Travel pillows are those U-shaped things you can’t stand to see people wear in airports but secretly want to try since admittedly your neck is a bit sore from that last flight. The NapScarf though tries to give you both – a comfortable way to sleep sitting up on an airplane (train or otherwise) while being disguised as regular apparel. NapScarf were kind enough to send me one to try out during some recent travels and I was delightfully surprised how inconspicuously useful it was.
Fold Open And Easy
There are plenty of travel products that start off as tiny, tightly packed balls to convince careful packers they won’t be overloading their backpacks. The problem is unless you’re a magician or the factory machine which did the wrapping in the first place, repacking efficiently is almost impossible. The NapScarf however is a two-fold system; so with a single move its ready for sleepy time and the other, storage in your carry on. Also, unlike standard travel pillows you can pack and use the 150 gram (~5.3 ounce) NapScarf quickly without having to deflate or stuff an awkward shape into your bag.
How To Use The NapScarf
The video below does a good job of demonstrating exactly how the NapScarf works, which wasn’t immediately obvious to me. Although there are a lot of stickers showing neck, shoulder, etc. positioning on the NapScarf packaging; watching the video makes you wonder how I couldn’t figure it out the first time around.
Inside the fleece exterior of the Napscarf is a flexible plastic neck support your heavy head hopefully weighs down on. If you’re a shifty sleeper it might take some readjustment from time to time, especially on longer flights. Additionally the fleece too can get a bit warm depending on how much recirculated air is blowing on you.
Aside from those minor drawbacks NapScarf is really the travel-pillow-not-a-travel-pillow I would recommend to any traveler. NapScarf is available on Amazon.com as well as trtl.co.uk for $29.99 and comes in either black, pink, grey, or red.
This post is brought to you by Tanzania Odyssey, who want you to experience Tanzania’s jaw-dropping showpieces from the spectacular Mount Kilimanjaro to the Ngorongoro Crater; plus more on a Tanzania honeymoon. [What is this?]
When you don’t travel very often, the piece of luggage you tend to pick out is often an overlarge, inefficient bag of questionable quality. Frequent travelers know picking the right backpack means finding one that doesn’t merely hold your things but is useful, well-designed, and ultimately durable.
Your luggage – backpacks, carry-on, daypacks and the rest – are arguably the most essential gear for a traveler. Even if you have travel insurance a torn backpack can stop your journey in its tracks. These are the backpacks that have been travel tested over countless kilometers to keep up with your boundless wanderlust.
Osprey Sojourn 25-Inch 60 Liter (Convertible Roller-Backpack)
There’s a perception that wheeled luggage isn’t quite as cool as the hiking backpack that every student abroad in Europe seems to be lugging around. Not that there’s anything wrong with them – a few of my favorites are listed below – in most cases wheels are more comfortable, especially if you’re carrying a daypack. (Yay, no double-turtle for you!) For those of you not ready to give up backpacking completely, the Sojourn comes with straps if you need them in rougher terrain.
The Osprey Sojourn is my current backpack of choice and extremely well constructed, resisting the beating it’s taken as checked luggage all over the world. As for the size, the Sojourn 60-Liter is a sweet spot for a single traveler and 80 might cut it for two light packers.
The Kelty Coyote 80 is a hiking backpack which does well as a travel bag because it’s front loading (you really don’t want a top loader), put together with two reinforcing fabrics, and pockets, pockets, pockets.
At 80 liters the Coyote will probably encourage you to pack a lot more than you need (here’s how to put your backpack on a diet) so if you really like to travel light, the Kelty Redwing 50 might be the better size. Whichever you go with, remember it’s best to only fill up 80% of your bag to pack like a pro.
Swissgear ScanSmart Backpack (Carry-On)
The SwissGear computer backpacks are a perfect combination of padding plus pockets to protect a variety of gadgets. I have been using one which has gone with me everywhere for the past 10 years, with only two minor signs showing its age. Swissgear’s line of backpacks are just big enough to be good weekenders for business travelers or anyone who takes short trips – a great gift for the minimalist in your life.
There’s nothing fancy about the REI Stuff; it’s a single large pocket bag with two side holsters for bottles or smaller items. The nice thing about the REI Stuff is that is folds up into a small little ball for easy packing in a larger bag when it’s not needed.
Microluggage Scooter (Bag You Can Ride)
The Mirco Luggae Scooter is one of the most fun things I’ve ever reviewed because it makes being slightly late to an airport gate fun. As the name implies, the Micro Luggage Scooter is a carry-on sized bag that can be ridden as long as your legs are up for it. A good way to combine a workout when traveling.
