map and camera travel gear

Travel Gear: The Minimalist Travel Essentials

This post was most recently updated on August 26th, 2020

When we travel we bring very little travel gear and consider ourselves to be minimalist. Our travel packing list seems to get smaller and smaller all the time. If we realize that after three weeks of travelling we have several items of clothing that we never even touched, those get eliminated.

There are so many advantages of travelling light nowadays, I can’t see bringing any excess travel gear. Unless maybe if you were moving to another country, or bringing in supplies to hand out to a community.

Advantages Of Travelling With Minimal Travel Gear

  • You don’t usually have to pay baggage fees
  • Your luggage can’t get lost in transit
  • Takes no time at all to pack and unpack
  • No more waiting at a luggage carousel
  • Easier on your back to carry or maneuver around
  • You don’t have to wait in line at the airport to check your bags
  • Takes less time to make a decision on what to wear
travel gear with a carry-on suitcase

A Suitcase Or Backpack?

Whether we bring a suitcase or backpack all depends on the location we’re travelling to. Since both our suitcases and backpacks are carry-on and hold about the same amount of travel gear, only the location plays into our decision.

If we travel for a weekend or a month, we still have the same travel packing list. So how do we decide to bring suitcases or backpacks?

For a weekend trip to a city, we always take our suitcases. Or if it’s a cruise for the week, an all inclusive, or someplace where we plan on renting a car, we bring our suitcases. If there is minimal walking involved getting to our destination, and we’re just exiting a rental car, or taxi, we will bring our suitcases. The pavement is most likely level in these locations, so it makes it easy for rolling your carry-on.

If we’re heading to some place where lots of walking is involved, the streets are uneven, we’re going to be taking a bus, or on the move each day to a new location, we bring our backpacks. These worked out perfect for our trip to Puerto Vallarta. I never realized how hilly the city was until we had to walk over 160 steps up to our condo.

*You can read all about our trip to Puerto Vallarta here.

Best Hardside Luggage

The guys at Chester Luggage sent us their suitcase called the Minima Carry-On Spinner Suitcase to try out. This suitcase is perfect for anyone looking for a roomy 38 litre carry-on that will last you for years. We were very impressed with the features and look forward to using it on many trips.

This luggage meets all the airlines size restrictions for carry-on, is made from a polycarbonate shell that is virtually unbreakable, and weighs in at only 7 pounds. One of my favourite features are the 360 degree spinner wheels. This suitcase comes with 8 spinner wheels and just glides and moves with you in any direction.

  • A variety of 7 colours to choose from
  • Weighs in at 7 pounds
  • Dent and ding proof
  • TSA approved lock
  • 2 position handle
  • Strong polycarbonate shell
  • 8 spinner wheels
  • 21.5 X 13.5 X 8.5 carry-on size
  • 100 day trial and free returns

Check out my YouTube video to learn more about the Chester carry-on.

To receive 10% off, you can use my special promo code: 2toques10 on the Chester website.

Click here to check out the Chester luggage website.

Alternately you can view the Chester luggage on

Best Travel Backpack Men

We have used a few different backpacks over the years to hold our travel gear. Some were top loading backpacks which we found a real pain to get things out. Then others didn’t comply with the new airline size restrictions for a travel carry-on backpack. Plus when we were first starting out we also over packed. 

Now that we’ve got our travel gear down to a minimum, we’ve found the best travel backpack for men to be the Osprey Farpoint 40. 

This is one of the best selling of the Osprey backpacks, and for good reason. 

  • Lightweight at only 3 pounds
  • Carry-on approved size at 21 X 14 X 9 for the M/L
  • Hipbelt to carry the load
  • The harness and hipbelt can be zippered away for easier transport  making it look more like a suitcase
  • Lockable compartments
  • Very well made durable fabric
  • Compartment to store your laptop
  • Large zippered compartment that opens like a suitcase to make access easier

We love the mesh pockets on the front that are big enough to fit our water bottles. Plus it comes with a small pocket on top that is perfect for sunglasses. 

Best Travel Backpack For Women

Again we are partial to the Osprey brand. They’ve just proven to be so durable and meet our needs for a carry-on. For a women’s backpack I prefer the Osprey Fairview 40. This is the woman’s version of the Farpoint 40. They are specifically designed to fit a woman’s proportions. And we consider the Osprey to be the best lightweight backpacks.

  • Plenty of pockets to store items
  • Lightweight at 3 pounds
  • Complies with airline size regulations for carry-on
  • Has the same stow away harness like the men’s Farpoint 40
  • Can fit a laptop and tablet
  • Main compartment unzips like a suitcase
  • Comfortable to wear

Best Travel Daypack

We like the Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Daypack mainly for the fact that you can pack it down so small that it could fit in a jacket pocket. When we know we’re going to be out walking around, or hiking it’s nice to bring something smaller than our 40 litre carry-on backpack. With this daypack being so lightweight and compactable, it has been the best daypack to bring. 

  • Water resistant material
  • 20 litre volume
  • Weighs only 2.4 ounces
  • Strong durable nylon
  • Packs down small
  • Great price point

On our last trip I borrowed my son’s Under Armour Sackpack. It folds in half as small as a pair of pants. And I used it on a hike and just walking around the city. It also worked out perfect as a second handbag to carry on the plane when we overbought in souvenirs.

