How is you rChristmas/Holiday/End of year shopping coming along? I am mostly done but am flying back to Italy in less than a week so am scrambling to get everything finished before I go. I didn’t do a Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping post this year because my own inbox was so bombarded with endless Black Friday shopping emails, I just couldn’t face being part of that circus this year.
So what I thought I would do instead is write a post after the event telling you about the MVP items I have used in my travels over the past year. I have traveled more months than I’ve stayed at home in 2023 so have had to use my travel items more than ever. This has really reinforced which things are indispensable and which are just space wasters in the valuable real estate that is my suitcase. Without further ado let’s check them out:
Conair Travel Steamer
Small but mighty, this Conair Travel Smart Steamer was a lifesaver this year and is perhaps my favorite travel gadget and top of the most valued list. For more than one reason too. It is nice and powerful for steaming wrinkles out of clothes. I travel for about 8 weeks at a time so I used this to refresh clothes living in my cramped suitcase too. I also like the idea that you can steam pillows or anything else you might be concerned is holding bacteria.
It is quite compact, weighs next to nothing, and doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase. I bought mine at the beginning of the year, it has been on every trip with me, has been used half to death and still keeps chug-a-lugging along. Check it out here on Amazon.com
BaByliss Nano Titanium Professional Hot Air Dryer Brush
I use a dryer brush like this at home but it is way too cumbersome to pack for travel. I have an enormous amount of hair so didn’t have particularly high expectations for the small travel sized BaByliss Nano Titanium hot air brush, but it is fantastic! It blows my hair out smooth and the nano titanium part makes drying even my huge head of hair, really quick.
You can see in the image above how smooth it gets my crazy curly hair. This was walking with one of my Glam Italia Tour groups up to Civita di Bagnoregio in October 2023. Left to its own devices my hair looks like a Dollar Store home perm, so being able to blow it out nice and smooth without any drama is a Godsend. Check it out here on Amazon.com
BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Hair Dryer
If you’re not into the single item hot air brush type hair dryer, the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Travel Hair Dryer is incredible. According to Amazon I purchased mine in 2018, so if we take out 2020 covid year when none of us traveled, and exclude 2023 when I used the hot air brush from the same company, this little dynamo has had four years of hard core travel use, and is still going strong. Don’t be put off by how tiny it is – it is really powerful. Also the nano titanium part makes it dry hair more quickly and keeps your hair smooth. Check it out here on amazon.com.
I have an Apple AirTag in my suitcase and another in my carryon, and I can’t even tell you how much peace of mind it brings when I’m out and about in the world! Especially with the last two summers being so bad all over the world for lost luggage. It is a relief to board your flight and see your suitcase has boarded it too, and to arrive at the other end and be able to track your suitcase to the luggage carousel.
When I arrived to Rome in May I thought for a horrifying few minutes that my suitcase was lost. I turned on the AirTag and it walked me around the corner to where someone had taken it off the carousel by mistake. This makes the perfect gift for anyone who travels. Even if your suitcase goes to Dubai while you’ve flown to Madrid, your AirTag will locate it for you long before the airlines can. I won’t fly/travel without it. Check out AirTags here on amazon.com
The Paravel Foldable Duffle Bag
This little gem has bailed me out more times than I care to mention! The Paravel Foldable Duffle Bag zips down into itself into the shape and size of an iPad. It weighs nothing and takes up no space in your suitcase. Mine sees daylight when I’ve over-shopped or somehow can’t fit everything back into my suitcase at the end of a trip. (Which basically means I’ve over-shopped.) The bag has a surprisingly large capacity. I roll up loads of clothes and lightweight items using them to fill the Paravel bag, which comes on the plane with me, and fill my suitcase with whatever new things I’ve bought.
It makes a fabulous Plan B and prevents you from needing to buy a second suitcase/checked bag. I bought mine (years ago) in sensible but boring navy, but I wish I had the red one. These bags are really sturdy, can handle a lot of weight, and trust me – you’ll be amazed at how much you can fit in there! Check out the Paravel bags in all their colors here on Amazon.
