I never planned on being a road warrior, but these days I think I qualify for the title. These past two years I have been refining and honing the set of gear that goes with me in my carry-on suitcase and laptop bag. Here (complete with affiliate links) is what I take with me. An ASTERISK is for the things you didn’t know you needed.
GL.iNet GL-AR300M Mini Travel Router
I have had it up to here with re-entering my name and room number or rewards program details every 24 hours for three devices (laptop, phone, Fire Stick). This device connects to the hotel WiFi or ethernet, then shares the connection as a private network.
Universal TV Remote*
Inteset INT-422 4-in-1 Universal Backlit IR Learning Remote
Why? Because you want to be able to change the input on your hotel TV so you can watch things on your Amazon Fire. This unit is surprisingly well constructed, and finding the right code for your hotel TV is a cinch. I stay in Hilton chain hotels and they all seem to be LG TVs so I never have to change between codes, but this has quick access buttons for four different devices.
Amazon Fire Stick*
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote
I switched over from Roku to Amazon Fire Stick recently. I actually prefer the interface for the Roku, as I find it hard to find things on the Amazon interface. Yet I find that the Fire Stick is much, much better at connecting to hotel networks, and for that reason it wins out. I connect this up to the HDMI port on the hotel TV, and use my universal remote to select the HDMI input.
Wall Charger with QuickCharge 3
AUKEY USB Wall Charger with Quick Charge 3.0
This does the job! Super fast, and has never fried my equipment.
Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
AICHOC Active Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
For flights you really need active noise-canceling if you’re going to watch movies and hear the dialogue without too much straining or turning on the subtitles. Ideally you find space for over-ear headphones. I don’t want to shell out $300 for Bose, so I got these.
Power Bank Charger
Aibocn 10000mAh Power Bank Portable Charger
For when you can’t find a power outlet at the airport. This will charge my phone at least twice, and it has rapid-charge, just about as fast in my experience as a wall charger.
MARATHON CL030036WH Atomic Travel Alarm Clock
I like to have hard switches on alarm clocks, to know absolutely one-hundred-percent for sure that they are set to “on”. This has some nice extra features such as temperature and atomic time setting.
Magnet Mount for Cell Phone
Dashboard Mount TechMatte MagGrip
My wife and I use magnetic mounts in both of our cars, and I take a mount with me when I travel. You stick a thin metal plate onto the back of your phone. The mount has a powerful magnet to hold the phone in place without any clips. This one has a gel base to help it achieve suction. However, it is worth noting that many new cars have textured vinyl on the dash and the base does not stick well to these. Instead I stick the base on the window. The downside of the gel is that it can pick up dust and dirt. You can wash it off with soap and water.
FalconZero F170HD+ DashCam 1080P
Having a crash in a rental car can be much more of a hassle than having one in your own car, whatever coverage you do or don’t sign up for. If you are a sensible driver then capturing the truth of what happened on camera is probably a good idea. This dash cam turns on and stays on the whole time you are driving. In some countries a majority of drivers on the road have these running. It isn’t just about property damage and civil liability. A dash cam can be useful to establish the truth of what happened in front of your car in any situation.
Car charger with QuickCharge 3
Quick Charge 3.0 AUKEY Car Charger
I have gone through many, many, many car chargers. This one puts out enough juice to charge my phone while I am using it as a GPS and phone at the same time.
SOAIY S-32 Voice Command Hands-free Bluetooth In-car Speakerphone
I don’t like using the built-in Bluetooth speakerphone on rental cars, as these store some of my data, and often have connection issues. This little beauty clips onto the sun visor. It turns off automatically so one charge generally lasts for weeks.
Travelpro Maxlite 4 21 Inch Expandable Spinner
I prefer a spinner (4 wheels) to a rollaboard (2 wheels) because I can pull it sideways. I’ve switched to soft-shell so I can squeeze in irregularly shaped items and because it is more forgiving of overfilling. My main requirements in a suitcase are for ruggedness of the case, of the wheels, of the handle. And of course it needs to be no more than 22 x 14 x 9 including handles and wheels.
CoolBELL 15.6 Inch Messenger Bag
Key features: a strap at the back so it can be mounted on the carry-on handle; it should not be much wider than your carry-on (14 inches) so it doesn’t bang into people in the aisle seats; rugged construction. Overall it should be no more than 18 x 14 x 8 inches to qualify as your “personal item”.
YAMIU Travel Shoe Bags Set of 4
You want to be able to put your shoes in any compartment without worrying about getting your clothes dirty. These are the key.
AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set
I use one of these for the gadgets I use in my hotel room, and another for the gadgets for my car. I keep both in my laptop case. As soon as I get into my rental car, I pull this out, and set up my dash cam, bluetooth speakerphone, phone mount and charger.
Outdoor Research Ultralight Compr Sk 15L
When flying domestically the weight of your carry-on generally won’t be an issue. These are great for cramming in some things which are compressible and which you don’t mind creasing.
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
I have always been a side sleeper and I prefer a very low profile pillow. Big puffy hotel pillows don’t work well. This pillow rolls up and has its own compression cinch. I actually opened up the seam and took out some filling to make it even thinner.
3D Sleep Mask by PrettyCare
For when the hotel shades don’t get the room dark enough. There’s a load of sleep research showing that you will sleep better in cool, very dark environments. These help with the dark part.
Braun Series 7 7865cc Men’s Electric Foil Shaver
I have a fairly stiff beard, and it took me years to find a shaver which worked well without pinching or hurting. This one rocks. It comes with a “cleaning station” which cleans and lubricates after each shave. I don’t take the cleaning station on the road. While traveling, after each shave, I open it up, tap out the shavings, the brush it out, then reassemble and run under hot water with the shaver on, then disassemble and allow to dry. I take with me a tiny container of oil, which I replenish with Wahl oil, and I apply that before shaving. I know I just listed a lot of steps, but this takes maybe 20 seconds after a shave.
Oral-B Black Pro 1000 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
These last and last and do a great job. I see no point in buying the higher end ones – I don’t want some Bluetooth enabled tracking of my brushing habits, nor do I need ten brushing modes. The only brushing mode I need is, “clean my teeth.” I used the high end Sonicare for years, but am happy I switched to this.
Silicone Liquid Containers
Kitdine Portable Soft Silicone Travel bottles
These hold the TSA maximum 100ml (3.4 oz). I like these because they generally don’t leak, and it is easy to disassemble and wash them out.
DRY PAK WB-3 Roll Top Dry Gear Bag
No-one wants the liquids they carry to leak all through their luggage. I’ve tried ziplocks, silicone ziplocks and a bunch of other solutions. So then I thought, why not use the dry-bag I take sailing? Sure enough this will NEVER leak. And it is super tough.
I often travel between warm and cold climates. I make it a rule to wear the warm layers on the plane rather than trying to pack them. I also have items that are both very warm and very low volume.
Columbia Men’s Steens Mountain Vest
The perfect middle layer
Columbia Men’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Hooded Jacket
Super light weight, super warm outer layer with compact synthetic down and heat reflective inner layer
Nylon Laundry Bag – Purple, 22” x 32”
I take a small laundry bag with me. Of course it’s useful for doing laundry, which as a rule I do every 3 days. But it’s also useful for keeping dirty clothes in on the way home.
TSA Pre-check / Global Entry
If you travel regularly you really need to have one of these. TSA pre-check covers you for domestic travel only. Global Entry covers you for domestic and international. You won’t believe how much time and hassle you will save.