Whether its sailing, camping, or #vanlife, there are a few essentials that I will always want on my adventures no matter where I go. These convenient tools help keep my travels comfortable while not sacrificing the simplicity that I love and also respecting my meager budget. Here are the top 7 traveling essentials that I would not go without.
Solar Panel $59+
On the stern of Tula I have mounted a 145 watt solar panels that powers EVERYTHING aboard. I don’t even have the alternator hooked up to my engine because I get enough power from the panel. Solar panels can be easily mounted to the roof of a camper or van and Goal Zero makes some great small portable panels that you can take anywhere, including camping. These are great to keep your camera powered up through extended stays far away from any power-source. Not sure what to get? Goal Zero makes it super simple to choose the size panel you need and they even have a number of different power storage options including large batteries that would be great for the inside of a cruising boat or nomadic camper van.
This may be an odd item for a “traveling essentials” list but I truly believe it is important to eat healthy whether you are on the road or sailing the open ocean. It is especially hard to find quality food on the road when you are surrounded by fast food everywhere and when you are sailing offshore for more than a few days canned food just doesn’t have the same nutritional quality as living plants. Sprout seeds are super easy to store, don’t go bad, and produce a ton of nutritionally dense greens. The Sproutman has some great products to help you get started including automatic spouters that take almost no maintenance while it grows pounds of delicious micro greens. My recommendation is the simple Freshlife Sprouter which can grow four variety of sprouts at the same time and up to 1.5lbs of greens within a few days. The simplest sprouting method is a jar with a cheesecloth or mesh cap. Just be sure to rinse and drain well multiple times daily, especially in warm climates.
A machete is like the sharp version of duct tape, it can
fix cut anything. I use the Gerber Gator Machete to cut firewood, slice vegetables, chop through thick brush, even saw pallets for my next project but my absolute favorite thing to do with a machete is to cut open coconuts 🙂
Auto Pilot $439
But seriously, if you look closely you can see the arm of my ST2000 Tiller Pilot, my sister just needed some sailing practice… Ok, so this doesn’t apply to all forms of travel, but it kind of does. It is so nice to be able to take a nap, read a book, or do something productive while you are still putting miles under your keel (or wheels). If you don’t have a friend to act as “autopilot” on your road trip then you are out of luck but on the high seas there are a few options. Tula doesn’t have a wheel but a tiller instead and my Raymarine ST2000 does an amazing job keeping her on a set compass bearing. Boy, did I wish I had this thing when I was sailing off Montauk Point in a gale and reallyyy had to pee. You can read about that story here (hint – I didn’t make it). West Marine offers many different autopilot options depending on your boat and steering setup. Still, the best autopilot out there is a friend. Someone to talk to, share experiences with, and blame when things don’t go right 😉
Waterproof IPhone/Ipad Case $67
On my Solo Sailing Trip South I navigated the whole way with an ipad. I also used my iPhone for all my pictures and videos and am so thankful for my lifeproof waterproof case. Without them I can think of at least a dozen times where I would have completely lost my mobile devices. You can’t really say you are on a “real” adventure unless there is at least a little bit of a risk of your smartphone getting destroyed by water damage. Luckily Lifeproof makes cases for a number of different brands and models of electronics. They even have a bright orange Lifejacket that floats and helps protect your phone from hard impacts.
Portable Speaker $59+
You may have already seen my review of the Goal Zero Rockout 2 Speaker, but if you haven’t I will tell you super quick why it is part of my traveling essentials. It is a pain in the @$$ when built in speakers and radios break whether it be in your truck, van, boat, scooter, etc. There are about a million and two wires to test and reconnect if you have to replace something. Portable speakers don’t have this problem AND you can bring them anywhere! The Rockout 2 speaker has great sound, a durable case, long battery life, and can be attached almost anywhere. I mount it in the cockpit of Tula or on the shifter in my truck since the radio doesn’t work. It can be recharged through any USB port and they even make a model with a built in solar panel!
Yeti Cooler $249+
I know that I said all these items fit into my meager budget in the beginning of this post and, despite the steep price of the Yeti, they still do. The Yeti still fits in this category for two reasons. First, it is virtually indestructible. The Yeti will last 10 years+ and if we divide that cost up monthly over 10 years this cooler will cost you just over $2/month, WITH NO MAINTENANCE! Second, compared to other coolers, the Yeti will save you an exponential amount on ice expenses. The walls of these things are thick which is why they keep cold in so well. I have friends who have been in the Bahamas with a Yeti on the deck of their boat and they claim they have the SAME ice in it that lasts for a week, ONE WEEK, in the warm Bahama Islands! I think of this cooler like a refrigerator. A cheap refrigerator that needs no maintenance and costs no electricity, which can be valuable off the beaten path 😉
These are my travel essentials. Whether I am on a boat, road tripping in my big green truck, or camping through the Florida Springs, I always try to have these reliable components with me.
My favorite? A friend 😉 What is yours?