Readers often ask me what kind of camera gear I shoot with or what’s my favorite suitcase or bag. While I am not much of a consumer and try to spend more on experiences rather than ‘things’ — especially wasteful, disposable items — I do appreciate some great gadgets and travel gear that make traveling and life easier and fun! I’ve been doing this travel thing for a couple decades now so I know what works and what doesn’t. Here are some items I personally use and recommend.
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Camera & Video Gear
For most of the photography on this blog and in my professional work, I use a Canon 60D with a few different lenses. I’ve had this camera for several years now and its been great. The updated version linked here is the 80D. The 80D has an impressive 45-point all cross-type AF system that provides high-speed, highly precise AF in virtually any kind of light and a 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor. It does all the stuff a camera is supposed to do, plus one feature I really love is the articulating screen. For someone that does video occasionally (and travels solo), it really helps to be able to swivel the screen around 180 degrees so I can see myself while filming.
This is a great quality camera and it’s much lighter and more portable than the SLR I’ve been lugging around for a couple decades. It shoots 4K video, can do better slo-mo and time lapse, has some tricked-out focusing capabilities, and lots of customizable pre-sets. The rear LCD screen does tilt, but can’t swivel around 180 degrees. But Sony’s “Precious Memories” app, I can use WiFi to share the LCD screen onto my mobile screen, therefore if I am shooting myself, I can see it in my hand so I can check composition and focus when not behind the camera!
I’ve been doing more filming on my new Samsung Galaxy as the quality has increased a lot for Samsung. In order to keep my shots stable, and my arm from tiring out, I use a Gimbal Stabilizer. This one is from DJI, one of the most popular drone companies. The quality is top notch.
I finally treated myself to a new tripod and love it. The Vanguard Travel Tripod is lightweight, easy to use, and comes in a nice, compact carrying case. I love that it collapses down so small (the top half folds into the legs) and has a leveling bubble built in. The only caveat is the height. If you are interviewing anyone over 6 feet tall, it might not be at eye level, but it hasn’t affected me yet.
I’ve used this simple wireless lavalier mic system for years now. It’s easy to use and is just less intrusive to your subject and less limiting than a wired mic which leaves your camera physically tethered to your subject. It’s decent quality for simple web videos and quite affordable.
I hated the scratchy, non-giving strap that came with the Canon. The Rapid Strap is comfy and also has versions for women. I love how I can sling it across my body, but still glide the camera in place for a shot. Highly recommend.
I have had really good luck with Sigma lenses. This wide angle zoom is great for travel landscapes. The super wide focal length of 10mm is pretty fun for traveling.
I love this sharp, fixed lens which I use with my Sony Mirrorless camera. The 1.4 f/stop allows for a lot of light making it great to use in dim settings (like in restaurants!) and produces a really nice short depth of field shot with lots of bokeh.
I’ve used this bag for several years now. It allows me to have all my gear in front of me rather than in a backpack that I have to keep taking off to access. It comes with a padded form inside to store my camera and lenses, plus other pockets for a notepad, batteries, and water. Plus it is expandable.
This is a great everyday and travel bag. I can still throw in my mirrorless camera plus lots of other stuff like phone, passport, wallet and water bottle. I love the water-resistant nylon fabric and many compartments.
I’ve also used various sizes of these neoprene lens pouches for more than 15 years. They’re great to keep each lens protected when not on your camera. Plus, I’ve never liked the idea of carrying around a traditional camera bag so I’m able to just throw these in my backpack as needed.
This super flexible and super versatile tripod is a great on-the-go camera stabilizer. It’s easy to throw in your bag and can wrap around most objects like poles, bars, benches or just hand hold it.
Whether shooting yourself or doing an interview, you sometimes need more than natural light to fill in the face and shadows. There are more professional and better quality light kits out there, but this is a decent light more many simple applications. It can mount to your camera hot shoe or a light stand. Plus, it’s dimmable.
This bluetooth remote is a nifty little gadget that makes taking selfies easier and more fun! It’s super easy to throw in your bag and gives you more flexibility when taking shots of yourself or your group.
Electronics & Tech
I love my Karma wifi hotspot. I purposely just have a pay-as-you-go plan on my mobile to save money, which means I don’t have data. But with the Karma, I can now get online whenever I want with their little device and similar pay-as-you-go plan. Plus when anyone connects to my Karma wifi hotspot (for free), I get free credits as well. Hence the sharing of good karma!
Simple, easy and small. I love that it has two outlets plus a usb point as well. And having a surge protector is good for traveling in spots that often have power surges or outages. You can never be too careful as you don’t want to fry your laptop.
Virgo heaven for cables! I had this on my wish list last year and love it. I hate all the random cables and how they can get all janky and tangled up. This caddy keeps all your cables in one low profile case. I picked the mini size and just slip it into my backpack and never have to dig around for a cable again.
I’m still amazed at how cheap memory is these days. I needed a larger capacity portable hard drive and got the Seagate 5 TB drive. It’s great! Small, sleek and so roomy! If only I could do a brain dump onto this thing!
Neck issues like me? Try a laptop stand. This also allows the laptop to be at the perfect viewing height, while you type on a separate keyboard. It’s foldable and easy to take with you.
With so many gadgets today draining a lot of power, especially when we’re using video, GPS, and more, it’s imperative to have a portable charger with you. This one is ultra high-capacity and high-speed so you don’t miss a shot!
The Spigen case is strong, yet so thin and sexy! It really takes on the shape of the phone so you can still appreciate your phone’s design.