The Jisulife Handheld Mini Fan
We just had the two hottest summers on record in southern Europe and this handheld mini fan was a lifesaver! It’s super small and slips into your handbag needing almost no space, so is really convenient when you’re out sightseeing all day and don’t want to carry around a single extra thing. It is also surprisingly powerful and holds a charge for a really long time. I charged mine in May before heading to Italy and made it through a really hot few weeks without needing to recharge it. (It has a USB port, so no nuisance batteries to deal with). They come in multiple colors and at under $15 these make great stocking stuffers too. Check them out here on Amazon.com
Bagsmart Electronic Organizer Case
These electronic organizer cases also cost under $15 and make great stocking stuffers. To be fair I thought mine was pretty ugly when I got it and wasn’t sure I’d use it, but I have used it to death! It’s a perfect compact size and is nice and slim, so doesn’t take up room in your carryon or handbag. (You should always keep all your chargers etc with you when you fly – don’t put them in a checked bag in case you need them.) Normally I would opt for something sleek and black but I have left sleek and black on planes and trains before, so opt instead for eyesore pink or any other color I will see and not leave behind. I like format of the pouches and zippered sections on this organizer. See it here on Amazon.com
I was late to the party when it came to buying a Kindle. For years I read everything on the Kindle App on my iPad and it wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I finally bought a Kindle Paperwhite. Now I don’t know how I ever lived without it!
This is the travelers absolute best friend. Mine can hold somewhere between 5000 and 8000 books (!) and I don’t even have one of the souped-up models. I love that the Kindle is so slim and lightweight, so can slip into your handbag. They have low-light abilities, so you can be reading and not be blasting light into the eyeballs on the person trying to sleep next to you on the plane. I also love that I can be anywhere and still read, not needing a reading light. Again, I got mine in a color (sage green) rather than black, because I didn’t want to leave it behind on a plane or a train. There are a variety of different models and colors available. Check out Kindles here on Amazon.com
Audible Gift Subscription
This is kind of cool and is great for travelers. Audible is Amazon’s audio book service. They have gift subscriptions, so your travelers (or anyone else in your life) can enjoy listening to audiobooks courtesy of you. Statistics show that audio books are the fastest growing sector of the book market, and that readers/book lovers consume vastly more content when they can listen to books rather than have to find time to sit down and read. Personally, I am a voracious reader, but I love listening to audio books while doing housework, cooking, driving, doing things that prevent me from sitting down and reading. Check out Audible Subscriptions on amazon here.
Merino Base Layers
This really does have to be one of the best travel hacks around! I swear by merino base layers when I travel. In the summer I wear a merino cami under whatever I’m wearing to fly in, in the winter I wear a long sleeved merino t-shirt styled base layer. I also have several J Crew merino crew neck sweaters.
What makes merino so brilliant for the traveler in your life is this wool is super fine like a t-shirt weight. It’s non-itchy so even those of us who can’t normally wear wool (me!) can have this next to our skin. Merino is moisture wicking, so if you perspire it wicks it away from your skin. It’s also temperature regulating, so will keep you comfortable in temperatures from below zero up to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit/20 degrees Celsius, making it ideal when you are traveling from a cold climate to a warm one. It also is really helpful when you are moving from freezing cold outside into warm buildings/museums/homes/shops. And you don’t have to struggle with multiple heavy layers of clothing.
Merino is smell resistant, so you can go multiple wears without having to launder it, and it packs down super small so is ideal for travel. Winter travelers already know how cumbersome it is to pack thick sweaters when you travel! I buy Icebreaker Merino (see their store on Amazon here) but there are multiple other brands selling high quality merino products on Amazon too. In the photo above I’m wearing a black J Crew merino sweater in Rome when a very unexpected cold snap hit.
My Glam Italia How To Travel Italy Books
If you know anyone thinking about traveling to Italy, or anyone who already loves Italy, please think about gifting them my Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy books! All four books are best sellers and are popular worldwide. Rather than send people into the overwhelming tourist crowds like most travel guides do, my books show the reader loads of different, equally amazing and often more exciting places to visit. Most of the places I talk about are just down the street from where the crowds are, yet have very few if any other people there. There is so much more to see and do in these big Italian cities than just hang out where the tour buses go, and I want you to see these incredible places! All four books are designed to take a good trip to Italy and make it the best trip of your life.
Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy teaches you how to plan and execute your best trip ever. It is full of fantastic information, tips, tricks and ideas. Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome will make you fall in love with the Eternal City and show you endless places the tour bus crowds don’t know about. Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence gives you insider secrets to places you’ve never heard of before, and tells you intriguing stories about some of the places you have heard of! This book will change the way you explore and discover the most beautiful Renaissance city in the world.
Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Venice is an absolute game changer. It will take you away from the tourist crowds, show you incredible sights you’d never heard of before, and will make you fall hopelessly in love with the most unique city on earth!
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