Protect What You’re Packing
No matter how good of a bag you buy, be sure to think carefully about what you check in, remove old bingo tags, and prepare to track and recover your luggage if it does happen to get lost by an airline.
What are some of your favorite bags you would have added to those mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below!
Travelers and fathers seem almost impossible to shop for since they never seem to want anything and dismissively scrutinize what gifts they do get. While you can fall back on the old reliable combo of socks and wine for dad (a purchasing paradox that may never be solved) when it comes to frequent travelers they generally want better – not more, stuff.
Size, battery life, durability and weight aren’t factors that mean much to a laptop that sits on a desk all day but for those of you who carry an electronic baby on your back regularly, they’re crucial factors to consider before purchasing your next one. Read more.
All this means that any mobile you buy now has the potential to last you 3+ years without feeling like an abacus so if you want to save more for your travel budget with less on electronics purchases, here are the best phones for your pocket. Read more.
I’ll add that if you’re in the United States, although it’s Verizon-only, the Droid Turbo is basically a Moto X on steroids. Less aesthetically pleasing but much more powerful with exceptional battery life.
These are the best point and shoot cameras of 2014, though if you’re on the market for a DSLR I recommend you check out the gear some of my favorite travel bloggers are using. Read more.
Best Carry-On Backpack
So many of you have left comments and written me echoing my fondness for SwissGear computer backpacks; one I’ve been using for over 10 years now. They’re incredibly durable with enough pockets of varying sizes to find a home for anything you’re traveling with. Padding makes them a comfortable carry while at the same time protecting valuable gadgets.
Motorcycle Books And Running Genes
- I first read about Dr. Yannis Pitsiladis MMEDSci., PhD, FACSM in The Sports Gene, a book by David Epstein about what makes super athletes different than the majority of us. Dr. Pitsiladis is a Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Brighton who has done research on obesity and the detection of doping in athletes but his passion is running. He travels around the world studying the genes and environments of the world’s top runners (often on his own dime) and created the largest known DNA bio-bank from world-class athletes.
- Ted Simon rode around the world on a Triumph motorcycle during the early 1970s and wrote one of the best travel books ever. Jupiter’s Travels is his account of the trip, 78,000 miles over 45 countries. Before the trip Simon was already writing as a journalist and Jupiter’s Travels flows on every page. In 2001, when he was 70 years old, Simon took the trip again – a similar route on motorcycle – and wrote Dreaming Of Jupiter. His observations from the first trip to the second one 30 years later are truly fascinating.
Conduct A Covert Minimalist Survey
It’s always best to begin with some gentile probing to find out what type of replacement gadget or updated backpack the traveler you’re shopping for is lusting for – yes, minimalists still want things – they’re just pickier about them. Don’t be afraid to ask as generally they tend to know exactly what they want; preferring to get just the right gift over the thrill of a disappointing surprise.
There’s one way to test the reliability, usefulness, and battery life of any tech – travel extensively with it. You might know some of the tech gear and gadgets I travel with but I was curious to see what devices made the essential list of these bloggers who are also on the road most of the year.
The more you travel the more scrutiny you give to every gram you pack so if you’re looking for the right phone to hike with you through the Pamir Highway or the DSLR that will endure Lithuanian winter, you’ll probably find it in the backpack of these travelers.
Kate McCulley (Adventurous Kate)
Laptop: Macbook Air 256 gigabyte (GB) hard drive; Phone: Unlocked iPhone 6, 128 GB; eReader: Kindle Paperwhite; Tablet: iPad 2 (don’t travel with all the time; only occasionally); External hard drives: (2); International adapter: Portable power strip (US)
Kate McCulley quit her job to travel the world. Four years and 50+ countries later, she’s still traveling, and now teaches women how to travel the world safely and independently. You can follow her @adventurouskate on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Jodi Ettenberg (Legal Nomads)
Laptop: MacBook 11″ Air, 512GB, 8GB RAM plus Roost Stand for 11″ Air; Keyboard: Logitech bluetooth keyboard (for the Roost) and mouse; Camera: Olympus EP-3 with aspherical f/1.7 lens; Phone: iPhone 5; eReader: Kindle
Jodi Ettenberg quit her job as a lawyer in 2008, thinking she would travel the world for a year. Now almost 7 years later, she works as a freelance writer, public speaker, and soup eater, documenting her adventures on her site Legal Nomads.
Derek Baron (Wandering Earl)
Laptop: Macbook Pro with Retina display 2013, Phone: Nexus 5 64 GB
Derek left home for a 3 month trip to Asia in 1999 that has still yet to end. Want to know more? You can ask him directly on Plansify.
