How to Make Your Picnic Environmentally Friendly

Happy (almost) summer! Man, have we had some beautiful days here in NC. It makes you just want to head outside with a picnic, sprawl out in the grass and enjoy the sunshine. There’s warm sun on your face, cool grass under your feet, and a light breeze in the air. You pull out your picnic basket, and it’s full of…trash? Plastic straws, cups, and forks. Paper napkins and plates. Sandwiches, wrapped up in plastic wrap or single-use zip-top bags. But what are you going to do? You can’t exactly bring fine china to the park. Are disposable paper products your only option? Should you just stay at home?

Fear not, my environmentally-conscious friends, someone else has been there before you! There are many options out there so that you can have an easy clean-up, and eco-friendly picnics all summer long.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. There has been a huge movement this year to reduce straw usage. Of course, you may choose to simply go without, but I personally love straws. This reusable straw is the perfect solution! It even comes with 2 cleaning brushes.

2. A reusable water bottle is a great thing to have for your day-to-day life. But for your picnic, you might want to consider this one, because in addition to being a great option for H20, it can also hold an entire (750mL) bottle of wine.

3. Stainless steel wine glasses are the perfect balance of reusable and durable. You’ll love these sets of dishwasher safe, stemless wine glasses.

4. Reusable, collapsible cups are better than boring old solo cups. They’re reusable AND pack down nice and small, making them perfect for your picnic, camping, or traveling.

5. If you don’t want to take your metal utensils but are trying to avoid disposable items, these camping reusable utensils are for you. They are a 3-in-1 fork, knife, and spoon so they’ll work for all of your needs without taking up much space. Bonus!

6. Cloth napkins are not just for grandma’s fancy Christmas dinner. These “paperless towels”are durable, washable, and quick drying. You won’t miss paper napkins or paper towels.

7. Of course you can use normal reusable plastic plates for your eco-friendly picnic. But if you’re looking for an alternative, compostable plates are super cool. These are microwave and hot/cold food safe.  They may be a one-time use item, but you can put them into the compost instead of the landfill. Win!

8. Plastic wrap and baggies are such a waste. Try out this hand-washable, beeswax cloth instead. It comes with 3 different sized wraps for sealing up your fruits, veggies, or sandwiches and can also be used to cover a bowl of your favorite snacks. Once you’re done with it for good (and remember, you can wash it again and again) it’s even compostable.

9. If you have any liquid-y dishes to bring on your picnic, these mason jars are a trendy and eco-friendly vessel. Fill them up with soups, sauces, or any other messy dishes for your picnic, then wash and use them again and again.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to reduce your waste and invest in some nifty products for this summer’s outdoor activities such as picnics or camping. Do you have any ideas for having an eco-friendly picnic? How do you reduce waste? Let me know in the comments below! Did you like this post? Share via Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

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10 Tips for Adulting in Your 20s

Do you struggle with adulting?  Do you find yourself failing hard at getting your sh*t together on a regular basis?  It is I, a fellow failing adult, here to bring you advice for cleaning your life up, one step at a time!

  1. Exercise

    WorkoutbitmojiUgh, exercising sucks. I am not an athletic person, but putting in the smallest effort to build an exercise routine now will be much easier than when you’re 40 and have 2 kids. Plus, you’re much more likely to stick with the habits you build now.

  2. Stop drinking like you did in college.

    DrinkingSeriously, stop. Your body can’t take that abuse forever, and neither can your wallet. (If you find you are unable to reduce your drinking, please consider speaking with an addiction counselor.)

  3. Stop sleeping until noon

    SleeptilnoonHow much harder is it to get up at 6AM on Monday when you slept until noon on Sunday? I’m not saying you should get up at 6 every day, but it’s good to get your day started in the AM.

  4. Cook

    cookingbitmoji

    Eating McDonald’s 5 nights a week might be easy on the wallet, but your metabolism will not stay strong forever. The eating habits you form now will follow you for the rest of your life. There are tons of easy recipes that are cheaper and healthier than eating fast food or takeout all the time.

  5. Pay your bills on time

    stress_and_enviroment

    I have this bad habit of leaving unopened mail on my coffee table. My rent, car insurance, etc are all paid automatically, so most of my mail is junk. Unfortunately, my annual car tax ended up in The Pile. My state sends it out 3 months early, I believe, and I ended up paying fees because I paid it a few weeks late. It’s not that I didn’t know about it, it’s not that I didn’t have the money, I just forgot. Don’t do this, y’all. It’s completely avoidable.

  6. Stick to a budget

    Budget.jpg

    You’ll never be able to afford to travel or buy a new car or start your own business or pay for your wedding; whatever you want in life you have to save money to do it.  You can’t save money if you don’t know where you’re spending it.  Build and stick to a monthly budget!  Figure out what your expenses are and

  7. Drop your toxic friends

    ToxicFriendsByebyeDrop ‘em. You don’t need the negativity, you don’t need the stress, you don’t need them wasting your damn time. Drop, drop, drop.

