Awesome Travel Gear, Gizmos, and Services (2014 Edition)

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I’m amazed at the variety of travel gear, gizmos, and services that make life on the road easier, more secure, and generally awesome. Here is some of the cool stuff I’ve discovered in 2014.

Note: While this post was published in 2014, it has since been updated for accuracy of links and product info.

Editor’s Note: Some of these products and services were provided to me for free or at discounted rates. There are also some affiliate links in this post. All opinions are my own, and I practice what I preach.

Ultralight Water Bottle with Filter

In spending three months in Peru, I had not one, but two gut-wrenching bouts of parasites and bacterial infections. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say it’s debilitating, and incurable without medication. One of the leading causes of this yucky-ness? Water. In retrospect, I suspect even the “drinkable” water in my hotel in Lima was the cause of my second illness.

So, I went out and found an ultralight water bottle with a filter that removes 99.9999% of water-borne bacteria and parasites – the Vapur Microfilter Water Bottle. I already have a Vapur water bottle and love it since it collapses and is light as air when empty, holding a formidable litre of water when full. This particular model also has a straw-like filter that ensures I never suffer a parasite again. It’s perfect for everyday drinking, as well as any future treks I do in the wilds of Peru – where I plan to return soon (more on that in another post).

2020 NOTE: Vapur has discontinued this product. For a water bottle with a built in filter similar to this, I would recommend the Lifestraw (available at REI or Amazon). They carry a range of options from just the filter, to filters built into bottles, and more.

Katadyn also makes a collapsible water bottle with a built-in filter (REI, Amazon) that I really like the look of. The Vapur wasn’t really collapsible because of the size of the filter, and the Lifestraw isn’t collapsible at all. Katadyn has that solved.

For more ways to treat unclean water, check out: Dealing with Parasites – a Full Guide to Getting Clean Water Around the World

Nord VPN

Nord VPN - the Best VPN Service virtual private network

Now with clean innards, it’s time to have a clean computer. I wouldn’t want to travel and live without a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt my internet activities and protect my computer from hackers. (See also: How to Travel Securely and use a VPN).

2019 Update: Over the years, I’ve used a lot of VPN services, but none of have measured up to NordVPN for me. Here’s why: 

  • Access to 5,716 servers worldwide
  • Strict no logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill Switch (super important for security)
  • Auto Connect (also super important, and not super common in the VPN world)

Get started with Nord VPN here, for as little as a few dollars a month.

Evolve Top by Encircled

Since getting Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi last year (more on that here), every single time I wear it without fail, at least one person (usually a complete stranger) compliments me on it. So when Encircled came out with their next super-comfy and chic design, the Evolve Top, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s not quite as multi-functional as the Chrysalis Cardi, but there are still about 10 ways to style this very flattering shirt. Check out this video to see the Evolve Top in action.

Compression Socks

When I fly, my feet swell, often for days. It’s uncomfortable and ugly (and evidently I’m vain). So when Dr. Segal’s (a family-owned Canadian company) approached me, I knew it was time to get these compression socks I’d often heard of but never tried.

Apparently compression therapy socks reduce blood clots, ankle and foot swelling, leg pain, and increase energy. I was skeptical that a pair of socks could do all that, but then again they’re not particularly cheap, so it’s reasonable to assume they’ll to more than keep your feet warm.

The acid test was a 24 hour journey, including a 10.5 hour flight followed shortly thereafter by a 4.5 hour flight. Before I even arrived at the airport I was doing a little jig in them – they really do energize your feet and legs. After the first flight I was free of swelling (but then again I was feet-up in first class); the second flight (no bed) tested the socks more, and although I was a wee bit swollen, it was markedly better than usual and totally gone the following morning. I’ve also used them working out to add a spring to my step, and I look forward to using them for hiking.

Compression socks have officially earned a spot in my travel bag. Get them at REI or Amazon.

Are you a Travel Gear Geek?

Join the club! I am too. Here are some posts you might find interesting:

Anatomie: My New Favourite Travel Clothing

Pro Packing Hacks: Best Packing Tools

My Search for the Perfect Travel Sandal

The Ultimate Packing List for Full-Time Travel

Best Luggage for Long-Term Travel: Backpacks vs Rolling Luggage

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18 thoughts on “Awesome Travel Gear, Gizmos, and Services (2014 Edition)”

  1. What a fabulous range of finds Nora. I’m always amazed at the ingenuity of what people create and they clearly have practicality and the traveller in mind.

    I’m intrigued by that first water bottle (sorry to hear of your illness). Health is something we should never compromise on.

    I practise a bit with VPNs so it is great to hear what you use. I might give it a try in the future.

    • Hey Guy,
      I too love to see what the next big travel gadget to come out will be; as much as I have limited space in my bag, I am a bit of a gear nut. 😉
      Yes, I’m stoked to have found the Vapur water bottle with a filter – perfect for an ultralight traveler like me!
      And I couldn’t be happier with TunnelBear; check them out.

  2. Interesting list. I love travel stuff like this, I saw your steripen post and purchased one of those to save on using so many plastic bottles. Great purchase. The top looks interesting,ma bit dressier than merino wool tee shirts 🙂 🙂

    • Hey Jasmine,
      Glad you love the SteriPen! I think it’s a great piece of gear if you’re traveling in areas where the water is dodgy. And the top rocks! Sooooo comfy. 🙂

  3. I am obsessed with travel gear and gadgets and I am loving that water bottle. When I lived in Malawi (10 years ago!) I had a hard water bottle designed with a similar concept and I also had collapsible Platypus brand water bottles in which I would decant boiled water. I love that there is now a soft side version of my two old favourites!

    • Hi Vanessa – It was a real boon to find this water bottle for me too! It ain’t cheap, but even when the filter stops working it’s a useable water bottle. Parasites: be gone! 🙂

  4. So I looked up the Vapur microfilter water bottle on amazon and it doesn’t seem to be doing too well in the reviews. Thought you might want to check it out so you don’t recommend a less than desirable product. here’s the link…

    • Hi Jill,
      Thanks for the head’s up! I still have my Vapur bottle and it works fine, though it’s always worth looking through the reviews, because things can change.

  5. I have to travel a lot, so for me, VPN is an absolutely necessary tool. I am using (you should better have a look) for quite sometime and found it pretty fast and reliable. Hide My IP encrypts Internet connection. Therefore, protects user’s online privacy by changing real IP with HMIP.

  6. Hey, long time fan, so when I wanted a toothbrush that was better than the standard thing you see all the time, I turned to you. It says that you can refer friends, and I don’t know if that would benefit everyone or just you but I thought it’d be worth a shot to ask if you have one?

    • Hi Angeline,
      I’m not sure what you’re talking about with regards to referring friends. I don’t get any benefit if you buy a toothbrush from the link on this site. But I highly recommend them! I still use mine to this day. 🙂

      • I’m totally already buying one! For future reference I was on the US myshopify site, and at the bottom there’s a bar saying ‘get discount rewards’ and if you have an account you can refer people and whenever they spend there first 5$ you get 6$ back on yours provided they use your link. I figured you could use it seeing how so many people trust you 😉


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