Use these backpacker-tested items to keep yourself safe when you travel

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about travel it’s to take our hygiene seriously in order to avoid harmful bacteria and viruses. If you’ve spent any time backpacking or going off the map to explore places where the rest of the crowd doesn’t follow, then chances are you’ve already been taking precautions with some specialized equipment. Here are some items I recommend every travel take with them to avoid all kinds of nasty things, not just coronavirus.

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LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Photo courtesy of Amazon

When they tell you to not drink the water, they really mean don’t drink the water, but when you’re hot and thirsty, it’s tempting to take a swig from the faucet. Unless you like cholera or e. coli infections, stick to bottled or boiled water or use one of these incredible LifeStraws which let you drink the nastiest, germiest water with virtually no chance of ingesting any bacteria because it’s filtered out.

Five-Star Review: “I know and trust the brand as this filter saves lives daily in 3rd world countries. I am an army veteran and I believe everyone should have at least one of these *Per Person* in their household for unexpected events seeing that we need water to survive and in todays world with constant fracking, a clean drinking water guarantee never exists.
Forget the water boiling when water advisories are on….Just use one of these. Always try to prepare for the unexpected, Your very life may very well depend on it someday.”

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MIDDLE OF THE PACK

Lightweight Mosquito Net

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No one wants COVID, but malaria and zika virus aren’t much fun either. Limit the odds of you contracting these, or any other mosquito-borne illnesses, with a compact mosquito net that you can toss over your bed at night. Don’t have a hook on the ceiling to hang it? I bring sturdy thumb tacks and have been known to MacGyver fastenings with lengths of dental floss when necessary.

Five-Star Review: “Good product meets specifications.”

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Reusable Hand Sanitizer Bottle 5-pack

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Hand sanitizer is seemingly everywhere, except when you really need it. By now, you’re likely carrying some with you wherever you go, but if you’re not, get a pack of these cheap and handy 30 or 60-ml bottles and fill them with sanitizer from your own supply. They are easy to attach with their handy carabiner clips and you get five in a pack so there’s one for everyone in your group. Best of all, it reduces the amount of plastic you throw away because you’re using refillable bottles.

Five-Star Review: “Yes, Absolutely as described. Seller has integrity. Buy with confidence.”

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These essential items will make travelling with your dog a pleasure

dog in car

More than ever, we’re taking our pets with us wherever we go, but travelling with animals isn’t easy. Thankfully, there is special gear to make it more comfortable for the both of you.

Here are some useful tools to take with you the next time you’re on the move with your pet. While most of these items are geared towards road-trip travel, a few of them are good no matter what your mode of transportation.

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Teamoy Week-Away Dog Travel Bag

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Keeping track of all of your dog supplies can be a big job when you’re travelling with your pet. This spacious bag with its multiple pockets lets you organize your food, water, clothes, blankets, toys and any other pet essentials you need when you’re away from home. It also comes with a lined food container to store a copious amount of kibble along with two collapsible silicone bowls that hold 12 ounces of food or water. It even comes with a foldable placemat to keep your pet’s feeding area clean. 

Five-star review: “I take my dog everywhere with me and often overnight to diff places so i was looking for a good bag to put all his stuff in. This bag is awesome! So many pockets, lots of space, and super sturdy. I would highly recommend. Great material!”

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MIDDLE OF THE PACK

Pet Union luxury car seat cover

dog back seat cover
Photo courtesy of Amazon

The easiest way to travel with a dog is by car, but they can be a mess when you have them riding in the back seat. Problem solved with this high-quality car seat cover that protects your car seats from hair, dandruff, mud and liquids with its 100% waterproof fabric. The best part is, the seat cover can be cleaned hassle-free with a vacuum or damp cloth. The high quality thick material ensures it will last through wear and tear and provides resistance from claws and nails. It even doubles as a hammock so that your dog can ride in comfort and style. It comes equipped with zipper seat belt openings and clips to headrests for easy and simple installation and removal. It measures 62″ by 56″.

Five-star review: “Can’t recommend this enough! Fits both my vehicles and installs in less then 1 min. Washes in the machine. Still let’s me use seatbelts for my dogs harness and gives him a better sense of security as his legs can slip off seat. Also keeps 100% of the dirt off my vehicle. Great quality. Next day delivery in a handy carrying case. Highly recommend this product!”

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Portable dog water bottle

dog water bottle
Photo courtesy of Amazon

Giving your dog water while you’re on the go has never been easier with these clever portable dog water bottles. Made from food grade, lead and BPA-free ABS material, the bottle has a capacity of 12oz/350ml that lets you give your pet a quick drink when he or she is thirsty. Designed to be operated with one hand, you can slake your dog’s thirst even while holding to a leash or another pet. 