  8. Try new things

    HOBBIES-ARE-HEALTHY.jpg

    Have new experiences; try a new hobby, travel, learn to play an instrument or sport, meet new people, or become active in your community.  Does your community have a community center?  Take a weekly pottery class!  Are you passionate about minority rights, veterans, refugees, or human trafficking?  Find activist groups in your community!

  9. Organize your home

    letsgetorganizedYou’ll be happier and more productive if you get your house/apartment all neat and tidy.  Say goodbye to messy cabinets and hello to your new, beautiful, organized life.

  10. Travel.

    20171215_133251_HDRMeet new people, learn new things, become a more worldly person. I can’t stress enough how important it is to travel in your twenties. It will shape who you are and how you view the world. You’ll meet so many different people from so many different places who think differently than you do, who experience the world differently than you do.

Are there any tips you would add?  Share them in the comments below!  If you liked this post, be sure to hit the subscribe button, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest and keep following me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Sleep image: https://thedailytripblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/insomnia-smoke-alarm-chinese-water-torture/
Bills image: http://www.healthreviser.com/content/environment-changes-manage-your-stress
Budget image: http://ww2.cfo.com/budgeting/2016/08/special-report-budgeting-plannings-changing-world/
Hobbies: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-activities/hobbies-are-healthy/

Let’s Get Organized!

2018 is ticking by so much faster than I thought it would!  January dragged on; we had after vacation blahs, my car broke down, I started back to work and school, just snowball after snowball hit me in the face.  February was better, I was a little more used to the schedule, I got a new car, but I was still playing catch up from January. Now we’re halfway through March and it’s time to get my shit together at home!  Who’s ready for spring cleaning 2018?

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Here are some cool things to get you organized for Spring Cleaning 2018

  1. A desktop organizer is perfect for your desk or bathroom counter. I have one to organize some of my makeup and jewelry and keep it from cluttering up the counter.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.1 stars
    Price: $14.99
    5 star review from Tee:
    “On my desk at work, excellent”
  2. Wire shower caddy cabinet organization. Great for organizing your shower (obviously) and can also be hung inside a cabinet for organizing cleaning supplies, makeup, skincare products, or extra shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.4 stars
    Price: $26.92
    5 star review from E Sanchez:
    “The hooks that hang over the top are about 2 inches wide so they will fit most doors or walls of your shower. I’m relieved to see that the caddy is large enough to hold big shampoo bottles and also a variety of bottles on both holders.”
  3. File folders are great for everything. You can obviously use them to sort files, but you can also use them to sort stuff in your kitchen. They’re a great size for holding fruit, sorting boxes of baggies or foil, and can even be placed in the fridge for additional short shelf space!

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.8 stars
    Price: $15.87
    5 star review from Katie:
    “I bought these to organize our kiddos library! Very sturdy! I love them!”
  4. Ah, a lazy Susan. Put it in your kitchen cabinet, put it in your bathroom cabinet, stick the thing in your fridge: this is a must-have for any organized home.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.6 stars
    Price: $12.99
    5 star review from LMT1022:
    “I have been on a major organizing kick and bought this to store all of my spices in the pantry. My shelves are 16″ depth with a 17″ height…
    “Very happy with the quality – seems very durable and stable. Many of the spices are glass and have extra weight, but no issues with the turntable supporting the heavier items.
    “The underside of the turntable has a solid round piece, so no worries about using this on an open wire shelf.”
  5. Cloth cube storage. These are fantastic! Great for storing T-shirts, shoes, craft supplies, office supplies, the possibilities are endless. I have a few that fit neatly onto a wire shelf, making it into a cheap chest of drawers.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.7 stars
    Price: $17.99
    5 star review from Jersey Girl:
    “I purchased this cubes to organize my classroom. They look great on a shelf and are the perfect size! The fabric is pretty good quality and I believe they will last!! Good price for a pack of six, compared to a $5 each in a retail store. Love the assortment of colors available.”
  6. Over-the-door shoe organizer. Not only is this great for shoes (obviously) but it can also be used to store other items. It’s the perfect size for Barbie or Bratz dolls, and great for any other plastic toy organization.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.4 stars
    Price: $9.99
    5 star review from Dave:
    “We have added this to our hall closet to help us organize all of our bottles of sunscreen bottles, lotions, wipes, etc for storage. Helps us clear up shelf space for sheets and towels etc.”
  7. This under-the-sink shelf is expandable so you can reach the stuff in the back of the cabinet and adjustable so that you can make it fit to the height of your cabinet.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.6 stars
    Price: $19.87
    5 star review from Susan Rupe:
    “As a professional organizer, I have purchased this item several times to solve the problem of many clients’ under-the-sink organizing dilemmas. … It’s easy to assemble, made of sturdy material, and shelves can be adjusted to clear the plumbing. It solves 95% of the situations people face when trying to better organize the space under their sink. It works the best for bathrooms where clients can add plastic bins or baskets to corral their many personal hygiene products when bathroom vanity drawers are not an option.”
  8. These interlocking bins will reorganize your junk drawer and you’ll have to give it a new name. This comes with a set of 8 various sized small bins to fit your weirdly shaped items from pencils to push pins.

    Average rating on Amazon: 4.5 stars
    Price: $10.60
    5 star review from ccc_wood:
    “This set has been perfect for my desk at work. The clutter in my drawer was so annoying to sift through before I found the right pen or paperclip. Now everything is easy to find and well organized. Nice to be able to customize arrangement as well. I may purchase more of these for cluttered drawers at home.”

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What are your favorite ways to get organized? Do you have any tips for re-purposing organizational items like shower caddies or lazy susans? Share with me in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Reviews were edited for length/clarity.  If you follow the links in the body of the text, I may receive a compensation from Amazon.  This compensation comes from Amazon, not from you, and the price you see through my links is the same as the price you would see otherwise.

Simple Tips for Eating Healthier in 2018

This is not a diet. It’s not an exercise routine or a total lifestyle change. These are some simple tips and substitutions to help you make healthier choices in 2018.

  1. Drink water
    Staying hydrated will make you feel better and keep your body running smoothly.  If you need a little push try out this bottle which keeps you on track to drink water throughout the day.
  2. Drink black coffee or add a splash of milk instead of going to starbucks
    If you’re a coffee drinker who loves lattes and fraps but wants to be healthier in the new year, consider brewing your own black coffee at home. Coffee has almost no calories, so if you drink it black or add just a splash of milk or hint of sugar, you’ll be reducing your caloric intake (not to mention fat and sugar) by a lot. A small coffee house drink can have 330+ calories!
  3. Be conscious of your protein and vegetable consumption.
    I make sure to have at least one-two servings of each every day. Even if it doesn’t seem to go together. For example: a bowl of black beans as a side for protein with cheese pizza.
  4. Try squash/zucchini spaghetti
    Cut down on carbs by replacing pasta with spiralized veggies.
  5. Make your own sauces or use spice blends instead
    Pinterest has a ton of ideas for healthier pasta sauces/dishes. My favorite is pasta tossed with olive oil, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, pepper, salt, and parsley.
  6. Switch to sugar-free energy drinks
    They’re out there! Energy drinks have a ton of sugar. If you drink energy drinks and want to reduce your sugar intake, try out the sugar-free versions.
  7. Limit to one soda a week.
    Moderation is key. Let yourself have treats, but know that it’s not an everyday thing. You’ll enjoy it more, and you’re reducing your caloric and sugar intake. Replace the sodas you were drinking with water and you’re killing two birds with one stone.
  8. Diet soda
    See “sugar-free energy drinks” above. Reduce your sugar intake by going diet.

Whatever your bad habit is, find a way to reduce it until it’s gone. For example, my bad habit is eating sweets every night. My husband and I eat supper early, around 5-6pm, so I’m usually hungry again in the evening before bed. For a while, I’ve had a glass of milk and some cookies, candy, or brownies before bed. I’m trying to eat a cup of yogurt (I like the Chobani “flip” greek yogurt) and a glass of water 1-2 times a week instead of sugary snacks. As I get used to that, I’ll try to do it 2-3 times a week, then 3-4, until my regular late-night snack is yogurt instead of cookies.

You know what you shouldn’t eat. With a slow reduction, you can eliminate the things you want to from your diet, and add in the good stuff. Good luck!

Did you enjoy this post? What do you do to stay healthy? Leave a comment below. Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Disclaimer: if you follow the Amazon link in the body of this post and make purchases through them, I will receive a small compensation from Amazon. This compensation comes from Amazon, not from you, and the price you see through my links is the same as the price you would see otherwise.

Water bottle with time marker: http://amzn.to/2sENn4Z

Photo credit, plus a great article from the CDC about food safety: https://www.cdc.gov/features/foodsafetyquiz/index.html

10 Cool Gadgets under $100 you can buy with your Amazon gift cards

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen, living room, or office, you’ll find something irresistible on this list. Happy spending!

  1. Water resistant bluetooth speaker
    This waterproof speaker is perfect if you love singing in the shower. It also has waterproof controls so you can skip songs, adjust the volume, and even answer phone calls.
    Average rating: 3.9 stars
    Price: $14.99+

    5 star review from Jason:
    “What a great product! So much that both my wife and I have one. We take this all over the house. In the shower. Kitchen. Workshop. Back Deck. Study. Easy to set up and link via bluetooth. To proceed with the next song/podcast/etc it’s a simple press down of the left/right arrow keys, while holding them will adjust the volume. Loud enough to be heard while doing dishes and taking a shower. Battery lasts for weeks, so you’re not constantly recharging it (and we use ours a lot). When the battery does run low, it beeps at you and you have about 5 mins of battery left. Sound quality is better than an iPhone. Suction cup on back works well, only following off it the surface is dirty.Highly suggest getting this if you use your phone all over your house and even other places. Better sound, better volume and thus more enjoyable.”
  2. Amazon Fire TV stick with Alexa voice remote
    If you love streaming TV and movies, you’ll love The Fire Stick. You’ll have access to Netflix, Hulu, and many other streaming channels. It can be plugged in to any TV, making it portable.
    Average rating: 4.4 stars
    Price: $34.99+

