by - 10:30 AM

2021 Black Friday deals are coming up FAST! We've made it easy for you to find all of our favorite travel gear and on-the-go essentials. These are items that we've used throughout our travels. We've gone through tons of different backpacks, suitcases and many different combinations of travel items. We used to under pack, overpack, and everything in between. It took us many mistakes (and tons of money spent 😓) to learn what works and what doesn't work as far as travel gear throughout the years. These are our overall FAVORITE items, so if you are looking for a recommendation on something particular feel free to leave a comment! These items are perfect if you're looking for a gift this holiday season for the traveler in your life or if you are planning a trip for yourself in 2022!


Open Story Hardside Carry On Suitcase 

Hard suitcases are durable and also protect your items from getting damaged. If you travel with valuables, having a suitcase with a built in lock is also a great feature. This is our favorite carry-on by far. The wheels are the kind that allows you to push or pull your suitcase effortlessly without dragging it. And it comes in a few stylish colors so that you can differentiate your luggage easily if you need to check your bags and pick them up at the baggage carousel. 

Packing Cubes

I'm a terrible packer. I really don't organize my things well nor do I maximize the space in my bags. I saw that these packing cubes were pretty popular and bought some for a work trip. They actually helped to keep my clothing organized throughout the trip! I placed all of my clothing into separate cubes based on categories: undergarments, shoes in another, dress clothes, casual clothes, dresses, and socks and accessories. They save so much space and allow you to squeeze as much as you can fit into a suitcase or a backpack! Drew didn't order any when I got mine. However, when we were packing up at the hotel on the last day of a trip I was able to finish packing in less than 15 minutes while it took him about an hour! These made life so easy for me that he decided to get some in Navy blue to match his suitcase. I got the cream color to match my gold suitcase. 

Day Trip Backpack by Open Story

I was that person that would buy a new backpack every year because the backpack I was using always had something wrong with it or it didn't last. I even purchased a $300 Yeti Backpack, that was waterproof, fireproof, tear resistant, the whole nine yards. It worked great for a little while, but eventually I found it to be too heavy for me. Drew still uses his Yeti backpack and loves it! Unfortunately for me, the perfect backpack did not exist. Until this one. It has laptop storage, plenty of storage for toiletries bags and clothes, a large front zipper pocket with lots of little pocket sections in it and a medium top/front zipper pocket for the quick-access items. Both sides of the bag has a slot, one I use for my trusty Yeti water bottle and the other I use for my phone. The bag is cushioned on your back and straps for comfort and is also aesthetically pleasing in either color. The bag isn't too chunky or heavy. 


First Aid/Medicine Bag

We travel with a mini pharmacy with items like: bandaids, motion sickness medicine, melatonin, vitamins, Advil or Tylenol, powdered electrolyte or vitamin drinks like Emergen-C, emergency tampons, and my inhaler since I'm asthmatic. Drew and I used to keep all of these items in different compartments in our backpacks and it started to be a bit much. Having one "medi-bag" where we store all of those things has really changed the game for us. 

Dry Bag

Cruising, beach vacations, tropical vacations, and any vacation where you will be near water calls for a dry bag. These are fantastic in keeping the stuff you want to stay dry, dry. As well as separating your wet clothes from your dry clothes. We like to bring a dry bag even to a regular beach day or pool day, if we have clothes or bathing suits that we need to change out of - we will place them in a dry bag and seal it up, then throw it in our backpack. Your wet clothes won't get the rest of your stuff wet. 


Weekly Pill Case

Supplements and vitamins are crucial to staying healthy on-the-go. A daily multi-vitamin, extra boost of Vitamin C for immune support or Vitamin B12 for energy is so helpful when you're stressed or sleep deprived during travel. For travelers who might not have the time or place to find healthy food on-the-go, sometimes you have to resort to fast food or convenience foods and supplements are a great way to balance that with a daily intake of greens, vitamins and minerals.  These pill cases are a slim and simple way to keep it all organized. 

Toothbrush Holder & Cup Combo

We have electric toothbrushes and these are great to store them in for travel to prevent them from getting dirty or banged up during the trip. The cap also doubles as a cup for when you brush your teeth. They're very durable and aesthetic. 

