Travel must-have's


The following are a few of my must-have, favorite things I take on each and every trip “just in case.” None of these items are paid sponsorships, but proven through thousands of miles and countless trips, which makes them really good!!

Writing notebook: Oberon

Sunflower, Tree of Life & Dragon

I’ve found that notes I take on my phone, it’s cryptic, short and without meaning. Contrast this with the hand stamped, custom-made leather notebooks from Oberon. Just touching and holding these covers makes me happy—so much so, I have one cover for my eReader, another for my novel notes and yet a third for my journal. (This last one is appropriate, because it’s the theme for Chambers). If you have someone who truly loves their electronic device, note taking or journal, give the gift of love. Each one will cost you @$80.

Yi camera

A recommendation from a fellow motorcyclist, I purchased this camera, along with the waterproof case and extra batteries for my husband. Little did I know I’d steal it back, because the quality, battery life and ease of transferring the photos are about ten times better than the GoPro (the battery life is literally 6 times longer). The battery recharge is also much faster as well. For motorcyclists, you can purchase a mount for the helmet and you are on your way!

Sun block: Neutrogena 70 SPF

My skin, and that of my girls, is quite sensitive. Further, I can’t always take both a sunblock and a face-prepping cream, such as from Mac. If something has to give, I leave the face prep cream at home and bring my Neutrogena. It serves as both sunblock but also face prep cream. It’s smooth, applies evenly, and works perfect under all my foundations (from Mac to Dior). It’s da bomb.

Favorite sunblock water shirt: Bloq UV

Spendy but bulletproof. Seven years back in Hawaii I stumbled across this brand, bought two, and it took six years to wear them out (the arms finally lengthened to gorilla length). I prefer the half-tops to cover my shoulders, but also have several shirts. Lightweight, they wick, and are super cute.

Tan less lotion: St. Tropez

Hundreds of dollars and multiple streak-lines later, I finally asked the top plastic surgery/dermatology center near me what they recommend. Even after asking, I was skeptical, but the nurses swore by this product. Apparently, it gained fame in their office by patients using it to cover up the unsightly varicose vein treatments. Sure enough, the St. Tropez mousse it works as advertised—and much better than I expected. Tip: use as directed. Wash and moisturize the skin, then apply using the gloves. It’s both immediate, then deepens over a few hours/night. I never leave without this.

Cellulite reducer by Elemis

In my 30’s, I used cellulite treatment (when, in hindsight, I didn’t really need it). In my 40’s, I took a break, having/raising kids and generally not caring and now in the first year of my 5th decade (yikes!) I care again. After much research and testing, I give this product two thumbs up. It’s a bit stickier than previous products I’ve used, but as promised, after 7 days, you can really see results. Caveat: this product is not license to eat your heart out. Ease off the salt & sugar and this product will work wonders. Also, it comes in a glass bottle with small cap. Don’t loose it or you will have oil everywhere.

Travel Bags: Kuva

Although this is a personal, preference and lifestyle-based product, I have to share my learnings. The UVA bag is a cross-shoulder, front-latch detachable design with inner and outer pockets, large enough to hold two cameras and extra items such as a water bottle without being cumbersome or unattractive. When it passed an Oregon coast trip marching up and down the dunes on Cape Kiwanis, I gambled, leaving my Tumi backpack home, worried I was giving up too much space. It was the perfect call. I could position the pack on my chest or back, rotate it side to side. The result was greatly reduced shoulder and upper back fatigue. I purchased one for each of my girls, and now the bags have become our defacto traveling add-on.

Compression stockings

No one likes popping or spider-like varicose veins, and when one travels a lot and writes for a profession, sitting is a way of life. I decided to get a head start on my hereditary propensity for veins, and started wearing compression stockings (thigh highs actually) because they are so comfortable and my legs don’t feel fatigued. The first time or two getting them on, I’ll admit I broken out a sweat, but it was worth it.


I have a simple rule for avoiding wrinkles and skin cancer: sunblock and “if I leave the house during the day, wear a hat.” No kidding. I use a water-friendly, UV-blocking travel hat by Kucone. I have another by Athleta, but it lacks the ponytail hole. Funny enough, in all my pictures I’m usually wearing my Athleta (why is that? It goes with my coloring better??) Both hats are indestructible and wrinkle-proof.


Big, broad topic, so I’m going to limit this to summer-only travel, where the requirements are sunblock, the ability to wick (breath, get wet and dry quickly), wrinkle-proof and light-weight are non-negotiable.

Pants and jacket- I prefer Puma (pants) and windbreaker jacket (picture) for all these reasons. They also scrunch down so small they can fit in a smallish purse. If you are going to the beach or might need an extra set of comfortable, trendy clothes, these are it.


The Porsche windbreaker is my all-time favorite. Purchased in Germany, you can get it on-line here. It rolls up tight, is uber lightweight, nearly indestructible and goes with anything.

All around jacket

North Face down-filled. This particular model also fits in the size of two hands, is incredibly warm and with the silver version I have, goes with anything as well.

Skorts, jumpers, tops. Athleta is my go-to brand. The fit is perfect for my body type, height and clothing requirements listed above. While not as micro in terms of size when folded, they beat regular pants or skirts by a long shot. Altheta is also a bit like Geranimals for kids, because you can mix and match tops, making five or six outfits out of a few pieces of clothing.

Face & hair savers

Nice travel sizes for hair, face and pain

Traveling for a month takes micro-packing skills. I’ve narrowed my requirements to four essentials for hair, make-up setting, aches/pains and brush cleaning. Each can be purchased in <.9 oz micro bottles and carried in a small, plastic zip bag (or even ziplock!). They are: Hot Toddy for hair protection, which allows me to go several days curling, ironing, blowing out my hair without frizzing or killing it. Urban Decay All Nighter This is a mist that sets your make-up. You will wake looking as good as you went to sleep. The holy grail of hydrating mists, the Mac Prep & Prime Fix has green tea, chamomile and cucumber along with lots of vitamins. It’s a must for your face. For joint and muscle pain, use Jadence Muscle & Joint cream. I came upon this while training for my black belt. It was created by martial artists and works wonders for my lower back (or anywhere else). It does smell a bit strong, but it’s 100% herbal/natural, so just breathe in deeply and release those toxins.


Car rental

Our favorite, best-deal luxury car rental is Sixt. Over the years, we have found the best locations for pick up and drop off (usually Germany) which can literally save two grand for month-long trip, and hundreds for a shorter journey. Here’s my write-up on the details.