    5 star review from King:
    “This 2017 generation fire TV stick works great for. Just plug it in. It comes already connected to your account if you buy it directly from Amazon. If you don’t want it connected to your account from out of the box? Then select the gift option. Or when you setup it up for the first time it will ask if you are so and so? And you just press no. Then you can connect it to a different account.
    So yeah it great,portable and easy to use and navigate through the menu with the remote or the built in Alexa voice control button. Picture quality is great and no slow downs or hiccups while watching video programs like Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu or YouTube. $40 well spent. Cutting the TV cord really soon. It has all the programming you want. When or if you want it or not. You are in control not the networks or broadcasters 😊👍”
  3. Instant Pot (3Qt)
    The Instant Pot is this year’s kitchen it gadget. This little guy is the 3 quart version, making it a great choice for small families. Just like it’s big brother, it’s a multitasker and can function as a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, or Warmer.
    Average rating: 4.6 stars
    Price: $58.31+

    5 star review from Diane:
    “I bought my first Instant Pot, a Duo80, before Christmas and fell in love. Although there are only two of us, the 8-quart was a wise purchase because I love to make up big batches of stuff and freeze it in portions for me and the SigO to pull out whenever we want. My “Papa Bear” Instant Pot is great for that. But it’s overkill if I’m doing something just for a dinner, and it’s also nice to have the separate pot for cooking something that has to cook a long time. I can do my steamed veggies and such in the big pot for just a few minutes while I’m cooking something like pork loin I want to be very tender and shreddable in the mini. Or vice versa! My Corelle 16 oz. bowls fit in the mini great when I want to do oatmeal or heat up leftovers. “Baby Bear,” my mini, has two fewer buttons on the sides, which works out just fine, but the Keep Warm button is in a different place from my Duo80. I’ll just have to cook less on auto-pilot when I’m using both of them!”
  4. Shiatsu massage pillow
    This small, heated massager is perfect for targeted massages. It’s designed for the neck and shoulders, but can be used on the lower back, calves, or feet. It comes with straps so it can be secured to your favorite chair during your relaxing massage.
    Average rating: 4.5 stars
    Price: $39.95+

    5 star review from Kelly:
    “I love this massager! I use it every day several times a day if I’m sitting a lot. I’m a writer so I sit a lot. The best part, for me, is that it heats up. When it heats up everything starts to loosen up and feels so much better. I highly recommend this product, it’s been great. This is a great product and we were so satisfied with it we bought one for my boyfriend’s sister for Christmas.”
  5. Stovetop Espresso pot (3 cup)
    This Italian espresso maker is perfect for a single person. It makes 3 shots of espresso on your stovetop so A) You don’t end up with a ton of extra and B) You don’t need a bulky espresso maker taking up a ton of counter space.
    Average rating: 4.4 stars
    Price: $32.99+

    5 star review from M:
    “Received this little 3-cup maker a few weeks ago and have enjoyed several mornings of great lattes and espressos already. This is very simple to use and only takes a minute to get a brew going. Simply add water to the base, add a tablespoon or so of grounds in the filter, screw on the pitcher and heat up. Espresso is ready in just a couple minutes. Great little design that is very easy to use and clean.”
  6. Earbuds with or without mic
    These earbuds are inexpensive, without being cheap. They’re basic, but ergonomic earbuds, with a low price tag and over 45,000 positive reviews on Amazon.
    Average rating: 4.2 stars
    Price: $8.03+
    earbuds5 star review from megallo:
    “I am at work, next to the window, and there is a LITERAL JACKHAMMER outside the window. I have these headphones in, listening to music, and I can’t hear it at all. If you want that in your life, these are the earbuds for you.”
  7. Food Processor
    Food processors are a fabulous kitchen must-have: you can prep everything from hummus to ground nuts. This one has a scraper attachment for easy cleanup and getting the most out of your food.
    Average rating: 4.2
    Price: $30.59+

    5 star review from BLRG
    “I tried several others before settling on the Hamilton Beach Bowl Scraper Food Processor. For a start, this one is quieter, very easy to use, has a pulse and two speeds, the quality is up there with much more expensive food processors and it performs great. I use it quite a lot and it is easy to clean, use and looks great. The scraper comes out if you don’t want to use it but it is very effective. I was surprised at how well it works so I tend to leave it in. Another aspect I really appreciate and is just peace of mind is that Hamilton Beach have an online store and it is very easy and inexpensive to get spare and replacement parts for this unit should you ever need them, including the bowl, blades, slicer and more. So effectively eliminating the need to get a whole new food processor should a part get lost, break or wear out – very nice. Easy 5 stars!”
  8. Mini portable photo printer
    This little printer allows you to print directly from your smartphone (android or iOS) anywhere you go. It is fully wireless and comes with a free app to edit your photos before printing them.
    Average rating: 3.7 stars
    Price: $89.99+

