Travel gear favorites: Four great items to pack for your next trip

As an avid traveler, I love to find items that make planning, packing and touring a little bit easier. And, as a traveling mom, I appreciate anything that helps lighten my load, free up my hands, and better savor and remember each precious memory.

I recently picked up a few new travel items to test out during our family’s recent adventures abroad and on the road here in the Midwest. They’re tested and approved. So, I am happy to be able to share them with you.

Here are four of my latest travel gear favorites:

1. SHOLDIT Clutch Wrap Purse: It was fashion love at first sight for me and SHOLDIT. While the product is called the "clutch wrap purse," I view it and wear it as a scarf. That is a scarf with a built-in “secret” pocket – like my sons like to point out.

unnamed-5The SHOLDIT allows you to discretely stash your passport, smartphone, money and more – without anyone knowing about or seeing it. Plus, you can easily gain access to your valuables without having to reach in a – ahem – more delicate place.

For me, the SHOLDIT solves the problem of where to keep your valuables on your person (versus just in your bag) – especially when you’re wearing an outfit without pockets. That’s what makes it an especially great summertime accessory for women like me who like to wear dresses or skirts - without pockets.

I first wore my SHOLDIT on the plane to Tokyo this past spring. Not only did it make my passport and ticket easily accessible during the flight, but it helped keep me warm when the overhead vents were on full blast. A win-win situation for this traveler for sure.

I’ve since worn my SHOLDIT during our urban day trips – both in Tokyo and back home in Chicago. It lets me add a new twist (and layer) to my outfits – all while making me feel confident that my valuables are close at hand, but safely tucked away, completely out of sight.

2. Ban.do Back Me Up Mobile ChargerMy smartphone is with me at all times when I travel – at home and abroad. I use it to take photos, find directions, learn about a new place, and share stories with family and friends via social media. So, of course, I always want to make sure I’ve got a full battery.

Ban.do ChargerThe small and very light Ban.do Back Me Up Mobile Charger is a great option to carry around with you on your travels.  Just be aware that it only works with iPhone 5/5s phones, and it only charges up to 80 percent of the battery.

I also like the Triple C universal charger from J.Crew, which Lucky Magazine recently included as one of "11 stylish tech accessories for every device." The small charger is compatible with most small mobile devices, but doesn't work with tablet computers, eBooks or eReaders.

Another fun option is a bag with a built-in charger from emPOWERED. I actually ordered one of their bags to try out before our spring trip to Tokyo, but I ended up returning it since the style I ordered was a bit small for me. Plus, the attached chain strap made it too heavy for me to walk around with all day long.

Since then, the company has come out with a lighter and bigger tote, which I’ll have to try for a future trip (once it's back in stock, of course).

Making sure you have a charged phone before you board an international flight may be more important than ever these days. Just a few weeks ago, the US Transportation Security Administration released a statement with details on new enhanced security measures, asking people to power up some devices at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the US. People with "powerless devices" would be asked to not bring their devices on the plane.

3. Carousel app from DropboxIf your smartphone doubles as your camera when you travel, you definitely want to make sure nothing happens to your photos.

Carousel AppAs our defacto family photographer, I sweated the possibility that I would somehow accidently delete our treasured visual memories from my smartphone during our spring trip to Tokyo. That's why I will forever be grateful to Kristen Chase and Liz Gumbinner at Cool Mom Tech for the great and very timely recommendation to download Carousel. I saw their post on Carousel during my spring trip to Tokyo - and proceeded to download it on the spot.

Carousel saves all of your photos on your smartphone camera roll right to your Dropbox account, providing you with an instant backup for your photos. So, I could rest a little easier knowing my photos were waiting for me online - no matter what.

As an added bonus, you can easily access the photos on any other device – just by logging into your Dropbox account. You also can share a link to the photos with any of your family members or friends anxious to look through the hundreds of photos you took on your trip – like everyone does, right?

4. Secret SweaterWhen my family was in Tokyo last spring, I packed an assortment of t-shirts and blazers for the warm spring days. But, when we were there, the temperatures dipped a bit lower and I wish I had an extra layer to wear over my t-shirts and under my blazers.

Credit: SecretSweater.com

Credit: SecretSweater.com

That’s why I was glad to find out about the Secret Sweater from Travel Fashion Girl. The sweater is light enough to carry with you at all times and discretely fit under your blazers, jackets or even another sweater. It would have been the perfect thing for me to have in Tokyo.

Back at home, I keep the Secret Sweater in my bag at all a times. I am now ready to layer it on as needed – or wear it on its own in any air-conditioned space this summer, too.

As an added plus, it comes with a bag in the same material so the Secret Sweater stays clean - even when it's stashed at the bottom of my urban travel bag.

What are your favorite travel gear items? What would you recommend others try during their travels? Is there any particular item you're considering purchasing for your next trip? Please share your favorites and other suggestions in the comments below.

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Filed under: Travel, Travel Gear

Tags: gear, Travel

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