world’s most interesting history textbook combined with a hilarious travelogue.

I’ve read it multiple times, and I still find myself referring back to it every time I get a bit of wanderlust for the “hidden” Europe.

The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon Price: Varies Based on Type of Book You Want (Hardcover, Kindle, etc) The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

25. Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubenstein

Years on List: New This Year!

I’m a sucker for true travel books that are “stranger than fiction”, so I start A LOT of them.  Unfortunately, I don’t finish 90% of them because they are too dry, too boring, or too poorly written.

Fortunately, The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber is the exact opposite – a “stranger than fiction” story that actually lives up the moniker.

If the story of a whiskey drinking, semi-pro hockey player turned robber baron who becomes a folk hero in crazy post Communist Hungary sounds interesting to you, I promise that this book will not disappoint!

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein Price: $12.88 Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

26. Ultimate Journeys for Two by Mike and Anne Howard

Years on List: New This Year!

Taking inspiration from their six-year journey across the seven continents, Mike & Anne of HoneyTrek.com (and friends of EPOP) have written National Geographic’s first book on couples travel.

In this gorgeous coffee-table-meets-guide, they’ve pinpointed their 75 favorite destinations, best tips, most inspiring stories, and handiest travel hacks.

It’s organized by type of experience–so no matter if you (or that couple on your holiday list) are into beaches, mountains, deserts, or road trips, you’ll find amazing new places to match your style.

Ultimate Journeys for Two Price: $17.56 Ultimate Journeys for Two Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

27. Best Magazine Subscrptions for Travelers

Years on List: 3

Magazine subscriptions are awesome because they’re the gift that keeps on giving…month after month after month.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Outside Magazine 

outside-mag

A great magazine for the explorer in you. 1 year for $24

Cereal – Travel + Style

cereal-mag

The minimal travel magazine – easily compared to Kinfolk.

Buy a 2 edition subscription for $27

Best Travel Gifts for Men

Here are six clothing items that have made my travel life infinitely better and saved me tons of room in my pack.

28. Bluffworks Chinos

Bluffs Chino

Years on List:  4

Very few articles of clothing get me excited…but Bluffworks Chinos are the exception.  

They are not only the best travel pants but the best pants out there, period.

Bluff Works chinos check every single box:

  • Wrinkle-free
  • Super comfortable due to the stretchiness of the fabric
  • Look awesome
  • Special travel pant perks like zipper pockets to keep from being pickpocketed or just having your wallet or phone slide out

I have all five colors and I wear them – every. single. day.

In fact, I’m wearing them right now as I write this!

They are, legitimately, that awesome.

Bluffworks Chinos Price: $125 regular price Don't forget to use the promo code PEANUTS to get 10% off! Bluffworks Chinos Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

29. Bluffworks Travel Blazer

Years on List: 2

There are very few things in this world I love as much as my Bluffworks Chinos (listed above).  My Bluffworks Travel Blazer is one of them.

I was never a “blazer guy” – you couldn’t pack them because they’d wrinkle, they weren’t comfortable and they just looked too corporate.  Give me a hoodie instead.

That all changed when Bluffworks released their wrinkle-free, breathable, stretchy, and lightweight blazer built specifically for travelers.

I’ve taken this blazer around the world with me.

I’ve worn it on planes and on the back of motorbikes.  I’ve worn it to the theater and to a super posh wedding in the Cotswolds.

And I’ve shoved it in my backpack and left it there for days.

No matter what I do to this blazer, it not only holds up, but it looks as good as the day I first got it.

Bluffworks Travel Blazer Price: $295 regular price Don't forget to use the promo code PEANUTS to get 10% off when it's not on already on sale. Bluffworks Travel Blazer Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

30. VivoBarefoot Ultra 3’s

Years on List:  2

For every trip I take, I pack 3 pairs of shoes.  A “dressy enough” pair, a pair of sandals, and a pair of sneakers.

And in order to pack a pair of sneakers that don’t take up your entire bag, you need to pack a pair of barefoot ones.

While I’m not a huge runner, I have run (slowly) in these plenty of times.

But the main reason I love them so much is that they are flexible enough to wear for almost any outdoor activity, whether it be dry (hiking, walking around a city, etc.) or wet (swimming, rafting, kayaking or even just splashing around in the rain)!

After trying out numerous pairs of barefoot sneakers, the Vivobarefoot Ultras are my all time favorite and have been with me to over 30 countries!

Vivobarefoot Men's Ultra 3 Barefoot Sneakers Price: $80.00 Vivobarefoot Men's Ultra 3 Barefoot Sneakers Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

31. Adidas Climalite Boxer Briefs

Adidas-Climalite-boxers

Years on List: 5

Traveling to a hot location? Cotton underwear just isn’t going to cut it!

These will keep you dry all day, are much cheaper and more comfortable than the popular Ex Officio brand, and can be washed easily in the sink if need be.

adidas Men's Sport Performance Climalite Boxer Brief Underwear (2 Pack) Price: $18.00 adidas Men's Sport Performance Climalite Boxer Brief Underwear (2 Pack) Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

32. The Ridge Wallet

Years on List: New This Year!

This wallet has a super minimal footprint, allowing it to sit in your pocket without making much of a show.

With RFID blocking, this is the perfect wallet for travel, allowing you to carry just what you need without drawing any attention.

Plus, you get to choose between a money clip or a money strap and three different colors.

The Ridge Minimalist Wallet Price: $72.00 The Ridge Minimalist Wallet Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Travel Gifts for Women

All women’s gifts are recommendations from Heather, the one who constantly stuns everyone by how good she looks while she travels – and who keeps me from wearing sweatpants around the world.

Here’s Heather…

 33. Fawn Design Backpack

Years on list: New this year

I love traveling with a nice leather bag and in the past have used my Cuyana tote for every trip. Now that we have a baby, I knew I needed to find a cool travel/diaper bag.

This is technically a diaper bag, but it also makes the PERFECT travel bag because it has tons of pockets to organize all your items and even has a sleeve in the back for your laptop.

It ‘s also very comfortable to carry around since it is a backpack rather than a tote bag. I have used this bag (I have the gray version) every single day and on every trip over the last year and I love it!

Fawn Diaper Bag Price: 169.99 Fawn Diaper Bag Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

34. Best Travel Hat for Women

Years on List: 4

I bought a gray wool hat exactly like this three years ago at Madewell and I’ve taken it on most trips ever since. This year I bought the same version in linen and I love it!

However, those hats are not in stock at the moment so I found some others that are similar, such as the one above, from Nordstrom. It is perfect for covering up a bad hair day, which can happen more than you like when traveling.

It looks great paired with some aviators and a cargo jacket.

If you’re traveling somewhere colder, I also love these options from Amazon – this really affordable hat with a removable pompom and this cashmere set, which includes a scarf and gloves if you are really looking to spoil the traveler in your life! 

Linen Travel Hat Price: 29.50 Linen Travel Hat Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

35. Best Stylish Travel Sneakers for Women

superga-sneaker

Years on List: 3

I always travel with a sneaker and in past years, I’ve sworn by the Nike Internationlist sneaker.

While I still love the Nike Internationalist and wear them frequently, two years ago I finally bought these Superga sneakers and I love them! I brought them on all of our trips the past few years and they look great with basically any outfit and are incredibly comfortable.

They come in both leather and canvas and have a variety of colors. I went with the classic white leather because they are durable and easy to clean, but I am already eying up the black pair!

Superga 2750 Sneakers Price: Superga 2750 Sneakers Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

36. Elevated Leggings

Years On List:  6

Leggings are a travel must-have.

These faux leather leggings are affordable (40% off) and look great with a cozy oversize sweater for those long plane rides but look equally stylish when you land. 

I wear them constantly paired with ankle boots or sneakers.

Another great option is this version by Spanx, which is the number one selling faux leather legging and also comes in petite sizes. 

Faux Leather Leggings Price: $60 Faux Leather Leggings Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

37. Cashmere Wrap

Years on List: 4

Two years ago, I bought a Halogen cashmere wrap from Nordstrom before we embarked on our two month trip to Europe.

From the first flight, where I was considerably warmer and cozier, I was hooked.

I was especially grateful I had it wandering around Norway on some very cloudy and chilly days.

My exact wrap is sold out, but there is a new version from Nordstrom this year that looks very similar and just as cozy! I also found a few more affordable options on Amazon.

100% Cashmere Wrap Shawl Extra Large Scarf Price: $130.00 100% Cashmere Wrap Shawl Extra Large Scarf Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Best Infant Travel Gifts

Towing a little guy around the world for the last year has introduced to a whole new type of travel — and made us realize that the products below are worth their weight in gold when traveling with an infant.

38. Doona Convertible Car Seat and Stroller

Years on List: New This Year!

This is, hands down, one of the most useful, most practical, and best products we’ve ever used. It’s a stroller that with the push of a button converts in to a car seat, as the legs tuck right up under the frame.

After lugging around both a car seat and a stroller while in Budapest and Mallorca (and feeling like a pack mule) we found the Doona, and it was an answer to our prayers.

We’ve used it on every single trip since and we could not recommend it enough to any parents traveling with an infant.

Doona Stroller Price: $499.00 Doona Stroller Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

39. Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Crib

Years on List: New This Year!

When you’re traveling with children, every inch of space and ounce of weight is crucial, and the Guava Family is one of the lightest and most compact pack and plays on the market.

It’s also got a cool bonus feature – the one side zips open, allowing you to crawl in the pack and play if you need to snuggle your little one to sleep!

Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Crib Price: $209.00 Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Crib Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

40. Angel Dear Blankies

Years on List: New This Year!

Lovingly referred to as “woobies” by our family, these soft baby blankets are an absolutely necessity when trying to get our little guy to go to sleep.  Plus, they’re super cute.

He loves them so much that we’re slowly working our way through all 30 different types of animals (although the blue elephant is still his favorite).

Angel Dear Woobies Price: $13.37 Angel Dear Woobies Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

41. Infantino Pouch Spoons

Years on List: New This Year!

Never have we seen something so simple elicit so many positive comments from total strangers (and save so many pairs of clothes).

This little plastic spoon twists right on the end of any pouch, allowing you to keep the mess to a minimum – and impress everyone around you who has never seen one before!

Infantino Pouch Spoons Price: $3.99 Infantino Pouch Spoons Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

42. Boon Snack Ball

Years on List: New This Year!

Items that can be used for multiple purposes are awesome, especially when traveling, and this little ball is no exception.

Not only can you store your kid’s favorite snacks inside (mmmm bunny crackers!), but they can also use it as a play toy.  Winning!

Boon Snack Ball Price: $5.99 Boon Snack Ball Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Heather’s Favorite Travel Gifts

Now that we’ve got the clothes out of the way, here are a few more of Heather’s personal favorites that will make your travel even easier and more stylish.

43. Cuyana Leather Travel Set

Years on List: 2

I bought a travel case set last year from Sseko Designs and have used them nonstop to organize my items and switch them between bags, a welcome convenience now that we have a baby.

Unfortunately, those bags are no longer available but this set from Cuyana is and it’s beautiful and sleek.  I still use my leather Cuyana tote 4 years later!

These well-made leather pouches from Cuyana come in a lot of different colors and will definitely help you keep your bag tidy while you travel.

Cuyana Leather Travel Set Price: $110 Cuyana Leather Travel Set Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

44. Cashmere Socks & Eye Mask 

Years on List: 3

Staying warm on the plane is essential for a comfortable flight. No matter what time of year I am flying, I always pack a cozy pair of socks.

If you are looking to spoil the traveler in your life, then these luxurious cashmere socks with a matching eye mask make the perfect gift!

Cashmere Socks and Eye Mask Price: $61.60 Cashmere Socks and Eye Mask Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

45. Atlas coffee Club

Anyone who listens to our podcast knows my obsession love for coffee. Wherever we travel, I always track down the best cafes in that area – to the point where even Trav will research as well, knowing it’s inevitable we’ll find our way there.

When I found out there was a coffee club that sends you customized coffee from around the world every month, I was beyond excited and immediately knew I would be giving this gift to every coffee loving traveler I know!

Atlas Coffee Club Price: Starting at $9/month Atlas Coffee Club Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Trav’s Favorite Travel Gifts

A special selection of what I consider some of the coolest and most unique travel gifts you can buy.

46. Inflatable Solar Lantern

This product was recommended by our good friend and travel gear guru Stefan Loble, founder of Bluffworks,

Years on List: 2

A lantern that collapses down to 1 inch, can float, lasts for up to 24 hours, and works on solar power?  Why wouldn’t you want something like this in your life?

While most people would think of using this for camping, I can think of hundreds of times in my travels that don’t involve camping where this would come in handy.

There’s a reason that this is so highly rated – and why I take it on every trip I go on.

MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 - Inflatable Solar Light Price: $19.95 MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 - Inflatable Solar Light Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

47. Flying Fisherman Fowey Sunglasses

Years on List: 2

No, I don’t fly fish.  In fact, I don’t fish at all (too boring for me).

But for as weird as the name and branding are, the sunglasses are equally as awesome and perfect for travel.

Their rugged, polarized, don’t scratch easily, won’t slip all over your face, and look great.

Plus, they’re cheap, so you don’t have to worry if you leave them in a beach cabana in Thailand or they come flying off while jetskiing on Lake Winnipesaukee (whoops)!

Flying Fisherman Fowey Polarized Sunglasses Price: $21.49 Flying Fisherman Fowey Polarized Sunglasses Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

48. CutMaps Wooden Cell Phone Case of Your Favorite City

Years on List: 2

I’ve had a CutMaps cellphone case of Portland, Oregon for the last two years and I’ve gotten more compliments on it than anything else (yes, even more than the man bun I once rocked)!

The premise is simple and in the name – they laser cut the map of your favorite city on to a wooden cell phone case that allows you to rep your hometown or your favorite city wherever you go.

Plus, the case is super durable and helps protect your precious smartphone.  I’ve dropped mine countless times and never had an issue!

Cut Maps Wooden Cell Phone Case Price: Starting at $29.99 Cut Maps Wooden Cell Phone Case Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

49. Holy Cow Push Pin Travel Maps

Years on List: New This Year!

I love traveling.  I love maps.  And, let’s be honest, it’s pretty cool to “show off” all the places you’ve been when your friends come over.

So it only makes sense that these push pin maps are at the very top of my wish list this year.  I especially like gray and white map (hint, hint)!

Holy Cow Push Pin Maps Price: Starting at $144 Holy Cow Push Pin Maps Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

What’s on your travel wishlist?  Did you buy anything from the list above?  Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments below!

Our Solo Travel Challenge

Solo travel.

It’s something we get asked about, alot.

But because we’ve spent the last 10 years almost exclusively traveling together, we didn’t have much to say about one the most popular forms of traveling.

Until now.

Solo Travel Graphic

When Hilton approached us about doing a solo travel challenge – each one of us would travel alone to a US city we had never been to and experience it the way WE wanted – we jumped at the chance.

While I was going to a Cubs’ games, eating pan pizza, and staying at the newly opened LondonHouse in Chicago, Heather would be laying on the beach, indulging herself at the spa, and enjoying the Conrad Miami.

And we’d each learn a thing (or two…or three) about the solo travel experience.

What were some of the biggest advantages of traveling solo?

Trav:  The first advantage is a pretty obvious one – you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want!

No asking someone else what they want to do, how they feel, or worrying about their opinions.

For someone who usually travels with at least one other person, this “selfish” mindset was pretty liberating – and fun.

There was also one major logistical advantage – getting in to restaurants and bars!

On my first night, I tried to get a reservation at one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants, Girl and the Goat.

They were already fully booked for the night, but told me I could try to walk in.  When I arrived, I was told there was a 2 hour wait, but….

…since I was there as just a single person, they stuck me on the end of another table immediately.

I had already eaten a fantastic meal and paid by the time people who came before me were just sitting down.

Score one for solo travel!

Heather: Being able to do whatever you want without regard to anyone else! :)

What were some of the biggest disadvantages of solo travel?

Trav: The major disadvantage was not getting to share the experience with someone else.

Since we constantly travel together, I never gave it much thought that when we come home from a trip and reminisce, the other person shares those memories.

This time, after coming home, I was happy to hear about Heather’s great time in Miami, but I couldn’t “feel” her experience or picture it the same as if I had been there.

Sharing the travel highs, lows, and everything in between with someone else is something I take for granted, since it always happens, but is something I can appreciate much more now that I’ve had a solo travel experience.

Heather: After four days of being basically alone I was definitely ready to see my loved ones and not eat dinner alone.

But other than that, I would say there weren’t any disadvantages. Oh… except not having my personal photographer husband. I had to take more selfies! You can check out my attempts on Instagram.

What Are a few things you did that you wouldn’t have done if the other person was there?

Trav:  BIKING!

It’s no secret that I absolutely love biking, especially around cities.  While Heather will sometimes humor me and bike around a bit, she’d never make it her main means of transportation.

In Chicago, which I found to be one of the most bike friendly big cities in America, I took advantage of this and biked everywhere.

The first day, I used their bikeshare program, Divvy, to get around.  But I wanted to be able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted (back to that selfish attitude again!) and so for the last two days, I rented my own personal road bike.

40 miles later, I had gone up and down the lakefront a few times, visited almost every neighborhood north and west of the Loop, and had the time of my life!

Another thing I did was take a lot of public transportation.

Much like biking, my affinity for public transportation is unmatched by Heather.

And since LondonHouse was in a perfect spot, centrally located right in the Loop district and near every train line, when I wasn’t taking my bike, I was riding the “El”.

Biking and public transportation – Heather would have hated it, but I couldn’t have been happier!

Heather: When we stay at nice hotels, Trav NEVER wants to eat at their restaurants!

He is always in search of small local places, which is fun, but…

…sometimes hotel restaurants have amazing food!

So I indulged fully while staying at the Conrad Miami.

The first night I ate at their restaurant, Atrio, which is on the 25th floor with amazing views of the city and it was also the best meal I had the entire time!

I also ordered room service (usually another hard NO from Trav).

It felt incredibly luxurious and indulgent to order room service and something I would never typically do with Trav.

key lime tart at Conrad Miami

Every time we stay at a hotel, I longingly look at the spa brochures but unless we are in Thailand (where massages cost less than $10) I regretfully ignore them and move on.

Since we were solo traveling I decided to check out the spa at the Conrad Miami – and it was awesome!

They had a very large spa complete with any sort of treatment you can imagine.

Getting a relaxing facial and then laying by the pool in the Miami sunshine is basically my ideal way to spend a morning!

IMG_0449

View from the rooftop pool at the sleek Conrad Miami.

What things didn’t you do because you were by yourself that you would have done if you were together?

Trav:  Drink wine!  Just kidding.

A few things I didn’t do that typically Heather and I would do if were together was go to coffee shops (no use going if I don’t like coffee) and museums.

I certainly don’t mind going to museums and galleries, but I’d never choose it over other activities like going to sporting events and other outdoor activities.

I actually biked by the Art Institute of Chicago and thought:

“That looks pretty cool, I bet we’d be in there if Heather was here.

Then I took off biking down to check out Soldier Field (where the Bears play).

Heather: Trav and I usually check out cool bars or breweries when we travel but being on my own I didn’t have much motivation to go out at night.

I didn’t mind going out to dinner alone, but going to bars alone in Miami didn’t seem that enticing to me.

Instead, I opted for chilling in my hotel room – which had amazing views of Biscayne Bay – and read a few books.

Also, when we travel together we usually set a rapid pace to fit in every activity, restaurant and brewery into our schedule.

Being alone in Miami allowed me to be as relaxed as I wanted to be – including spending an entire day at the Bentley Beach Club at the Hilton in Miami Beach.

Even when the clouds rolled in I continued to lounge in my chair and enjoy the beautiful views.

IMG_0417

What was the biggest surprise of solo travel?

Trav:  How much I take having someone to talk to for granted.

Even though I found it really easy to talk to people as a solo traveler, there were plenty of moments where I was sitting alone – at a restaurant, brewery, on a boat tour, at the beach – and had no one to talk to.

Most of the time, it was enjoyable to have some time alone, but it was still a big surprise when I realized just how much time I usually spent talking with someone else.

Heather: I didn’t really miss Trav a lot.

Not to sound callous or insensitive, especially because I don’t think he missed me either – but we travel so frequently together that it was a nice chance to just have alone time.

Did you find people talked to you more or less as a solo traveler?

Trav:  I definitely felt that more people talked to me as a solo traveler.  Granted, I like to talk to people, so that does play a part in it.

However, most of the time it was the other person who started the conversation, usually by asking something like

“so, what are you doing in Chicago?”

As a solo traveler, you’re much more approachable, and I also think that generally people are interested in why someone is there alone since it’s less common than being with someone else or in a group.

One of the places I felt most at ease was at my hotel, LondonHouse.

I’ve never encountered a more genuinely friendly, nice, and kind staff.

From Corey the doorman remembering that I went to the Cubs game and asking me about it the next day to the awesome staff at LH on 22, their incredible rooftop bar, I felt totally at home during my three days there, which really helped, especially as a solo traveler.

IMG_4352

What’s really great is that I felt the same friendliness from the staff at a totally different type of establishment, The Drake.

While the LH on 22 rooftop bar is the newest hot spot in Chicago, The Drake is a place to go to experience “real Chicago” and has one of the oldest bars in the city, Coq d’Or.

A cozy bar, stiff drinks, steak dinners, and live lounge singers and piano players – The Drake is definitely your grandfather’s Chicago!

Two totally different places with two totally different vibes – but the same friendly service, which had me feeling comfortable as a solo traveler.

Heather: I did not think this was the case. People didn’t really talk to me at all as a solo traveler.

The only place people were especially friendly to me was at my hotel. I also spent a lot of time there – eating or hanging out and all of the staff were attentive and even chatty, which was nice!

Was it more stressful to travel alone?

Trav:  Aside from losing my wallet within half an hour of landing in Chicago (woohoo, another travel mishap story!), I found that after getting over the initial apprehension and awkward feeling of traveling solo, that it was actually less stressful.

Even though Heather is more than capable of taking care of herself – and in fact, probably more capable than I am (case in point, I lost my wallet immediately after landing) – I still find myself worrying about her when we travel together.

Also, when traveling with someone else, I generally ask a lot of questions and overthink scenarios.

Oddly enough, when it’s just me, I just do it – probably because there is no one to ask about it!

Heather: I didn’t think it was more stressful to travel alone. 

However, It was a short trip and also a domestic flight so we didn’t have to deal with any situations that were difficult or stressful.

