Suitcase: The Single Most Important Travel Accessory

Amazon Basics suitcase

Your suitcase is your most important travel accessory. If you don’t have the container for all your things locked down, then your things might not even make it there. You’ve got to have a dependable suitcase you can trust. Lord knows you can’t trust the airline that’ll be handling it, it’s gotta be very reliable.

What To Look For In A Suitcase

So what should you be looking for in a suitcase? Well for starters, I’ll say it should be hard side. We’re past soft suitcases and luggage. If you roll up to the airport with a crushable bag, you can be sure it’ll be crushed. If liquids can get in it easily, they will, and you won’t want to find out what they are. Hard-side luggage is an absolute must.

The next thing you should be looking for is the right size. If you’re shopping for a carry-on or a checked bag, there are different sizes to hit. Most quality manufacturers are aware of this. It pays to look at the guidelines for airlines you use to know what size you need. The last thing you want to happen is to get all the way to the airport before realizing that you have too much bag.

Finally, you want quality hardware. Chances are, you’ll be rolling your suitcase around. Most of them get too big and heavy to comfortable carry. So you’ll want to make sure that the wheels and the handles are sturdy and built to last. Losing a wheel on your first day might be quite a bummer for your trip.

Some bonus features to keep an eye out for are backpack straps and organizers. Some smaller suitcases will have backpack straps so you can throw it on and be hands free. This can be very convenient, especially if your suitcase is your only luggage.

While suitcase organizers are a lot more common now, it’s nicer when the suitcase has everything you need built in. Keep an eye out for these, as they might not break the bank.

My Top Suitcase Picks

So with all this in mind, what are my picks for suitcases? Quality is important to me, but so is catching a deal. My picks take a balance of both quality and budget-friendliness.

Pick 1 – Samsonite Omni PC Hard-side Suitcase

This pick is an excellent quality bag, that’s still reasonably priced. Samsonite offers this model in most of the high-demand sizes. You can get carry-on and even a couple levels of checked bag. It’s a hard-side bag as I’ve heavily recommended. The hardware is certainly up to par, it even comes with a 10-year warranty for any defects on their end. The interior of the suicase has some decent organizational options. One side zippers in with some pockets and the other side has straps for your larger items. Overall, these Samsonite bags check all the boxes.

suitcase amazon link

Pick 2 – Amazon Basics Suitcases

If you’re looking for a truly budget-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with Amazon Basics. Amazon Basics puts out a wide range of baseline products at very reasonable prices, and their hard-side luggage is no exception. It’s actually what I use personally! If you don’t travel very often, or if you travel so often that you burn through bags, you’ll love the price of these. They make an excellent entry level for hard-side luggage. I recommend them for anyone buying their first real luggage for a trip.

suitcase amazon link

Between Samsonite and Amazon Basics you should be able to find an excellent option for whatever your suitcase needs!

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AmazonBasics Organizer Travel Cubes: Gear Review

AmazonBasics Organizer Travel Cubes

Suitcases are big. They’re supposed to be! You need enough space for all of your things. But a problem forms. (Especially after a couple days away.) Your suitcase becomes a vast ocean of stuff. It all flows together and you can’t find up from down. How are you supposed to organize things when it’s just one giant pocket?

Organizer Cubes, specifically AmazonBasics Organizer Cubes.

How Can  AmazonBasics Organizer Cubes Help?

For starters, what are they? Organizer cubes are a growing trend in travel and packing, and they’re a game changer. Organizer cubes are bags within bags. They come in various sizes and you stack them up in your large bag. These smaller bags let you divide up all your clothes and gear however you like. You’ll find everything just where you left it, even after a 15-hour flight! 

Now once you decide that you need some travel cubes, you’ve got a lot of options. They come in all different shapes and sizes. (And prices!) Why not trust the company that you trust with everything else? Amazon! AmazonBasics is a great new direction that they’re moving in. They put out a quality but low-priced baseline of items all across the board. From HDMI cables to travel cubes, AmazonBasics has you covered! This 4-piece travel cube set will get you started on your road to organization, for just $23. The different sizes will let you prioritize and make your own calls about what goes where. The large mesh side will let you see what’s inside without having to check. Each of the individual bags come with their own handles. Meaning, you can also carry them each individually!

