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It’s that time of year—the internet is being flooded with all the gift guides articles and I’m sure you’ll find no shortage of these guides for travelers. And while these lists are quite helpful, I wonder who actually uses them? Perhaps you send a link to your parents or loved ones as a *wink wink* but other than that, I feel a lot of them may just be easy tools to sell brands or products a blogger has partnered with to make some money. And there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that! I love people making money blogging and I have no problems with targeted advertising if it’s a product I will use and love. While preparing my content for this season, of course I considered—and even drafted—a gift guide to post on Peyton’s Passport but felt my list really didn’t add anything of value or newness to this topic.
So instead, I’ve decided to create a wishlist of my own. A list of products I’ve wished I’d had after traveling more and more. Sure, who doesn’t love to receive an airplane cocktail kit as a gift? I would! But those things are nice-to-have’s. The wishlist I’ve compiled are products I’ve realized are must-have’s for myself.
I’ve created this list after so many trips and realizing that there are some things I should spend money on and add them to my bag. In the past, I’ve kept a ‘less is more’ motto when it comes to my travel packing lists but I’ve come to realize that sometimes ‘more is more’ if you want to have an optimal experience while also capturing some primo footage… Because let’s be honest, one of the best parts of traveling is the photos. Not even necessarily for Instagram but as a reminder to yourself of the feelings experienced and the stunning landscapes when mere memory falls short.
After years of budget traveling, I’ve discovered there are some things you shouldn’t skimp on and I’ve compiled this list from my experiences. Of course, feel free to use this as a gift guide! For smaller, more inexpensive items, there are plenty of other articles out there for you to peruse as well.
During my last several trips, rather than purchasing a GoPro or other action camera, I’ve purchased a waterproof case for my iPhone to take underwater photos. While this wasn’t satisfactory with previous iPhone generations, the upgraded camera and image stabilization in the iPhone X and 11’s is quite impressive and served me well on my most recent trip to Panama, where I got some pretty great snorkeling footage.
So why do I want to invest serious $$$ in an action camera? Well, a few reasons. The first being that the quality is simply better. Yes, the iPhone camera is great but it’s not designed for underwater photography and video so the clarity isn’t quite as good as an action camera. Second, my case broke in the middle of my last trip! The lens protector popped off leaving my phone vulnerable to moisture, salt and sand and me unable to take anymore underwater photography. My third reason: Ease of use. As previously stated, the iPhone isn’t designed for underwater photography or to be used as *an action camera.* While my waterproof case worked, it also meant that my touch screen did not work underwater, meaning I had to lift my phone out of the water to stop and start videos. With an action camera it’s a click of a button. And my final reason; less stress! An action camera is durable and invulnerable to many of the things an iPhone is. While I liked my case, I was constantly paranoid that maybe I didn’t seal it quite right and good thing I was because my case did break! After having to spend the last half of my Panama trip without a way to capture all the incredible snorkeling, it left me resolute that it is now time to invest in an action camera.
All my life, I have been the master of packing light and have never had to check a bag for any reason other than I decided to pack full size liquids (IE: 8oz sunscreens). This has now changed as I’ve gotten older and less willing to sacrifice comfort or style. Again, on my most recent trip to Panama, there were several reasons I wish I had packed more such as all the sweating I had done, unexpected circumstances (IE; getting sunburned in San Blas and wishing I had a long sleeve shirt), coffee spills on white tops, purchasing souvenirs, and just generally wishing I had more wardrobe options! Until now, all I’ve owned is a carry on size suitcase and it has served me well but now is the time to invest in a larger suitcase so I’m wanting for less on my future travels.
I’ve also realized how crucial a good suitcase is when you travel simply because it’s what you’re living out of! When you have your life in this bag, it’s important that there is plenty of room and compartments, and that it is easy to use while keeping everything organized and clean.
Lucky me, my mother is such an excellent gift giver and got me this beauty for Christmas! I got the checked medium but it also comes in a set and checked large as well. I love the 4 way spinner and the rose gold color is so cute! The only downside: It has less compartments than my carry-on so I’ll definitely be purchasing some packing cubes!
Another absolute essential at this point. I certainly would not consider myself one who is addicted to their phone and I quite like getting away from technology. I didn’t use Instagram until I started blogging, and I still don’t use my Twitter. I’m an old soul who has a hard time with technology anyway so I wasn’t stressed when my phone company told me they could not unlock my phone for international use in Panama. “That’s fine,” I said. “Plenty of places have WiFi,” I thought. And I’d planned this trip very thoroughly so I wasn’t stressed… However, this is not a situation I would ever put myself in again. What they didn’t tell me about Panama, is that WiFi is often very slow and cuts in and out, even in the city. So once I started having issues with my bank and was unable to pull cash from an ATM, I was in a pickle trying to find half decent WiFi in a private place to speak with someone back home while they spoke to my bank. It was so stressful and nearly cut my trip short and I will not be making this mistake again.
Wide Angle Camera Lens
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to capture a beautiful landscape or even the lovely room of my accommodations to post reviews and my usual lenses have fallen short. I held back on purchasing because I’m such an amateur photographer but after dealing with this frustration many times and learning more about photography, it’s investment I’m feeling is more and more necessary.
New Mirrorless Camera
For the past few years, I have been using a Canon Rebel T6 and have loved it because it is my first ‘big girl camera’ and also the ease of use. However, I feel I may have bit off more than I could chew with this bad boy. I find myself nervous to bring it anywhere because of its delicacy (and how much money I spent on it!) or fear of it being stolen. It’s also quite large and clunky and I feel a better option for could be a Fujifilm X series mirrorless camera or a Sony Alpha. If you have other suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share!
Yes, it’s a small one but it’s an investment I shouldn’t put off any longer. Sometimes flip flops or makeshift water shoes just don’t do the trick. IE; Trekking through mud in a rainforest on your way to an underwater cave.
A Better Travel Pillow
Now that I’ve sufficiently conquered my fear of flying, I am actually able to sleep on planes! In the past, I’ve usually brought a fluffy cardigan with me to use as a makeshift pillow or blanket and it has done the trick but when I was stuck at a disgusting hostel in Bocas Town with no pillow I felt comfortable putting my head on or blanket to sleep under, I really wished I’d had a travel pillow.
An Excellent Crossbody
While I have plenty of beautiful purses and bags that serve me well at home, I don’t have one that really serves my needs and looks great while I travel. I need something that is fashionable, neutral, comfortable, excellent quality, secure, and holds everything I need it to (IE: Phone, wallet, camera, etc).
I’ve had my eye on The Claremont from Lo & Sons for ages now and I think 2020 will be the year I pull the trigger and spend that dough!
A Better Backpack
The backpack I have been using has served me well and I love the fact that it’s water-resistant but years of sweat and sand have worn on her and I’ve also found it to be a little small on the inside and frequently wished I had more room. I also realized I need a waterproof camera backpack, ideally one that has room for other items that would normally go in a backpack; wallet, keys, passport, etc. I think this would help me get more usage out of my expensive DSLR that I’m too scared to bring anywhere.
I’m a complete idiot when it comes to technology. Like I said, I could barely get on board with social media. It’s a wonder I decided to become a blogger but having just dipped my toe in to the realm of learning about this stuff, I’ve realized that a VPN is 100% necessary now. A VPN protects your information while using a public WiFi so hackers can’t access your personal information (banking, passwords, etc.) but also allows you to change the country you’re using your internet in. Netflix is different in each country and Facebook is even banned or censored in other places. Overall, this is completely necessary for a multitude of reasons.
This may seem like a prissy wishlist item, but after my recent trip to Panama with the AC systems, plus the dry air on the planes, I had about all I could handle. By the end of my trip, I felt constantly stuffy and my slightly sunburned skin was constantly itchy even with all my moisturizers and lotions. I use a humidifier at home and even in my office and I found myself wishing I had one next to my bed each night.
Portable Laundry System
Have you ever had to do laundry while abroad? It can be a pain. Laundromats are sometimes available but if you’re somewhere more remote, having a way to wash your clothes–whether they be covered in sweat or salt or otherwise stained–is an excellent way to stay smelling fresh and stress free. You never know what can happen and after spilling coffee on a shirt in Panama City, then way under packing for my San Blas trip, I really wished I’d had this instead of having to pay my last hotel to do my laundry for me. It was only a $5 fee per load but I worry about what might happen in the future if I’m traveling somewhere that doesn’t have that service, their washer is broken or any other number of circumstances.
So while I may not have 100% gone in to this post with the intentions of creating a gift guide. I did create a list of items that I feel are 100% necessary for anyone who frequently travels. If that is you or someone you love, snag one of these items and everyone will be much happier and have an amazing time abroad!
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