My Top 10 Favorite Travel Items

I had a minor setback with blogging thanks to my computer crashing, but I will be getting Iceland blogs out soon. With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be a good time to share great travel items with you in the meantime! Lately, I have had many people asking me what is the best down jacket, water bottle, socks, etc. and I decided to share some go-to gear from my travels. I am kind of a snob when it comes to the products and gear I use because the best items really make a huge difference. Every person has a different preference when it comes to travel items and what works best for them, but I thought it might be helpful to see what someone else uses to get ideas. With the holidays coming up, you might even be able to get some gift ideas for the wanderers at heart!

  • S’well Bottle: One of my favorite products I stumbled upon a few years ago (I like to pride myself in finding this before it got popular) is my S’well Bottle! Sadly, my first one got left on a plane a few years ago, but now Alec and I have a total of 5 Swell Bottles. We love them. They keep cold water cold for 12 hours and hot drinks warm for 24 hours. It is so refreshing to take a cold drink of water after a long hike up a mountain. When I use a regular water bottle now, I can’t handle the lukewarm water. Not to mention that the Swell Bottles come in the CUTEST patterns. I absolutely love mine!dpp_0276
  • Smartwool Socks: These were the BEST discovery about 4 years ago. I always wanted my feet to be warm but never wanted to wear wool socks because they are ITCHY! Well, Smartwool designed a product that is soft and not itchy at all. These socks have extra padding in the heels for long hikes and also help to regulate temperature. They wick away sweat to keep your foot dry and clean. These socks can literally be worn a few days in a row before they need to be washed (aka great for traveling light). I have even convinced someone to love these socks who was against wearing wool socks!img_2990
  • The North Face Down Jacket: I personally love my North Face down jacket. It fits me perfectly and slim while still giving room to wear layers underneath. It isn’t too bulky, but keeps me really warm. It is also great at regulating temperature so when the elements change, I’m not constantly having to change my clothes. It even kept me warm when we visited the glacier lagoon!dpp_0218
  • Patagonia Fleece: I personally love Patagonia’s fleeces better than their down jackets. Their puffers always seem to fit me weird and are not flattering, but their fleeces are the most amazing you can find! They are comfy, soft, and warm. You can throw them on with whatever you’re wearing. I definitely recommend them as a gift idea for anyone!img_1911
  • Merrell Hiking Shoes: I just love Merrell a lot. Their hiking shoes are GREAT. These shoes have taken my all over the world to Machu Picchu, Costa Rica, the Amalfi Coast of Italy, Iceland, and soon to be headed back to South America! They are so comfortable and give great support for your foot. They grab onto slick surfaces wonderfully. I would have slipped and fallen too many times to count if I had not worn them in Iceland.dpp_0073
  • Lifeproof iPhone Case: I just recently got my first Lifeproof iPhone case to use in the rugged environment of Iceland. We were going to the Blue Lagoon so it was necessary. Alec even dropped my phone in the mineral-rich water of the lagoon, and the case kept my phone safe and dry. This case proved to be very valuable while we were traveling considering how much it rains in Iceland. I loved still being able to take my phone out for pictures even though it was misting or we were walking under a waterfall. Definitely a great investment if you plan to be traveling in wet climates!fullsizerender-1
  • Osprey Backpack: Alec takes the cake on this one. His new backpack is amazing. It is so lightweight and carries a ton of stuff. We were able to pack a lot of extra items in it. He even carried the tripod around in it all week! He was a valuable pack horse.img_1099
  • Ray Bans: This is one of my snobbier suggestions, but you can’t beat a good pair of sunglasses. I don’t know if I can ever go back to $10 sunglasses now that I have experienced the clearness and comfort of Ray Bans. They are amazing. End of story.img_1132
  • Columbia Rain Jacket: I have had this rain jacket for about 5 years, and it is still going strong. It is a basic rain jacket, but it gets the job done. I love it and I’m so happy that it has stayed in such good shape this long!fullsizerender
  • Canon DSLR Camera (Rebel SL1): We invested in a “nice camera” when we realized we had some extra Amazon cash lying around in our account, and it was one of our best investments. This camera is so small and light-weight that it is great for traveling. We could easily store it in our backpack or hang it around our neck with ease while exploring all day. We are still learning a lot about our camera, but we did finally master a few pictures of the majestic Northern Lights!img_2168

Hope this helps while you are searching for gear to take on your own trips! Good luck and safe travels 🙂

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How To Enjoy Your Vacation with Lost Luggage

Hey y’all, I am a first-hand experienced traveler when it comes to lost luggage. It happens! That is the first thing you have to remember when it happens to you for the first time (because if you travel a lot or even occasionally, then it WILL eventually happen to you). The worst experience I had with this was when I was headed to my honeymoon with my wonderful husband.

