Due to last week’s theft, where I lost nearly everything, I have a lot of shopping to do. However, being in Europe, it doesn’t make sense to buy most items here, as the majority of products I need either aren’t readily available, or are much more expensive than buying through Amazon in the U.S.
So I’ve been filling up my digital shopping cart and getting a few dozen products ready to ship to my mom’s house in Seattle for when we arrive in a few weeks.
I live a fairly minimalist lifestyle. I’m very particular about what things I purchase. I don’t want “junk” I’ll rarely use. I don’t want poor quality things that will easily break. And for traveling, the lighter and smaller, the better, so I can use carry-on luggage only.
So as you can imagine, shopping, even online, can be a time-consuming process as I struggle to find just the right item. And as technology changes or companies change their product lines, much of the research I’ve done before becomes obsolete.
If you’re looking for good travel gear, I thought I’d share with you some of the purchases I’m making, to help speed up your research. Note: If you want to buy these items, it would help me out if you’d do it through the links below, so I can get a little kickback from Amazon.
Products I Love and Will Repurchase
Besides a 13″ Macbook Pro, which is kind of obvious, here are some of the products I’m repurchasing again because I found them so useful.
- Mogics Bagel – This is the best and most innovative power adaptor I’ve ever seen! 4 international sockets + 1 US socket, 2 USB ports, 3 foot extension cable that tucks inside, and an adaptor for any country built into the tiniest form factor that fits right in the donut/bagel hole. Very well designed, and I use it all the time. In fact, I’m buying two more. (I’m getting black this time, because the white showed dirt over time.)
- Western Digital 4TB Hard drive USB-C/A – High capacity, durable.
- 128GB USB flash drive (dual USB-C/A) – So tiny! And I love the versatility of being able to use it both in my new Macbook Pro (USB-C) as well as older devices (USB-A).
- Rode SmartLav+ Lavelier Microphone – Great for the videos I do.
Products I’m Buying for the First Time
A few products I had to research more heavily, either because I wasn’t completely satisfied with what I had before, or because what I had before is no longer available. I will hopefully be happy with these purchases:
- Sony Stereo Digital Voice Recorder with USB – What was stolen was a Tascam DR-22WL that I used to improve audio quality on some of my videos with the lav mic, and also recording presentations for the Family Adventure Summit and the At Home in the World Family Retreats. It was a great recorder as far as quality goes. But the interface was a bit confusing, and I didn’t like having to replace the AA batteries. This Sony recorder is rechargeable through built-in USB (no cables either, which is great as I want to minimize those!), and also has a MicroSD slot for easily transferring files. It’s also smaller and cheaper. I hope I’ll be satisfied with the quality.
- Noeler Travel Tripod 60″ – I’m always on the lookout for smaller, lighter tripods. This is the smallest I’ve seen that extends the to full size. (Collapses 1″ smaller and extends 5″ taller than my previous Sirui T-025X and also has the quick release plates, which I prefer.) And it’s surprisingly cheap. I hope the quality is good and that it’s easy to set up.
- Philips Norelco Click & Style Shaver – they no longer make the model I’ve used for the past few years that was a shaver and beard trimmer in one. Hopefully this will do just as well, as it’s really the only one on the market that I could find.
- Portable Charger. I’ve never had one of these, but there are many times we’ve been flying or on long bus rides without power plugs, and our phones don’t last through it. This one is super thin, has USB-C and USB capabilities and we can charge up to 3 devices at a time (including my Macbook Pro). So I think this will get use. And it replaces the need for another device I’ll list further down.
- Moto G6. I personally don’t see the point in getting the most expensive phones these days (iPhone, Pixel, etc). The specs aren’t that much better than phones 1/3 of their price, which tend to be sufficient for me. Plus, I like having a headphone jack, expandable memory, and a dual SIM card option. For $200, the Moto G6 even gets you a dual camera. I was quite happy with my Moto G5 so this is just a small upgrade.
- Google FI phone/data service. T-Mobile worked great for me in North America, but speeds were throttled to less than 2G in Europe, and it was almost unusable. I’ve heard Google FI is much faster globally, and will end up being cheaper overall. Plus, it works with the Moto G6, so I think I’ll give this a try. I should be able to port my previous number over. I still may get a local SIM in some countries, but we’ll see if it’s necessary or not.
Products I’m Considering
Here are a few products that I haven’t purchased yet because I’m not sure how well they will meet my needs. But may end up buying these if I can’t find something better for me.
- G-ro carry-on luggage – I bought one of these on Kickstarter years ago and we love it! It rolls over everything – cobblestone, stairs, etc. Jen is traveling with it now. It’s also rare to find a carry-on that has laptop pockets and a place for passports and pens, etc. on the outside for easy access. This one does. It’s quite pricey, though. Unfortunately, my old Ikea bag that separated into two backpacks (perfect for getting around weight limits and not needing a separate laptop bag!) is no longer made, or I’d get one of those (they were cheap, too!). So I’m trying to find a good option for all my gear that stays within carry-on weight limits and allows me to carry everything easily. Very tricky.
- Mindshift Horizon 180 camera backpack – I have absolutely loved the smaller version of this camera bag. It allowed me to carry all my lenses and access three of them without even taking the bag off! But it’s wearing out after years of constant use, and I’m wondering if I’ll need this larger size so I can carry my laptop in it in case my main carry-on is over the weight limit. I just hesitate getting something so large. And I’d prefer a smaller laptop bag anyway for taking it around town (missing my Ikea bag…)
- Pro Packing Cubes. I really appreciated having these packing cubes in my last bag. Made it really easy to sort clothes from socks, and cables from toiletries. However, I don’t really need the largest size and can’t find a package with two medium and two small sizes. Plus, I don’t know how much I’d need these if I got the G-ro because it kind of has packing sections for clothes built-in.
- MacBook pro covers. Due to the water damage a previous Macbook Pro faced, I’ve realized it’s important to have a laptop cover and keyboard cover. The only reason this is in the “considering” category, is that I’m not sure what color/style I want. :) Before, I had the awesome wooden mandala cover. But now that reminds me of my stolen laptop. So I’m thinking of the blue “fantasy tree” cover, but it feels just a bit too flashy, and I wonder if I’d tire of it… Hence the dilemma.
What I’m Not Buying Again
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. I loved my Kindle reader. I really did. But I’m finding it’s actually easier for me to just read on my phone. It’s always with me, it works faster, it’s easier to add highlights and notes, and just makes sense. Yes, supposedly it’s worse for the eyes, but the point for me is to read more and I think if I use my phone as my reading device, I will do so. That said, over long airplane flights, the battery on my phone would quickly drain after hours of reading, unlike the Kindle. So to combat that, I’m buying a portable battery I listed above. If I find I’m really missing a dedicated reading device, I may purchase one of these later, but for now, I’m doing without.
As much as I try not to be attached to my possessions, there are a few products that really do make my life easier, more productive, and more pleasant. And it’s worth it for me to take the time to find them and carry them with me. What products make your life easier?