Non Sequitur Fridays

A Gift Guide to Traveling Light

This post is part of our Non Sequitur Fridays series, which will feature a different Wistia team member's take on a non-Wistia-related topic each week. It's like our "employee of the month" but less "of the month"-y. Chris Savage is co-founder and CEO at Wistia. His last post was about being hangry.

In the last four months, I've gone to Greece, North Carolina, Indianapolis, San Diego, New York City, Cape Cod, Vermont, Maine, and San Francisco. Although my destinations and reasons for travel have become more varied, my travel gear has become more refined and consistent with each trip.

I'm not trying to say I'm the perfect traveler. In fact, far from it. For example, after being with my family in Providence, RI, for Thanksgiving, I accidentally hopped on a train to New York City instead of Boston because I was distracted by QuizUp. Oops! Don't worry, the great people at Acela were kind enough to stop the train in New London just for me, so I could get on another train going in the other direction. Here's a video I made about my trip on that train!

In the spirit of sharing lessons learned, here is a handy gift guide to the gear I love to use when traveling:

Novel Duffle from Herschel ($79.99)

I first started using the Novel Duffle from Herschel a year and a half ago.

Fondly known as the Weekender, the Novel Duffle is the perfect size for weekend trips. It's super simple and versatile. I've found that with the right packing strategy, I can stretch that weekend out into four or five days, depending on the climate of my destination. And because it's a soft duffle, I can always cram it under an airplane seat or into an overhead bin. There's no more gate checking with this handy bag!

Like most duffles, the Weekender has a completely open interior, but unlike its competitors, it features an exterior shoe pocket. This shoe pocket is amazing. Need a place to put your dirty running shoes? Check. Want to instantly sort between dirty and clean clothing? Check. Want really fun red-striped lining? Double check.

If you're looking for a small, smart weekend bag, I highly recommend the Novel Duffle.

Tumi Dopp Kit ($99)

Inside the Novel Duffle, I roll with a Tumi Dopp Kit. What's a dopp kit, you say? Well, according to Wikipedia:
"A Dopp kit is a small toilet bag, made of leather, vinyl, or cloth, that is used for storing men's grooming tools for travel. Common items kept in a Dopp kit are deodorant, a razor, shaving cream, comb, shampoo, nail clippers, scissors, toothbrush, toothpaste, and cologne. The name derives from early 20th century leather craftsman Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant to the United States, who invented his toiletry case in 1919."
For me, it's an all-purpose toiletry bag that I can take anywhere. I throw my dopp kit around recklessly. If I'm at home, I leave it on my dresser. Four times a week, I bring it to the gym. And if I'm traveling, I just throw it right into the bag. I've found the key to getting the most out of a Dopp Kit is keeping it stocked with travel versions of all of my toiletries so I don't have to go through the hassle of packing toiletries every time I travel. If you're looking at other options, make sure you find something durable enough to use everyday and thick enough that if things spill, they don’t ruin your clothes. Stop worrying about remembering your toiletries and get a Dopp Kit you can rely on!

Reisenthel Laundry Bag ($4.99)

How did a laundry bag make it onto this list if I'm writing a gift guide for short travel? Because having a laundry bag is freaking awesome! My laundry bag folds into a little pouch, which I keep at the ready in my dopp kit. This way if I have gym clothes or other dirty laundry, I always have a place I can toss them where they won’t mess up my other stuff. Sure, maybe I'm a little fussy, but it really makes a difference. With a laundry bag, I never have to worry if I'm putting on a dirty shirt. I usually like to pack an extra pair of the essentials just in case something unexpected happens, and a laundry bag means that when I come back, everything that I didn't wear is still clean. You know what they say, nothing beats a Reisenthel!

UE Boom speaker ($199)

Listening to my favorite music always makes me feel closer to home. I've always found it feels better to fill a room with music and share the experience with others instead of just listening to headphones.

Recently, I learned about the wonders of the UE Boom by none other than Chris Lavigne while we were on a trip to Dreamforce in San Francisco. This little speaker is incredible. At 1.1 pounds, it is super loud, has great 360 degree sound, and has 15 hours of battery life. While it isn't the lightest or smallest set of mobile speakers on the market, its size to sound ratio is incredible, and it is certainly travel-ready.

I use the Boom all the time at home and away. It powered the Thanksgiving ambiance at my parents' house. It powers my sing-a-long shower music. It keeps me company in lonely hotel rooms.

The Boom easily plays over Bluetooth, and I haven't had any trouble switching between multiple phones and computers. It also has a handy hook so you can hang it from something (I haven’t figured out a use for this yet…)

You can pick up a UE Boom on Amazon for $199.

Rickshaw Commuter ($49-$180)

The Rickshaw commuter is the greatest messenger bag I've ever had.

You can customize almost everything about Rickshaw bags: the color and texture of the interior, exterior, reflectors, strap additions, and extra pockets. But that's not what makes this bag so great.

The great part is that this bag is just really solidly designed. Every messenger bag I’ve had in the past insists on putting all those small pockets for cords, pens, keys, and other knick knacks deep inside of the bag. The Rickshaw does the opposite. Every small pocket is easily accessible without having to open the main flap of the bag. It is delightful to grab my sunglasses out of a zippered pocket or put away the keys I won’t need while traveling, while the bag is still on me.

Rickshaw has a regular commuter and a slim version (a couple of inches thinner). I use a MacBook Air, so the slim is perfect, but if you have a larger laptop you might want to go with the full width version.

The back of the bag unzips to reveal perfect small cord management. I keep an extra iPhone charger in this bag at all times and other charging cords for all of my crazy devices.

And I didn't even get to the best part: the commuter has a whisper-quiet flap management system. There is no noisy velcro to be heard on this bag. Yes, the women in my life have pointed out that purses have had magnetic clasps for a long time, but this is a true innovation in messenger bags.

Customize and purchase your own Rickshaw bag on their website.

Box of Clif Builder Bars ($18)

There is nothing more frustrating than being grounded on a tarmac for hours or ending up in a longer-than-expected security line with no time left to get breakfast. This is especially true when you tend to get hangry, like I do.

I never travel without a slew of Builder Bars at the ready. Builder Bars are 270 calories, have 20 grams of protein, and enough sugar to jump you instantly out of the low blood sugar blues. If you end up sitting next to a crying baby, have a Builder Bar. Stuck in a crappy terminal? Builder Bar.

I've found that almost every problem can be solved with the right type of snack, and Builder Bars are particularly good when it comes to traveling. My favorite flavors are Chocolate Mint and Vanilla Almond. Be forewarned, the Chocolate Mint is super delicious and includes caffeine. Buy a box!

And now I've had too much caffeine myself. So, happy traveling!

What tips or tricks do you use when traveling that you think everyone else should use too?

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