Out of almost 7000 reviews, these travel cubes earned a 4.7 star rating. Reviewers agree, this is a fantastic set to turn your messy suitcase into a well oiled machine!

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COWIN E7 Noise Cancelling Headphones: Gear Review

It used to be that if you wanted active noise-cancelling headphones, you had to shell out the big bucks. Getting started took 2 or 3 hundred dollars! Those days are over. The  COWIN E7 Noise Cancelling Headphones bring noise-cancelling technology to everyone. At just $60, you don’t have to break the bank to avoid breaking your ears.

Yup, you heard that right. Just $60! The next noise cancelling headphones on the list get up to 4 or 5 times that! But don’t think that these headphones sacrifice quality. 

The COWIN E7 Noise Cancelling Headphones Function

Two main functions define these headphones. The first is to deliver your sound to you. Whether it’s music, movies, or games, these headphones bring quality. They use bass-boosting to make sure that they hit the deep lows and everything else!

Plus they last 30 hours on a single charge! That’s a long time for such a powerhouse of a speaker.

Noise cancellation is their other main function This is more than just muffling the sound physically. These active noise-cancelling headphones use sound wave technology to stop outside noise. Background noise in a plane or office is a thing of the past. They don’t completely cover louder things like lawnmowers, but they take all of the edge off.

Reviewers love these headphone! As they should be for a $60 pair of active noise-cancelling headphones. They’ve got a 4.4 star rating out of an astronomical 47 THOUSAND reviews! People of all ages and backgrounds love these headphones. One young reviewer loves using them while he works on his car detailing business. Another 69 year old reviewer was just looking for a quality pair of headphones, and that’s exactly what he found!

For a ridiculously low price, you can get a great pair of headphones with active noise-cancellation. You’ll love these headphones too!

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AmazonBasics Slim Travel Backpack: Gear Review

AmazonBasics Slim Travel Backpack

When you’re traveling, you need a good backpack. It can be your carry-on or even your personal bag. Plus it’ll be your day bag once you get to your destination! But there are a lot of backpacks out there in a lot of shapes and sizes. How do you choose which one is the best for you?

I’d say you start with a good brand. AmazonBasics is perfect because it’s got all the trustworthy power of Amazon. But, it’s also got the cost-effectiveness that Amazon is known for. This is a budget bag, but it’s got the quality of a name-brand.

The Features Of The AmazonBasics Slim Travel Backpack 

For starters, we’ll look at the design. This is a slim backpack and it’s designed to be. It hugs your body and doesn’t stick out into the way of other people. Keeping things close to you is especially important in places like foreign cities and streets. But the slimness doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have all the space that you need. It’s got a dedicated pocket for keeping your laptop safe. The padding that’s on the back and straps protects you and your computer.

The outside pockets have numerous mesh zipper pockets. This will give you the ability to organize all your things and access them quickly. Plus the extra layer of zippers will help deter anyone else trying to get inside. The zippers come together with a clasp that lets you use your own travel locks to secure it. And it’s got compression straps on the sides for easy access and travel. You can even strap it up like a messenger bag!

This bag gets great reviews, because it’s got everything you need. Owners love that it straps so easily to your rolling luggage. Plus they love the amount of space and quality for the bargain of a price! At just over $60, you can’t beat this quality!

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Ten Travel Tips For Long Flights: Survive The Haul

Long plane flights aren’t fun. But they can be a lot better if you know a few simple tricks. These travel tips for long flights will take you from an air novice to a flying pro.

A passenger that could use some travel tips for long flights.

1. Pack Snacks

Digesting on a plane is harder than on land. With that said, you still make sure you bring plenty of snacks. Being hungry will make the time pass a whole lot slower. Make sure to prioritize high-protein foods like meats or nuts to keep you full the longest!

2. Avoid Caffeine

You should avoid caffeine when you’re flying for a lot of reasons. For starter’s it’ll dehydrate you, which is a big factor in jet lag. Another reason to avoid it is it’ll mess up your sleep. Sleeping is probably the best time-killer when you’re on a plane. If you’re all hopped up you’re not sleeping on the plane or after you get off.

3. Wear Comfortable Clothes

A lot of the tips for long flights on this list contribute to letting you sleep and relax on the plane. Planes are stressful, it’s why it’s so important to try and relax. Comfy clothes will help you do that. You don’t have to wear a sweat-suit, but jeans and a comfy t-shirt will serve you well.

4. Bring Noise-Cancelling Headphones

They’re not as expensive as they used to be. Do yourself a favor and get a pair of headphones that has active noise cancellation. It’ll help to cut the background noise on a plane and help you sleep. Or it’ll help you focus on your other electronic entertainment!

5. Bring Entertainment (Especially Books)

Speaking of entertainment, make sure to bring plenty of it. You’re going to be stuck in one place for a long time, you’ve got to have a plan. Bring a tablet, a Kindle, a game system, or even just your phone. One thing to keep in mind is to bring some non-electric stuff. There’ll be around and hour on either side for take-off and landing where you can’t use your phone!

A wing of a plane.

6. Moisturize

The recirculated air on planes will dry you out fast. It’s important to rehydrate yourself. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. You should also bring chapstick and lotion to keep your lips and skin hydrated!

7. Bring A Pillow And Blanket

There’s a reason they make these in travel size. Plane seats are super uncomfortable for seemingly no reason. If you bring your own pillow and blanket you’ll always be able to get comfy wherever you are.

8. Charge Your Devices

Always make sure to charge your devices before you get on the plane. You never know if the plane will have any sort of charging port. Better yet, charge your devices and an extra power bank. Power banks give you a much longer battery life for very little weight. 

9. Podcasts And Audio-Books

These are both getting more popular as time goes on, and it’s for good reason. Podcasts and audio-books take up much less battery than games or video. They’ll keep your devices kicking much longer. Plus, there are thousands, maybe millions of hours of free podcasts available. You can get apps to download these pods to your device, so you don’t even need internet!

10. Avoid Jet Lag

When you’re on a plane, you’ve got to be aware of jetlag. Tips for long flights can only go so far in preventing it. It’s pretty much unavoidable, but you can make it less intense. Make sure you’re hydrating on the plane. Avoid alcohol if you can. Alcohol will dehydrate you even more and it can give you a hangover. If you can, try to catch some sleep on the plane. An eye mask will help block out the sun too to keep your circadian rhythm on track!

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Scrubba Portable Wash Bag: Travel Gear Review

You can’t take a washing machine with you. But you might need one. Accidents happen while you’re out and about. Washing your things might be especially important if you’ve only got limited clothes. Your hotel or your AirBnB might have laundry, but do you want to trust strange washers? What if they don’t? Or what if you’re out in nature and you don’t have access to that kind of thing?

Fear not, there is a solution. That solution is called the Scrubba Portable Wash Bag. 

Click here to get the Regular Size on Amazon!

(Also Available in Mini Size!)

The Scrubba Portable Washing Bag

So what is it? It’s a portable washing machine! It’s a waterproof bag that folds down very small. The regular size is compact, but the mini is even smaller! It’ll fold down to the size of your palm! 

So after you fill up your wash bag with water, you just add a little soap for cleaning. Next you squish out the air and seal it up so you’ve got a little bag of liquid and clothes. The inside of the washbag has a specially designed washboard, for deep cleaning. Once you’ve got it ready to go you just knead your clothes in the bag. After just a couple minutes they’ll be washing machine clean!

The Scrubba portable wash bag is an absolute must-have for long term camping, but it’s even great anywhere else! Get the mini size and toss it in your travel bag. If you need an extra pair of socks or underwear, just scrub and go. Leave your things to dry overnight and you’re in good shape!

