Tools of Travel

Here are some of our favorite tools of travel – gear, hotel finders, etc. that we use on our adventures.

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40L REI Backpacks | Why did we go with 40 L? That’s small for backpacking! Yes, we know. But this size can typically be “carried on” instead of checked! It’s a small enough size that we’re comfortable carrying them in conjunction with our typical backpacks (see below). Unfortunately our specific REI packs are no longer available, but we both got front loaders instead of top loaders because of the ease of access to our stuff. They both came with conveinient rain covers – check out our packing process here: The Art of Packing

The North Face Surge II Backpack

Our big splurge lately was that we both got new backpacks. Kiki got her first, Jen maybe got a little jealous of how awesome Kiki’s new backpack was, so then she wanted a new backpack too. Both Surge II – different colors. But we both really love all of the pockets and organization in this. It has a laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve, plus numerous other pockets including a cell phone pockets inside and outside of the backpack. Really a step up from the old North Face backpack that we shared with the liner falling out of it!

Master Lock 4683Q TSA-Approved Nickel Keyed Alike Luggage/Baggage Lock, 4-Pack,

There’s nothing wrong with a little safety everyone. We love these locks and just purchased another 4 pack for our trip to China. We even used one for our “lock lock” in Seoul up at Namsan Tower. TSA approved so that they can get into your stuff if need be.

Pacsafe 55L Backpack and Bag Protector, Silver, One Size

 We have two Pacsafes – just another way to keep your stuff safe and locked up. I’m pretty paranoid about our stuff, so if need be we lock it all up with one of these guys – big enough to fit our 40L backpacks.


Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Cube Set, Black, One Size
Jen picked out a few of these when we went on our honeymoon in 2013 to SE Asia. I will be the first to say that I doubted them. But when you pack, unpack and repack quite frequently you need to get into a system. We can’t stress packing cubes enough. This way you get into a routine and know exactly where everything is at any time. We also have some in different colors, so say you keep all of your chargers in the red one in your little backpack. And all of your underwear goes into the big blue cube that goes into you 40L backpack. Just a really effiecient way to keep everything organized.



We like to search and compare when booking hotels, hostels and the like. Typically the place with the best reviews is TripAdvisor.


We recommend Agoda for any travel in Asia. They have great rates and typically flash sales where the stays can be highly discounted.



We bought this guy right before we hiked Mt. St. Helens in August of 2013. There is a little bit of a learning curve, but it is very versitile and small. Great to take on hikes, snorkeling or even down the tobogan on the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.


GoPro Smart Remote

If you have the GoPro – you need the remote. This way you can put it onto a tripod or selfie stick and take the pictures from there without having to fuss with it. Really great for some time elapsed photography or video.


Adjustable Pole Mount for GoPro Hero Camera

 Kiki bought this recently as a selfie stick of sorts for the GoPro – but it is really a great tool for taking pictures over large crowds – example Angkor Wat or The Forbidden Palace.




Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband

Typically when traveling, we walk more. We bought these Fitbits as our non-traditional 1st wedding anniversary gifts to eachother when we were living in NYC. Why? Because we were walking a ton in NYC and really wanted to see how much we were walking. A typical day we’d easily get 10k steps. Back in Michigan we need to work for those steps! Really makes you think about how much you are sitting and how much you are walking. When traveling we can again easily hit 10k and love that we get emails about how much we walked over the course of one week.


Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket
We can’t express how much a good raincoat is worth. Sometimes they can suck when it’s really hot outside, but they do the trick and keep you dry. One of our favorites is this little gem by Marmot. It comes in plenty of colors and is well equipped with “pit-zips” for those of you who get a little hot.


Columbia Sportswear Women’s Aruba Convertible Pant
We both have a pair of Columbia travel pants (no, not the same color). “Covertible” makes you think of something from Miami Vice, but really these pants are the best when you have to cover up a bit to go to a temple or “wat.” They are made of a quick dry material so also work well for hiking.


Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch eBook Reader (Wi-Fi Only)

We both love to read – especially when traveling. But when packing/planning for our honeymoon in 2013, we both decided to make the leap to an e-reader. Trust us, we love holding a paper book in hand, and Kiki’s brother worked for years managing a bookstore, but we couldn’t see carrying books all over SE Asia. After a lot of research we decided on the Nook. They are cusomizeable and can be expanded with space by a Mirco SD Memory Card. We went with the most simple reader we could get and have been happy with the Nook.




Jen’s computerApple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop
Jen decided to take the jump and get a Macbook Air – from the Macbook Pro. She’s happy to be traveling with a computer instead of a tablet/bluetooth keyboard combo. So far it’s been very functional to what she needs it to do.


Kiki’s ComputerApple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display
Kiki has been working strictly on a MacBook Pro since 2005. Seeing as she works from home she needs a powerful computer to run all of the Adobe Software that she uses daily for her freelance design work.


Apple Magic Mouse
I used to design with a Wacom tablet, but that really isn’t the best for travel. So I have become used to the Magic Mouse. These things run through AA batteries very quickly, so I’d highly recommend pairing it with the Mobee Technology Magic Charger , which takes the place of the AA batteries and is rechargeable by USB. (Very easy to travel with and it pays for itself over time!)

Mophie Powerstation 4000mAh 2.1A External Travel Charger
You know when you are stuck on a plane for a few hours, or a long bus ride, and after 3-4 hours of playing on your phone, or taking pictures, you notice that your battery is pretty low. That is where the Mophie comes in. Essentially this is an external charger for your iPod, iPad, iPhone or Android device. It charges via USB and charges relatively quickly. Highly recommended for those long trips.

Divider_900pxHi Everyone! We will continue to update this with new products/or remove old products as we continue traveling. We hope this helps all of you out if you are wondering what to buy that is best for your trip. We’re happy to help if you have any questions!

– Kiki & Jen

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