This post presents my favorite, go-to items that I consider “must-haves” for my travels and adventures. These are all products that I have personally used and highly recommend. I used ALL of these items on my most recent trip to San Francisco where I visited Pinnacles National Park, Alcatraz Island, and Muir Woods and Point Reyes!
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The Five Items I Never Travel Without!
FIRST up on this list is, of course, my camera. This is the first DSLR I have owned so I cannot compare it to any others. But I can tell you that I LOVE it! I did a little bit of research on entry-level DSLR cameras and after talking with a few photographers, they all suggested a Canon Rebel as my first camera. Electronic Express was running a deal where you get the camera body, two lenses, and a camera bag for $449. This was the best deal I had seen (I’d been researching!) so I jumped at that price and bought my first Canon Rebel T6! This camera gives you options for shooting in AUTO and MANUAL modes, which is great if you are new to learning photography. Below, I have linked a similar deal, as well as a link to purchase just the camera body.
(Can you tell I have a thing for leopard print straps?!)
2- Camera Lenses
SECOND on my list of travel must-haves is my favorite camera lenses. As I mentioned earlier, I had talked with two photographers about purchasing my first DSLR and BOTH photographers said that your lens is more important than the actual camera. They said it’s better to have a good lens with a cheaper camera than to have a cheap lens with a really good, expensive camera. After talking with them and doing research, MANY people recommended the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM prime lens. Also called the “Nifty Fifty,” this lens gives you amazing photographs for a very reasonable price. This lens is $125. There is a nicer, f/1.4 version, but it’s quite expensive. I got mine as part of a kit in order to purchase a wide-angle (EF-S 10-18mm) lens at the same time and save some money.
After using my 50mm lens several times while traveling, I decided I wanted a wider prime lens for landscape photography. My next lens purchase was the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM prime lens. This lens works well, better than my kit lens, but I still prefer the quality of my 50mm prime lens best.
UPDATE: I recently purchased the Sigma Art Series 24-105mm f/4 lens and I LOVE IT. I still use my 50mm for low-light situations though.
3- Portable Power
THIRD on the list is portable charging options. I always bring my Mophie on my travels and hikes. I don’t use photo processing programs such as Lightroom or Photoshop and my iPhone has an HDR feature, so depending on the lighting situation, I may prefer to take photos with my phone versus my camera. My Mophie gives me some extra battery life if I’m taking a lot of pictures with my phone. This little thing was a huge help while I was visiting Yosemite National Park. Hiking the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail took the majority of the day and I took a bunch of pictures with my phone!
I also always bring my HALO portable battery/charger/flashlight/car jump-starter with me. Even though I did not have success using it to jump-start my car, I have however used it multiple times for charging my phone, operating a fan, and using its built-in flashlight. It has an outlet plug, two USB charging ports, a flashlight, and a car jump-start.
4- National Park Passport
Number FOUR on my list of travel must-haves is everything pertaining to my National Park Passport book! This is for the real nerds of American travel. There are a few different Passport books you can get. There are hundreds of sites in the National Park System and most of those places have a stamp center at the Visitor Center where you can get your book stamped. This is called a “cancellation.” Each place you visit has a corresponding sticker and stamp for that location. Before I go on my trips, I make sure to have my Passport book and the stickers for the locations I will be visiting!
5- Travel Pillow
FIFTH is my small Lacoste travel pillow! This can be any pillow of your preference. The one I had been using during my travels wasn’t really soft or easy to carry on a plane. After weeks of searching, I FINALLY found my perfect travel pillow. I carry it on planes & it works perfectly for laying my head against the window or on the fold-down tray table. It works for road trips as well. Before you judge me for having a Lacoste pillow, please know that I am known to be a very frugal person and refuse to pay full price for most things in life. I found this pillow for like $10 at my local Ross store. I will post a link to it below, but know that you should be able to find a similar size throw pillow for a bit cheaper!
That’s it for my top 5 travel must-haves! Feel free to share your travel must-haves in the comment section below! I love hearing about new things and ideas 🙂