But you don’t have to take my word for it, the bags have 4.4 and 4.5 stars out of over a thousand Amazon reviews! Reviewers say that their clothes come out cleaner than a machine! Not to mention that it’s easy to use, and unbeatably convenient!

Click here to get the Regular Size on Amazon!

(Also Available in Mini Size!)

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Ten Travel Tips For Europe Adventures

Europe has quite the reputation, and for good reason. It’s got thousands of years of history, attractions, and things to do and see! But if you’re an American going to Europe for your first time, there are some things to keep in mind. These travel tips for Europe will let you skip the rookie step and hop right into being a pro traveler.

A beautiful European vista one could see when making use of  Travel Tips For Europe.

1. Cabs Aren’t Worth It

Most major European cities have robust public transit. Buses, trains, trolleys, and even boats can take you anywhere you need. Cabs might seem more convenient, but they’re a huge money sink. Multiple cab rides will add up very quickly!

2. Get Your VAT Refund

This isn’t something that we have to think about in the states, but European countries have a “Value-Added Tax”. Since we aren’t members of the EU, we aren’t required to pay it. But they’ve still got to take it when you buy things. So if you keep your receipts, you can be issued a refund for all of the VAT that you paid during your trip.

3. Get Good Shoes

If you’re going to Europe, you’re probably going to be walking a lot. So it pays to get a good pair of shoes. If you’re trying to hike around in flats, dress shoes, or heels, your feet are going to be screaming at you! And if that happens early in the trip, it’ll affect the rest of your time abroad.

4. Buy Tickets Early

This is true for all kinds of travel, but it’s one of the especially good travel tips for Europe. Book your plane, your hotels, your activities, everything in advance! You’ll probably get discounted rates on everything if you do. But even more than that, things might sell out if you wait too long!

5. Travel By Train

Europe isn’t actually that big of a place. If you want to see multiple countries, you don’t have to fly! Save money and hassle by taking the train. Europe has an excellent system of trains between countries, make use of it!

One of the most iconic landmarks a person might see while making use of Travel Tips For Europe.

6. Know Your Currency

Euros are an international currency, but they’re not a blanket solution. Every country you go to will probably have some currency that you should be aware of. When my wife and I went to Ireland we actually ended up in Northern Ireland without realizing it. We were lucky that our lunch spot would trade us Pounds for some Euros or we might have been out of luck!

7. Spend Your Coins

Still on the topic of currency, spend your coins! European countries have $1 and $2 coins that you’ll get a lot of in change. If you don’t use them as you get them, you’ll jingle like a leprechaun by the end of your trip!

8. Carry Your Passport

Always keep your passport with you and somewhere safe. If you’re from out of the country, it’s your most important possession. Getting caught without it could put you in a crazy international limbo. And nobody wants that!

9. Register With The State Department

For the same reason, register your trip’s dates and destinations with the state department. They’re your friend! It’s simple and easy to do and it ensures that if things go south on a global scale, they’ll have your back. This is especially important if you’re traveling alone. If you go missing, they’ll come looking for you!

10. Learn Some Local Language

So many people go to foreign countries these days without bothering to learn any of their language. It’s important for a few reasons. For starters, it’s a great intro to the culture. If you get good, it’ll actually help you communicate with people while you’re there. But even if you aren’t any good, people will appreciate that you’re trying, and they’ll be a lot nicer to you!

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AmazonBasics Carry-On HardSide: Travel Gear Review

AmazonBasics Carry-On HardSide in its natural habitat.

The time for soft luggage is over. Anything that you put in a backpack or duffle and trust to the TSA is gone. You can kiss anything breakable goodbye when you check it. That is, unless you’ve got hard-side luggage. Hard-side luggage is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a hard armored shell that’ll keep all of your belongings safe and sound. Even when it’s going through an airport. So if all your luggage is soft, what do you do? You might not be able to replace all your gear at once. Start with the carry-on.

The AmazonBasics Hard-Side Carry-On is the best foot in the door into hard luggage. At just $55, it’s as affordable as it gets. You can’t beat this deal for this level of quality from a trusted company. It’s Amazon, you know you can count on them. And you can count on them delivering it fast and cheap! 