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We flew out of Nashville on Monday morning, had a layover in Houston, and landed at the Liberia, Costa Rica Airport where we came to the dawning realization that our luggage had been left behind at the Houston airport. With everyone expressing the “Pura Vida” mentality of not sweating the small stuff, we had a difficult time dealing with the broken English of the airport workers. After many tears and mixed Spanish and English discussions (Spanglish, if you will), we realized that our luggage would not arrive to this tiny airport until 3 days later. Cue mental breakdown on my part. There was nothing we could do at that point. So we got on the bus to our resort, got lost in thought for the 1.5 hour bumpy drive over rocks and mud, and arrived to our resort in the middle of nowhere, Costa Rica.

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We tried to explain the situation to the resort staff, but if you have never experienced that no-stress mentality, then it is hard to comprehend how chill to the extreme these people were. They said they would call the airport and ushered us off to our room. When we got into the room, everything hit us. We have no luggage. We are on our honeymoon at a beautiful resort on the beach and have limited clothes. What would we wear to dinner? There was literally forest around us; there were no stores. We had no toothbrushes (sorry honey, don’t think we can kiss). The thoughts kept pouring in. This was the turning point though – time to take action and make this work since we were sitting in a beautiful room with a bed strewn with flower petals.

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We went through our carry on luggage and gathered together the small amount of clothing we had. Oh boy. Since there was a dress code at all the restaurants at our all-inclusive resort, we had to get creative. The first few nights, we had to make do with what we had. I was wearing jeans, a black tank top I had worn under my clothes on the plane, and a necklace I had luckily thrown in my carry on at the last minute.

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Alec was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that he wore on the plane. We found out around this time that they would be attempting to fly our bag to another airport in CR and send it by taxi to the resort 8 hours away. We knew these clothes would be getting unsanitary soon though so we washed our clothes in the 3 inch shallow sink. At this point we had lost all hope of our luggage actually ever arriving.

Tuesday started out lovely when the staff wouldn’t let Alec come into the breakfast area wearing a tank top (mind you, this was one of his 2 tank options). Luckily, they had an overly used polo shirt that paired wonderfully with his blue basketball shorts! Who knows how many people had already worn this spare shirt that they had hanging at the hostess stand. He was really happy about it as you can tell below.

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After that, we broke down and bought cheap, overpriced clothing items at the convenience store of the resort. We also bought sunscreen after already having sunburns from walking down to the beach after literally 1 hour. We had to at least purchase these essentials other than the few goodies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, bath soap, etc. that the hotel had given us. They even sent us flowers and gift certificate for me to get services at their spa to let us know they felt bad for our situation!

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Such a nice goodie basket and beautiful flowers below from the most helpful and favorite hotel staff member, Fabian (yes, that was his name)!

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We decided to make the most of the beach bum life and live with what we had. Then, the resort staff, who we were pretty sure had forgotten about us other than the goodies and flowers (thank you FABIAN), brought sets of men and women’s waiter and waitress clothes for us to wear to dinner. Alec now had nice khakis and a flamingo waiter shirt (all he needed was a towel over his arm!) and they offered me a very large pencil skirt and wide-sized, white polo. I think he got the better end of the deal. Instead of wearing a huge polo, I used one of my nightgowns and tucked it into the pencil skirt. We were working our make-shift dinner attire and were actually having fun trying to figure out where our next outfit would come from! I can’t even count how many times we said, “this will be really funny later for sure,” and we were right!

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Notice I’m still sporting the original tank from the night before under the nightgown #resourceful

We learned a lot from losing our luggage and actually enjoyed solving the problems that arose as we went through the honeymoon. Since we started out our marriage working through a trial, then it must be a great sign for the future!

After being put on a plane to the San Jose, Costa Rica Airport and then placed in a taxi for 8 hours, our luggage arrived in one piece at our hotel room on Wednesday morning. We were surprised and shocked so see it. We could not have been more thrilled to see this soiled, large, blue duffel bag. From that point forward, it was all smooth sailing into honeymoon bliss.

As we gear up for our trip next week, we intend to be much more prepared with options packed in our carry-on luggage. It is always a good idea to make sure you have the following in your carry-on with you – especially if you are going international:

  • A change of clothes
  • An extra pair of walking shoes
  • Everything you would keep in your purse
  • Phone and charger
  • Camera and charger
  • Magazine/Book
  • Universal adapter plug
  • Essential toiletries
  • Snacks and water (At least an empty water bottle to fill up after security)
  • An extra jacket (depending on location)
  • Anything you would absolutely die if you lost!

For our Icelandic adventure, I think we will be making sure we have enough in our carry ons to get us by if need be. 🙂