Did you feel uncomfortable going out by yourself?

Trav:  At first, yeah, it felt a bit awkward, especially going to a sit down restaurant like Girl and the Goat.

Usually, that awkwardness dissipated pretty quickly after I started chatting someone up, especially if it was somewhere less formal like a brewery.

But it definitely was a new feeling, and one that took some getting used to.

Heather: It was the opposite for me.

I didn’t feel uncomfortable at first. But after the 3rd meal eating out alone, I felt conspicuous and also just a little lonely.

How did you feel about night life as a solo traveler?

IMG_4310

Trav:  There were a few times when I was out at night that I felt a bit awkward being alone, especially because every other person was with someone else.

It was still fun, especially doing activities like the Second City Comedy Club, but the “night life” component was certainly when I felt the most self conscious about being a solo traveler.

Heather: Miami has quite the reputation as a party city, but I didn’t venture out too much at night – clubbing isn’t really my thing and especially not solo!

I would go out for dinner, but I was basically back in my room by 9 or 10 – which felt kind of lame but I really enjoyed relaxing in my room and watching whatever I wanted or reading without interruption.

Plus the views from the floor to ceiling windows were stunning and nice to look out at night.

What were 3 things you learned from solo travel?

Trav:

 1. Embrace the silence

As mentioned above, one of the biggest surprises was just how little time I spend in silence and not having someone else around.

I learned to embrace and enjoy it, and it made my trip much more enjoyable.

2. Just do it

If you want to do something, do it.

Want to rent a bike and cruise around the city?  Do it!

Want to go to a sporting event in the middle of the day?  Do it.

Fancy heading to a brewery to taste a delicious brew before noon?  Go for it!

One of the best things about solo travel is getting to do whatever you want, whenever you want – and not having to worry about anyone else’s opinions!

3. Some things will suck…and that’s ok

I had a ton of amazing experiences and met some great people while I was traveling solo…

…but that doesn’t mean each time I went out and did something it was amazing.

I went on a hour and a half boat tour and didn’t talk to a single person the whole time.

I went to a brewery before the Cubs game, tried to chat with some of the staff there (it was 11 am, so I was the only customer) and basically got a few grunts back.

Not everything will be great and not everyone will want to talk to you.

Take it for what it is and move on without worrying about it too much.

Heather:

1. It’s ok to do whatever you want.

If I didn’t feel the desire to go out and explore the city I could just sit by the pool instead – guilt free.

2. It’s ok to be alone and to dine alone.

It takes a certain level of confidence to eat alone and feel comfortable. 

If there were moments I lacked the confidence I could always hide behind my iPhone or book.

Which brings me to #3…

3. Bring something to entertain yourself. 

I always had my kindle with me so that if no one was being especially chatty I could pull out my book or my phone.

I would try not to do this right away so that I wouldn’t dissuade people from talking to me and missing out on an experience, but it was always my backup!

Do you have any tips for meeting people when traveling solo?

Trav: You can certainly do some things to give yourself a much better chance of meeting people when traveling solo.

First, head to places where other interesting people might be hanging.

You could go to the hotel’s lobby bar, take a free walking tour, join a group tour, etc.

You could also join a Facebook group for the area you’re going to or check if there is a Couchsurfing group in that area and go to one of their meetups.

Heather: I’m not sure – I probably could have used some tips before this trip! The only thing I can think of is to join a group tour or group activity of some sort. That way you can easily interact with other people.

Were there any times you felt unsafe as a solo traveler?

Trav: No.

Granted, being a male it’s a bit different, and I was staying in a really nice area by the LondonHouse and doing activities that certainly weren’t dangerous, but I never once felt unsafe.

Heather: No, not really. But I also wasn’t out late at night.

What tips would you give a first time solo traveler?

Trav: Be selfish – go out and experience the things YOU want to experience.

Don’t be afraid to take a trip alone.

Embrace the quiet times.

And if you want to meet others, put yourself in situations to do it, and it’ll happen.

Heather: Be open to try new things or to feel uncomfortable.

For me especially, eating out alone is somewhat outside my comfort zone – especially every meal for four days.

But I didn’t let that stop me from researching and finding the best restaurants in Miami.

Also, depending on your situation and length of trip, take time to spoil yourself…often!

I think that solo travel is a great time to indulge because you can literally do whatever you want to do.

In my case, I lounged by the beach for an entire day, went to the spa at my hotel and ordered room service – indulgences I wouldn’t normally do with Trav.

What were the 3 best experiences you had during this trip?

Trav:

IMG_4314

1. Going to Wrigley Field for a Cub’s Day Game 

There are very few things I love more than going to sporting events, and Wrigley Field is the holy grail.

It lived up to the hype and then some – and it didn’t hurt that the Cubs won!

2.  The Chicago “Triathlon”

On Saturday, I pulled off the Chicago triathlon – a bike ride up Lakefront Trail, a swim in Lake Michigan, and a deep dish pizza.

And as great as Pequod’s pizza was, nothing beats the first two “legs” of the triathlon.

Biking up the lake followed by a swim are must-do’s if you’re in Chicago in the summer.

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3.  The Rooftop Bar at LondonHouse, LH on 22

There’s a reason that this is the newest hotspot in Chicago and that every single person I talked to asked me if I had been to the rooftop at LondonHouse.

It’s that awesome!

The highest rooftop bar in the city, the best views, and some killer cocktails makes it an awesome place to spend an afternoon…and an evening…and a late night!

Heather:  

1.The Conrad Miami

Honestly, I had the most enjoyable times when I was at the Conrad Miami.

The amenities and the employees there made my solo travel feel much more friendly and comfortable – from getting great suggestions at the concierge to enjoying a meal with amazing views. 

I even ventured out to the exclusive and trendy Soho House for happy hour at their restaurant and the juxtaposition between the two hotels was astounding!

The bar tender was not friendly at all  – a complete 180 from the staff at the Conrad Miami.

2. Spending the day at the Bentley Beach Club.

Reading a book while gazing at the ocean is my little piece of heaven.

3. The Perez Art Museum and Wynwood District

The last day of my trip I went to the Perez Art Museum and then wandered around the eclectic Wynwood District.

The Perez is filled with very interesting modern art concepts, but I have to say the part I enjoyed the most was finding the entrance through a jungle-like maze.

Perez-Museum

The Wynwood District of Miami is filled with cool galleries, shops and walls covered in art.

It is definitely a hip area to explore and I thoroughly enjoyed my iced nitro latte from Panther Coffee.

Wynwood-Miami-Triple

Want to Follow in Our Footsteps?

Because it’s one of the biggest hotel chains in the world, one of the best things about Hilton is that they have a variety of properties around the globe that stretch across every budget.

In Chicago alone, they have over 20 different hotels just in downtown, including the LondonHouse where I stayed, and in Miami, they’ve got 25 different hotels.

If you’re looking to take a summer solo travel trip, you can take advantage of the Hilton World Sale, which is running through September 6. If you’re a Hilton HHonors member, you can get up to 30 percent off your room, which is an awesome value.

And of course, you can always use your Hilton HHonors points to book a free night (or two, or three) and experience Chicago and Miami just like we did!

Final Word(s)

Both of us loved our solo travel experience and are glad that we finally got to “try out” a huge part of the travel landscape that we previously hadn’t really known.

Inherently, we knew it would be different, but were shocked at just how different the solo travel experience actually was from traveling with another person or a group.

And while it was great to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, we certainly aren’t going to only solo travel from now.

We will still be traveling together most of the time, but we do plan on mixing in some solo travel adventures going forward so that we can both continue to experience cities and places in a way that just isn’t possible when you’re with someone else.

