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The travel industry certainly took a big hit in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic and riots have changed travel, maybe permanently. World events have also changed our essential travel gear.
These items represent travel items that we feel carry an extra importance with our travels, going forward in 2021.
Travel Gear for 2021
This is far from an exhaustive list, rather just some travel gear that we have added to our normal packing list or travel accessories that may be required or helpful for travel in 2021.
Solar Charger Power Bank
Current world events demonstrate that we may not be able to rely on traditional power; you need a solid, dependable portable charger. We’ve used a solar charging block for a couple years. It was primarily bought for our outdoor adventures, but now takes on additional value for times when traditional power may be out or not available.
Rather than the most common, single solar panel charging blocks, we recommend a solar charging block with 4 or more panels, in addition to the power bank, itself. The single panel just isn’t enough solar charging capability to be useful. In either case, you really need to put the panels in full sunlight for quite some time to maintain or increase the charge of the charging block.
Our solar charging block includes a 26,800maH power bank with four solar panels and 2 USB ports. The power bank provides substantial battery life and the 4 panels help maintain the charge in the bank.
I used it on a 12 day backpacking trip to Philmont Scout Ranch without having to recharge it once with traditional power. It was used to charge an iPhone X and a Garmin Fenix 5X Plus, multiple times, over the 12 days in the backcountry. Having a power bank with 26,000+maH really helps get you through long flights and road trips, where you may not have an opportunity to recharge using the solar option.
We do not recommend the simple solar charging panels. These chargers do not include the power bank. While they do work (we have one), they only charge your electronics when plugged in and exposed to the sun. They do not “hold” a charge, in any way.
We also have several Anker charging blocks (we’ve found them to be a good, reliable brand) and they work great, but they do not include the solar panel option for recharging the power bank without traditional power. We have used a few of the solar charging power banks and have not found that one brand works better than any other. They all seem to be good and dependable, as long as they have enough solar panels.
Zicam Nasal Swabs
We find the Zicam nasal swabs to be fantastic preventatives for colds and flu while traveling. We used them on our last Disney Cruise (right before the closures happened) to prevent possible cold and flu infection (there is some evidence that suggests that zinc may help prevent or reduce COVID infection — I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV — just based on research I’ve read).
In our experience, they do reduce the duration and severity of colds. As soon as you sense any symptoms, use the Zicam swabs and continue using them until symptoms subside. We also use them as a preventative, when we know we’re in closed quarters with high likelihood of exposure (like cruise ships and airplanes).
We’ve used Zicam nasal swabs for years and are convinced they helped us avoid colds and reduce their impact. They’re a good thing to have on hand while traveling. I have a few in my travel backpack, as well as my daypack; ensuring that I always have a few on hand.
Personal First Aid Kit and CPR Mask
We always carry a personal first aid kit during our travels. With current world affairs, we feel a first aid kit is an even more essential part of travel gear for 2021.
In addition to the personal first aid kit, we always carry a keychain CPR face shield (Amazon is the only place I’ve found this style mask). This is something many often forget. Allison and I are both CPR certified and we want to be able to help, if necessary, without the risk of transmitting illness from the patient to us or vice versa.
Sewing kits worked their way into our essential travel gear for 2021. Not only do they provide options for repair of our travel clothes on long trips, it provides additional first aid resources, in case of emergency.
While not ideal, a sewing kit can be used for emergency sutures until you can make it to a doctor or urgent care center.
Additionally, sewing kits provide options for survival situations, such as using the thread for fishing to procure food. You can also weave the thread into a make-shift rope/twine, if necessary.
Take caution with your sewing kit contents. Some items may not be TSA approved.
I have always carried a spork with me while traveling. I guess it’s the Boy Scout in me. As for essential travel gear in 2021, a spork eliminates the need to use questionable utensils from theme parks, cruise ships, and restaurants that provide plastic utensils.
Also, we buy a lot of our own groceries while on the road to avoid spending money on unhealthy fast food. Many times, these meals require utensils to eat them. If the grocery store is out or doesn’t have plastic utensils, we always have our spork.
With the great toilet paper shortage, toilet paper became essential travel gear for 2021. You never know what you may find (or not find) in public restrooms.
I’ve always had a little extra in my camping gear. So, now, I just carry my backpacking toilet paper supply with us on our travels.
The key is to remember to bring it with you into the toilet.
Water Purifying Tablets
We now bring a few water purifying tablets with us on our travels. These are the same ones I use in the back country while camping. They kill all the nasties in the water.
Like the solar charger and electricity, mentioned above, we cannot be sure of the quality or consistency of the water supply. So, we make sure we can always obtain purified water for our needs.
Another option might be a Sawyer mini water filter. Sawyer makes several water filters and water bottles with filters built in. The Mini will filter 100,000 gallons of water and is lightweight and easy to carry. The Sawyer, however, will not purify viruses from water (common in many Western water sources) and that’s why we use the water purifying tablets.
Of course, hand sanitizer is a must for essential travel gear in 2021. You can always make your own from rubbing alcohol and aloe, but we usually have a bottle or two on hand when we travel.
Amazon has some great deals on bulk hand sanitizer, right now. Use these gallon jugs to refill your small, travel-size hand sanitizers.
I’ve always carried at least a couple face shields with me during our travels. Now, they serve another purpose – a face mask.
What I’ve been doing in 2021 is carrying two Buffs/face shields with me, at all times. One clean one to use as a face mask and one to use as a hankie (to avoid touching my face with my hands).
Face shields are invaluable for travel. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say they are the most important travel accessory you can include in your packing list.
In addition to hand sanitizer, it’s best to wash your hands, often with soap and water.
We use Campsuds multi-purpose soap, because it’s a concentrate (a little goes a LONG way) and it’s multi-purpose, so we can also use it to do laundry (like washing our face shields in the sink, daily).
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I included only essential items that take on a new role in 2021. Of course, we still use many of our favorite pieces of travel gear that we’ve always used; packing cubes, travel backpacks, a travel pillow, smartphones, bluetooth earbuds or headphones, kindle, water bottle, and so on.
What travel accessories have you added to your “essential travel gear for 2021?”