Regardless of where you travel, there are always a few basics that you’ll need for every trip. Having traveled to over fifty countries, doing everything from backpacking to business travel to luxury bucket list kinds of trips, I’ve done it all and tested product after product. Here are my current summer travel essentials. They might not be the most obvious of items, but they’re sure to make your trip smoother and more enjoyable, while having layers of impact.
Rarely do I leave my house without sunglasses. As the category rapidly expands, I’m always looking for brands that are sustainable and integrate as much impact as possible. Banton Frameworks, the only eyeglass manufacturing company in Scotland, makes small batch and sustainable frames. The owner hand makes beautiful pairs to order and emails customers directly to make sure their craftsmanship fits just right. For playful beach shades with a breezy California vibe, Sunski make ultra lightweight sustainable glasses out of recycled plastic and gives one percent of sales to environmental nonprofits.
Upping the game with stylish frames at a low price point, DIFF exists to ‘Make a Difference,’ as noted inside each case. Socially conscious and charitable at their core, DIFF has donated over one million pairs of glasses to people in need and continue their impact with Project DIFF, a fair-trade, sustainable project using kitenge sunglass pouches to empower artisans and improve education in Uganda.
Packing is always a strategic challenge, trying to minimize the amount of bags that will drag you down, but also accounting for every situation where you might need something. These bags all come from companies who are conscious about their social impact, an important added bonus to functionality.
For most trips, I recommend a carry-on and a backpack. My go-to is Away’s larger carry-on and backpack. The thoughtful design of the backpack is one of the best I’ve seen, combining comfort, functionality and style with a sleek, slim profile design. For a day trip or a weekender, Cotopaxi is a brand that makes ‘Gear for Good,’ with a percentage of sales going to their Foundation, which supports global poverty alleviation. Their Chumpi Travel Duffel is deceiving as it holds much more than it looks like it would, and with tuckable backpack straps and a removable shoulder sling, it’s perfect for quick trips.
If you need to slip an extra bag into your suitcase but don’t want it to count as an additional carry-on, Tortuga, a travel company that provides scholarships to study abroad, makes a packable daypack that zips down into a small pouch. If it’s a family vacation, let the kids load up their own colorfully designed Bixbee backpack. The company makes affordable backpacks with a ‘One Here, One There’ mission that provides a school bag with school supplies to a child in need with every purchase.
Warm weather trips require beach bags and the Isla Tote by Sea & Grass is ideal. It packs flat and can go from day to night for an all purpose travel purse. The line of seagrass handbags are handmade by women in Northern Thailand and provide scholarships for the village children to attend school.
Regardless of what country you’re in, you’re always going to need a stash of snacks for emergencies. Whether it’s a middle-of-the night arrival and you haven’t had dinner, a lengthy train ride, or a road trip through unchartered territory, some of the best snacks need to be filling, healthy and most importantly, things that don’t melt.
The first thing on most’s peoples minds is a morning cup of coffee. When you’re in a pinch and hot water is the only thing you have access to, Perfect Keto Instant Coffee packets are perfect. Organic, spray dried coffee with MCTs and naturally sweetened by Stevia, this coffee option is dairy-free, yet tastes like a latte. Sakara Energy Bars are packed with organic, clean plant protein and a healthy dose of Vitamin B12 and L-Theanine, the perfect source to start your day with a boost of productivity.
For anytime snacking, roasted baru seeds are a Brazilian superfood that are perfect for travel. Creamy like a peanut, yet 100% peanut free, Natural Traditions makes a resealable bag that you can throw in your backpack for easy access. When you have to stretch time between meals, Rickaroons are a good option. Full of nutrient dense ingredients, the coconut energy bars are gluten free, vegan, organic and paleo, but most of all they are delicious, filling and have just the right amount of sweetness.
With such a heightened awareness of the evils of plastic, the options for reusable water bottles and straws are growing daily. One of the best travel bottles comes from Hydaway, as the brightly hued collapsible bottles can fit into your pocket when you’re not using them. BPA-free and compact, they even have a case that can clip onto your bag. When it comes to straws, EcoVessel sells a pack of four stainless steel straws with brightly colored silicone tips and a cleaning straw, enabling consumers to join their mission to #LeaveLess plastic behind.
Hydration is crucial when traveling, yet it can be challenging to drink as much water as we need while on the go. Enter Liquid I.V., a mission-driven wellness brand whose oral rehydration packets can hydrate you two to three times faster than a regular glass of water. With a mission to change the world, they’re certainly helping by donating these sometimes life-saving packets to people who lack access to adequate clean water supplies.
Every wonder how to ask for directions in Slovenian? Luckily you don’t have to (although it would score you major street cred).Pocketalk can do the work for you. A smart translator with over 70 languages, it allows you to have a two-way conversation in real time, eliminating most language barriers. Another way to capture culture in the moment is with the Kodak Smile Instant Print Digital Camera. The perfect first camera for kids, it allows them to shoot, preview, edit and print instantly on sticky backed photos.
For any road trip, a GPS device with built in WiFi is critical and much cheaper than using up all the data on your international phone plan. Garmin has several options and makes it easy to download the current maps for your destination. While driving, Tripp Lite’scompact travel power inverter plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and allows you to charge multiple devices at once.
The Fuse Chicken Universal All-in-One Travel Charger triples as a wall charger, a power bank and a wireless charger all in one. With international travel adaptors, this device is a must-have for super fast charging. When you don’t have access to power, the LuminAIDPackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger is a game changer. The solar inflatable lantern & phone charger packs flat and clips onto a bag to recharge while you’re on the go. Once you have all your gadgets and chargers, a great place to store them is in a Peak Design Tech Pouch. Origami-style pockets allow you to pack more into a smaller space while staying organized.
Trying to pack a travel medicine kit can be overwhelming because you never know what you might need. Prevention is often the best way to stay healthy on the road. Thistle Farms (a social enterprise that empowers survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction) makes a Healing Oils Kit with four compact rollerballs handcrafted and specially blended to promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness. They also make a lightweight, Natural Bug Spray andLavender Linen Spray that is crucial when your accommodations smell less than desirable.
Oregano Oil Capsules are my go-to when I start feeling sluggish, as they are a natural anti-bacterial multi-tasker. You can get them nearly anywhere and you should always have a bottle on any trip.
For an extra dose of wellbeing, Moon Juice has individual, plant-based dust packets that are laden with adaptogens formulated to boost things like your energy, mood and sleep, perfect for a range of travel pick me ups. And perhaps the least sexy, but arguably the most crucial item for wellbeing during travel are compression socks. CEPmakes a wide range of compression socks with breathable cotton and lightweight material that makes it easier to put on an off, improving blood circulation and oxygen supply to muscles, making a world of difference after a long flight or drive.
Pick and choose the essentials that work best for you, but feel good knowing that most of these are doubling their positive impact in your life and around the world.