Have you been a solo traveler before?  What are the biggest differences you experienced between solo travel and traveling with someone else?  And what are your favorite solo travel destination (we want to try them out!)?

Let us know in the comments below!

Our “solo travel challenge” was sponsored by Hilton. All the opinions expressed are solely our own and are based on our actual experiences.

The 29 Best Gifts for Travelers, 2015 Edition

Gift Guide Graphic

You need a gift for your favorite traveler, but you have no idea what to get them.

What could they want…or need?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

From less than $3 to over $1,000, we’ve picked out gifts for any budget.

And with gifts ranging from backpacks to himmelis (what are those?) and from headlamps to the perfect travel pants, there’s something for everyone.

Here are the 29 best gifts for travelers – so start shopping, and happy holidays!

Backpacks & Gear

There’s no more important item to a traveler than a good piece of luggage, and for almost all situations, I prefer a backpack instead of wheeled luggage (although we also have a wheeled luggage recommendation further down).

When shopping for a backpack, it pays to spend some money and find yourself a good one, and the two listed below are the ones I’ve been using, and loving, for the last 3 years.

1.  Tortuga Backpack

Tortuga Pack

For almost any trip, taking something bigger than a carryon doesn’t make sense.  Why pay all those extra fees to lug something heavy around the world?

The Tortuga it’s been with me all over the world.

It’s the largest possible size that still qualifies as a carryon and it’s got the perfect amount of pockets to carry your chargers and laptop without having to go in to the main pack.

Buy it from Tortuga Backpacks for $179 – regular price is $199, use PEANUTS at checkout to get 10% off.

2.  Tortuga Air

Tortuga Air

Going on a shorter trip and want something more streamlined than the regular Tortuga backpack?  The Tortuga Air is the perfect choice.

It opens up like a clamshell, making it super easy to grab something quickly.  And my favorite part:  the hidden but well padded laptop compartment makes removing it at an airport a cinch while still keeping it safe.

Buy it from Tortuga Backpacks for $157 – regular price is $174, use PEANUTS at checkout to get 10% off.

3.  Packtowl Ultralite Quick Drying Travel Towel

pack towel

One of the only items to make this list three years running, this is an absolute must for any traveler.  I’ve tried other travel towels throughout the years, and nothing compares to Packtowl.

It’s small, lightweight, and dries in a flash.  Get it, give it, and never leave home without it.

I’d recommend the XL size.

Buy it on Amazon for $22

 

Gadgets

Every traveler worth their salt knows that certain gadgets can make their life much easier on the road.

Grab these gadgets and know that you’re prepared no matter where you’re headed.

4.  Macbook Air 13

Macbook Air

 

If you’re looking to spoil your favorite traveler, there is no better gift than the perfect travel laptop.  And the Macbook Air is, without a doubt, the perfect travel laptop.

All the quality of an Apple product, plenty of storage, and oh-so-light.  As someone who used to carry around a Macbook Pro, I’m glad I made the switch.

Buy it on Amazon for $999 (for 128gb) or $1,194 (for 256 gb)

5.  Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB

Seagate Storage

 

Anyone who is traveling and taking pictures or videos, whether it be for business or pleasure, needs an external hard drive.

Luckily, with the Seagate Backup Plus Slim, you don’t have to lug around the bulky hard drives of old.  This one is so small you’ll barely even notice it and with 2 terabytes of space, you’ll never come close to filling it.

Buy it on Amazon for $69 ($25 cheaper than last year!)

 

6.  Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

I love reading physical books as much as the next person (and probably even more), but carrying around multiple books at a time isn’t feasible when you’re trying to travel light – and you’re trying to travel light, right?

So grab the absolute best e-reader on the market and have the entire world’s library at your fingertips.

Make sure to splurge for the Paperwhite version, as the built in backlight will pay for itself many times over.

Buy it from Amazon for $99

 

7.  Monster 2 Go Powerstrip

Monster to Go Powerstrip

You’ve got your smartphone, laptop, Kindle, and camera battery, but the place you’re staying only has one outlet.

Fear not – by plugging in your with a Monster 2 Go powerstrip, you’ll have 4 outlets.  And since it folds up almost flat and has a short cord that never gets tangled, it makes the perfect travel companion.

Buy it from Amazon for $20

8.  iPad Air 2.0

iPad Air

As an avid magazine reader, picture taker and app downloader I have to say I miss the presence of an iPad in my life.

We bought the original iPad back in 2010 and it has since been lost, found, cracked and un-updatable. We got a Kindle Fire, which we thought could replace the iPad.  It cannot.

For a traveler who doesn’t need a full laptop at their disposable, the iPad Air is perfect.  And even if you do need a laptop, an iPad Air is so lightweight that you might want to bring it along anyway!

Buy it on Amazon for $447

Stocking Stuffers

These smaller but essential pieces are perfect for stuffing the stocking of your favorite traveler.

9.  Platypus Plus Bottle

Platypus Water Bottle

One of my biggest travel pet peeves is paying for bottled water in country’s where it’s not necessary.  It’s expensive, bad for the environment, and just generally wasteful.

But traveling with a hard plastic or steel water bottle has never worked for me.  It’s bulky, doesn’t fit in my backpack, and always ends up being a nuisance.

Enter the Platypus Plus Bottle.  When empty, it takes up almost no room but can carry up to a liter of water at a time.  Perfect!

Buy it on Amazon for $16.95

10.  Shining Buddy LED Head Lamp

Head light

When the power goes out in the third world country you’re traveling through, you don’t want to be the one stuck without a light (speaking from experience).

And having a headlamp makes a lot more sense than carrying around a heavier, and less useful, flashlight.

While most other headlamps cost $20+, the Shining Buddy is just as good, just as light, and cheaper.

The perfect stocking stuffer!

Buy it from Amazon for $13

11.  Headphone splitter

Headphone splitter

It’s simple and unsexy, but if you’re traveling with a companion then a headphone splitter might be the best bang for your buck on this entire list.

It allows you to watch all your favorite tv shows and movies together without having to play the whole “left ear for you, right ear for me” game that gets old after after a few hours minutes.

Buy them on Amazon for $2.47

12.  Moleskin Cahier Notebooks

Moleskin

One of the few things I never, ever leave home without – whether I’m taking off for a whirlwind, three month journey across the globe or just heading out downtown.

Taking notes and/or journaling is one of traveling’s greatest pleasures, and since the Moleskin Cahier notebook can easily fit in a pocket or a purse, you’ll never be without it when inspiration strikes.

Buy it from Amazon for $9.50 for a set of 3

Men

A special section devoted to, you guessed it, the male traveler.  Here are four items that have made my travel infinitely better and saved me tons of room in my pack.

13.  Bluff Works Chino Pants

Bluffs Chino

For years, I’ve been waiting for a company to make the perfect travel pants, and FINALLY it’s happened!

Bluff Works chinos check every single box:

  • Lightweight
  • Wrinkle-free
  • Super comfortable due to the stretchiness of the fabric
  • Look awesome
  • Special travel pant perks like zipper pockets to keep from being pickpocketed or just having your wallet or phone slide out.
  • Made in the US by a company dedicated to quality and their customers.

Since getting these chinos three weeks ago (I have the harvest gold and the blue), I’ve rarely worn anything else – in fact, I’m wearing them right now while writing this!

They are, legitimately, that awesome.

So while they are more expensive (for me, at least) than any other pair of pants I’ve bought, I can say, without a doubt, they are worth every single penny – and then some.

Buy them from Bluffworks for $125special offer:  use EPOP at checkout to get $10 off your first pair.

14.  Vivobarefoot Gobi boots

gobi boot

Finding shoes that pack light is very, very hard.

Luckily, Vivobarefoot makes a few styles that not only are half the weight of regular shoes, pack up really small, and also look great.

The Gobi’s are perfect if, like me, you love boots like the Clarks’ desert boots.  They are modeled off of them but pack up 1/3 of the size.

Buy them from 6pm for $75 (prices vary based on style and color, but this is the cheapest place I’ve found).

And if you want a shoe instead of a boot…

15.  Vivobarefoot Tigray shoes

Vivo Tigray

As much as I like my Vivobarefoot Gobi boots, I like the Tigrays even more!  I was blown away by incredible these shoes look and also how well they’ve held up.

I’ve worn them all across the world, and the only issue I’ve ever had is a broken shoelace – which is quite an easy fix.

These are the perfect “dressy-enough-to-go-out-in-but-casual-enough-to-wear-with-shorts” shoes.

Buy them from Sierra Trading Post for $89 (which is a steal since they sell for $160 almost everywhere else)

16.  Merrell Trail Glove Barefoot Running Shoes

Merrell

For every trip I take, I pack 3-4 pairs of shoes.  A “dressy enough” pair (the above mentioned Tigray shoe, Gobi boot or both), a pair of sandals, and a pair of sneakers.

And in order to pack a pair of sneakers that don’t take up your entire bag, you need to pack a pair of barefoot ones.

While I’m not a huge runner, I have run (slowly) in these plenty of times.

But the main reason I love them so much is that they have just enough padding to hike in (whereas other barefoot shoes have too little), their semi-waterproof, and yet still pack very, very easily.

After trying out numerous pairs of barefoot sneakers, the Merrell Trail Gloves are still my all time favorites.

Buy them from Amazon for $87

Women

All women’s gifts are recommendations from Heather Sherry, brainchild behind the fashion site Sartorial Stripes and the one who constantly stuns everyone by how good she looks while travels – and who keeps me from wearing sweatpants around the world.

Here’s Heather…

17.  Cuyana Tote

Cuyana Tote

This tote bag has been to 0ver 10 countries, 4 continents and every flight I have been on the last year and it still looks new.

This bag is perfect for the frequent traveler, and I can personally attest to it’s quality and resiliency, as I’ve put it through the ringer.

Buy it from Cuyana for $150

18.  Elevated Leggings

Topshop Leggings

Leggings are a travel must-have. These Topshop leggings (above) are affordable and look great with a cozy oversize sweater for those long plane rides and they look equally stylish when you land.

I wear mine constantly paired with ankle boots or sneakers.

The version from Ann Taylor (which I just purchased and love!) or J.Crew are a little more expensive but are thicker and dressier – meaning you can feel comfortable wearing them out to dinner.

Buy them from Topshop for $35

Buy them from Ann Taylor for $84

Buy them from J. Crew for $138

19.  Travel Sweater

Zara Sweater Jacket

A cardigan jacket is a nice supplement to your winter coat. This Zara one (above) is perfectly neutral but structured enough to wear with leggings or jeans whether you’re waiting at the gate, sleeping on the plane, or hitting the streets once you arrive.

This sweater is also a great option with a hood.

Buy the unhooded one from Zara for $49

Buy the hooded sweater from Amazon for $62

20.  Nike Internationalist Sneaker

Nike Sneaker

The Nike Internationalist is the perfect dual purpose sneaker – it looks fashionable while sightseeing and feels comfortable when exercising on the road.

I used to pack both my running shoes and casual shoes but I have since started packing just one and I have been hiking, running and walking around the world in these for the last year.

Buy them from Amazon for $68 (price varies depending on size)

21.  Blanket Scarf

blanket scarf

A scarf is one of the best travel accessories and while I usually go for a neutral color, this plaid one seems a little more festive. And the best part? It is big enough to use as a blanket on the plane.  I also love this blanket scarf by Shoreditch and this one by Calvin Klein.

Buy it on Amazon for $9. 

22.  Ankle Boots

Ankle Bood

This pair of Sam Edelman booties are a tried and true ankle boot. The same style is available every year because of its versatility, style and comfort. I can wear these boots walking around all day and my feet never hurt! There are a lot of colors available but I love the black because they can be casual or dressy.

Buy on Amazon for $130.

 

Trav’s Picks

A special selection of what I consider some of the coolest and most unique travel gifts you can buy.

23.  Cork Globe

Cork Glove

The perfect gift for any traveler’s desk or bedroom.  Allows you to brag without bragging, and it looks cool too!

Buy it on Uncommon Goods for $129. 

24.  Ticket Stub Diary

Ticketr stub diary

I’ve been using the ticket stub diary for years, and have already filled up two whole books with mementos from all over the world.

They are one of my most prized possessions and the perfect way to keep track of all those crazy adventures – even after you’ve come home!

Buy it from Amazon for $13

25.  Breweries of the USA Mega Map

Brewery Map

If you like beer…and you like maps…well, we’re kindred spirits.  And since that’s the case, you also probably reallyreallyreally want this map too – which I first saw at Sanitas brewery in Boulder and instantly fell in love with.

Every brewery, all 3,500 of them, is listed – yes, even that small, local one you’re sure isn’t on there.

It may be expensive but it’s big, unique, and it will make an incredible gift (especially for your favorite travel blogger…hint, hint!)

Buy it from Pop Chart Labs for $100

Heather’s Picks

A few more of Heather’s personal favorites that are bound to make you look better and make travel even easier!

26.  Jet Set Candy Luggage Charm

Jet Set Candy Necklace

One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is my customized Layered + Long  Wanderlust necklace. I wear it daily layered with some of L+L’s other necklaces. On my wishlist this year are these luggage tag charms from Jet Set Candy. You can chose your home airport or pick your favorite destination – such a fun way to wear your travel memories!

Buy it on Jet Set Candy for $68. 

Buy L+L on Etsy for $37. 

 

27.  Scandinavian Himmeli 

Moravian Star

These beautiful Scandinavian inspired himmelis are a great way to add a bit of travel charm to your home space. There are quite a few design options to choose from, but the Moravian star is my favorite. It’s perfect for the holiday season but I would leave it up all year… possibly placed on top of a stack of travel books.

Buy it on Etsy for $123.

28.  Leather Pouch

Amazon Clutch

I like to organize my miscellaneous items (chapstick, headphones, wallet etc) in a leather pouch, which can also double as a clutch to elevate an outfit.

I recently bought this bag from Banana Republic (shown above) and received multiple compliments on a night out in NYC. Other favorites include these from West Elm and this one from Cuyana

Buy it on Amazon for $72.

Buy it from West Elm for $24.

Buy it on Cuyana for $85.

29.  Traveler’s Choice Hardshell Luggage

Luggage

I am not a backpack person. I don’t pack quite as lightly as Trav does, and I really dislike the pain involved in schlepping around a heavy pack that hurts my neck (no matter how ergonomically designed they are) and causes my clothing to bunch up in weird places.

Therefore, I am dying to upgrade my well worn Samsonite to this highly rated hard shell case from Traveler’s Choice.

Buy it on Amazon for $240 (for a 3 piece set)

Want More Gift Recommendations?

Check out our gift guides from years past:

The 33 Best Gifts for Travelers, 2014

The 24 Best Gifts for Travelers, 2013

And if you’re looking for books, check out our two part series:

The Top 20 Travel Books, #1-10

The Top 20 Travel Books, #11-20

What’s on your travel wishlist?  Did you buy anything from the list above?  Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments below!

The Ultimate Packing Guide for Women – Fall Weather

Ultimate Packing Guide

Packing for a trip can be the worst part of planning – and wondering if you are packing too little, too much, or even the right items for the climate can be a daunting task.

