My Favourite Travel Products

3M Soft Earplugs

I always have 3-5 pairs of these in whatever bag I have, and they’re great.  I often use them on airplanes if I don’t want to listen to music, in noisy hotel rooms, noisy apartments (looking at you, New York), or wherever I want a little quiet without wearing my Etymotics.

Cabeau Evolution Pillow

In general, travel pillows suck.  They look stupid, I resisted for a long time, but eventually I got one, and it does make a marginal difference.  I think this one is the best of the bunch – it’s built ergonomically (ie. Doesn’t force your head forward), squishes into a pretty small package, and locks pretty well around your neck (preventing your head from falling forward).

I also have been using it recently to protect my bruised tailbone from long periods of sitting (ie. Airplane, bus, etc.), and have used it as a pillow when sleeping at friends’ places.  So it has it’s uses.  Would love suggestions for something better though.

Sleep Master Eye Mask

I hated eye masks until I got this one – I’m still not totally sold/used to them, but this one doesn’t have an elastic, and sort of tightens around your eyebrows, so instead of pressing on your eyes, it just blocks the light, which is great.  I used this plus some 3M earplugs while living in a crappy apartment in New York that had no curtains and a lot of traffic noise.

SKINS Compression Socks

I use these for two things: one, helping prevent clotting on long flights (particularly if I’ve been using NSAIDs), and two, recovery from long workouts, particularly runs.  It’s a misconception that these things help when running or doing activity, but for recovery, they’re great.

If you have any predisposition to blood clots, you should wear these.

Osprey Farpoint 55 Backpack

I bought this after a lot of research, and it’s an awesome backpack save for one thing I was hoping from it: it doesn’t really fit in carry-on.  You’ll get away with it sometimes if it’s not packed full and people aren’t paying a lot of attention, but I’ve been called out and not been able to fit it in the carry-on sizer.

That said, for longer trips/hikes/roadtrips/etc., it’s awesome.  Full suspension means it’s super comfy, and it opens completely which makes packing, unpacking, and finding items in between easy.

The day pack is also one of the most ergonomic, comfortable backpacks I’ve ever had.

If you do want something that fits the carryon standards, my friends recommend the Farpoint 40, which fits the dimensions a bit better.  Technically the Farpoint 55 is a 40L + 15L day pack, but the dimensions are a bit different.  I’ll probably be picking up the Farpoint 40 soon.

Matt & Nat

  Briefcase

  Backpack

  Weekender Bag

Not a whole lot to say here, but Matt & Nat were founded in Montreal, and they make great-looking vegan-friendly leather-lookalike bags.  I got all back versions of each, and they look greaty.  I’ve used them for longer travel, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it.  As a weekday commuter/weekender combo though, it’s hard to find a combo that looks better.

MEC Duffel Bag (M/60L)

Not much to say about these except you should get one.  We used to use the larger versions in the Coast Guard for all our gear, and I’ve had one of the 60L versions since a trip we took to Europe in 2010, and it has been thrown around, abused, filled to the brim, and never failed me.

They’re flexible, which means that as long as you don’t stuff them, you can almost always get it into the carry-on sizer, and as mentioned, they’re extremely durable.  It’s currently my go-to for carryon-friendly bag, and I think there’s something to be said for carry-on bags that don’t have wheels for longer-term travel.

Etymotic HF-5 Earphones

I listed these in both the tech and travel sections just because I find them essential for each.  These earphones are the single most painful thing for me to forget when traveling – they’re just awesome.  I’ve compared them with the best Bose headphones, and the difference in background noise reduction is minimal, and I believe better in some situations.

Between the cost difference and the portability compared with bulky headphones, as well as the lack of need for batteries, I think these headphones are a steal, and I’m now on my fifth pair.

As a small disclaimer, the one weak spot of these is the cords – you have to take care of them, and even then after a couple years they will wear out.  That said, Etymotic has never failed to replace them for me, meaning that I’ve only ever paid for two pairs of these.  Last time they even upgraded my replacements to the ones with a mic/remote when I asked.