I finally got one of these this year and think this tiny, cheap thing is wonderful. It’s so simple, but for me adds so much stability when I’m holding my phone or taking a photo or video. It can also be used as a small stand.
Travel Bags & Accessories
This is my favorite carry-on rollerboard. It’s a thin, hardshell bag that is the lightest one I’ve ever owned. It spins on four wheels, so it’s so easy to tilt it on two wheels and pull it behind you or push it on all four next to you. I love how compact it is and always fits in the overhead bin. The best bit? The front, locking compartment holds your laptop for easy accessibility. I love it in red.
This bag is so light! At only 5 lbs., it’s the lightest bag I’ve ever owned. It’s streamlined to fit in nearly all overhead bins yet can fit quite a bit. I love the front zipper compartment where I can easily store and retrieve my laptop.
I love these and have been using them for about 15 years. Trust me, they are THE best packing items you can give or receive. Everything stays in its place and I don’t have to think when I pack. Most importantly, they keep me sane when packing and unpacking because I never have to think…stuff always just goes back to the same cubes.
I’ve used this backpack for years. I love that it comes in women’s sizing, has useful compartments, and a padded laptop sleeve. Great lifetime warranty too — when it needed a repair, there was no problem.
This is a must when traveling abroad. It comes with all the various plug types you will need to adapt the different styles of outlets around the world so you can charge your electronics. Plus it has a built in surge protector. *NOTE: this is not a voltage converter and is compatible with only Dual Voltage products & Electronics (see your power cords for the 110-220v sign and you are fine…most razors, hair dryers, etc are NOT dual voltage and would require a separate converter).
This is like a sleeping bag, but with just a sheet. It’s great when camping or staying in a hostel or any place where you are more comfortable sleeping on your own sheets. It’s thin, lightweight, and easy to pack and wash.
Travel Clothing & Accessories
I’ve been wearing these tops for years. They are a great for travel as they are great for layering and also good for working out. Plus they are always super soft, stretch, and comfy! They also have leggings.
I have been digging PrAna pants for awhile now. When I was on my round the world tour, I loved my brown PrAna pants, in fact, I dedicated a post to them in 2008 when they were lost after a laundry incident in Cairo. And I also love my PrAna yoga pants. Great fit (they run a bit big…so buy a size smaller) and perfect for travel or home.
I personally hate carrying umbrellas. I often prefer a good rain jacket and hood. I always pack my Columbia rain jacket. It’s waterproof and cute with a modern fit. What more do you need?
When I run, I don’t like holding my keys and my phone in my hands. Plus, I love listening to Podcasts like This American Life or Armchair Expert when I run. Being able to slide my phone into the slim belt and be hands free is fantastic.
The combo of living in Chicago and having Reynaud’s Syndrome (basically bad circulation causing numb and cold fingers and toes), means I am a very avid user of toe and hand warmers. No matter how many socks I wear, it does not matter. To spend any time outdoors, I have to wear these. They work and are great. Highly recommend!
I’ve written about being healthier and fitter in the last couple years. In fact, thanks to my change in lifestyle, I’ve lost 25 pounds and dropped two sizes. I feel great! I have to say, I did it all with dedication and simply working out every day and counting my calories. There were no real gimmicks and I still do not own any fitness monitor like this. But now I want one! Now I want to see how many calories I truly burn from each of my runs and workouts (I’ve been estimating up until now). I did some research and have read a lot of reviews and this one from FitBit seems like the best choice.
Blogging & Business Tools
I used Bluehost to host my Wordpress blog for the first several years of having a blog. It’s a great first server…easy to use, affordable and I never had any issues.
For hosting a blog or website, I highly recommend Siteground. I switched to them a couple years ago and it’s been great so far. I’ve needed support a few times already and they are always very responsive.
When you are designing OR re-designing your site, it’s best to ‘stage’ it so you can work on it without changing your live site. I’ve used the this plug-in a few times now when re-designing my sites and love it! It has great customer service & they walk you though the entire process. Plus it’s pay per month. You don’t have to pay for more than you need.
I started using Elegant Themes and specifically the Divi Theme on my other site, LLmedia, a couple years ago. Divi is pretty great. It’s intuitive and I feel like the support (and all the tutorials!) are better than any other theme I’ve used. It pays to be a lifetime member as I’ve already used Divi on a few sites I’ve built, plus I use their Bloom plug-in.
Doing more videos nowadays? Sometimes you just don’t have the shot you need. That’s where places like StoryBlocks Video or Pond5 come in. Starting as low as less than $10/month, it’s a great deal. And if you need help with your videos, don’t forget I offer video coaching and consulting over at LLmedia.co.
I finally bit the bullet and started using the cloud to backup all my files. I chose CrashPlan as it was affordable, compatible for macs, easy to use and allowed me to also backup portable hard drives.
Digital Travel Resources
I’ve been using Airbnb since it first started. I’ve hosted and I’ve stayed as a guest in private spaces and shared spaces. I love meeting locals and feeling local so I think it’s a great way to experience a new city.
I’ve pet sat all over the world. It’s a great way to help someone out, get some furry love, and save money at the same time. Plus, now I use sitters to stay in my apartment to be with my kitty when I travel. I hate leaving my cat, and nothing gives me more peace of mind than having a live-in sitter.
If you’re looking for a hotel, booking.com has it all. Searching with good filters and even includes resorts, B&Bs, villas, and apartments.
Books I Recommend
Some of my favorite books about traveling and about life: