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Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in any season, places | 8 comments

My Travel Essentials + A Giveaway!

My Travel Essentials |Gorillapod portrait at Colosseum, Rome |

Good walking shoes (check!), water bottle (check!), portrait with Gorillapod in front of Colosseum (check!)

This year has been one heck of a travel year for me, and I feel like I’ve really hit my stride when it comes to being prepared. As I pack my bags to go to South America for Thanksgiving (!), I wanted to share my travel essentials. And thanks to the generosity of some of my favorite companies, I’m giving away a few of my travel picks! Details on the prizes and how to enter are at the end of the post.


Essentials for staying hydrated

Staying hydrated is always a good idea, but it’s especially important when you’re traveling. Dehydration can make you feel nauseated and/or sluggish, and ain’t nobody got time for that on vacation. A few glasses of water can help you recover from extra drinks, help keep your immune system strong, and help combat the low-humidity, pressurized air in planes that will dry you out in a snap. You should also pay extra attention to hydrating when traveling to high altitude destinations to hopefully avoid altitude sickness.

1. Reusable water bottle: The easiest (and cheapest) way to stay hydrated is to have a bottle to carry around with you. Many major airports now make it easy to refill your own bottle with dedicated water bottle fillers (usually outside the bathrooms). On a roadtrip, look for the water spout on the soda fountains in convenience stores. I love my Tervis water bottles because they’re made in the USA, are dishwasher safe, fit cup holders, are sturdy, and are super easy to drink out of. We’ve toted those bottles all over the place this year! (See below for how you can win one!)

My Travel Essentials |

2. Skincare: Drinking water helps a lot of things, but external hydration is important, too! I always keep a good tube (or two or three) of lip balm on hand, as well as a travel-sized hand cream, and my dry oil facial moisturizer. An everyday sunscreen is always a good idea, too.


Snacking essentials


3. Nuts + dried fruit: Any trip will benefit from snacks that can be stored at any temperature and don’t take up a ton of space. Nuts and dried fruit–packed with filling protein and fiber–can come in several different forms. Sometimes it’s just a plain ol’ baggie of walnuts and dried apples. Sometimes I pack LÄRABARS, which are made from just a handful of whole foods ingredients (like dates, fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate!). If I’m feeling a little more ambitious, I’ll make a batch of fruit and nut granola before I leave. I’m also a big fan Crispy Green’s non-GMO, freeze-dried fruit snacks for a prepackaged option.

4. Tea: Bags of tea are something I pretty much keep on me at all times–I have bags stuck in my purses and suitcases and my car’s glove compartment. As a person who is always cold (but doesn’t drink coffee), I like to have the makings of a warm beverage on hand. Tea can cure more than just cold hands, though. Ginger tea helps settled an upset stomach, caffeinated tea helps you shake jetlag, and chamomile will help settle you before bed. The good news is that hot water is usually free and fairly easy to access. Most hotel rooms have coffee/tea making facilities, convenience stores have hot water spouts, and flight attendants are usually happy to grab you a cup of hot water. Worst case, you can pay something like $.20 for a cup of hot water at a coffee shop.


Essentials for entertainment + exercise


5. Podcasts: Download your favorite episodes on wifi before you leave so you can listen anytime, even in airplane mode. Here are some of my favorites:

Yoga Download–quick, 20 minute yoga sessions that are perfect for keeping you centered while you’re on the road.

NPR FoodBon Appetit Foodcast + Burnt Toast by Food52 + Radio Cherry Bombe–catch up on the latest news in the food world, get cooking tips, and listen to interviews of chefs, restauranteurs, cookbook authors, and other culinary professionals (mostly 15-30 minute episodes).

This American Life + Serial–This American Life is a weekly, hour-long, thought-provoking and conversation sparking podcast about issues affecting Americans (ideal for sharing with travel mates). Serial is the binge-worthy sister of This American Life that dives into one true, controversial criminal case over the course of 12 hour-long episodes. No reading lights are necessary to get sucked into the tale of Adnan Syed. New season (supposedly) coming late 2015.

6. Good walking shoes + pedometer: A good pair of walking shoes is a pretty obvious choice, but I pretty much never leave for a trip without them. I love keeping track of how far I wander with a pedometer. I just use the free “health” app on my iPhone, which seems to do a pretty good job of tracking steps.