    5 star review from Elaine:
    “The mini printer is great very easy to set up the pictures are very clear , very fast to print. Pictures are small but it’s nice to have them in a few minutes. Love this little printer.”
  9. Flexible tripod with smartphone and gopro adapters
    This is not your ordinary tripod. It’s much smaller with flexible legs making it portable, and easy to set up. You can secure the tripod’s legs around a tree or balcony, set your camera’s self-timer and take awesome group shots with ease.
    Average rating: 4.7
    Price: $14.99+

    5 star review from MariaBrad:
    “This tripod is really cool. The legs move in all directions making it quite easy to wrap around items to secure your phone for photos or video taking. Very convenient. I would really recommend this tripod to anyone.”
  10. Coffee bean and spice grinder
    You can officially stop buying ground coffee and spices: up your freshness game with this nifty grinder. It can grind up to 3 oz of coffee beans in seconds. Tired of pre-ground spices that have been sitting on the shelf for oh, a few years? Get fresh spices and grind ‘em up yourself!
    Average rating: 4.1 stars
    Price: $17.99+
    coffeegrinder5 star review from Gabriel:
    “This coffee grinder is awesome and simple to use. It really gets the job done. We use this for multiple things also. I can use this to grind up herbs, seeds, and coffee. You can’t clean it using water, but it’s really easy to clean – just wipe away with a paper towel after each use. Or if you insist of using soap, just use a small amount with paper towel and clean out just the inside. I wouldn’t get the exterior wet though. I’ve had this for a couple months now, so this review is much deserved. The speed is really fantastic, I feel like it’s high quality grade – something they might use in a small coffee shop. Love it! Would definitely recommend to anyone who loves coffee and needs a coffee grinder.”

Are you ready to put those Amazon gift cards to good use yet? What are your favorite gadgets? Share with me in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Reviews were edited for length/clarity.  If you follow the links in the body of the text, I may receive a compensation from Amazon.  This compensation comes from Amazon, not from you, and the price you see through my links is the same as the price you would see otherwise.

 

10 Gifts Under $20 for Your Favorite Bookworm

Your favorite book lover already has a million books they haven’t even read. So what do you get them for a holiday gift? Check out my list below for bookworm-themed gifts under $20!

  1. Go Away, I’m Reading sign
    This sign is to-the-point and on point for any book lover. It’s a perfect decoration for any home library or young reader’s bedroom.
    Average rating: 4.5 stars
    Price: $9.51

    5 star review from A Bucket of Corn:
    “Awesome sitting on my shelf, right next to all my favorite books. A great product. This item would make a great gift for anyone who loves to read.”
  2. Harry Potter Earring Set
    This adorable earring set comes with 6 pairs of Harry Potter-themed stud earrings. They’re a perfect gift for your favorite Potterhead, while also being friendly to your wallet.
    Average rating: 4.7 stars
    Price: $10.50

    Check out this 5 star review from SMB:
    “These are adorable and comfortable to wear for ANY Harry Potter fan! I ALWAYS get compliments at work from adults and students alike! So very glad I bought these!”
  3. Book shaped cake pan
    Your baking bookworm bud will adore this open-book shaped baking pan. It’s perfect for parties and events or just a fun Saturday at home.
    Average rating: 4.2 stars
    Price: $11.88

    5 star review from Rhonda:
    “I was very pleased with this pan, cooked evenly and cake came out great. The pan is sturdy and performed well, just have no complaints.”
  4. I’m Not Addicted to Reading…I can quit as soon as I finish this book mug
    This adorably clever mug will please any coffee drinking reader. Imagine yourself sitting on the couch on a rainy day with a good book and a clever mug full of steaming coffee or tea. This is the perfect mug!
    Average rating: 4.8 stars
    Price: $13.99

    5 star review from Gail:
    “Cup is fun and very nicely made, with clear print and bright colors. Came quickly, too”
  5. Kitty and Books necklace
    Bibliophiles will love this sleepy kitty in a library on a pendant.
    Average rating: 5.0 stars
    Price: $3.99

    5 star review from an Amazon user:
    “Cute cat and books!”
  6. Dr. Seuss quote wall decal
    So this one is aimed at children, but I adore the quote, as it’s totally relatable for adults too.
    Average rating: 4.6 stars
    Price: $14.99

    5 star review from Amazon user:
    “Perfect for my storytime room.”
  7. Bookmark? You Mean Quitter Strip? T-shirt
    Comes in 5 colors and Men’s, Women’s, and Children’s sizes. I believe I have a couple of dear friends who could rock this geeky Tee.
    Average rating: 5.0 stars
    Price: $19.95

    5 star review from kbill:
    “My daughter is very sarcastic and loves to read so this is perfect for her. She smiles every time she wears it and loves to see people’s reaction to it.”
  8. Mix young adult symbols necklace
    Young adult novel fans, this one’s for you! It combines the symbols from The Mortal Instruments, Hunger Games, Divergent, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter.
    Average rating: 5.0 stars
    Price: $9.99

