Over dozens of trips and hundreds of dollars, I’ve experimented with my share of travel gear and services. Some of these travel purchases have saved me headaches, time, and maybe even dollars (in the long run) while others have been an absolute waste of money. When it comes to spending, I try not to be wasteful, but these purchases have paid for themselves.
Fake Wedding Ring
My real wedding rings have too much sentimental value for me to risk wearing them while traveling. I’m actually less concerned about theft and more about damage: all that active travel means I’m hard on my diamonds! Still, I’ve found that when I’m traveling without my husband, other travelers seem to assume I must be single and interested. In my personal experience, this decoy ring has made a significant difference in the conversations guys start with me at the bar: I still have the chance for new friendships, but they no longer push it further. (Worth noting: in some cultures, a wedding ring isn’t common so locals sometimes still flirt — it’s not a perfect solution).
It was a pain in the butt to get global entry, but now that I have it, I’ll never travel without it again. Essentially, Global Entry is a “skip the line” pass at USA immigration queues in the airport. When you land in the United States, your fingerprints are scanned by a machine and you basically walk right through instead of standing in line for an hour to talk to an agent. There’s a $100 application fee, but it’s valid for five years. TSA pre-check is included, so you can skip the X-ray machines at airport security.
Picnics are an amazing way to save money while traveling, but I take advantage of them more often because I’m out hiking far away from restaurants and have no other choice. As much as I like PBJs and apples, you have a lot more options on what to eat if you’ve packed a cooler. Grab some ice from the hotel or a gas station, and all of a sudden you’re prepared for a gourmet spread of cheeses, charcuterie, and even chilled wine. You can roll a collapsible one up into your suitcase to make packing easy. Hint: any insulated bag will do in most scenarios. I actually recycled one I received from a juice cleanse.
Car Service from the Airport
I’ve managed public transportation on four continents, so I know it can be done, but I love pre-arranging car service from the airport. You feel like a VIP when you see your name on the sign, there’s no waiting for taxi queues, and if you arrange it through your hotel, your driver will definitely know how to get you to your destination. Yes, this can be expensive, but it lifts a huge weight off my shoulders before I have local currency in small denominations or a lay of the land. As a bonus, you can also plan stops to get a SIM card or other supplies when you land.
External Hard Drive
I recently received an external hard drive and I absolutely love it! It’s a great way to store all your travel photos and video so that you don’t accidentally lose precious memories. My Transcend 1TB model worked right out of the box, transfers files quickly, and is shock resistant. I don’t actually take it on my trips, but it’s one of those purchases I definitely want when I get home.
I don’t buy specialty travel clothing, but I do splurge on shoes. If your feet aren’t happy when you’re traveling, you’ll be miserable. Good walking shoes are an absolute must and you should spend the money to buy the styles you’ll need on your trip. I typically travel with a pair of low-cut hiking shoes, high-quality water shoes, and waterproof flip flops, but the trick is to find what works best for you. Don’t scrimp on footwear!
When it comes to travel toiletries, I use the basic ones at the hotel as often as possible and supplement with a lot of solid products. However, there are times when only a liquid product will do and I prefer filling my own GoToobs instead of buying travel size products. GoToobs are the only containers I’ve ever used that have never leaked, cracked, or otherwise made a mess in my luggage. That alone is worth its weight in gold, but buying bulk and refilling at home is also a good way to pinch pennies.
What travel purchases do you recommend?
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