I have taken enough trips to have packing down to a science.

And although that doesn’t mean I look forward to it, I have narrowed down my packing necessities.

The following list is exactly what women need to pack for a cold weather trip.

Clothing

Fav Chambray

Tops

1 White Button Down – My favorite look is an oversized white blouse that looks equally good with jeans as it does with leggings. Try these options from H&M and J.Crew

1 Chambray – One of the most versatile tops  you can own. The classic one from J.Crew is worth the splurge, but just in case – here is a cheaper option from Old Navy.

2-3 T-shirts – Definitely bring one or two white v-neck tees and add a comfortable black and gray for good measure! Here are a few of my favorites from Nordstrom, J.Crew, Amazon and H&M.

1-2 Dressy Blouse – I love this one from J.Crew and this from Zara.

2-3 Sweaters – A wrap sweater or an over size cardigan are the two best things to pack for added coziness. I recently bought this sweater from Forever 21 and wore it all over Cape Town.

cozy sweater

Bottoms

2 Pair of jeans – A pair of semi dark skinny jeans are perfect because they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I bought this pair from J.Crew in June and have taken them on the past four trips – they definitely pulled their weight! Plus, they don’t stretch out so you can wear them multiple times before washing.

I almost always pack a pair of white denim. If that is not your jam, then consider a boyfriend jean or black or gray skinnies.

1-2 Pair of leggings – cheap pair from Target always come in handy for travel days or even for pajamas. I always make sure to have a pair with me.

An upgraded pair is also a necessity. I wouldn’t wear the Target leggings out to dinner but I would wear these (and often have)! I also have this pair (similar pair) and wear them quite frequently at home and abroad – the space they take up rolled in my suitcase is negligible.

Slouchy pants – By far some of the most comfortable pants out there. The fact that these pajama-like pants are considered fashionable is great news for travelers – now we don’t have to worry about what to wear on the plane!

Pair these with a t-shirt and sweater with a pair of flats and you’re ready to go. My favorites include these from H&M and these from Old Navy.

Outerwear

1 Wool Jacket – This is a great option from Amazon.

1 Packable Puffer – This piece is perfect for layering or on those days you are doing more active activities. This Patagonia puffer is actually warm and can easily fit under a more structured jacket on those especially cold or damp days on the road.

1 Blazer (optional) – A black blazer is perfect for elevating any look to something extra special. It easily fits folded at the top of your suitcase and pairing it with a scarf and skinny jeans makes for a seriously chic evening look. A good blazer is worth the investment and I turn to J.Crew for the best versions.

Activewear

1-2 Pair of running leggings

1-2 Sports bra

1-2 Active tops

Shoes

ankle boots

1 Pair of Flats – Buy the most comfortable pair you can find – remember, you want to be able to walk around all day without blisters. My favorites are usually from Madewell and J.Crew.  This pair will elevate any look and can be worn while sight seeing and then out to dinner. I also have a classic pair (similar to these but older) and they have held up well for the past three years.

1 Pair of Sneakers – My favorite pair of sneakers for travel are my Nike Internationalist – and not just because of the name! They are the most comfortable waking shoe and can even be worn for a run if I don’t have running shoes with me. If you want a running shoe, the most fashionable pair are neutral colored (I love black and white) Nike Frees.

Both of these sneakers look equally good with jeans or leggings – check out my Pinterest board for more inspiration.

1 Pair of Boots – I typically pack a pair of ankle boots or riding boots for those trips with cooler weather. I find ankle boots to be more versatile in fluctuating temperatures because you can wear them with long pants or with shorts and dresses if the weather is warmer. My favorite pair are Sam Edelman (pictured above but are sold out). Here is a similar pair – Sam Edelman Petty Boot.

1 Pair or Heels (If the occasion calls for it – otherwise don’t bother.)

Bonus – A simple pair of flip flops is a good idea to bring on every trip. This way you are prepared for a jaunt to the pool or spa.

Accessories

necklace

2 Pair of Dainty Earrings – a simple pair of studs works with every outfit any time.

1 Pair of Statement Earrings – swapping out a pair of studs for statement earrings is an easy way to transition from day to night activities.

2-3 Dainty Necklaces – My favorite necklaces are from Layered and Long. I wear these constantly whether we are at home or traveling. (You can use the code EPOP10 for a discount).

1 Statement Necklace – Another easy way to take your look from day to night. The best necklace (and one I am currently coveting) is this versatile piece from Stella and Dot. You can wear the Plume Necklace in several different ways which makes it the perfect piece for travel!

1 Watch – My current favorite is this Michael Kors piece, which I wear practically everywhere.

Beauty

 laptop

Electronics

 Travel Accessories

  • Eye Mask – Save (This one has a place to keep your ear plugs) or Splurge
  • Ear Plugs
  • Cozy Socks
  • Sleep Aid
  • Headphones
  • Blanket Scarf – Save or Splurge
  • Pen

Luggage

Suitcase – Trav prefers to travel with a backpack but I love having a suitcase because I really hate schlepping a backpack over my shoulder all the time! I have had a very sturdy canvas Samsonite for the past three years. This is a great suitcase but I would love to upgrade to a sleeker option such as this Delsey hard shell luggage.

Tote Bag – I take my Cuyana tote with me on every trip. It is very resilient and looks great as well. If you prefer a day pack I also have my trusty Osprey (similar version) which I will take on occasional trips.

Final Word(s)

The above list is intended to take the guesswork out of packing and help you minimize your travel stress and your suitcase.

Make sure to follow along on Instagram and Pinterest for more travel packing inspiration.

What are some of the things you can’t live without when you’re traveling?  Let us know in the comments below!

Everything You Need to Know About Money When Traveling

how-to-use-money-when-traveling

Money, Money, Money.

Something you need in life, and certainly something you need when traveling (although you don’t need as much as you think).

And the best way to use money when traveling is something that has a lot of misconceptions, false information, and general confusion surrounding it.

Should you exchange money before leaving for a trip…or while you’re in the country?

Should you bring a lot of cash with you….or just a little?

Are ATM’s the best way to get money in a foreign country?  Are they safe?  And are there fees?

What credit cards should you use?  And should you pay in the local currency or your home currency?

In this post, we’ll answer all of those questions and more, so that you will know exactly what to when it comes to money when traveling, both before and during your trip.

*Some of the specifics, such as which accounts to open, will be for US-based people only, but the general rules should be followed by everyone.*

What Not to Do:

It’s always easier to tell people what they shouldn’t do, so let’s start there.

1.  Don’t Convert Money Before Traveling

The worst exchange rates will be at your home bank, converting your home currency to the currency of the country you are traveling to.

If you want to convert some just to be safe, I’d recommend $100 or less.

Then, use your debit or credit card while in the country and get a much better exchange rate (more about this in a moment).

2.  Don’t Carry A Lot of Cash

Carrying a lot of cash has one major downside – the chance to lose it.  If you’re someone sitting there saying “I never lose my wallet or purse”, well, you’re better than me.

But…why risk it?

If you follow our suggestions for getting the right debit and credit cards, you’ll have no need for a lot of cash, and if something does happen, you’re protected.

I personally never carry more than $100 on me at once.

If you are someone who still feels the need to have cash (looking at you, Dad), then I highly recommend splitting it up and putting some in your wallet or purse, some in a safe pocket in your luggage, etc.

3.  Don’t Convert Money at Money Changers

Money changers, just like your banks back home, will rip you off – avoid changing money at them unless absolutely necessary.

Much better to take money out of the ATM with a debit card that charges you a small or no fee or pay with a credit card that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee.

