When heading out on a big trip, especially overseas, it’s important in your travel gear prep to remember the three S’s: Sleep, Security, Style. 


So many bad things happen when you don’t get enough sleep on a trip. For starters, you’re crabby, and who wants to take their crabby self on vacation? A sleepy you also doesn’t have the energy to do all the stuff you want to see and do. And when you’re short on sleep, you’re more susceptible to getting sick, and being sick on the road is the worst. So let’s make sure you’re properly equipped to sleep, be it a catnap or a long slumber crossing the pond.

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow. You’re on the plane, you’ve settled into your seat. Then the pilot comes on with the grim news that your flight to Paris will be 8 hours and 36 minutes. You can only thumb through SkyMall so long, you can only watch the in-flight movie (“Kindergarten Cop 2”) so long. This is the perfect opportunity to catch up on some sleep. Do you wad up your coat and stick it behind your head? Do you accept the who-knows-what’s-been-on-that-pillow from the flight attendant? Neither, because you had the foresight to make sure your travel gear includes the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow. “We sell these so fast we can’t keep one on display,” says Jaala Freeman in our Raleigh shop in Cameron Village. She pulls one out of its tidy package and shows why: with just a few light puffs, the Aeros instantly becomes the pillow of your dreams: either nice and firm, or slightly deflated to let your head sink in. The microfiber cloth is soft on your cheek and, adds Jaala, “it’s absorbent, so if you’re a drooler … .” Plus, the one-way valve means you’re not constantly putting a finger over it to make sure air doesn’t escape. Suddenly, 8 hours and 36 minutes doesn’t seem quite long enough. Learn more here.

Sea to Summit Traveling Light Eye Shades. You’re on a long flight, and all you want to do is block out the world and sleep. While your head and neck are comfy, thanks to your Sea-to-Summit Aeros Travel Pillow (see above), you can’t quite blot out the light and sound around you. Sure, it was nice of the airline to give you that thin paper eye mask, but light is seeping in around the edges, around your nose … . What you need, says Jaala, is the Traveling Light Eye Shades. “The elastic strap is adjustable, so you can get it snug, and it even has a piece of stretch fabric that acts as a nose baffle. And it comes with ear plugs.” It’s contoured microfiber lining is comfortable against your skin, and it’s washable. Learn more here.


Used to be that our main travel gear concern was having our traveler’s checks pinched. Today, we worry about our very identity being pilfered. But by taking the proper precautions, we don’t need to be …

Secrid Twinwallet. My, how wallets have evolved! For one, we now keep pictures of our loved ones on our phone, not it a polypro accordion that folds out the length of our arm. Bulging bills? Who carries cash? Business cards (phone), insurance cards (phone), receipts (we get ‘em emailed) — these one-time wallet residents have long since moved out. Which means the only thing we really need to worry about are our credit and debit cards, a driver’s license, maybe an insurance card or two, all of which fit quite nicely in the Secrid Twinwallet. It’s not much bigger than a credit card, of which it holds 12 flat cards (or eight embossed), four additional types of cards (see above) and a little mad money. “It’s also RFID protected,” says Jaala. Meaning? Cards inside the wallet can’t be scanned by some nefarious ne’er-do-well out to steal your ID. Also: push a small lever and your cards peek out the top for quick selection. When it comes to travel gear, this is James Bond cool. Learn more here.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Trekking Umbrella. Your money and identity aren’t the only things that need protecting on the road — what about your skin? After all, your skin is key to keeping you together — without it, well, you’d be a mess! And much as we love the sun, when it comes to our skin we need to admit sunlight with discretion. The Trekking Umbrella’s whopping 38-inch canopy covers skin your hat can’t hope to, its waterproof Cordura® Nylon fabric does a nifty job of shedding rain, and it’s aircraft-grade aluminum shaft will stand up to a good gust. Packed down, it’s about the size of a salami. Learn more here.


Frankly, everything in your travel gear arsenal should reflect your style. Some pieces just do it better than others.

Sherpani bags and totes. You don’t need to be a traveler to fall in love with a Sherpani bag. Take the Faith tote. On the one hand, it’s fashionable: the hand-painted fabric is intended to wear well with age, and the leather tassels-as-zipper-pulls are not only stylish, but useful. A versatile strap system means you can use it as a purse or a tote. It’s got two zippered outside pockets (accessed via the tassels) and the zipper to the main compartment has a locking device that deters those aforementioned ne’er-do-wells from dumping your bag and running off with your most-valuables. For travelers specifically, the Soleil has more of an armored feel: it’s got the locking top zipper, it’s got one main outside pocket, it has RFID protection as well as anti-slash meshing woven in that makes a slash-and-grab near impossible. In addition to carrying it as a tote or a purse, it also has backpack straps — and a lot of other travel-friendly options. Learn more here.

For more travel gear recommendations

Check out these previous posts from the current Travel season: