WHAT TO PACK, THE WANDERLUSTY WAY
On this page I’ve compiled all of my favorite photography, travel, and packing gear. I personally use (and swear by) everything on this page so if you have any questions about what to pack, feel free to reach out. Hit me up on social media or send me an email.
I will continue to update this page as I find cool new gear and resources so check back often.
Note: Some of the below are affiliate links and I’ll earn a percentage of the sale if you purchase through them, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own & I’ll never promote something I don’t personally use or believe in. Thanks for supporting My Wanderlusty Life!
WHAT TO PACK: PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
My obsession and everything a travel camera should be. Crisp photos, HD video, lightweight, and (necessary for me) dustproof, weatherproof, and freezeproof with a swivel touchscreen. I can use it on the beach! In the rain! In Canada! You should never have to sacrifice for your travel photos.
I bought this lens bundled with the camera and it’s perfect for landscapes, indoor shooting, closeups, and food if I can ever learn how to do that. It, too, is fully Ashley-proof. It comes with a lens hood and pouch, and you can switch from manual to auto-focus quickly on the lens itself.
When you need a little more of a zoom, this is the perfect lightweight, easy-to-use solution. Don’t let it’s inexpensive price tag fool you–this lens produces sharp, high-quality pictures and it’s lightning fast and effortless to tote. Perfect for capturing wildlife and other moving subjects.
I got this one specifically for events like Oktoberfest and the Epcot Food & Wine Festival where my hands are always full and I don’t want to haul around a camera that doesn’t fit in my pocket. The pictures come out great and I LOVE the 30x zoom in this affordable point-and-shoot!
This gift from my parents is perfect for adventurous travelers. It’s got an LCD touchscreen and is officially my go-to for underwater. It takes fantastic video + photos and I’ve used it ice canyoning, tobogganing, snorkeling, and even for closeups in my beehives.
I have a handful of GoPro mounts for various activities and points of view. The head strap is perfect for those activities when you need your hands and want a little more control over what you see–mountain climbing, rappelling, snowboarding, etc.
The Chesty is great for those activities when you want a more stable, centralized view–biking, kayaking, and other activities when you want your hands in view. It’s fully adjustable, comfortable, and increases your cleavage two cups sizes. BONUS!
My go-to snorkeling GoPro accessory. It helps stabilize your shots while being crashed into by turtles and tossed around by waves. It has an adjustable wrist strap and the whole thing floats so, it’s pretty much idiot proof.
I LOVE this tripod. You can even call it the un-tripod if you want to. It’s uber-flexible and you can turn almost anything into a tripod. Even better, it weighs practically nothing and packs up nicely for travel. It comes in different versions for different sized cameras.
A MUST for snorkeling or diving are these red GoPro filters. The red neutralizes the blues and greens you find underwater giving you a more realistic picture. (See the stark contrast in this post.) They offer different shades of red depending on how deep you’re going.
After years of trying to edit out haze and a general blah-ness to photos, I realized what I needed was a polarizing lens. It screws on to your existing lens and works the same way polarized sunglasses do–by eliminating glare so you get sharp, clear, colorful photos.
There are times when I don’t take my camera with me at all–like at festivals or when I’m supposed to be “not working”–but I still want good photos! For that I have a collection of Pixter clip-on lenses for my phone–phenomenal photographic power, itty bitty living space.
…because I’m always looking for something to safely clean my camera lens with and my Cheetos crumb-covered shirt just doesn’t cut it. The lens pen has a retractable brush on one end for removing sand, dust, and Cheetos crumbs, and the other end has a felt pad for removing smudges.
Your camera is nothing without an SD card (I’ve tried). I prefer the bigger SD cards that hold, no joke, 9,999+ pictures (according to my camera screen) but always, always, always have a backup (or two or three) on me. Ain’t nobody got time to run to Walgreens or its foreign equivalent.
After years of trying to get by using free online programs, I finally upgraded to Adobe Lightroom for photo editing. It’s simpler to use than Photoshop but lacks little of the possibility. (See an example edited photo in this post). You can preset filters to make editing your photos a snap.
The same way the full size Joby GorillaPod works to create a tripod out of just about anything, so does this adorable mini version. I use this small tripod when I don’t want to take my full size camera and just shoot with my phone instead. It’s bendable and can wrap around poles, trees, you name it.
WHAT TO PACK: PACKING GEAR
Yes, Away luggage is as great as you’ve heard. I use the Away “Medium” and I can’t recommend it enough for what to pack your stuff into. It’s lightweight, has built-in TSA approved locks and organizing compartments, and rolls around smoothly. Want to save $20 on your first purchase? Shoot me an email and I’ll send you a code!
I can’t even remember how I traveled the world without packing cubes. They are the single easiest solution to staying organized when deciding what to pack and keeping your sh*t and your life together. This is the exact set I have–the 5-pack, multi-size teal set. Do yourself a favor and join the rest of us packing cube nuts!
If there’s a multi-day hike in your future or if you’d just rather travel with a backpack than a suitcase, I recommend this one by Osprey. It’s got compartments for dayz to keep everything organized, comes with its own rain cover, and is hella comfortable to tote around. (Heading to the Alps? Add an edelweiss patch).
And if it’s just day hikes you’ve got coming up, I recommend this one by Teton from Amazon. It’s got a built-in 2L water bladder (or you can use your own), tons of compartments, its own rain cover, and is big enough for everything you need for a day hike but small enough that it’s effortless to carry around.
OK, you know packing bras is hard. I found this rock solid bra travel case on Amazon and my boobs thanked me. You can pack tons of bras and bikini tops in it and it has a mesh pouch inside for whatever else you want to pack in there. Bikini bottoms maybe? You should probably pack bikini bottoms.
Thwarting petty crime is a huge problem when it comes to traveling (especially in Europe) and I always travel with a pick-pocket-proof purse. This popular one features slash-proof material, locking zippers, RFID blocking, and straps you can attach to your chair, bench, etc. Comes in many sizes and styles.
I got the one above on Etsy from a store called Shutter Totes because I wanted something that looked like a purse and not like a camera bag. The quality of these bags is HELLA GREAT and they’re super cushion-y inside with lots of dividers and pockets. They come in a wide variety of different colors, shapes, and styles.
If you’re an avid traveler, it can really add up (in money and plastic) to buy travel-sized toiletries each time. I use these small refillable bottles and just refill them with the products I already use at home before each trip. They’re squeezable, leak-proof, and the largest is just a TSA-approved 3 ounces.
WHAT TO PACK: TRAVEL MUST-HAVES
I can’t tell you how invaluable this affordable little camera has been! For someone who’s away from home quite often and who leaves her pets there, this camera has been an absolute must-have. I can watch my house from my phone anywhere in the world, get motion detection alerts, keep watch 24 hours a day thanks to its night vision, and so much more.
I like to pack these quick dry microfiber towels when I know I’m going to need an extra towel–in hostels, when sharing hotel rooms, when hiking, etc. I have this 3-pack–the large is a full-on bath towel; the medium is perfect for wrapping your hair out of the shower; and the small is great for keeping in your purse AT ALL TIMES.
I would be willing to bet international outlet adapters are the #1 thing most often forgotten when deciding what to pack. And it’s something you won’t realize until it’s too late (and much more expensive). Go ahead and grab a 6-pack (or maybe a 12-pack) of them now and keep them in your luggage. This is the European set but they’re available for all countries.
Many hotels have in-wall hair dryers nowadays but most don’t. Especially depending on where you’re traveling. I picked this one up to use on my trips to Mexico, South America, and Central America where in-room hair dryers aren’t the norm. Also, it’s perfect for hostels anywhere in the world and in France where I’m guessing everyone is just naturally stunning.
What you’ll get up to when you travel is as diverse as the world is large–hiking ancient ruins, exploring cities and their cobblestone streets, all kinds of water activities, hanging out on the beach, etc. So, what to pack? One shoe to rule them all. I love my Chacos and they’re the perfect shoes for ALL those activities.
I didn’t learn about dry bags until I was already in Belize, seeing how easy everyone else’s life was going. If you’re doing any kind of activity near the water (which you will be), dry bags are the best and, really, the only logical way to store your stuff. It’s what to pack to keep everything dry and secure, even underwater.
In the spirit of keeping important things dry, these dry bags for cell phones are super popular. In lieu of a GoPro or similar underwater camera, many travelers simply take their phone with them. These waterproof pouches fit almost all smartphones and is touch-friendly, even through the plastic.