Documenting essentials


7. VSCOcam (app): This is easily my favorite app for mobile photography. It has a wide range of editing tools, and its location data makes it super easy to geotag that #tbt post long after you get home.

8. Gorillapod tripod: I haven’t yet succumbed to purchasing a selfie stick, so this is still my go-to selfie tool. These flexible, lightweight, portable tripods can wrap around a railing, rock, or pole just about anywhere so you can get the best shot of yourself or the scenery. They’re compatible with dSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras, and phones.

My Travel Essentials |Gorillapod on Golden Gate Bridge |

Gorillapod + Golden Gate Bridge

9. Travel sketchbook: At the beginning of 2014, I resolved to maintain a travel sketchbook to chronicle my travels. I knew I wouldn’t keep up with writing in a journal, but jotting down quick doodles of trip highlights is something I can do (and have done!). It’s a nod to a bygone era of documenting things on paper. I chose a small, unlined notebook that can slip easily into whatever bag I’m carrying.

My Travel Essentials | Travel Journal Sketchbook |


Other essentials


10. Packable bag: You never know when you’ll happen upon a farmers market or find souvenirs that won’t fit in your suitcase. I always take this reusable bag which folds up into its own pocket with me. It carries up to 35 lbs. and is no bigger than a tennis ball when it’s tucked away. It also doubles as an “oh crap my checked baggage is too heavy” overflow bag.

11. Cushy socks: I recently learned that first class passengers on long-haul flights are given socks in their amenity kit. How fun/smart/cool is that? Well apparently I’ve been living the first class life back in coach because I always bring my own cushy socks to change into. Tuck your shoes under the seat, and get comfy! While this might not sound essential to some of you, it is when a) you’re always cold on planes, and b) you have a spouse who likes the car temp colder than you want.


Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

(Update 11/30/15) Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated!




One (1) lucky person will receive a travel essentials prize pack, including a 24 oz. water bottle from Tervis, a variety pack of non-GMO Crispy Green fruit snacks, and a curated selection of organic skin care products from Atlanta’s first eco-beauty boutique, Fig & Flower (including lip conditioner, reparative cream, everyday sunscreen samples, and exfoliating scrub)!

Two (2) additional readers will receive variety packs of non-GMO Crispy Green fruit snacks.


To enter:


  1. Follow me (@kenanhill) on Instagram.
  2. Comment on this blog post and tell me one of your travel essentials (include your Instagram handle/name).
  3. Receive an extra entry by tagging two friends in the giveaway post on Instagram.
  4. Receive an extra entry by signing up for my blog newsletter (let me know if you’re already subscribed).




This giveaway starts at 9pm EST on 11/24/2015 and ends at midnight EST on 11/29/2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be announced on 11/30/2015. Winners will be notified by direct message.

Participants must be eighteen (18) years of age or older. Open to residents of the continental United States only.

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. By participating, you agree to release Instagram of all liability and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.


  1. I love traveling with my Birkenstock sandals too. They keep my feet comfy and I don’t feel guilty trekking around all day because of the arch support! Sometimes they can be dressed up too 😉 (my Instagram is @mackenzieraethomas)

  2. Safe travels and enjoy South America! I’m a big fan of the travel-friendly Lush products – the dry shampoo and shampoo/conditioner bars are the best (get it – no liquids ha)! Anyway, love the blog and I’m already signed up for your newsletters. I hope to see you soon! (Instagram postcardenvy)

  3. I travel for work every week! I’m lost without my headphones and lip balm! (@alexgarza13)
    Safe travels to Africa!

    • Oops! I meant South America!

  4. My favorite travel essential is my partner in non-crime – my husband 😉

  5. Awesome post Kenan! Being a pharmacist I never even go on a weekend trip without essential over the counter products just in case anyone gets sick while traveling. I have a small pack with travel size ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, loperamide, sudafed and meclizine. I hope I never have to use them but they come in handy for me and my travel companions if we need them!

    Happy traveling!

  6. Enjoy your travel, eat lots of gourmet chocolates, variety of fruits you haven’t tried before and fresh bread!
    I love my reusable Tervis tumbler! Besides that, I always travel with a Palo santo essential oil and the ‘Respiro’ Allergy calm blend.
    (Instagram @caroproano)

  7. My travel essentials include a good book for the airport/plane, a cozy zip up jacket for the flight, and my Keen Sienna Mary Janes which are both comfortable and cute for lots of walking! (@cristinahelenadavis on IG).

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