Preparing for travel, I’ve had the opportunity to purchase some indispensable items and test out some great gear. Being the carry-on-queen I’m always conscious of weight, packing size, and if possible multiple uses of an item if it is going to make the cut and be invited into my one accompanying bag. I hope you find the following as useful as I have.

Tote/backpack combo bag

OMG, this is my new favorite thing! Initially I wasn’t sure how a backpack that promised to double as a tote would perform, but after taking it on a few adventures – tested as backpack, briefcase and tote, I am now a huge fan.

The 3-way backpack/tote carry bag by Lako is available through online. It converts easily into a pack, has separate wet/dry compartments, a padded laptop sleeve, and quick access phone pocket. It fits right in on the trails, but also at work, or the gym. Because it can be taken as a “purse” on flights ladies, it also doesn’t limit that second carry-on bag going in the overhead. “Man purse” fellas? Why not!

Sporting goods

As a motor cycle rider and enthusiast, I’m excited to be working with Viking Bags and Viking Cycle to try out their products! We’ll come up with a review post once the product testing is done, and update specific items here if we feel they’re recommended. Viking Bags and Viking Cycle, specialize in motorcycle luggage and rider gear. With their growth in popularity in the US, and demand overseas, they also ship worldwide via partner stores. Check them out here and keep an eye out for updates.

Check out a review of the Viking Bags Survivor Series tank bag HERE


Travel writing inspiration

These are just a few of my favorite travel writing books. Sometimes it’s fun to sit back on the couch and be taken along for an epic adventure with a great wordsmith at the helm to inform, inspire and challenge you. They are all available through Amazon and Indigo online. If you enjoy a well written tale, shared from a variety of perspectives, be sure to check out the back issues too – these books are all from annual “best of” series. Good writing never gets old!

The Best American Travel Writing 2020: The year’s best travel writing, as chosen by series editor Jason Wilson and guest editor Robert Macfarlane. An eclectic compendium of the best travel writing essays published in 2019.

The Best American Travel Writing 2019: An eclectic compendium of the best travel writing essays published in 2018, collected by Alexandra Fuller. BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING gathers together a satisfyingly varied medley of perspectives, all exploring what it means to travel somewhere new. For the past two decades, readers have come to recognize this annual volume as the gold standard for excellence in travel writing.

The Best Women’s Travel Writing (2020): As Andrew McCarthy wrote inThe New York Times Book Review, “For more than 20 years, Travelers’ Tales has been publishing books that might best be described as the literary equivalent of a group of travelers sitting around a dim cafe, sipping pints or prosecco and trading their best stories.” Now, new from Travelers’ Tales comesThe Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 12: True Stories from Around the World—the latest collection in the best-selling, award-winning series that invites you to ride shotgun alongside intrepid female nomads as they wander the globe discovering new places, faces, and facets of themselves.

Language books

Let me be honest and up front: mastering a second language (little lone a third or forth) has always been a challenge for me. I have the greatest admiration for people who collect languages like Instagram followers. But if you’re anything like me, keeping it simple, with the help of visuals can help. While these may feel a little like returning to elementary school in their simplicity, they are remarkably effective for learning the basics. And as we all know, having an understanding of words and phrases under your belt can make travel much more enjoyable.

See it & Say it in Spanish

See it & Say it in French

See it & Say it in Italian

See it & Say it in German

Travel planning books

There are many good guide books out there, but I’ve been a fan of Lonely Planet Guide books since way back when I first strapped on a backpack to conquer the world in my 20s. I love the way this series of books now continues to cross all demographic styles of travel, from the budget minded to people seeking a little more luxury. Lonely Planet Guides have been my go to for advanced trip planning, and have always accompanied me while actually away, since they are an indispensable resource on the go. I own dog eared and marked up copies of all the guides listed here, and would highly recommend them! I’ve tossed in a few guides by Moon for certain areas, and Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Guides for specific cities, which are a great resource on the go. I’d recommend shopping online at Barnes and Noble, or Chapters/Indigo to patronize your local bookselling retailers. Or if you must, go the Amazon route.

Comfort gear

Trekology inflatable camping mat

This is the comfortable and compact sleeping mat I wish I had had during several days camping in the Italian Dolomites with my daughter last summer. If you haven’t read about our “tenting light” experience yet, check out the link HERE. Needless to say, this sleeping mat is a lot better than the half yoga mat equivalent we used. Unless you need a mother/daughter bonding camping experience story which will be repeated until the end of time, may I suggest you pick up one of these? All my family members have one now, and I even keep two in my vehicle – to be able to sleep in the back of the van in an emergency. Ninja packing tip: this mat will fit rolled up in a shoe inside your bag. Link here to check out even more inflatable sleeping mat options. Some of the items listed here will not be quite as compact, and cost a little more, but be more durable.


Handy to have

Wandf foldable duffel bag

I always travel light with a carry on bag, but inside that bag I wouldn’t be without an additional lightweight and durable fold up duffel bag. This item is indispensable as an additional day bag for smaller outings, or as a great way to “expand your load” when returning home. It’s durable enough to toss in with checked bags, or sized properly to take as your carry on to be able to check your other bag. I basically use it to check stuff that is OK to go missing for a few days (airlines usually find and deliver your stuff eventually). Think stinky hiking boots, dirty laundry or guide books no longer in use, allowing you room to retrieve gifts and goodies secured in your carry on.

RAVPower 20100MAh AC Outlet Portable Charger

This AC Outlet Portable Charger RAVPower 20100mAh 65W (Max) charger has a built in 2-prong AC plug plus USB outlets which make charging multiple devices on the go while traveling easy. What I like about this portable travel charger is its ability to charge a MacBook up completely (about 1.3 times with a full charge) and an iPhone multiple times (about 6-7 times depending how run down your device is when you start). You can also charge multiple devices at one time, includeing Surface Pro, Del XPS 13, iPhones, Galaxy S9 and Note 8, plus other devices such as camera’s or a GoPro – basically anything with an AC outlet. For a device with over 20000mAh power ability, it also recharges much more quickly (typically 4 hours) versus other which can take up to 8-10 hours. The size is manageable, although a little larger than some slimmer power packs, but the small trade off in power and multiple device capability in my mind makes up for it.


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