The AmazonBasics Carry-On HardSide Features

You’ve got options with this bag. It’s got 4 spinner wheels and a collapsible handle that you can pull out of the top. It’s also got a handle on the top and side, so you can carry it any way you like. The inside has one deep well with a clasping strap to secure folded clothes, shoes, or anything else! The other side zips up completely to enclose whatever you put inside. (Plus it’s got a mesh pocket on the zip-lid!) The bag also expands out an additional 15% with another zipper around the whole bag. This gives you the freedom to pack how you want!

But don’t take my word for it. It’s got 4.6 stars on Amazon out of over 16 THOUSAND reviews! This compact but roomy bag has no trouble fitting in the carry on checker at the airport! Many flight attendants even report this being the perfect flight bag. It doesn’t add any weight and it’s super easy to use. For just $55 it’s a huge value at a bargain of a price!

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Ten Travel Tips To Save Money: Travel On A Budget

Traveling doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. These travel tips to save money will keep you living your best life, and doing it on the cheap! There are things you can do while you’re planning and while you’re on the trip that can save you money and stress!

A Map surrounded by all the cash you could save with these travel tips to save money.

1. Go Off-Season

Everyone likes to take their trips in the spring and summer, but is it the best time? The weather might be nice, but businesses know about the surge. They upcharge everything! You can travel for much less if you simply time your trips for the off season. Go north in the summer, go south in the winter. I think you’ll find that the change of weather is even better that way!

2. AirBnB’s

The travel overnight game is changing. While hotels used to the obvious answer to the question “Where will we stay?”, that’s quickly fading. AirBnB (and other rent-a-room services) are making huge headway, and it’s for good reason! AirBnB rooms are always cheaper and often much nicer than getting a hotel! Plus you might even have easy kitchen and laundry access.

3. Book Ahead Of Time

Make your plans far in advance! Lots of activities and tours will increase rates the closer you get to the date. Planes and hotels shoot their rates right up if you’re trying to plan during prime time. By planning early, you’ll directly save money on everything!

4. Use Public Transit

Rental cars are nice to have, but they get expensive fast. If you can avoid needing one by using public transit, you can save a ton! Most major cities have pretty robust bus and train systems. They take a little bit to learn, but it’s well worth it!

5. Pocket Wifi

Using your cell phone abroad isn’t easy. You might need to get a special sim card from your provider, at an exorbitant rate. You could try to get a prepaid phone while you’re there, but that’s not easy either. Your best bet is to get  a pocket wifi. These can be rented at the airport and for a low steady fee, you’ll get a mobile hotspot you can take with you! This means you can use any device you’ve got, with no special considerations!

The midwest, a low cost but beautiful travel destination.

6. Walk As Much As You Can

I mentioned using transit over rentals and taxis, but there’s an even better method. Just walk! You might save money by picking a hotel or BnB that’s close to the things you want to see. Plus you’ll get to see parts of your destination from angles you might not otherwise!

7. Shop And Cook Locally

This can be a fun experience in itself. Instead of going out for every meal, cook one in! Go to the local market and buy raw ingredients, they’re always cheaper. If you have any interest in cooking, this is a great way to sample the culture first hand!

8. Get Big Lunch And Small Dinner

Restaurants and bars often charge less for lunch than they do for dinner. So if you time your big meals, you can get decadent lunches for cheap! There’s no set rule for which meal has to be the most important. 

9. Talk To Locals

Make it a point to ask locals where to shop, eat, or what to see. Whether it’s your AirBnB owner, your bartender, or friends, locals always know how to avoid tourist traps! 

10. Pick Cheap Places

Finally, pick cheap places! Your own country has dozens if not hundreds of hidden gems scattered all about. Overseas is going to cost you big, there’s no way around it. If you can find a cozy BnB in your local “wine-country” you can save a mint and still have a great time! This is my favorite of the travel tips to save money. My wife and I have gone on tons of “small” trips that are just as fun as big ones, but a fraction of the price! Your vacation is what you make it.

