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My Favorite Things (for Adventures and Road Trips!)

As the owner of a travel company and as an avid adventurer myself, I love gear. I worked in an outdoor shop (The Sports Basement) in San Francisco after graduation from college and all my paychecks were spent at the same store.  I worked in the field as a guide for All Outdoors, Mountain Sobek, The Outdoor Education Group and more. Through my years of exploring, guiding, traveling and road-tripping, I’ve discovered several essential items that have become my reliable go-to’s on every journey. From bustling international cities to remote western trails, these thirteen travel essentials have proven their worth time and again. Join me as I share my favorite must-have items that have made my adventures smoother, greener, and more comfortable. The following are some of my favorite things!

2 1 from Tumbleweed TravelNeck Pillow: Exhale Neck Pillow (Eagle Creek)

I bought this neck pillow from Sierra Trading Post three years ago, and it’s been my go-to for every flight since. It packs up so small that you don’t have to drag it around during your entire trip. Deflated, it’s smaller than a pair of socks. It’s easy to inflate with just a few breaths, and cleaning is a breeze – I just toss it in the washer and air-dry. It’s super comfortable and effectively holds my head in place when I nap on the plane (which I’m quite good at, ha!).

4 1 from Tumbleweed TravelCoffee Mug: 12oz w/ Flex Sip Lid (Hydroflask)

A travel coffee mug is a staple for all my trips, especially road trips. Nothing beats having your coffee on the road. Making coffee in your rig and hitting the road, getting refills at gas stations or local coffee shops, it’s the ultimate convenience. I prefer a top that screws on for the car or RV to prevent spills and for mixing my milk and sugar. Using a reusable mug also cuts down on single-use paper cups and plastic tops.

C8 1 from Tumbleweed Travelollapsable Waterbottle: SoftBotle 1L (Platypus)

While I usually bring a hard-sided water bottle when I travel, I’ve started including a thin, collapsible one in my packing list, particularly for road trips. Having extra water on the road is always a smart move, and collapsible bottles are great for saving space when not in use.

13 1 from Tumbleweed TravelMultitool: Wave+ (Leatherman)

Granted, it’s not for your carry-on, but a multitool is a game-changer on a road trip. I bought my first Wave from Leatherman when I was a river guide and kept it in my life jacket. I still have one today, stashed in my glovebox in my RV and daily driver. I find the knife, scissors, screwdriver, and pliers to be the most useful. The Wave is Leatherman’s flagship product and still holds up to this day.

6 1 from Tumbleweed TravelPacking Cubes: Cubes (Peak Design)

I’m a bit of an organization geek, which isn’t surprising considering I own a road trip planning company! When everything has its place, it’s easy to keep track of your stuff. Compression bags are perfect for separating clothing and items, making access a breeze. They also work well for storing dirty laundry, shoes, or when you don’t need them. Peak Design, a San Francisco-based company, offers some fantastic packing cubes. Their products are beautifully designed and well thought out, including their packing cubes.

7 1 from Tumbleweed TravelPhone Holder: Vent Mount (iOttie)

Having a phone holder while driving is essential for safety, enabling hands-free use and preventing distractions. It also keeps the phone secure and easily accessible for navigation and communication. It’s great to have Google Maps visible when you’re on the road in a new place. I love phone holders that can be used in multiple vehicles. The ones that clip into air vents are great, as well as those that suction to the dashboard.

5 1 from Tumbleweed TravelSun Shirt: Capilene® Cool Tech Hoody (Patagonia)

These shirts have been a game-changer for me. Lightweight and silky, I appreciate the hood for extra coverage on my neck or head when it’s really sunny. Unlike many sun shirts, these Patagonia versions don’t retain smells, which is a plus when you’re traveling without easy access to laundry. They come in various styles for adults, kids, and even babies!

1 1 from Tumbleweed TravelFlip Flops: Classic Flips (Chaco)

I’ve been wearing these flip-flops for over 20 years and have owned about 6 pairs. I am also that person who will wear flip-flops on multi-mile hikes and into the winter. Most days are flip-flip days. The Chaco Flips boast excellent tread, good arch support, and exceptional durability. While the price might seem high for flip-flops, they’re worth it. They don’t require breaking in, are great in the water, easy to clean, and remain comfortable for extended periods. Working for the ReChaco bus repairing sandals, this brand holds a special place in my heart, as well. Chaco is really dedicated to making sure their products last.

12 1 from Tumbleweed TravelBaby Wipes: Original Wipes (Waterwipes)

Wet wipes are always handy to have, especially on road trips. WaterWipes are great for stashing in your vehicle. They feel just like water, as the name suggests. Keep them up front and use them for dirty hands, wiping down tables, runny noses, and more.

9 1 from Tumbleweed TravelReusable Bags: Sandwich Bags (Stasher)

Stasher bags are an excellent companion for road trippers. Lightweight and durable, they’re easy to carry and less prone to damage, even in the hustle and bustle of travel. Their airtight seal is perfect for keeping snacks, sandwiches, or even leftover road trip treats fresh for extended periods. They’re also easy to clean, even without a full kitchen setup. I’ve bought knockoff bags, but it’s worth investing in the Stasher brand as the others didn’t hold up. The “sandwich” size bags are the most versatile in my opinion.

3 1 from Tumbleweed TravelSunglasses: Bosleys Basset Hound Dreams (Goodr)

These sunglasses offer fantastic quality at an affordable price. At $25 each, I always keep a couple ready to go. I’ve long since given up on expensive and fancy sunglasses that I end up scratching or losing. The Goodr glasses have some give and are really comfortable. The polarized lenses are perfect for water sports. These tortoiseshell-style sunglasses are a staple in my travel uniform.

11 1 from Tumbleweed TravelSunscreen: Daily Facial Sunscreen (Trader Joe’s)

As a fair-skinned redhead, I go through an insane amount of sunscreen. Trader Joe’s recently released a dupe of Goop’s Unseen Sunscreen for about $9. With an SPF of 40, the Trader Joe’s sunscreen goes on clear and is barely noticeable once applied. It’s fantastic for the face and a must-have for any road trip adventure.

10 1 from Tumbleweed TravelWater Purifier: Adventurer (Steripen)

This is one of those items that I always end up tossing into my luggage as a “why not?” If you’re concerned about water quality, especially during international travels, or find yourself on a long hike running out of clean water, or want to drink your RV tank water and don’t know how long it’s been in there, this little guy is a lifesaver. It sterilizes water using UV light in about a minute. Simply start the light, stir your water, and you’re done. I like my Adventure model because it’s rechargeable via USB and doesn’t require batteries. It’s a great safety and convenience tool to have in your kit, and mine has lasted about 15 years and still works like a charm.