    5 star review from Melissa:
    “My daughter just loves her necklace!”
  9. Just one more chapter pillowcase
    Curl up with this book-themed pillowcase on your favorite pillow! It’s a great addition to any book nook.
    Average rating: 4.7 stars
    Price: $9.99

    5 star review from EM:
    “I bought this pillow cover as a gift to my sister who loves to read. The material is good quality, the words clearly printed and my sister loved it.”
  10. Lumos/Nox light switch decal
    So simple, but so clever. This Harry Potter-inspired decal will make you feel like a wizard, even when you have to turn off the lights the muggle way.
    Average rating: 4.3 stars
    Price: $4.97

    5 star review by George:
    “Looks great and stays on well even as we brush our hands to flick the switch. I was afraid they would peal off but they are stuck on well.”

Did you enjoy this list? What would you add to it? Let me know in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Disclaimer: if you follow the Amazon links in the body of this post and make purchases through them, I will receive a small compensation from Amazon. This compensation comes from Amazon, not from you, and the price you see through my links is the same as the price you would see otherwise.

Essential items every traveler needs before the next big trip

Worried you might’ve forgotten to pack something for your big trip? Need a holiday gift for your favorite traveler? Check out my list of essential lightweight, durable items every backpacker needs.

    1. Sleep mask
      It’s not easy to sleep on a cramped and crowded airplane, or in a shared room at a hostel. A sleep mask will help you block out light and ease you into sleep. Try this one from Amazon with 4.5 stars. It is a 3 pack for $6.30+, and brags “Fully Adjustable, 3D contoured shape, skin friendly, and soft”

      5 star review from Cotton Candy:
      “The most comfortable sleep mask ever. I had been searching for them for a long time. My favorite feature about these masks is the design of their nose area. They don’t press against my nose bridges like other ones do. Not only the straps has elasticity, you can manually adjust the fasteners in the back. They are definitely one size fits all type of mask.”
    2. Ear plugs
      Have you ever had noisy roommates? Imagine having a dozen of them in a shared room at a hostel! Ear plugs can be a lifesaver in a noisy hostel or long flight. These babies are $10.99+ on Amazon and come with 5 pairs of reusable, washable ear plugs, 1 ear pick, and a storage box on a keychain so you’ll never lose them. They have a 4.3 star review on Amazon and a 36dB Noise Reduction Rating.

      5 star review from an Amazon user:
      “Soft squishy material that fits my ear very well! My boyfriend snores and it drives me to the living room, so I got these earplugs just for that reason. I found that if you squeeze the memory foam plug into a small thin rod, then insert in your ear (as opposed to trying to fit the puffed earplug in), the earplug will puff open in your ear and shut out sound. Make sure you get the end of the plus inside your ear (so it doesn’t slide out). It doesn’t shut out all sound but TREMENDOUSLY quiets sounds.“Comfortable and when you have them in your ears, it just feels like a good comfortable pressure.”
    3. Neck pillow
      Every traveler knows we sometimes must sleep in weird places. Whether you have an overnight flight, a long bus ride, or a layover in an unfamiliar airport, you gotta sleep sometime. A neck pillow is worth having on hand. You can get this one from Amazon for $10.95. It is a memory foam pillow with a removable, washable microfiber cover, and a strap so you can attach it to your luggage instead of trying to pack it. It also has a 2-year guarantee and 4.3 stars on Amazon.

      5 star review from Amazon user Sharon G Hook
      “This pillow is very comfortable because of its softness and [cradling] effect. I use it everyday as I have a neck problem. It seems to give me the support I need. I would recommend this pillow to anyone who is looking for a bit of relief.
      If I had one negative it would be that on hot days the composition of the pillow can be a little warm.”
    4. Backpack
      What is a backpacker without a backpack? If you would like to travel light, you can avoid checking a bag by fitting all of your belongings into a backpack. But you must be sure that that backpack is comfortable, or you won’t want to haul it around. Not every style works for every person, but Osprey backpacks are my personal favorite. They have a lifetime, no-questions-asked repair and replacement policy. I’ve carried Osprey packs in all sorts of climates and conditions spanning three continents and I’m still convinced they’re some of the best bags on the planet. Tortuga also makes some really amazing packs that are designed with international travel in mind. If you want some examples, here is a men’s and a women’s backpack from Osprey to get you started. The men’s one is my current go-to pack for hiking and international travel.

    1. Converters
      Whether you need an adapter or a converter often comes down to the voltage in the country you’re going to, and the type of device you’re trying to use. Most modern laptop and cell phone chargers will convert automatically, while simpler appliances such as hairdryers and electric razors won’t. Do some research on your specific destinations and devices to determine if you need one. If you do, grab this all in one converter. It’ll work in most destinations and one gadget is better than five! It’s Prime eligible, has an average rating of 4.5 stars, and is $19.97.

