From time to time, people ask me what travel products I use on my trips, so for easy reference, I compiled a shortlist of my go-to items and decided to share them here.
I know there are fancier designs and much trendier luggage brands available, but I’ve had my Nautica Open Seas set for at least 8 years, and I love it because none of the 5 pieces has failed me yet! The carry-on, which gets the most use, is light and compact, and holds a ton of stuff (if you use good packing hacks). Another plus is the groovy navy & yellow color combo on the exterior that makes your bag super easy to spot if you ever have to wait at the carousel.
The duffle bag is also a cool bonus, because you can break it down and place it inside your carry-on to use as an extra piece for souvenirs on the return trip. At home, I’ve also used it as a gym bag on a few occasions.
If you follow me on Instagram, it’s pretty obvious I get more than a little snap happy on vacation. But since I’m just an eager amateur and not a professional, I’ve still got A LOT to learn about photo-taking techniques. Knowing when to switch aperture speeds, change lenses, adjust depth of field to sharpen focus or chase the right lighting to avoid overexposure sounds overwhelming to me. So, listen up. If you catch me in dem tourist streets, don’t expect to see me with a DSLR or mirrorless camera strapped over my shoulder – just yet.
I guess I should be embarrassed to admit this out loud, but here it comes. I’m still using a compact point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SX530 HS to frame my shots and learn my best angles! Yes, you can go ahead and GASP. My three-year-old baby has a 50x zoom lens that shoots images at a 16-megapixel resolution and video at 1080p. It also has integrated Wi-Fi with NFC (Near Field Communication), which allows me to transfer photos to my cell phone with an app.
I did a solo trip to Peru for my birthday in 2018, and after years of dreaming about walking through the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, I didn’t want to take the chance of not capturing great shots to preserve the visual memories of my time there. So, what did your girl do? She went out and bought a Sunpak TravelLite Pro Reverse Folding 63′ Tripod (with red accents because she’s extra) and taught herself how to use it!
The irony of the situation though, is that tripods are not allowed at the site. I think they’re considered a possible hazard because of the uneven terrain and huge crowds. But it’s all about tenacity and creativity, right? I converted my tour guide into an able art director and wardrobe assistant for my personal Mapi photo shoot. That’s the name locals call their Wonder of the World.
Other than being extremely useful for communicating with folks back home, figuring out directions in unfamiliar territory, and having access to the internet at your finger tips, my smartphone is a must-have on my trips because it’s a handy camera too.
iPhone lovers, I’m an unapologetic Android devotee, and at the moment, a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is where it’s at in my book. First of all, the 128 GB in-built storage and up to 512 GB of expandable space through a MicroSD is just bananas. What’s more, the optical lens has a 2x zoom and it’s also well-documented that the pixel detail and low-light photography capabilities are far superior.
The signature S Pen isn’t shabby either! You can use it to control more than seven devices at one time within a 30-feet radius. Think YouTube, Snapchat, Spotify music and your camera app, among others. Check out this IG post to see what I mean.
Bonus item (a gimbal)
This Zhiyun Smooth-Q is brand new to me, and is going to be my new best friend on all my expeditions. It’s a hand-held stabilizer that allows you to use your phone to record non-shaky video. It comes with an inbuilt battery that runs for up to 12 hours and has a standard tripod mount at the bottom. Yaaass! I’m about to say a permanent BYE BYE to wobbly footage. Now, if you don’t have a gimbal already, maybe you can think about getting one, too!
In case you’re wondering, none of the items mentioned in this post is sponsored. I actually use these brands and have been doing so on my own dime for a while – years, in some cases. However, the Amazon product links are affiliated. That means if you click on the product, review it, and then decide to buy something, I have the potential to earn a small (as in tiny) commission from qualifying purchases.