Five-star review: “A super convenient way of bringing water for my pup on our adventures. I like that it locks so it won’t leak in my backpack. Easy for the dogs to drink out of. It’s the right size for my pug for a few hours out, but if you have a bigger dog or are going out for longer you’d probably want to bring another water source.”

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Wall plug adapters are a must-have item for your travel toolkit

wall chargers for electronics

Travellers these days pack a bunch of electronics with them wherever they go, but when they get to a country that uses different voltages or different plug styles from what they know back home, problems ensue.

Fortunately, chargers for most devices these days will work at either 110 or 220 volts, but if you’ve got the wrong plug for the socket in your hotel room, it feels like you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. That’s where a power adapter comes in handy. They don’t convert voltages, but they allow you to plug your square peg into that round hole. Here are three highly-rated options for you to pack on your next trip:

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Flight 001 4-in-1 Travel Plug Adapter

Flight 001 4-in-1 adapter
Photo courtesy of Amazon

The Flight 001 4-in-1 Adapter is a set of colour-coded plugs that allows you to easily adapt your electronics to over 150 countries. This is the first product utilizing the JA/C READY Adapter system. The JA/C Ready Adapter System is a colour-coded world adapter system, that makes finding the right plug for your trip as simple as matching the colours. The 4-in-1 Adapter is packaged in a box that has the top 48 countries printed on the inside for easy reference. 

Five-star review: “Most plug adapters are one piece units with fiddly buttons that extend or retract the various plugs. They all seem pretty flimsy and don’t seem very safe. They also mostly flop around in a wall socket and are only really usable in an extension cord. Because this one has no moving parts it is safer and makes a more secure connection. In addition, you can take only the ones that you need and leave the others behind. While there are some that have individual plugs, they don’t fit together so nicely.”

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MIDDLE OF THE PACK

Maximal Power Universal Travel Adapter

Maximus power adapter
Photo courtesy of Amazon

You can’t go wrong with this universal travel adapter that includes three plugs for 150 countries. The plugs can be fit together into one piece to make them easier to carry. 

Five-star review: “I bought it in 2017 for a holiday, and to date I keep using it. it’s small so you can take it anywhere, it works super well, I’ve used it many times since and always ended up using it and sharing it with other people when their adapters for some reason did not work. If you plan to go on a trip and want something that works well and is practical I recommend it! ”

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Ceptics World Travel Dual USB Power Plug Adapter

Ceptics travel adapter
Photo courtesy of Amazon

Everything is built in with this travel adapter. It has one universal input that will accept plugs from any country, then there are three plugs for the wall side that can be popped out by using a slider on the side. One of the added selling points for this adapter is it includes 2 USB (2.4a) and one Type C USB port that lets you charge your mobile phones, iPhones, tablets, iPads, and other devices.

Five-star review: “They did exactly what they were supposed to do. We travelled to Portugal and Spain for 3 weeks. Didn’t fry any electronics at all. As long as you’re plugging in a charger that can take 100-240v then it’s perfect. I was worried because I thought I’d need a traditional converter but that’s in the past. Most chargers for cameras, tablets, phones, headphones have a built in converted. In fact, most of the current electronics plug into a USB charger which you plug into these things. The charger is the converted.”

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BYOB: Bring your own blanket when you travel

blanket in business class seat bed in airplane cabin

Now that the pandemic has turned all of us into germaphobes, the thought of using one of those airline blankets isn’t very appealing. The fact is that some airlines only washed them every five to 30 days and merely refolded them between flights. Yuck!

These days, many airlines aren’t even handing them out  so if you get chilly during your flight, you’re on your own. Thankfully, there are a number of good options for compact travel blankets that you can take with you when you fly. Fortunately, they are made small enough that they can be stowed easily into your carry-on bag. Here are some of the ones that I like:

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The Comfy

The Comfy
Handout photo via Amazon

ls it a blanket? A poncho? A hoodie? The Comfy is all of those things and, like its name suggests, it will keep you comfortable not only on flights, but in hotels, when you’re camping or even in your own home. It may not be the height of fashion, but would you rather look cool or be warm?

Five-star review:  “These things are amazing. super comfortable, super warm. they wash well and have been durable. we take them camping too. make a great pillow if you get warm in the night.”

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MIDDLE OF THE PACK

EverSnug Travel Blanket and Pillow

EverSnug travel blanket and pillow
Handout photo via Amazon

I like this blanket/pillow set because you can stuff the blanket into its pouch to turn it into a handy pillow or pull it out when you need to wrap yourself inside something warm. The blanket is quite large at 65″ x 40″ which is bigger than your average airline blanket which always seem to leave some part of you exposed.