What To Do:

4.  Open a Bank Account and Debit Card With Little or No Foreign Transaction Fees

Some banks will charge you for everything when using your card out of the country – a fee (up to 3% sometimes) on the amount you take out AND sometimes a set amount per withdrawal or transaction.

That’s ludicrous, and there is no need to get crushed with these fees when there is an amazing option out there.

The absolute, hands down best option for international travel is the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account.

It charges no foreign transaction fees – not a percentage nor a set amount per withdrawal.

And here’s the best part:  it reimburses any ATM fees you pay, both at home and abroad!

For example, when traveling in Thailand, you’ll pay about $6 every time you take money out of an ATM (which is highway robbery, especially because you can get the best meal in the world for $1).

But with the Charles Schwab account, you’ll get reimbursed that $6, each and every time.

If you can’t get a Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account for some reason, make sure the bank account you have charges either no foreign transaction fee or a small one.  My secondary bank charges 1%, which isn’t bad if I have to use it in a pinch.

5.  Carry two separate cards for two separate accounts when traveling

Speaking of secondary accounts, I always make sure that I’m traveling with more than just one ATM card.

I’d recommend having two different bank accounts (Charles Schwab and one other one) and bringing both ATM cards with you.

If you don’t want two bank accounts, you could bring one ATM card and one credit card.  I personally bring along two ATM cards from two different banks and at least two credit cards.

You never know if one might get locked out for some reason, so better safe than sorry.

6.  Tag your cards before leaving the country

Speaking of getting locked out (like these segues?), always make sure to call your bank and credit card companies before you’re traveling to let them know where you are going.

If you don’t do this, many times the banks will freeze your card when they see a suspicious purchase from overseas.  If this happens, you’ll have to call them up to unfreeze it, and if it’s not normal business hours back home, you may find yourself stranded.

Instead, make the 5 minute phone call before leaving.  It’s not foolproof – I’ve tagged my cards before and still had them get locked out – but if you don’t do it, you’ll almost certainly get locked out of your account pretty shortly after touching down somewhere.

7.  Open up a no foreign transaction fee credit card

Just like you want to have a bank account and debit/ATM card that has no fees, you also want to have a credit card with no foreign transaction fee.

This allows you to use it abroad and not pay anything extra.

Be careful, because many of the best credit cards WILL have a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

The best ones with no foreign transaction fees are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclays Arrival for personal use and the Chase Ink Plus for businesses.

If you’re looking to find the best credit card for your specific situation, fill out our free credit card consultation form and we’ll give you our personal recommendations.

8.  Pay with a credit card whenever possible

Once you get a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, pay with that whenever possible while traveling.

In some countries, credit cards are not widely accepted, but in countries where they are, I always use it as my first option.

The reasons are threefold:

  1. It’s hassle-free.  You don’t need to worry about taking money out, carrying cash, or getting stuck with a bunch of small change.
  2. You rack up rewards points and frequent flyer miles.  If you use a credit card at home for this stuff, then you why not do it abroad as well!
  3. It’s easy to track your spending.  If you want to see how much you spent in a specific place or on the entire trip as a whole, it’s all right there on your statement.

9.  When you pay with a credit card, ALWAYS pay in the local currency

Some places will give you the option of paying in the local currency or your home currency.

For example, in Spain, we were often asked if we’d like to pay in Euros (the local currency) or US dollars.

ALWAYS choose to pay in the local currency.

If you pay in your home currency, the restaurant/bar/store will add on an extra charge, usually up to 5%.  This is called “dynamic currency conversion”, and you DON’T want this.

If you have a credit card or debit card with no foreign transaction fee then there is never a reason to pay in your home currency.

10.  Take money out of ATM’s that are tied to banks

No matter what country you are in, it’s always safer to take money out of an ATM that is tied to a specific bank.

If it’s a bank that you recognize or have in your home country, even better.

While most ATM’s around the world are fairly safe, use common sense.

Ones that are found in city centers that are tied to large banks will generally be much less likely to steal your information than the one on dark street corner next to a pub or some random convenience store.

11.  If you’re traveling with someone else, split up your cash and cards

In most relationships, one person is more forgetful than the other (points finger at self), which is why it’s always good reason to split up your cash and cards.

On top of that, you never know when you’ll get split up while traveling for one reason or another, and you don’t want to be left stranded with no cash or way to get some.

12.  Keep your wallet and purse in safe areas

I’m not one to be overly cautious – no money belts for me – but getting pickpocketed or having your purse snatched is a very real possibility in many places.

For this reason, we always make sure to take small and simple precautions that can have a big impact.

For guys, I always suggest putting your wallet in your front pocket instead of the back and keep your hand on it when you’re in subways, trains, or big crowds.  

If you want to take it one step further, Bluffs makes incredible travel pants that have a zipper pocket in the front for extra protection (use the discount code epop for 10% off).

For females, Heather suggests wearing a cross body bag, like this or this, and wearing the actual purse part in the front in crowded areas.

Bonus tip:  Heather also turns her wedding ring upside down so that the diamond is facing down while on trains so it looks less conspicious.

13.  Always be aware of the currency rates while traveling

You certainly don’t have to be as huge a nerd as I am about it (in fact, for your sake, I hope you’re not!) but being aware of the currency exchange rates can really help you save some big money when traveling.

Most people won’t plan their trip around this, but if you are flexible, you can score some really great deals.  For example, just two years ago, Japan was very expensive to travel to because the yen was strong, at about 80 yen for each dollar.

In the past two years, that has flipped dramatically, and now you’ll get 124 yen for every dollar.

Two years ago, a sevenday Japan Rail Pass would have cost $363.  Now, it costs $234.

The easiest way to track and convert currency quickly is the Converter App – which also helps when changing things to metric – or the XE Currency app.

14.  Be prepared when paying a bribe

Depending on where you travel to, there may be times you’ll have to pay a “fee to a certain official”.

While this may sound either incredibly romantic or incredibly terrifying, depending on your personality, the truth is, it’s usually not either and is actually fairly common.

But being prepared can be the difference between getting completely ripped off and having it be no big deal.

A perfect example of this is in Indonesia.

Technically, in order to ride a motorscooter in Indonesia, you need a license.

But do you think the thousands of Aussie bros and Eat, Pray, Lovers who flock to Bali for the week get their licenses?

Of course not!

This means that the police will regularly pull people over so they can make a little extra side cash.

If you have no idea what’s happening, pull out your wallet, and flash a lot of cash, they’ll realize that and demand you pay them a lot (relatively) – upwards of 300,000 rupiah ($22).

But if you drive around with a 50,000 rupiah note ($4) in your pocket, you can easily just hand that over and be on your way.

So don’t flash a lot of cash, carry some small bills in your pocket so you don’t have to take out your wallet or purse, and you’re fine.

Final Word(s)

Many people worry about money when traveling, but really, it doesn’t have to be that difficult.  Here’s the cliffnotes version:

  • Open a bank account that doesn’t charge you any fees to use abroad (Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking is the best).
  • Carry that bank account’s ATM card with you and use it to get money out.
  • Only use ATM’s that are tied to banks.
  • Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Use your credit card whenever possible.
  • Bring at least two types of ways to get money out.
  • Tag your cards before leaving the country.
  • Don’t carry a lot of cash on you.
  • Don’t exchange money at your bank at home or at money changers.
  • Be smart and safe with your wallet and purse.

Follow these simple rules, and you’ll not only save yourself a lot of money in foreign transaction fees, but you’ll also feel much less stressed about your situation when traveling.

What are some of your best tips for using money when traveling?  Do you have specific things that you do?  Let us know in the comments below!

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