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Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em: Top 7 Universal Travel Items

Hey guys! D here. How’s everybody doing? Since launching travelhelix, one of the most common questions we get from family, friends & a few new faces has to be: what’s the one thing you guys always have with you when you travel?

Well, the list is growing, and it also depends on where & when we’re going. Here’s the bottom line: certain products & technologies just make life easier while you’re traveling. Trust us: we’ve traveled the right way, and we’ve definitely traveled the wrong way! When you travel, the value of certain features like lightweightcompactwaterproof and long-lasting cannot be overstated.

So to give you all a glimpse into how DnA get it done on the road, we’re excited to release the first edition of Don’t leave home without ’em: a new series where we’ll talk about products, partners, services & resources that have enhanced or streamlined our travels in one way or another. We’ll always keep it real with you, and we’ll never promote a product or technology that we don’t believe in. If you see it on our Travel Gear page or in any of these articles, then it’s something we use currently or have used recently.

In this edition, we’ll cover 7 items that can benefit ANY traveler. So let’s call this the universal edition. Future editions will focus on specific types of travel, such as camping or hiking, beach-going or island-hopping and much more!

So, with that, we give you our top 7 universal travel essentials for 2018!


1. Packing Cubes

This is without a doubt my top travel essential. Packing cubes are the ULTIMATE life saver — and space saver — when it comes to packing for a trip of ANY length! Your clothes will be more organized than ever before, and you’ll be able to fit that extra outfit you were hoping to bring along, after all.

Adam was skeptical at first, but what do you know, he doesn’t go anywhere without them now! Yes, he has his own set. Pretty sure he brought a packing cube to the golf course recently (side note: he’s also not a golfer).


Finally, I have to mention that my 84-year-young Nana is the latest packing cube convert and she’s ready to field questions if you need any more convincing.

Please see text message correspondence here →→→

I mean…how much more do you need to know?!

Thank you Nana!!! Love you 🙂


travelhelix tip: roll all clothes that don’t wrinkle to maximize space in the cube. Separate by bottoms/tops/undergarments etc. for the ultimate level of organization. If you have a shirt that wrinkles easily, lay it neatly and flat on top of the rolled clothing before closing the cube.

2. Noise-cancelling headphones

Whether you prefer a pair like these or you’ve just got to show love for Dr. Dre, noise-cancelling headphones are magical for loud hostels or busy coffee shops when you’re trying to get work done on the road.

They’ll also quickly become the unsung hero for any traveler that just happened to get stuck in the wrong seat on a long flight. Hey, it’s happened to all of us! Better to come prepared.

3. Lightweight, portable double-hammock

When there’s no place to sit (or snooze), create your own! We try to bring this fantastic hammock with us wherever we go. While traveling, it packs up to the size of a grapefruit and weighs just over a pound. When it’s time to put it to use, it fastens to a tree within seconds and easily holds the two of us (CUDDLE TIME!).

We also have to take this opportunity to tell you about the company behind this beauty: Trek Light Gear. Behind their practical & durable products, there’s an amazing team of people with genuine social purpose. Whether it’s planting trees, equipping kids-in-need with school supplies or battling cancer, everything that comes in, gets paid forward to humanity in some meaningful way. Props for doing business the right way! And keep on hammockin’…

side note: we also use their lightweight backpack (the one I’m wearing in the featured image, in front of Old Faithful) for hiking and day trips. It balls up into the size of a pair of socks, weighs only 3.5 ounces and holds up to 40 pounds!

4. Bluetooth speaker

I’m gonna give it to you straight: we are in love with this bluetooth speaker. It comes with us on every trip and we use it anywhere and everywhere (at least, wherever it’s not obnoxious to be blasting music in public). It’s completely portable, waterproof (up to 30 m) and shockproof. We have put it to the test, from the beaches of California to the coves of Croatia, and it has passed with flying colors.

Stay organized with a travel case that holds & protects both the speaker and charging cable!

If you’re looking for something smaller, check out the mini version of this speaker here.

5. Flexible tripod

Joby to the rescue!

This sucker is another life saver. It also happens to be our favorite portable tripod, and has been with us through sand/snow/ice/you name it. It easily wraps around weird surfaces to get the perfect shot – we use it for a lot of our couples photos when we don’t carry the big tripod around.

For those of you that travel with just a smartphone as your photography device, they’ve also designed a smaller flexible tripod — solely for smartphones! Check it out here.


6. The Priority Pass

This one’s a winner. We find ourselves in a lot of airports, and this pass gives us access to over 1200 airport lounges worldwide! Whenever a lounge is available, this is how Adam and I feed ourselves and it has saved us hundreds — actually more like thousands — of dollars (those airport cocktails add up FAST!). Interested? We got you 10% off your membership, when you sign up here.

Our favorite part about the Priority Pass? Check out the next item on our list below!

7. Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card

All hail one of the best travel credit cards out there. Any one else point chasers like us? If you like to travel, this is the card for you. We basically made over $1,000 each* by signing up for this card last year & using it while we traveled. No. Joke.

Other benefits:

  • The first $300 you spend on travel gets credited back to you. No strings attached.
  • The 50,000 point sign-up bonus is equivalent to $750 that you can use on flights/hotels/shopping etc.
  • Includes a Priority Pass membership (you know, the one we just geeked out about in #6 ↑↑↑ on this list).
  • Got Global Entry? Pay the $100 application fee with this card, and Chase will reimburse you.
  • 3x points on all travel and dining expenses (including Uber/Lyft/Parking tolls).
  • Rental car discounts from Avis, National & Silvercar.
  • Additional benefits when it comes to travel delays/luggage loss/damage etc.
  • There is a $450 annual fee, but…should we review all of the benefits we just covered?! 😉
  • For more information, check it out here!

side note: If you want to know more about other travel card options, no one does it better than The Points Guy. Check out their card review page, here.

*Serious note: do your research if you’re considering signing up. We are certainly not financial advisors. We have had a great experience with this card though, and have some specific examples where it truly helped us out overseas. Like the time our luggage got lost in Spain, and Chase reimbursed us for Adam’s fresh new pair of skinny jeans! If you’d like to know more (about the card, or about Adam’s style makeover), shoot us an email!



So that does it for the first edition of Don’t leave home without ’em! For a more complete list of things we use when we travel, check out our Travel Gear page. We hope these products will make your travels that much easier, just like they have for ours.

And one final note: many of these products are associated with affiliate partner programs, meaning if you purchase through the links above, we may get something in return. Some products & services we discuss are not affiliated, meaning there’s no “something” in it for us, if you make a purchase.

Questions or comments about these products, or other travel-related items? Shoot us an email.




travelhelix is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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