Barbara Weibel (Hole In The Donut)
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2014 13.3 with Retina Display with 500GB HD, 16GB RAM, 3 GHz Processor, two power bricks; External Hard Drive: Western Digital My Passport 2 terabyte; Cables: HDMI to HDMI for viewing movies from laptop on TV; Ethernet with Thunderbolt adapter;
- Wifi Extender: Rockland n3 USB adapter
- Phone: iPhone 4s 16 GB; Sim Card from Truphone; Audio: Yurbuds Ironman headphones
- Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1 with two 32GB SDHC cards, two batteries; Lenses: Walk-around is my Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM ultra wide zoom. Additionally, carry a Tamron SP-70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD telephoto and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM prime lens
Flashlight: Nebo Larry 8 LED Light with Magnetic Clip; Scale: Brookstone Electronic Luggage Scale; Speaker: Brookstone Mobile Mini BT Speaker with Bluetooth connection for iPhone; Battery: Brookstone USB Backup Battery
After years of working at jobs that paid the bills but brought no joy, Barbara Weibel realized she felt like the proverbial “hole in the donut” – solid on the outside but empty on the inside. Determined to pursue her true passions of travel, photography, and writing, she started her blog, Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel, and set out to see the world.
Dave Dean (Too Many Adapters)
Laptop: Asus U36-SD 13″ display, 512GB hybrid drive, 6GB RAM, Windows 7 (It’s still going fine, but is now 3.5 years old so I’ll be looking to upgrade early next year); Phone: Google Nexus 5 32GB; Tablet: Google Nexus 7 32GB (Theoretically a joint purchase with my girlfriend, although I totally monopolize it.)
- eReader: Kindle Keyboard 3G
- Noise-cancelling earphones: Shure SE-215
- Main camera: Olympus PEN E-PL3
- Action camera: GoPro Hero3 Black
External drive: 1TB Seagate; USB Wi-Fi adapter: Alfa AWUS036H; Chargers and cables: Far too many, mostly thrown in a small dry bag where they tie themselves in knots. I’ve also got a small travel-sized power strip with 3 plugs and a USB socket.
Dave has been based out of a backpack for the last few years, writing about travel and tech from anywhere with half-decent Internet and a great view. You can find him at Too Many Adapters and What’s Dave Doing?
Gary Arndt (Everything Everywhere)
Laptop: 15″ MacBook Pro Retina, 16gb RAM, 500gb flash drive; Smartphone: iPhone 5 with 64gb storage; Camera: Nikon D300s; Lenses: Nikon 18-200mm VR, Nikon 12-24mm, Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Sigma 150-500mm; Shutter Release: Trigger Trap cable + iPhone app; Tripod: Oben Carbon Fiber tripod and head
- Storage: 2, Western Digital 2 TB USB 3 drives
- Speaker: Sol Republic DECK bluetooth speaker
- Headphones: Parrot Zik bluetooth headphones
- eReader: Kindle Paperwhite
- Tablet: iPad 2
Power Cable: Monster Cable Outlets to Go, 3-port USB power strip; Mouse: Apple wireless mouse; Misc: Assorted power adapters, extension cord, USB cables, SD card reader, neutral density and circular polarizing filters.
Gary Arndt sold his house in 2007 and has been traveling the world ever since. He has have visited all 7 continents, over 165 countries and territories around the world, every US state and territory, every Canadian province, every Australian state and territory, over 125 US National Park Service sites and over 275 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Gary blogs at Everything Everywhere.
Juno Kim (Runaway Juno)
Laptop: MacBook Pro 13inch retina display, 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5; 8GB RAM; Phone: iPhone 5; Tablet: Acer iA6
Juno Kim is a travel writer, photographer, trained mechanical engineer, and life-long nerd who left her cubic farm to reclaim her creativity and inspiration. She enjoys digging information passionately if it interests her, like astronomy, comedy shows, and musicals. Currently she’s on a quest to find the place where she can call ‘home’ while publishing her work on Runaway Juno. You can also find her on Twitter @RunawayJuno and the Runaway Juno Facebook page.
What Are Your Go-To Devices?
A laptop and phone seem to be essential electronics these bloggers (and pretty much all of us) can’t travel without provided we’ve got enough batteries to stay charged. From there, depending on personal interests and focus of our work, it varies quite a bit. I’m curious, what gadgets are always by your side on a trip? Any ideas for new additions to your backpack from the lists above? Let us know in the comments right below!