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Travel Gear List: Must-Haves When Leaving Home

When you leave on a trip you never know what you could run into. For this reason, it pays to be prepared. Now you can’t prepare for every situation imaginable, your backpack would be enormous! But you can bring the right travel gear for the likely ones, and you can try to cover your bases.

Some travel gear layed out on a map.

Below I’ve assembled a list of the must have travel gear you should keep with you for all occasions. If you’ve got all this, you’re ready for anything that comes your way.

A Good Multi-Purpose Day Pack – AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack

AmazonBasics Slim Carry On Travel Backpack

For starters, you’ll need something reliable to carry it all in. A good daypack will be good for a lot of purposes. It can serve as your carry on, your personal item, your day bag, or even your suitcase! There is of course an important decision to be made about size. Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes. I recommend a good midsize, like my example here.

Nail Clippers – SZQHT Ultra Wide Jaw Opening Nail Clippers

SZQHT Ultra Wide Jaw Opening Nail Clippers

I would recommend a multi-tool, but the TSA frowns on those. Multi-tools are massively useful, but hard to travel with. It’s true that multi-tools without blades are TSA-compliant. But, they don’t always follow their own rules. And you can bet anything that if you try to argue, they’re going to search you for anything else. And they search everywhere. For this reason, nail clippers are a good solution. They’re good for cutting a lot of things and can be handy for a lot of things. 

Travel First Aid Kit – General Medi Mini First Aid Kit

General Medi Mini First Aid Kit

A First Aid Kit is always a good thing to have. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be enough to patch yourself up in case of small accidents. If anything serious happens, there are always doctors. Just make sure there aren’t scissors in it as the TSA gets a little testy about those, too. 

Water Bottle – HYDAWAY Hydration Travel Pack | 25 oz

HYDAWAY Hydration Travel Pack | 25 oz

Having your own water bottle is always nice. You won’t be able to take it on the plane full but you can fill it up after the security checkpoint. When you’re travelling about, especially outdoors, you don’t always know when the next convenient drink will come around. Having your own water bottle will let you fill up and take your hydration into your own hands.

Travel Towel – Rainleaf Microfiber Towel

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel

Travel towels are compact and they come in clutch. You never plan on needing an emergency towel. But it’s for precisely that reason that they’re so useful. They fold up small and are super handy. Plus, in a pinch, they can double as a soft place to put your head on a plane!

Compact Travel Blanket – Comfort Plus 3-in-1 Premium Travel Blanket

Comfort Plus 3-in-1 Premium Travel Blanket

You’ll also want a travel blanket. Some of them fold up to be very small! They’re always useful for a little warmth or a slice of home on a cold plane, train, or bus. By keeping this with you, you ensure that you’ll always be able to get comfy!

Universal Charger – Unidapt Universal Charger Power Adapter

Unidapt Universal Charger Power Adapter

This is a lifesaver for traveling abroad. You want to have a charger for your phone, it might as well be universal. A universal plug will let you charge anything using any outlet. This is one that people often forget about until it’s too late!

Power Bank – Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger

Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger

A power bank will also help you stretch your devices! It’ll give you a backup supply of power for when you really need it. I actually recommend having two power banks. You can use one all the time, and save the other for emergencies, so you’ve always got a plan!

Pocket Notebook – Five Star Fat Lil’ Pocket Personal Notebook

Five Star Fat Lil' Pocket Personal Notebook

I’m still a big believer in pen and paper. I think there’s value to writing things down and I think it’s a lot easier than phone notes. Not to mention it’s classier than phone notes and you can rip off and use pieces of paper. You should definitely pick up a little notebook and pen for your travels.

Compact Umbrella – SY COMPACT Travel Umbrella

SY COMPACT Travel Umbrella

Finally on my list of must-have travel gear, always plan for a rainy day. A compact umbrella is a great low-weight low-space way to do that! It’s a little easier than carrying around a bulky jacket or a poncho and it’s super easy to use and put away!

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