I love using my FitBit to track my activity each day when I travel — how many steps, how many miles I walked, how many calories I burned, etc. I also use it as a watch every single day. This simple FitBit Alta does all those things + more and this is just the basic model. They have others that keep heart rate, etc.
Bringing along a refillable water bottle saves so much money (and plastic) when traveling. I bring my Camelbak Eddy everywhere with me and, with the bite and suck requirement, it’s basically a baby bottle for grownups and I refuse to part with it. It’s allowed through airport security (empty), it doesn’t leak, and it’s BPA free.
If you don’t like all the plastic trash that comes with drinking water exclusively out of bottles (don’t drink the water in Mexico), you may want to pick up a SteriPen. These portable little devices use UV light to kill all the things that could potentially kill your bowels. It works in just seconds and is rechargeable.
I was skeptical when I bought these, but they actually work great for washing your clothes on the road. These laundry soap sheets are thin sheets that dissolve when they come in contact with water – just put one or two in the sink with your clothes and they’ll come out clean and smelling fresh.
Call me a diva, I care not–I never hit the road without a memory foam travel pillow, an eye mask, and ear plugs. All three are a God-send for flights of all distances, bus rides, train trips, cuddling with in the hotel bed, and I’m sure you’ve got your own reasons. Especially when sharing accommodations and transportation!
GET THE GUIDEBOOK
I’m a firm believer in guidebooks and always recommend them for what to pack. For example, instead of wandering around trying to translate window menus to find a place to eat, just check the guidebook’s recommended restaurants. They’ve never led me astray! If not: If you thought deciding on a place to eat dinner was difficult at home, try doing so in the spur of the moment in a foreign country.
Travel guidebooks I recommend (in order of preference):
➤ RoughGuides | Great commentary, pictures, suggestions, and information. I love their maps and the way their books are organized. Just my faves.
➤ Rick Steves | If you like his TV show, you’ll love his guidebooks. Which I do.
➤ Fodor’s | Okay, tied for 2nd place – I love the background information and restaurant suggestions as well as all the helpful information on specific sites.
➤ Culture Smart! | These guidebooks are GREAT for getting to know the local customs and culture. They’re my latest favorite!
➤ Lonely Planet | They aiight. But I know a lot of people who use Lonely Planet exclusively.
WHAT TO PACK: OTHER RECOMMENDED READING
TRAVEL AS A POLITICAL ACT
My man Rick laying it down, showing us how we can change the world through our travels. “When we travel thoughtfully, we bring back the most beautiful souvenir of all: a broader perspective on the world that we all call home.” Additionally, all royalties from the sale of this book are donated to a non-partisan organization working to end hunger.
This modern classic is such an amazing piece of literature. The story follows Santiago’s desire to travel the world in search of treasure. Amazon says, his “journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.”
A HOUSE IN THE SKY
I could. not. put. this. book. down. A House in the Sky is the true story of Amanda Lindhout’s adventures traveling the world. That is, until she gets kidnapped by a group of violent militants in Somalia and is held captive for ransom for 460 brutal days. Her story of captivity, survival, and rescue is one of the most intense books I’ve ever read.
Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram is a novel based on the real life story of Gregory David Roberts–an escaped convict living and working in the slums of India. This book takes us to places we have never been, probably will never go, and is almost magical in its complexity. It’s entertaining, eye-opening, and beautifully written. Easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.
When it comes to traveling through Italy and around Paris, France, Ross King is the author you need to know. His books are historical and educational yet eye-opening and entertaining. He covers the world’s most famous works of art, museums, and people revealing how these works came to be, the artists’ struggles, and so much more.
Dan Brown’s books, though non-fiction, are full of historical context and information. Though the stories themselves are made up, most of the places his characters go and the things they see and encounter are real. I love reading his books when I’m about to travel to one of his settings to get real information in an entertaining way.
I love bringing along these little pocket-sized language phrasebooks when I travel. They contain all the necessary words and phrases for beginners and explain how to say them. I particularly love the menu guide section that explains what it is you’re thinking of ordering at a restaurant. (Very helpful! No one wants to unwittingly eat brain.)
AND DON’T MISS THESE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
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