When we got home I bought this version of the sackpack. The Under Armour Undeniable Sackpack. What I like about this one is the two zippered compartments. Plus it comes with a tab on the front to hang whatever you want. It is very light and comfortable to wear. And comes in handy to carry your purchases home leaving your hands free. 

Best Packing Cubes For Travel Gear

If you’ve never used packing cubes before, you need to get them. They are amazing! You wouldn’t believe how much you can fit in such a small space. They compress your clothes, so you have a lot more room to bring your essentials. We would not be able to bring as much as we do without using packing cubes. 

We have a few different brands of packing cubes that we use. But the ones we like the most are these Eagle Creek packing cubes. You get 3 different sizes in the pack. 

  • Lightweight
  • Strong durable material
  • Washable
  • Water resistant

I like to bring a few different colours of packing cubes with me too. That way it’s easy to grab the bag you want. Plus when you open your suitcase or backpack, your items aren’t scattered all over. Just neatly compressed in your packing cubes.

Travelon Bags

For our camera bag we use a Travelon bag. It’s not really meant to be a camera bag. They advertise it as a backpack/shoulder bag. But our camera fits in there perfect. So that’s what we use it for. It looks enough like a camera bag and not a purse. So Jerry has no problem carrying it around also.

What’s great about the Travelon is it’s anti-theft properties. It’s built with slash resistant straps and compartments. You can lock the straps so they can’t be undone easily. Inside is a RFID blocking card, and one zippered spot that’s perfect for passports. It comes with a LED light inside, and a place to fit your water bottle on the outside. 

Best Travel Purse

Travelon make the best secure travel bags. I don’t often carry a purse around when I travel because it’s just one less thing I have to worry about. But if I’m on a shopping trip with my girlfriends, and some place that I know I’d like to have a purse with me, I prefer a Travelon purse.

They come in such a variety of styles and colours now that no one would even know it’s an anti-theft purse. And with pickpocketing being so prevalent nowadays, anything that can be a deterrent helps.

Best DSLR Camera For Travel

We’ve been using a Canon EOS Rebel T6 camera for a couple years now. Neither one of us know very much about taking great pictures, but we find it fairly easy to use. What I like about it is the built in wifi which makes it a lot easier to transfer pictures to the computer. 

Best Computer And Tablet For Travel Gear

Wherever we go I always bring my I pad mini. It’s so lightweight and compact making it easy to fit in your luggage anywhere. I usually keep it in the inside travel slot of the Travelon bag. It’s padded giving it extra protection. Plus it’s easy to get out to use while you’re waiting at the airport, train, or bus station. 

We love our Apple products. And find it so much easier when everything is compatible. Our computer doesn’t always come with us when we travel. But when it does, we bring our 13 inch Macbook Air. It’s small and light enough to fit in our backpack or carry-on luggage. 

Essential Travel Items

These are some of the smaller can’t do without items that come with us when we travel. 

Money Belt

Some people swear by them, others think it’s a waste of time. We personally always bring a money belt with us. It’s so lightweight, and you don’t even notice you’re wearing it. I couldn’t stand something around my neck. But I like this one that you wear around your waist. 

Travel Adaptor Plug

This travel adaptor plug works in more than 150 countries worldwide. It comes with surge protection and two USB ports to charge your devices. 

Travelon Smart Tubes

We love these little tubes for shampoo and conditioner because of their spill proof and leak proof properties. They are airline compliant and BPA free. 

Waterproof Travel Bag

You never know when you’re going to take a small boat ride or be somewhere you need to be carrying your passport and money that could get wet. These bags take up barely any space and came in handy when we got caught in a rain storm in Belize. 

Travel First Aid Kit

This small first aid kit is waterproof and so light that it’s easy to fit in your luggage anywhere. As long as the scissors are 4 inches or less, you won’t have a problem bringing them in carry-on. 

Noise Cancelling Headphones

These are perfect for watching a movie on the plane, or listening to music on your phone. And blocking out your seat mates snoring when you’re trying to sleep on the plane or in a hostel. 

Best Travel Toiletry Bag

This bag weighs in at only 4 ounces, and includes 4 zippered compartments to store items. I love the hook so you can hang it up anywhere. Plus the bottom compartment is clear and snaps off. So instead of ziplock bags at the airport, you can put all your liquids in there. 

Best Travel Wallet

What I like about this wallet is it has 3 different slots to put different currencies. So it comes in handy when you’re travelling to a few different countries on one trip. Plus like other Travelon products it includes RFID to help protect your identity. 

For more travel gear recommendations click here to read all about our favourite shoes to wear travelling. 

Affiliate Disclosure – This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Chester Luggage affiliate program. If you purchase something off our site, we receive a small commission. This helps to keep our site running and we are extremely grateful. 


  1. Erin and Sean Robinson

    My favourite travel purse is LUG… check it out! Great article … I am going to check out some of your suggestions for my next trip.

    1. Kimberley

      I will have to check that one out! Thanks

  2. Davindra

    I almost always overpack but you have some great products listed here. I’m gonna look into a couple pieces.

    1. Kimberley

      It is so much faster, cheaper, and easier going through the airport with less luggage. Give it a try sometime using the packing cubes. They’re really amazing!

  3. Mommy Outside

    Some great suggestions here. I’m not known for travelling light 🙂 But the times I do I always use a backpack. I have one I love that has lots of pockets and compartments to keep me organized.

    1. Kimberley

      I love lots of different compartments too. And the packing cubes work wonders!

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