Five-star review: “The EverSnug travel blanket is a decent size for one person only of average height and built. It is extremely lightweight and super soft and dries quickly when washed. It is easy to fold as the case is quite generous for the item. In addition to an elastic strap to the rear of the outer case, that slots easily over the extended handle of hand luggage, there is also a large clip that can be fastened to the handle where there is no extendable handle. The only exception is the description of this product as a ‘travel blanket AND pillow’ when it can only be used as one or the other, but not both simultaneously. As a pillow it is comfortable. I had no problems going through security with it at Gatwick Airport for a long haul flight.”

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World’s Best Cozy-Soft Microfleece Travel Blanket

travel blanket
Handout photo via Amazon

A good, inexpensive blanket doesn’t need to be a “cheap blanket.” This soft and cozy travel blanket is not only affordable, but will providesall the warmth and comfort you need. Lightweight and compact, the Texas-based manufacturer calls it “The World’s Best Microfleece Blanket.” Best of all, it doesn’t take up much room, leaving you plenty of room in your bags for books and souvenirs.

Five-star review: “I bring this blanket on every trip I go on. It’s a perfect size, warm and lightweight for travel. Especially on long flights, this is one of my essential items for quality sleep. It’s also easy to throw in the wash which is important too. The only thing that could make this product better is if it came with a carrying bag, but I just use a packing cube and that works fine too.”

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Smartphone photos are fine, but these pocket cameras will take your travel photography to the next level

As a travel journalist, I am constantly taking photos for the articles I produce. Over the years, I’ve grown tired of lugging around heavy SLRs and lenses in favour of mirrorless cameras, but eventually found I was taking the bulk of my photos on my smartphone.

While the portability of a smartphone is ideal when travelling, there are times that you want more creative control when taking a photo or wish you had a long telephoto lens to get you closer to your subject.

A few years back, I invested in a Canon SX720 HS, a compact point-and-shoot camera that has a massive 20.3 megapixel sensor, but more importantly for me, it has a 4.3-172 mm lens which is like having a single lens that ranges from a wide-angle to a high-power telephoto.  It’s incredible 40x optical zoom might not be as razor-sharp as you’d see with an SLR, but for something that fits in your pocket, it’s the perfect photographic tool. 

If you’re looking to improve your travel photography and a smartphone doesn’t cut it any more, then consider some of these top-rated point-and-shoot pocket cameras that offer professional-level features that have to be seen to be believed.

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Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera

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In case you missed it, Sony is quietly becoming a camera-making powerhouse. Their top-end RX100 VII is powered by a newly-developed 20.1 MP CMOS image sensor and a cutting-edge image processor. These technologies work together to deliver peak autofocus and speed performance that has never before been available in a compact camera. Couple the inner workings with the ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mmviii F2.8-4.5 high magnification zoom lens, and the RX100 VII becomes a versatile choice for any type of photography, but especially travel photography.

Five-star review:  “My background is about 30 years of professional and semi-professional photography. When I evaluate a camera after a few months of using it, I always ask myself the following question: Would you take this as your only camera on a year-long trip around the world? With the latest generation Sony RX100V, the answer is: Absolutely, yes! The image quality is excellent and can hold its own even compared to cameras with bigger sensors.”

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MIDDLE OF THE PACK

Canon PowerShot SX740 Digital Camera w/40X Optical Zoom

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This is the next generation of the Canon camera that is my main choice when I travel, but this model comes with even more enhancements. The SX740 HS still boasts an eye-popping 40x optical zoom with optical image stabilizer and zoom framing assist, but now captures video and time-lapse video in 4K. In addition, it has a 180-degree tilt-type screen to help you compose your shots, even if you’re in them yourself. One of its coolest features are the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC connections that make it easy to get your photos off your camera and onto your phone or computer in order to share them right away.

Five-star review:  “What I disliked was it was a bit bigger than expected, then I quit whining and completely enjoyed the capabilities of this camera. The clarity and options are absolutely amazing. I have purchased no less than 12 cameras since 1976, including Canon, Nikon, Minolta, and various others. This is the most practical for travel and everyday use. I had a Canon body with many lenses, filters, flash and various other goodies to achieve good photos. This PowerShot is all I take now and am more than satisfied when I develop my family or travel photos.”

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PANASONIC LUMIX 4K Point and Shoot Camera with 30X Leica Lens

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This the updated model of another camera which I use. I like it because of the high-power Leica zoom lens that delivers photos with unparalleled sharpness. Like many compact cameras, the Lumix lacks an optical viewfinders, something that’s a pet peeve of mine, but this camera has a cool feature for when harsh sunlight makes the camera screen difficult to view. The LUMIX ZS60K Viewfinder activates automatically when you lift the camera to your eye, so you can see every detail and capture the shot you’re looking for. It’s a nice touch.

Five-star review:  “Replaced an older model of the same Panasonic. I have a much more expensive DSLR with expensive lenses but this gives virtually the same image quality except in low light conditions. Much less of a hassle to take along this small camera than the big DSLR. We end up using this 75% of the time rather than hauling around the big camera with all the lenses.”

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