TMG’s favorite travel essentials

We’ve put together a list of some of our all-time favorite travel essentials.  I’ll update this list as needed. Feel free to comment and/or send recommendations if you have any favorites to add!

Full Disclosure: We may receive a commission from some products linked in this list (at NO additional cost to you).  

Protect your wine with Wineskins

Wine Skin Wineskin Bag, 8-Pack

Click to purchase

Wineskins are reusable sleeves that protect your wine while in transit.  We’ve used them several times when transporting wine in our checked luggage on a plane and they work everytime!

Packing cubes

3 piece set on Amazon

3 cubes, different sizes

3 piece set on Amazon

3 medium cubes

Medium Garment Folder/Medium Cube/Small Cube on Amazon

Garment folder, medium cube, small cube set

Thanks to these I was able to fit everything into a carry on and a backpack for our Italy trip.  They come in different sizes so you can choose what works best for you.

I am always amazed at how much we are able to pack by using these.  Usually I do not have problems with wrinkles, but I always bring a travel size bottle of wrinkle releaser.

These cubes come in different sizes and colors and you can buy different sets based on your needs.  Eagle Creek packing cubes will change your life, I promise!

RIMOWA Luggage

rimowa salsa air

I realize it is pricey, and unfortunately it never goes on sale.  But I absolutely love my Rimowa carry-on. It’s lightweight, super easy to maneuver, and comes with a great warranty.  Since we travel often, splurging on a nice piece of luggage made sense.  Plus, it doubles as a chariot for the kids.  Ryan loved mine so much that he ended up getting one too.

Rimowa carry on best luggage 2018

If you’re interested in a Rimowa, the good news is you can at least go through a shopping portal and earn more points!  You can also use the new Amex Platinum Saks benefit to save $50! Rimowa is sold at SaksBloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, and a few other retailers that you will often find on shopping portals.

rimowa carry on luggage

Ryan’s Rimowa carry-on doubles as a ride for Jack at the airport.

Best water shoes ever

best water shoes 2018
Purchase on

Zhuanglin Women’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes,Pinkorange,8 B(M) US

Lexie, Chris, Ryan, and I used these on our recent trip to Costa Rica.  We received so many compliments!  They are as comfortable as running shoes, but they dry quick like water shoes.  They come in several colors and they also come in men’s sizes. Click here for Zhuanglin Men’s Quick Drying Aqua Water Shoes

Our new favorite backpack

Tortuga Setout laptop daypack

We have tried several backpacks throughout our adult life in search of the perfect travel backpack.  Just before we left for Japan, the wonderful folks at Tortuga sent us one of their daypacks to try out.  It’s definitely our new favorite.

Setout Laptop Backpack

From Tortuga’s website:

“Frequent travelers need a laptop backpack that’s designed for an airplane, not a classroom. School backpacks work in a pinch but aren’t designed for air travel.”

I couldn’t agree more.  When Ryan and I don’t have the kids with us, we like to pack as light as possible.  We try to limit ourselves to a carry-on roll- aboard and a backpack each.  The problem is, a lot of backpacks aren’t exactly travel-friendly.

The Setout Laptop Backpack from Tortuga slides under the seat of most airplanes, which means it can be your ‘personal item’.  It has a pocket for your laptop, several pockets for your other belongings, and it even has a compartment that functions like a packing cube! It’s a great piece of secondary luggage, and it is also the perfect backpack for day trips.

Luggage scale

Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale, Rubber Paint, Temperature Sensor, 110 Pounds, Silver

Buy now on

My dad put one of these in my Christmas stocking years ago and it’s been one of my favorite travel gadgets!  There is nothing worse than getting to the airport and finding out that your suitcase is 55 pounds.  Then you have to step out of line and try to pull some ninja rearranging skills to bring it below 50 pounds.  You end up having to take some contents out of your suitcase and hope they will fit in another bag you have or in your companion’s bag.  Or you end up paying a fee for overweight luggage.  Either way, it’s not fun.

It’s small and lightweight so not only can you weigh your luggage at home before leaving, you can also bring it with you.  Because you know you always come home with some extras!

Wrinkle releaser

Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus 3 Fl Oz. (Pack of 2)

As I stated with packing cubes, wrinkles usually aren’t a problem, but I always bring a bottle just in case!

Universal travel adapter

Universal Travel Adapter UK, EU, AU, US with Quad USB Charger – All-in-One Surge/Spike Protected Electrical Plug with Fast Charging USB Ports, International Power Socket works in 187 Countries – 4XUSB

Purchase on

A compact all-in-one electrical plug adapter is great for anyone who travels internationally!  Instead of having to buy different adapters for different countries, adapters like this one work in several countries.  I also like this one because of the USB ports.

Be sure that you check which countries are compatible.  Some adapters exclude certain countries even though it’s labeled as “universal”.

Back-up battery pack

Anker PowerCore 10000, One of the Smallest and Lightest 10000mAh External Batteries, Ultra-Compact, High-speed Charging Technology Power Bank for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and More

Purchase now

Charge your phone, your camera, your Wifi hotspot, etc with this portable compact battery pack.  There are lots of options on the market depending on how much back-up power you need, size, number of ports, etc.  But to give you an idea, the one above provides 3 charges for an iPhone for a very reasonable price!

For bulky clothes and ski clothes: compression sacs

Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Sac Set (Md/Large) 2pc, Multi/Strobe/Flame/Blue

If you’re traveling somewhere cold, bulky sweaters and jackets will be much easier to pack with these compression sacs.

Waterproof tote

Fivesse Large 20″ Waterproof beach Bag and Tote with 8 Pockets, Coral Color Block Pattern and Waterproof Zipper

Click for details

This is great for beach trips and boat trips.  We almost always end up doing some sort of boat tour on vacation so a waterproof tote is a must.

I used this bag in Italy and it was great.  You can use it as a carry-on or personal item on the plane, or you can collapse it and pack it in your suitcase and use it once you arrive at your destination.  In Italy, I packed it in my carry-on for our flight to Italy.  Since we purchased wine in Italy, I checked my carry-on suitcase for the flight home and used this tote as my carry-on!

Anti-theft backpack

Kopack Anti Theft Laptop Backpack Shockproof Travel Bag Lightweight ScanSmart TSA Friendly Water Resistant Grey

Buy on Amazon

I don’t want to scare anyone! But it is well-known that cities such as Rome and London are known for pickpocketing.  Crowded places such as train stations are also known for pickpocketing.  When traveling, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings.  But another way you can protect the belongings of yourself and your loved ones is an anti-theft backpack.

It has a hidden zipper and it is resistant to slashing.  Yes, as in slashing with a knife.  Thieves aren’t afraid to use a pocketknife to cut a bag off of you!

For travel with kids

Airplane seatbelt harness (replaces the need for a carseat on a plane)

Child Airplane Travel Harness – Cares Safety Restraint System – The Only FAA Approved Child Flying Safety Device

This is the only FAA approved device of its size!  It weighs less than a pound and folds to less than 6 inches.  Much easier than carrying a carseat through the airport. If you have no need to bring a carseat (either you’re renting one through the rental car agency or you’re going somewhere like Disney where carseats aren’t required on the Magic Express shuttle), this keeps the child secure in the plane seat.  It takes less than 1 minute to install, is adjustable, and it can be used for children 1 and older weighing 22-44 pounds and up to 40 inches tall.

Carseat bag  

J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag, Black

Purchase on Amazon

If you’re going to check a carseat or gate check a carseat, this padded bag will help protect it.  Also, if you just want an easier way to carry it through the airport if your child will be flying in it, this bag makes it easier to carry.

For when we’re away from home

Ring Doorbell  Camera

Ring Video Doorbell Pro (Existing Doorbell Wiring Required), Works with Amazon Alexa

Protect yourself or your loved ones!

I know this is not a travel gadget, but, for the frequent traveler it’s great to have.  Our doorbell allows us to check on our house while we’re traveling anytime we want from our smartphones.  It also alerts us when there’s motion near our door.  You can customize your settings to notify you every time there is motion at your door.  You can also control the sensitivity.

There are also ring cameras that you can install inside your house.  Sometimes I spy on my dogs!

We currently have the Ring Doorbell Pro but we previously had the original Ring which is a little cheaper.  The picture quality and the features are worth the extra money to buy the Pro though, in my opinion.

We installed ours without any problems.  If we can do it, so can you!

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