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Recommended Travel Gear lists abound on the internet, but are they for real? Some are clickbait, some are top ten lists written without much expertise or thought. I have been traveling professionally around the globe for a long time and I’d like to think that I have it down to a science. If you’re looking for the best recommended travel gear, either for a travel gift or for yourself, here you’re going to find what is actually in my bag. For reals. No joke.

This is a list for quick reference, as a companion to my blog and YouTube packing videos, with links to take you directly to the things I use. Most of these items have been written about at some point on this blog, but always ask if you’d like more information. A reminder: I only suggest things that I truly like and use, none of my suggestions are paid, but I do work for Rick Steves, just so you know and I do get a small commission if you purchase using these links (thanks for supporting my work this way).


These are my actual bags that I use. For other options, including a great rolling bag, see

Main Backpack- Tom Bihn TriStar

Day Bag- Tom Bihn Small Cafe Bag

Extra Bag- Lewis n Clark Electrolight Duffle

Packing Cubes- Eagle Creek Specter

Shoe Cube- Lewis N Clark Packing Cube

Stuff Sacks- Lewis N Clark Tote Bag


I’ve done some exhaustive research on jackets and found some great solutions. More on that hunt HERE.

Winter- Arcteryx Nuri (Best Coat EVER)

Spring/Fall- Eddie Bauer Microtherm Down Jacket

Summer- Eddie Bauer Rainfoil Packable Jacket

Vest- 32 Degrees Packable Down Vest


Clothes are very subjective! Below are some of my classic favorite items, basics that will work for almost anyone.

Top-Eileen Fisher Silk Knit Top (Anything Eileen Fisher is a winner)

Pants- Eileen Fisher Silk Slouchy Pants

Cardigan- Eddie Bauer Verstrex Wrap

Sweater- Lark and Roe Cashmere Pullover in Black

Leggings- Felina Black Leggings

Skirt- Jubilee Flowy Knee Length Skirt

Scarf- Cashmere Travel Scarf

Tank Top- Banana Republic Essential Tank

Dress- Eddie Bauer Aster Crossover Dress


A truly subjective item for recommended travel gear, but these are solid picks. Costco often carries great socks and undies.

Moneybelt- Rick Steves Moneybelt

Socks- Kirkland Signature Merino Wool Socks

Compression Socks- Sockwell Graduated Compression socks

Undies- OnGossamer Bikini 

Bras- Running Girl Sports Bra

Bathing suit- Freya Bikini

Pajamas- Fisher’s Finery Silk Chemise


My shoe choices change frequently, but these are the most reliable which I’ve used for several years. For more, see my recommended travel gear shoe spreadsheet.

Walking Shoe- Propet Travelwalker

Flip Flop- Teva Mandalyn Mush Wedges

Spring/Fall Slip-On- Propet Travelfit

Summer Slip On- Skechers Sweet Pea

Sandal- Skechers Reggae Slim


Specific thoughts on each of these items HERE.

Toiletries 3-1-1 Bag- Tom Bihn 3D Organizer

3 oz Toiletries Bottles-Kitsch Refillable Flat Pouch Travel Bottle Set

Lipstick- Revlon Colorstay Overtime

Mascara- Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions

Moisturizer- Neutrogena SPF Face Cream

Face Powder- BareMinerals Matte SPF 15

Toothbrush- Philips One Sonicare

Toothpaste- Marvis

Shampoo- Biolage Shampoo

Conditioner- Biolage Conditioner

Razor- Venus Travel Razor

Deodorant- Lume Cream Deodorant (Yes, it really really works!)

Day Bag

Phone- iPhone 11

Back-up battery- Anker Powercore 10000 (Seriously don’t forget this)

6 ft extra durable Charging Cable- Lightning Cable

Plug Adaptor- European Travel Plug Adapter, 3 pack

Tablet- Ipad Air

Reader when traveling without iPad- Kindle Paperwhite

Headphones- Bose Quiet Comfort

Waterbottle- Vapur Collapsible Water Bottle

Pens- Sharpie Stainless Pen

First Aid Kit- First Aid Kit (A starter version of my Box of Awesome)

Travel Emergency Kit (Box of Awesome Starter)

Guidebook- Rick Steves, obviously!

Bonus Items

You really don’t NEED any of these things, but you want them, I know. It’s ok. Pick only one or two.

Packable Goody Bag- Lewis n Clark Collapsible Duffel

Phone Mount- WixGear Cell Phone Holder

Laundry Sheets- Earth Breeze

Watercolor Set- Windsor and Newton Travel Set

Brushes- Folding brushes for watercolor

Notebook- Moleskine Journal

Down Pillow- Soft Down Standard Pillow

Zippered Pillow Case- Linenspa Pillow Protector (Doubles as laundry bag!)

Coil Water Heater- Lewis N Clark Immersion Heater

Titanium Mug- Outxe Titanium Pot with Lid, Foldable Handle

Wine Bottle Opener, Travel Friendly- Jetsetter TSA Compliant Corkscrew

*Any purchases made through links on this page give Sarah a small commission. Thanks for supporting your local travel writer!