      Four star review from Taylor:
      “Honestly, before I went on my trip to South Korea, I was freaking out about adapters and feared that my things would get fried. Thankfully, this adapter worked amazingly well! I used it for my computer and iphone. There are a lot of reviews about other adapters out there and how they don’t work or they worked for a short time. I can definitely say that this adapter worked for me while in Korea.”
    2. USB travel adapter
      For those times when you need a to plug in your phone or camera but don’t want to mess with a converter, travel adapters are a good option. These adapters come in a pack of two, and each one has two USB ports. Offer to lend the second one out to someone in your hostel who forgot to bring one, and make a new friend! At $10.99 for a two pack, these are definitely a worthy investment. They’re also Prime eligible! They average 4.1 stars over 287 reviews.

      5 star review from Fred Sandsmark:
      “We bought a two-pack of these for a three-week trip to Italy. They performed perfectly for charging two iPhones, a Fitbit, and a Kindle. They also provided a nice green night light. Well worth the price.”
    3. Packable rain jacket
      A good rain jacket is one of those things you’ll forget you have until you really need it. For lightweight international travel, the best thing is a jacket that packs into itself. These jackets usually have a small pocket or stuff sack that allows you to stuff it away into a beer can sized lump. The outdoor industry has made some incredible strides here, with some jackets packing small enough to go into your pocket and weighing only a few ounces. You don’t have to go that high-tech though, a simple one from Columbia will work fine. That’s what I carried in India to keep the monsoons out. It is $54.58+ from Amazon where is has a 4.5 star rating over 47 customer reviews.

      Five star review by Brian Baker:
      “What can I say. It is a Columbia!! Every Columbia product that I own is a great piece of equipment/clothing!! Hands down some of the best gear you can buy. Love this jacket! I would buy again for sure!!”
    4. Packing cubes
      It may seem counter-intuitive to add items to your luggage to save space, but packing cubes are a lifesaver! They help to pack down clothing and to organize it so you don’t have to dump your underwear everywhere to look for that red t-shirt you just have to wear today. These cubes from Amazon are lightweight with a zipper and handle on each of the 4 bags. They’re $16.02+ and have a 4.8 star review.

      5 star review from Deb:
      “I love these packing cubes! I got them to help organize my backpack for an upcoming trip to Thailand. They are the perfect size and free up a lot of space! I fit all my clothes in 3 cubes and I’ll use the 4th cube for my toiletries and accessories. The quality seems good, I will add to my review if anything negative happens after my trip. Fast shipping as always. Happy customer!”
    5. Sink laundry detergent
      You gotta do what you gotta do, and sometimes that means scrubbing your underwear in the sink because you don’t have access to/can’t afford a laundry mat. This sink-friendly laundry detergent will be a lifesaver. This one from Amazon comes with 12 packs of Tide for $16.83 total and a 4.1 star rating.5 star

      review by Nine Cats Corner:
      “This was far more useful than I thought it would be. We recently made a 3 week trip to the United Kingdom, hopping around the country, and staying in multiple hotels. Packing lightly was a necessity. Every night we washed out our shirts, socks and undies, hanging them to dry on cheap plastic hangers we’d brought with us. Having these little sink packs of Tide was easy and convenient. One pack usually washed out 2 shirts, 2 socks, 1 undershirt and 2-3 undies…These Tide sink packs sure beat lugging bottles of anything.”
    6. Roll-up clothes line
      Hey, if you’re washing your clothes in a sink, chances are pretty slim that you’ll be able to throw them in a dryer when you’re done. So, you’ll have to hang them to dry. Please don’t dump them on your roommate’s bed. Try out this clothes line instead! $19 and Prime eligible, with free returns. It’s also solidly rated at 4.5 stars.

      5 star review from W3KO:
      “I now have two for traveling. Longer trips need more hanging space for two people. The Velcro straps make it adaptable to hanging in a variety of places. Highly recommended for travelers.”
    7. Microfiber Towel
      A lot of people absolutely hate them, but there’s no beating a microfiber towel for its weight and quick drying ability. I never travel abroad without mine. The biggest drawback for some people is that it’s not the warm and soft sensation you’d get from a normal bath towel. If you can get used to it, there’s no better alternative though. They pack up teensy tiny and weigh just a few ounces. So far I’ve used mine on three continents in climates ranging from icy Stockholm to scorching Lucknow, and it’s been a lifesaver every time. This one comes with a hand towel and stuff sack, in addition to being an Amazon’s Choice item at 4.5 stars and $13.35+.

      5 star Amazon review by Sam:
      “These are amazing for travel! Very small and compact for easy travel that doesn’t take up your entire suitcase. I bought these for study abroad and they are great. The large towel is very big so I can wrap it around my body and it is quite modest.”
    8. Shower Shoes
      Shower shoes are an essential for every traveler. You do not want to catch a foot fungus from a grimey shared shower. Don’t spend your vacation fighting athlete’s foot! Just wear shower shoes. You can get these slide-on slippers from Amazon for $8.99+. They come in 7 colors and men’s or women’s sizes. These are quick-drying which makes them perfect for travelers.

      5 star review from YR:
      “I took these on vacation to Mexico. I wore them on the beach, at the pool and in the shower. What I liked most about the shower shoes is that they didn’t slip or slide off my feet. They are very comfortable.”
    9. Sunglasses
      A good pair of sunglasses will be your favorite travel buddy. If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend any time squinting in the sun, or you’ll end up with a migraine. Trust me, you don’t want to spend your vacation in your room with the lights turned off and the curtains drawn because you can’t face the sun. These Ray-Bans fold up and come with a little leather case, which is perfect for throwing in your backpack. They have a 4.6 star rating and a $150 price tag.

      5 star review ByA. Daytonon:
      “I’ve bought many Ray-Bans on Amazon and so far have had good luck getting authentic ones each time. This folding pair is my favorite pair I’ve ever owned. I love being able to fold them up and put them in my jeans pocket or shirt pocket, then I don’t have to hang them from the front of my shirt or hold them while I’m inside.”Another 5 star review, by: L. D. Rafeyon
      “These are absolutely splendid! As advertised, lenses allow perfect clear vision, looks great on my face and fold-able. I dropped them on a hard surface with no breakage. Worth every cent! Accompanied by a beautiful zip case.”
    10. Flashlight/reading light
      Please don’t be that guy in the hostel who leaves a bright light on at 2am because they want to read a book or write a postcard. Invest in a small reading light and be a courteous roommate! This one is lightweight, USB rechargeable, and has 2 brightness settings. It has a 4.7 star review on Amazon and is $11.95

      5 star review from Amy:
      “I really like this book light!! Being able to recharge it in any USB port is such a great feature! Two lighting levels and the swivel light gives me flexibility wherever and whatever I am reading. I would highly recommend this light!”
    11. Passport cover
      Passports are valuable, and not just to you. Many passports are stolen. A common scam regarding passports is RFID skimming. Hackers and thieves can “skim” your passport information while it’s in your pocket or bag using simple electronics equipment. In doing so, they can steal your personal data remotely and either sell it or use it to make black market passports. The easiest way to protect from this is to invest in an RFID blocking passport cover. This one also has a slot for credit cards (another common target of RFID skimmers). At $7.99 and Prime eligible, it’s a worthwhile investment. There’s also free returns, just in case you change your mind.

5 star review from DKP:

“Great soft feel. Beautiful color. Passport fits perfectly with room for extra documents, credit cards etc. Glad I bought it”

  1. Tablet/kindle
    If you’re traveling long-term, you won’t be able to take the library with you (sorry!). Invest in a tablet or eReader instead of trying to pick your favorite book to bring along. The Kindle fire 7 tablet is available for $49.99 on Amazon. It comes with Alexa and Prime members have access to many books and movies for free.

    5 Star review by Julie:
    “…[The Kindle Fire’s] small size and light weight makes it ideal for carrying on car trips.”
    Another 5 star review, by Tammy:
    “Great, just the right size! [The Kindle Fire] fits in my bag. Great product”
  2. Pen and journal
    Write about your journey! Invest in a good pen and journal that you love so much you’ll be dying to put pen to paper and share your experiences. Even if you just keep the journal for yourself, future you will be glad you wrote everything down. Here is a great journal that should serve you well on the road. It’s lightweight, an Amazon’s choice item, and carries a 4.4 star rating. It’s Prime eligible, and affordably priced at $9.99.

    4 star review from Amazon User:
    “I’m happy to inform you that this note goes above and beyond what I expected. I’m a heavy fountain pen writer and travel in rough environments often, so any notebook I end up using for daily journaling needs to live up to some really high standards most consumer quality paper goods doesn’t seem to be able to match most of the time. This notebook completely surprised me. The quality of the paper is good enough that my thickly laden Lamy Safari with fine-medium nip is capable of writing on them without worrying about smudges or spill over into the back of the page. The spine and the requisite finish and binding are also excellent, with no wiggles or any weakpoints I can identify that could cause earlier than expected damage to the notebook structure itself.”
    For a pen, I recommend the Zebra F-701. It’s an all stainless steel pen that’s more than durable enough for traveling. I’ve been carrying one virtually every day for almost two years, and it still works fine. They’re only $6.72, and come with free shipping if you use Prime. They also average a 4.4 star review over 1,185 customer ratings.

    5 star rating from Dana Muwwakkil:
    “I love this pen! As a writer that still loves pushing pen to paper I am a huge fan of this pen. The ink flows out very smoothly and it’s a joy to write with. There is no skipping or streaking from the ink either which is a plus. I also love the way it looks, being stainless steel, it looks professional and has more weight to it than the average pen, making it feel expensive and luxurious. The clip feels strong and works well. There is a fine metal, mesh grip where your fingers hold the pen and it feels very comfortable. In all I say it’s definitely worth the price.”

Many thanks to David Anthony for all of his help writing this article, for his guidance in picking the perfect products, and all of the IT support he provided. Happy traveling!

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