There are several travel styles, and we all value things as convenience or wardrobe options differently; for me, mobility is king, and here you can find all the gear I use on all my travels, from a weekend trip to a 2-week adventure.
The first thing you’ll need it's a good carry-on backpack if you want to avoid checking your bag, this will allow you to avoid those crazy fees, and you don’t have to wait for your bag to show up or realize that the airline lost your bag.
After using a couple of different bags, the one I have liked the most so far is the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior, (if you need more space, try the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible). I like this bag because it's sturdy, can be expanded if you picked up some extra souvenirs, has a ton of pockets for all your stuff, doesn't draw any unwanted attention to your belongings (the black one) and it cost less than $100. I got mine trough Amazon, and if you have any issue with the bag, you can just email eBags, and they stand by its products. In my case, one of the chest straps fell out of place after a couple of trips and was able to receive a free replacement within one week of emailing eBags.
Most people don’t use packing cubes but they should! They are handy if you want to fit all your clothes in your carry on, they save a lot of space, and most importantly, if you need to retrieve something in the middle of the airport, you are not going to be that person shuffling trough all your clothes looking frustrated. There are several options from different brands, and you don't need anything fancy, just choose one that you like, and as long you don't over stuff them, they are going to last a couple of years. The ones I like are th UPPTÄCKA sold by Ikea, they are cheaper (around $12) that most of the other cubes out there, and sturdy for the price (my cubes have lasted two years and counting). If you live near one of this big Ikea stores, swing by to grab one or two. Another great option is the eBags medium set packing cubes, although pricier, these are better built and have more color options.
COLLAPSIBLE EXTRA BAG
Having and extra bag it's always handy, sometimes you pick up most souvenirs than fit in your bag, but who wants to carry an extra empty bag on your way to your destination right? Having this in mind, we usually carry this lightweight KNALLA collapsible Ikea bag ($5), takes no more space than a scarf and has about the same weight. And the sweet part is that this bag will qualify (always check your airline/ticket policies before traveling) as your second small item that you can bring as a carry-on (unless you are flying on a low-cost airline).
TSA APPROVED LOCKS
We all like to keep our belongings safe, and although no lock will protect 100% your bag from theft, what I always try to do is make my bag look harder to steal that the one next to it. So far this has worked the last ten years, except that one time that I checked my bag and forgot to lock it. Having a TSA approved lock will always come in handy, you can use it for those occasions when you need to check your bag (perhaps you happen to encounter a full flight, and you are in boarding group Z) or when you leave your bag back at the hotel. I have used several locks over the past years, from the cheap ones bought on eBay, to pricier sharper image locks. So far the one I like the most is the Lewis N. Clark TSA Lockdown Triple Security Cable Lock, and although it's more expensive than the average lock, the flexibility and most importantly, the ability to lock all your zippers with just one lock worth the tag price. I usually had to carry two cheap locks for each bag, but no more!
Although I’m a frugal traveler, one of the few things I don't go with the cheap solution is with these containers. I have used containers from Walmart and Target ($0.99 per container), or reused the small shampoo bottles you usually get at hotels, but they either spill their contents inside my bag, or they were so hard to squeeze that were useless. After I tried one of these Gotoob containers, I never looked back. Fortunately, these containers have gotten cheaper as other brands have created similar products (my first 3-pack cost me around $30, ouch!), but those other brands don't come even close (probably Gotoob patented their containers). These Gotoob containers have a big opening so you can easily fill them with your preferred liquid, they have a "no-drip" valve and an ID ring that will help you to remember what you put inside. They are also super easy to clean and put something else inside, I have been known to put cough syrup in there once.
These containers come in 1.25, 2 and 3 oz presentations, I love the 3-pack because it's always cheaper than buying them individually. If you usually travel with your significant other buy the 3 oz 3-pack, or I you are a solo traveler the 2 oz 3-pack should suffice. When deciding which size to buy, use this reference: one 3 oz. container will hold enough shampoo for two adults for a two-week long trip. Regarding the 1.25 oz. Containers, those are only useful if you are going to travel 2-3 days, but you can do the same with the 2 oz. containers and they cost about the same.
For the love of god, don’t bring this with you. It doesn't matter where you travel to, please don’t use them, It’s annoying to be dogging these things while on vacation.
Bonus Items to Carry
WEATHER PROOF JACKET
Whether you like to carry an umbrella or a poncho when it’s raining, I just lov my Eddie Bauer Men's Rainfoil® Jacket (also available for women), These jackets (usually $50 to $100) are great as an overall jacket, they are truly waterproof (as I tested mine in a 30-minute walk while pouring over Amsterdam) and will save you in case of a flash storm. This jacket is lightweight, not that warm and nice to have if you are in the market for a new light jacket.
SMALL OBJECTS CONTAINER
Sometimes we need a small container to store small objects like earrings, an additional sim card or perhaps some pills. For this reason, I love the Gotubb small and the medium 3-pack container, these little containers don't accidental get opened, and are easy to carry.
Having the right travel gear will help you to pack more efficient and to enjoy traveling even more as you will have everything you need at your disposal.