Heading out of town to travel this summer? Whether your travels are taking you to beach, to the mountains, on the road or riding the rails in Europe, we’ve got a few summer travel essentials to recommend that will make your life (and travels) easier.
I was in Switzerland when an airport employee admonished me for attempting to get on the plane with a backpack, a tote bag and a cross body wallet. I hate having to fish in my tote for my boarding pass and ID so I usually sling a wallet with a strap on during the boarding process. “You cannot take three items on the plane!” the flight attendant snapped. You need to choose two. Of course I raised my eyebrows at her and shoved the wallet in my bag but inwardly I wished for a Sholdit wrap. These genius scarves do double duty as a purse and that’s useful at home as well as when traveling. There are a ton of ways to wear them – as a vest, or as a neck wrap or even as a nursing cover up, if you are breast feeding. They are unisex and comfortable and just perfect for stashing your phone, id, credit card, boarding pass and earbuds in when you fly. Last time I checked, you were allowed more than two articles of clothing on most international flights. *
Growing up in New Jersey, mosquitoes were an annoying fact of life. You put up with a few bites every summer, it wasn’t like it would kill you. In recent years however, they’ve become a lot more dangerous. Numerous epidemics have flared up worldwide and it’s no joking matter. It’s enough to make me slather on DEET in the Caribbean. I hate DEET and hate using it on my kids even more than myself. There’s hope. Research is now showing that DEET free natural formulas work as well or better than the toxic chemicals. I’m not the biggest fan of citronella and hated how often I had to apply it. I’d yet to find a product that I loved till this one. ParaKito is a system for the whole family that is simple, effective and even fashionable. You can wear it in the water and out. It consists of mosquito repellant pellets that are active for up to two weeks, and worn in a bracelet. There is a roll on gel for added protection in badly infested areas. Refill pellets are easy to swap out. I love it. *
Can you believe I am recommending a fanny pack? When I asked my friends what their favorite travel items were, this was one of the responses from a fellow traveling blogger. Best $7 I’ve spent in ages! This see through waterproof fanny pack keeps your phone, cash, and other small valuables safe and on your person when you go for a swim at public pools, waterparks and beaches. It’s not glamorous but sometimes simple and cheap solutions are the best ones.
If the beach is part of your summer travel itinerary, you NEED a Powder Pouch. One of the first tricks we learned as Southern California parents was that the fastest way to unstick sand from your body after a day at the beach, is with talcum powder. Surfers use it and so do we. We have been known to keep a beach blanket, towel and container of baby powder in the back of all cars “just in case” but this clever refillable pouch makes it much easier to carry in your bag, to and from the beach. It’s perfect to stash in a suitcase for use at any sandy destination. To use you just pat the affected area and the sand just slips right off. Magic!
It is just us or are U-shaped travel pillows the biggest scam on the planet? Those things are NOT comfortable on airplanes. They shove your head forward, misalign your spine and do nothing to support your neck. Whose idea was that? After seeing a video on the Trtl nap scarf, I recently bought and flight tested the Trtl on a 15 hour flight to the middle east, in a middle seat. I’m thrilled to report that I took the best airplane nap I’ve ever taken with this thing. It’s supportive enough that I’ve even been able to snooze with it on with my seat in the upright and locked position. I like it for car trips too. There is so much less neck strain when you wear one of these as your head is supported and won’t flop forward. If you are a drooler you can also cover your face with the fleece and avoid embarrassment. And if the guy next to you smells awful, has halitosis and decided to floss in his seat mid flight, you can stuff an herbal teabag scented with some lavender oil in the wrap and still get some sleep. That’s my extra special pro tip.
We’ve all seen those OMG swab tests showing us how our cell phones have more germs on them than a toilet seat. Gross. I could go through a lot of antibacterial wipes on any given day but prefer this fresh smelling Philips spray bottle that is carry on friendly. It works with the included cloth or a napkin to not only un-oogie your phone but also remote controls in hotel rooms, airplane tray tables and touch screens and more. Ah. That’s better. *
Travel is hard on hair. Speaking as the parent of at least two kids with the ability to develop dredlocks on a dime, I’m a fan of this Dubble Trubble Cool Cucumber Detangler available in handy dandy travel size. It’s nice enough smelling to use on my own hair – incredibly refreshing post plane ride when there is not enough time to take a shower but you want to control your mane and freshen up. *
The Lumee Case has gotten a lot of praise for making you look great in your selfies (it really does) but it’s great in a lot of other low light situations as well. Use it to light food or other people’s group shots when taking photos in a restaurant or other dim areas. Use it to find your way through a dark parking lot. Use it as a reading lamp in your tent in the jungle… It’s a really, really bright light and it comes in handy in a lot of situations, including the awesome selfie.
Have you ever leaned out over the side of a boat, to get that shot and then thought you were a complete dumbass and that it’s a miracle that you even still have your phone? Or maybe you weren’t so lucky when you dashed for the toilet, phone in hand, fumbling for your fly, only to hear the most dreadful sounding splash in the world a moment later. Oops. And yuck. The iRing can save you from all that agony by securing your phone like a big piece of bling to your hand, even when you lose your grasp. The ring swivels and bends and also serves as a kickstand for the phone, so you can also watch movies on plane tray tables and set the phone up like a clock on your nightstand when you are on the road. It also hangs up safely on a doorhook in that public restroom scenario. That’s a lot of value for a $20 gadget. iRing sticks securely to any case (including the Lumee, above) and can be removed and reattached to another device in the future.
Colorful backpacks, in many situations, are a traveler’s bff. Sure there are time when you want to just blend in. But for those times when you want your family to be able to quickly and easily find you in crowd (festivals, theme parks etc) we think brighter and more distinctive is better. Thieves are also less likely to steal a colorful unique looking bag in the airport as it kind of blows their anonymity. There’s always going to be fewer guys (or women) running out the door with a purple paisley backpack than a simple black one. We love these “Lighten Up” backpacks from Vera Bradley. These come in a variety of sizes and have just about everything a traveler could want in a casual pack – organization, light weight, padded straps, water resistant fabric, exterior water bottle pockets, and colorful/unique prints. These packs are well made from high quality materials. Our only problem is choosing just one print! We like this one, pictured above, due out later this month.
Disclosure: All items included in this post were purchased, unless noted with an *, in which case samples were provided for review. This is not a sponsored post and does not include affiliate links. All opinions are my own.