Clear Reusable Toiletry Bags

We've had our share of cheap toiletry bags that rip or wasting money on single-use plastic bags that could leak. These are thick silicone bags meant for food or storage but we've used them as our toiletry bags for carry-on liquids for some time now. They are fantastic and well worth the spend. 

Leakproof Reusable Toiletry Bottles 

Leakproof is key! And having many different colors so that you can differentiate your products is also nice. These are silicone so they are easy to clean. And flexible so that you can squeeze the product out very easily, using them til the very last drop. We NEVER buy travel sized items anymore, we simply use these bottles to fill with our own personal cleansers, shampoos and conditioners. Saving time (you don't have to go purchase the travel sized ones) and MONEY! The best thing we've learned with using these is that you will feel like you have to fill them up all the way, DON'T! Unless you are going away for months, you will most likely not use the entire bottle during a trip. Just fill them up 1/4 to 1/2 of the way, depending on the product. If it's a product that you will use a lot of, fill it according to how much you think you will use. We try to come back with empties so that we can rinse and clean them out when we get home. Then they are clean and ready to go for the next trip. 

Reusable Water Bottle 

Always bring a reusable water bottle. It's a sustainable and eco-friendly way to hydrate. Carrying around your own water bottle also helps remind you to drink more water. And it's also a budget friendly way to save money during your travels as it's always easier and cheaper to find free water to refill your own water bottle than it is to purchase a water bottle every time you're thirsty. It comes in handy for more than just water as well. The Yeti Rambler is our absolute favorite because it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. When we go hiking or go to the beach, it can sit out in the sun and still keep your drink cold for hours! When we are in Vegas or New Orleans, Drew will literally fill it to the brim with his favorite alcoholic drink and he never has to deal with warm alcohol. I sometimes fill it with hot coffee or hot chocolate on cold trips and it's always reliable. 

Liquid IV

If you have yet to try this stuff, we highly recommend it. When you feel like you are about to get sick, if you are sick, or even if you're just hungover from a late night. This has worked miracles for us while traveling or on the road. Simply dissolve one packet into water and it's the equivalent of drinking three glasses of water. Constantly flying on planes also dries out our skin due to the recirculating air, so having liquid IV on hand keeps us on our A-game. There's multiple flavors but passionfruit is our favorite. 

Anti-Chafing Lotion

We're not the skinniest of people. We sweat and we chafe. My thighs rub together when I wear dresses or shorts. It's not a great situation. These creams have changed my life and I will never travel to hot weather without it. There's one for men and one for women. The lotion dries and turns essentially into baby powder, without the mess. It lasts all day and prevents uncomfortable chafing or even sweat issues.  

Ocean-Friendly Sunscreen 

Did you know that most sunscreens are dangerous to ocean life and coral reefs? It's super important to find a sunscreen that not only protects you from sunburn and possibly more serious skin diseases but also protects wildlife. We use separate sunscreens for our bodies and our faces. Banana Boat Sport is our go-to for body sunscreen. We never go without it. And we use a variety of different ones for our face, as long as it's reef friendly and more than 30 SPF with face friendly ingredients like this Sun Bum Face Sunscreen. Using sunscreen also prevents your skin from aging and wrinkling over time.


Power Bank 

A lifesaver! Especially if you're like us and use your phone for nearly everything. We use our phones to capture photos, video, find directions, read our itinerary, as our boarding passes, or Google things when we need to. 

Compact Travel Umbrella

Small, easy to store. And because you just never know. 


Goes without saying for sure. 

We'd love to hear what your favorite travel necessities and must-haves are! Or if you like to travel, for business or personal, what are some gifts that you'd love to receive this year?  




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  1. So many deals! And I love the luggage!


  2. How have I never heard of liquid IV? Definitely going to give that a try! Love all these gift ideas too :)

    mia //

  3. A super intersting and useful post!!!
    Really I've come up with many ideas here!
    In particular I've never heard of liquid IV, it could be my next new entry (along with packing cubes)!

  4. Great gift ideas! I love the carry on suitcases and packing cubes are such a great idea!
    Julia x

  5. So many great ideas! I can't live without my packing cubes!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

  6. Great article! Thanks for sharing I have used body wipes and I must say, they are a great relief when outdoors.

  7. Great article! Thanks for sharing I added some thoughts on Body wipes sometime ago


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