Seasoned travelers know that the right travel gear can make a trip of any length much easier. Choosing the right gear is also part of the fun.

As the summer travel season gets under way, we wanted to share some of our top picks for travel gear must-haves. We hope you’ll find the following list of 14 items useful. All of them have been used over and over and/or requested by fellow travelers on trips.

1. Reusable water bottle. One high quality, BPA-free reusable water bottle can save hundreds of single use plastic bottles from landfills. In developing countries, landfills may not be available so plastic bottles are more likely to end up in waterways and on beaches.
2. Duct tape. Repair broken luggage or cracked shoes; use it to mark your luggage for easy identification at baggage claim; seal a drain in your hotel sink to do laundry; remove a splinter; the list goes on. Save space and wrap duct tape around your reusable water bottle (see item #1).
3. Insect repellant wipes. With limitations on traveling with liquids in carry-on luggage, we made the switch to wipes with insect repellent instead of sprays.
4. After bite. In case Item #3 isn’t completely effective, pack “after bite” to stop itching and swelling from insect bites. Our favorites are the AfterBite stick or Benadryl Topical Gel.
5. Ear plugs. Snoring roommate, coughing neighbor, roosters, howler monkeys, you name it. All of these noises are known to wake travelers up in the middle of the night or well before dawn so ear plugs should be on everyone’s pack list.
6. Hammock. Find a shady spot, preferably with a breeze, hang a hammock and you have the perfect place to while away the hours. We’re fans of ENO and Grand Trunk’s lightweight options.
7. Power strip or multi-prong plug and 2-3 prong adapter. Airports as well as hotel rooms abroad never seem to have enough electrical outlets to use. If you’ll be charging a variety of electronics, these items are a must-have.
8. Plastic bags. Lightweight and reusable, plastic bags are multipurpose. Organize clothes and cords for electronics, store wet items, save space by compressing out air, etc.
9. Headlamp. Yes, you can use a traditional flashlight or app on your phone, but headlamps allow you to have both hands free.
10. Fabric softener sheets. On longer trips, clothes that have been crammed in luggage may need some freshening up. If you pack a few scented fabric softener sheets in a Ziploc bag, you can add one or two every couple of days to your bag to freshen the smell of clothes. Once the Ziploc bag is empty, it can be applied to Item #8.
11. Clothesline. They pack small, take up little space and allow you to dry wet laundry anywhere.
12. Cooling towel. Beat the heat by draping a damp cooling towel around your neck. These have eliminated sleepless nights in the hot tropics on more than one occasion.
13. Deck of cards. Blackjack, go fish, poker, gin rummy, anyone? Traveling solo. There’s solitaire, too.
14. Newspaper. If you’re traveling to an area where rain may be expected, pack newspaper or pick some up when you arrive to your destination. If your shoes get wet during an excursion, putting newspaper inside your shoes will help wick moisture faster.

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