Hey Everyone! I have so many things I am so excited to share with you about this recent USA road trip we went on. We have been getting a ton of is what gear did we bring to be comfortable on this trip. With Christmas just around the corner, I wanted to get this post out to you asap so in case you are looking for any last minute ideas (or future gifts for yourself or the traveler in your family) you can use these gifts for reference.
This last trip we spent seven weeks road tripping across America. We essentially did a big loop. Even though we have been traveling for over ten years, each trip is always a little bit different and each trip we undoubtedly try a few new gear items out. (Also, no matter how many times we have gone on trips, we also forget something. This last trip we completely forget all our silverware and plates!)
A few of these items below I have just loved so much I kept saying to Chris, “I cannot wait to share this with others.” They have become game changers and are some of my personal favorite gear items and I never travel without them anymore. They just make life on the road (and at home) easier and more enjoyable. Without further ado…here are some of our…
Favorite Travel Gifts for Road Trips and Travel
This is my absolute number one newest and favorite travel addition. We got hooked on travel kettles the year we spent in Southeast Asia. The ability to wake up when we wanted and have coffee or simply enjoy a cup of tea at night made life on the road significantly more enjoyable. I was particularly interested to try this collapsible travel kettle and see if it could hold up to life on the road. This kettle is amazing!!! It seems rugged enough to take getting tossed around in travel life and boils water in less than two minutes. It worked amazingly fast. As long as there was an outlet, we could quickly boil up to kettles of water for our morning coffees and I am bringing this kettle with me everywhere.
Finding a good French Press can be difficult even in “normal” house hold living. How many people do you know that have commented their French Press broke or didn’t work very well or had other complaints. For our Southeast Asia we trip we were really pleased with this pot and cup set from the outdoor gear brand GSI. So when I saw they made a French Press I was all in to see how it worked. This French Press is light weight, durable, easy to use and clean and the insulated sleeve works well. This a press I would take into the back country, traveling or even keep in the car if having an overnight at a friends for convenience. We were very happy with this press.
We knew on this trip we’d be doing a lot of camping and we would not always have access to power. Chris searched around online and found this two plug inverter and it worked great for our travels. We plugged it into the cigarette adapter in our car and then while we were driving we could charge the phone and one of our lap tops. This was definitely a life saver. I’m not an expert in all the specifics of inverters, so read the directions carefully if you are worried, but basically we only use the inverter to charge things when the car is on and running and we didn’t use things with high electric voltages, such as our travel kettle. We also used an inverter similar to this when we traveled around Australia for two years in a van so we are big fans of inverters.
If you don’t know what this is, it’s ok, we didn’t either. Right before we left for this trip Chris’s parents excitedly ran to the other room and came back presenting us with a box. They were like some guy in a parking lot saved their day a while back and they thought this would be a great gift for our road trip. The Beat It is a car starter and charging dock. As long as you keep the Beat It fully charged it can jump start your car all on it’s own. Pretty cool. We didn’t need to us ours, but Chris’s parents have ended up using it over half a dozen times and it worked every time. It’s small and relatively light weight. It also has USB ports which we used to charge our phone and tablet. So in instances where the phone battery had gotten to low but we were not running the car, I could pull out the Beat It, turn it on, plug in the phone and viola, power source. This could be a good gift idea for almost anyone on your list and we thought the Beat It was good value.
I know in the day and age of GPS and all that some of us out there talk a lot to “Seri.” However there is still something to be said for having a paper map on hand. This was another gift Chris’s parents gave us last minute and we used it a lot all throughout this trip. GPS’s do loose signals, batteries die and sometimes they are just wrong. Having a paper back up atlas was great in easily allowing us to have a big picture over view and always know where we were going.
We learned some things for having a camp stove for this trip. For over ten years we have had and used the MSR International backpacking stove. This stove is phenomenal and I recommend it without hesitation. We have taken it all over the world with us and burned white gas, kerosene and gasoline in it. Because its gas canister is refillable there is much less waste with this model.
The down side is it is a back country, light weight cooking stove. For car travel, we wanted to have a stove with a wider base so I could leave a frying pan on it and walk away without having to be there to hold onto it and watch the food super carefully.
So we bought the Coleman Butane Stove for $20. I would NOT buy this stove again. Although it is super easy to use and the price point is great, if the temperatures dipped down to near 30 F, it would just take forever to heat up hot water in the morning. If we didn’t use nearly full butane canisters with it the performance was also not that great. Overall this stove is an example that you pay for what you get and what we got was a cheap stove that did not perform very well.
For $10-20 more, I would definitely wish we had spent the additional money to get the Coleman Classic Propane Stove. I have seen plenty of other people use this stove with much more success. Also, we saw these fuel canisters for sale everywhere where as the other style of fuel canisters where harder to find.
REI has a range of Coleman stoves that do cost a bit more here. If you are going to do a lot of car camping, whatever you decide, I would pick a decent stove.
If you have a good stove recommendation, please do share in the comments below. Otherwise, that was our car camping stove experience.
This might seem so simple to suggest but for years we (somehow) cleaned our dishes without a dish tub. I don’t know what we were thinking. If you are camping, having a dish tub is so nice and practical. It just makes everything easier and we store our dishes in it while they are drying. If you camp and are not using a dish tub, just get a dish tub.
I cannot tell you how often I see travelers bringing regular towels with them around the world or while camping and all I can say is, ‘Ewww…gross.’ We brought regular towels on one of our very first trips to Europe and they got moldy. Regular towels, even in the best of circumstances take forever to dry out. Having a quick drying towel is definitely the way to go.
Down jackets are very expensive and until recently I had never bought one. I was fortunate enough to pick one up in Nepal for about $25 USD when we went to hike Poon Hill. However, after owning one I can say they are a superior product and I would spend the money to buy one. For staying warm, regulating temperatures and just being overall super comfortable to wear, a down jacket is amazing. They are rather fragile and not good for wet weather so if you are traveling somewhere in the wet season, don’t bring a down jacket. Bottom line, these jackets are expensive, but they are amazing.
If you want to get some nice gifts for someone but it isn’t reasonable to be able to spend $100 to get the items, then next best thing is a gift card. Then that person can put it towards a quality purchase.
REI works like a co-op. We bought our membership years ago and the great part is once you are a member you get a certain part of your purchases back. If you are at all an outdoor enthusiast and will be buying gear from REI, definitely get the membership.
Amazon gift cards are super easy to get and give. Gift cards are great because a lot special items people want to buy can cost quite a bit and this helps chip away at those bigger gifts.
There are plenty of other items we use that I love, but I these are a few of the more recent ones that we absolutely loved and significantly helped make our trip awesome. I hope you can use some of these suggestions to help make either your own travel life more enjoyable or give some of these as gifts to the travelers in your life.
I have not yet written too much about our past road trip, but in case you missed it, there is this post:
For some more ideas and suggestions of gear we use and love, you can check out this post for clothes and gear:
This post for electronic ideas:
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