If you’re curious what things I keep with me while spending months on the road, here’s a list of a few special things I just can’t live (or travel!) without.
I once spent five months backpacking with an awful backpack that I had ordered on Ebay for $50. Big mistake! After tons of research I totally fell in love with my Deuter ACT Lite 65 + 10 backpack. It fits like a glove and I swear makes my haul feel lighter.
You’ll always see me carrying my Burton backpack around everywhere, even when I’m not traveling. It’s the perfect carry-on size for flights, can fit up to two weeks worth of clothing, but also is great to just use as a daypack.
Yes, I heart my backpack, but sometimes I also heart my suitcase! The DELSEY is gorgeous – I have it in peony and oh goodness, all the heart eyes. And it is SO sturdy. It glides like a dream, is easy to pack, and I’m pretty sure it will never get worn out.
I’ve written a complete post on all of my camera gear here, but these are the essentials I never travel without:
My photos up to May 2016 were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T5. It’s inexpensive for a DSLR, light, and I’ve found it to be a great starter camera.
Now I use a Canon EOS 5d Mark II, which is a full frame professional camera and oh so worth the investment. I opted for the Mark II instead of the newer model, since it was much cheaper.
Before getting the Mark II I upgraded the kit lens (which I hated) to Canon’s 24-105mm f/4 L lens, which I still use now with my new camera.
I can’t believe I went for so long without upgrading my lens – a quality lens makes worlds of difference in photos. The colors come out bright and photos are always tack sharp.
I also love Canon’s 50 mm f/1.8 lens, which is tiny (making my camera really light) and perfect for low light situations and portraits. This is the lens that most fashion and lifestyle bloggers use, because it captures really crisp subjects with a soft, creamy background. It’s also super cheap, so I recommend it to beginners looking for a lens upgrade. See current prices here
My Joby gorillapod is small and super light, and its adjustable legs mean that I can set it up in awkward locations, like wrapping it around a railing or tree branch. As someone who travels solo a lot, having a tripod is key to setting up shots of myself (because who wants to be the person always asking strangers to take their photos? Not me).
My camera remote is definitely my favorite camera accessory. It’s especially handy when I’m traveling solo and am taking a lot of selfies, though I’ve used it for a lot of group shots with my friends as well. Using a remote means I don’t have to wait for my camera’s self-timer to count down, I can take a bunch of shots at once, and the camera can focus properly on me. See prices here
I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which has powerful editing tools but is still really easy to use. It seems like all the serious photographers out there use Lightroom and/or Photoshop, so if you want your photos to look equally amazing this is the way to go. It also lets you edit in RAW, which makes a huge difference in photo quality!
My secret weapon for finding the best value accommodation is Booking.com. Okay, maybe it’s not such a secret, but I have learned time and again that not all booking sites are as trustworthy as this one. Use it!
I’m a new convert to Airbnb. It’s so nice to be able to self cater in your own apartment, and it’s often a way cheaper option that staying at a hotel. You can get a discount off your first stay if you sign up for Airbnb here!
I love being able to meet up with locals and have a truly unique experience in their city with lots of insider tips, and Couchsurfing helps me do just that!
I have an entire section of my blog with posts dedicated to blogging – from how to set up a new blog, to how to make a serious income (enough to live in Norway!) with travel blogging. Check it out here
I used to host my site through GoDaddy, but their customer service was terrible. So I switched to HostGator, which offers much better support, and after I made the switch my site load time was cut in half. I’ve also heard amazing things about Siteground, though it’s a bit more expensive. And after reaching 150,000 page views a month I wanted to switch to VPS hosting, which I now have through Orange Geek.
Okay, this is mostly for more serious bloggers looking to grow their page views through SEO. But if that’s you, get Keysearch! You can search a phrase and Keysearch will tell you how many searches a month it gets, a list of other related keywords/phrases you could try, the top 10 posts for the phrase you searched, with their DA, PA, and links, and lots of other things. Definitely check it out if you want to up your SEO game.
Get 20% off your Keysearch subscription with the code KSDISC – click here to sign up.
I’m a big fan of learning and blog courses have saved me SO much time, and helped me turn my blog into a full time job. I’ve taken a lot of good courses, but the one course that changed the game for me was The Blogger Course by Monica of The Travel Hack. By the end of this 12-week course I knew I was ready to quit my day job and blog full-time – and that’s what I’ve done! I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
I was automatically added to Superstar Blogging when Travel Blog Success (another blogging course) was sold, and I did not have high expectations for it. I found TBS stale and outdated, and in fact think the only real reason so many bloggers promoted it was the affiliate payout. But I just went through the course material of Superstar Blogging and guys, I’m so impressed! This is the most business-minded blogging course I’ve done, and you can really tell Matt and the experts he includes are brilliant at business.
I would say if you are super motivated to build your blog into a long-term business (whether you’re an advanced blogger or just starting out), enroll in Superstar Blogging. See here for more course details and the current price
If you’re making under $1500/month with your blog and want to make more, this course goes through all of the essential steps towards monetization, including interviews with professional travel bloggers. I especially love that they interview some bloggers who started more recently, as I think growing a blog today is very different than it was years ago. I enjoyed this course so much, that I also signed up for their marketing summit, which was invaluable (especially if you’re looking to grow your blog traffic and social media numbers)!
If you want to stay relevant and grow your income, you need to start making videos! In an effort to quickly learn how to make better videos, I enrolled in The Art of Vlogging, which is a video course run by Hey Nadine and Hopscotch the Globe. The most helpful part of the course for me was that they actually film themselves filming a travel video together so you can see their thought process in choosing and setting up shots, and then they each film themselves editing that exact video in Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
Last but definitely not least (in fact this really should have gone first), I use World Nomads for travel insurance.
Their support line was incredibly helpful when I needed to go to a hospital in Beijing, and the claims process could not have been easier. I mailed them my receipts four months later when I had returned home, and a few weeks later I had a check from them in the mail. One of the best things about World Nomads is that you can apply from abroad, whereas a lot of insurance programs require you to sign up while you’re still in your home country (a huge pain for longterm travelers).
Big lesson learned from my experience getting sick on the road: have travel insurance! Choose whatever insurance fits best with your needs, but I highly recommend World Nomads.
You can get a quote here: