I love February! Not because it’s centered around love and convincing ourselves we should be living in a romantic comedy, but because it’s the best time of year to travel. Many destinations are hibernating, just waiting for the snow to melt and the summer season to start. Often you receive the best service when cities aren’t bursting at the seams with tourists. Traveling in February is when the lines are short, the flights aren’t packed, and Airbnb or hotels will have the best deals and availability.
No matter how you feel about Valentine’s day, whether you celebrate or lie and wait for the 50% off chocolate, February is always a good time to explore. To start your vacation on the right foot, you must pack smart. Below are the travel essentials I use to ensure I’m prepared for the long travel days ahead. As a bonus, many brands release special edition colors and heart-shaped gifts for Valentine’s day. If pink or red is your favorite color, those must-have travel essentials may only be offered in these colors during this time of year.
Osprey Fairview 55 Travel Pack
I could scream my love for this travel pack from the mountain tops. The Osprey Fairview is what I use on 90% of my trips. The larger pack can easily fit everything you need for a week-long trip and is a carry-on size for every airline I’ve flown on (including the low-cost carriers). The smaller backpack is detachable, making it perfect for bringing along as you walk around the city or take it along on a hike by adding a water bladder into the back pocket. The versatility is unmatched. I refuse to check a bag and pride myself in packing light; this backpack is the key to my travel success.
Suited Nomad Packing Cubes
The perfect marriage exists between the Osprey Fairview and the Suited Nomad Packing Cubes. These packing cubes keep my travel pack from exploding once I get to my destination. I can organize my clothing by type or occasion, allowing me to pull what I need for the day without unpacking my entire bag. The Fairview backpack keeps me from overpacking, but, more importantly, packing cubes keep me organized throughout the trip, making it the perfect marriage for a traveler on the go.
Sleeping in an unfamiliar place or different time zone can make getting a good night’s rest difficult, to say the least. One can never be sure what the sleeping condition will be like once they check into their Airbnb. My biggest adversary when trying to sleep is light. I can sleep almost anywhere as long as I have complete darkness (and a touch of ambient noise). I’ve practically trained my brain to fall asleep once an eye mask has slipped over my eyes.
An eye mask has also helped me catch a few hours of much-needed sleep during long flights when the window seat is occupied by someone who refuses to close the window shade. Rather than reaching across and slamming the shade closed (which could be an act of war for your temporary neighbor), I close the shade over my eyes. The only thing that will wake me is the breaks locking into place when the beverage cart arrives.
Collapsible Travel Coffee Cup
Speaking of beverages, staying hydrated and caffeinated is a must when traveling. Being single is cool; what’s not cool is single-use cups. This collapsible travel coffee cup is compact and reduces the use of paper cups. Hotels and airports can be overly air-conditioned, so I pack tea bags and a coffee cup to keep myself warm and awake. Airport coffee shops will gladly fill your mug with hot water at no charge. Just throw a dollar or two in the tip jar for the barista’s time. It’s a win-win for everyone and the planet.
Hydro Flask Water Bottle
Drinking endless amounts of coffee isn’t always the best way to shake the feeling of fatigue. The dry air from sitting in an airplane or one too many glasses of wine can leave you feeling like a dried sponge after a long day. Keeping an insulated water bottle in your backpack is an easy way to stay hydrated. Many airports have bottle-filling stations after the security checkpoint, making it easy to fill your empty bottle before boarding a flight. Single-use plastic bottles are convent to throw away, but investing in an insulated water bottle forces you to carry it with you and refill it as you explore.
AirPods / Earphones
I’m a big fan of listening to podcasts as I travel. Not just to tune out the world around me, but if I have to sit quietly for long periods, I might as well listen to a good story or learn about the benefits of bat houses (if you listen to Ologies, then you’re already in the know). Depending on where your loyalties lie in the tech world, having AirPods or Bluetooth earphones are an easy way to pass the time without forcing your airplane seatmates to learn about bats (unless you think they would be into it or they forgot their pods. Sharing is caring).
I admit I have used a bread tie to organize my charging cables. It may not look the best, but it gets the job done. That travel hack aside, there are tons of cute cable ties on the internet these days. They all do the same job but are a bit more polished when you have to unfurl everything from your pack. Unlike my bread tie hack, these cable ties attach to the cord, making it easy to pack everything back in. Now you won’t have to search the garbage for the bread tie your roommate threw away because they thought it was garbage.
Now that you have all your cables neatly tied in perfect bundles with cable ties, you will need a case to store them. Electronics organizers keep your extra batteries, charging cables, and small accessories in one place. Having a place for everything ensures everything you bring in will also make its way out.
If you’re like me and you take a lot of pictures and videos, finding the time to recharge your phone can be critical when you’re running from place to place. This cordless portable charger neatly fits at the end of your phone, making it easier to access and use while charging. Other portable chargers can be as big as the phone itself, making it difficult to use and often require keeping track of another cord to attach to a phone.
Silicone Reusable Storage Bags
We’ve all used one-time-use zip lock bags when traveling. They are a convenient way to store snacks and bathroom toiletries in your suitcase. A better alternative is using Silicone Storage Bags for those travel necessities. Unlike traditional storage bags, these silicone bags come in every color and size you could need, making it easy to buy your valentine their favorite color. They are easy to clean and reusable for endless trips around the world.
Carrying a phone tripod is just as important as remembering my car keys or wallet. I’ve learned the hard lesson of handing my phone to a stranger only to find their thumb in all my photos. With most things in life, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. A phone tripod makes it easy to frame the picture without interacting with strangers. You may feel silly running back and forth to reset your phone timer, but it’s better than leaving your vacation with terrible photos.
Bucket List Map
I love these scratch-off Bucket List Maps for displaying past trips in your home. It’s not only fun to check places off, but it’s a great conversation starter. These maps have an expansive range, focusing on certain regions of the world, famous sights, or the entire globe. They are great gifts to remember trips with your valentine or the destinations you explored solo.
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