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14 essentials to pack for your summer travels

May 28, 2022, 1:00 PM UTC

After two years of lockdowns, travel restrictions, pre-departure COVID tests, rollbacks on those restrictions, new variants, repeat, people are tired.

Or at the very least, they’re tired of staying in the same place. Travel did see some rebounds in 2021 after the vaccines initially rolled out, but Delta and Omicron ruined a lot of plans once again.

It remains to be seen how 2022 will play out, but many forecasts predict more people are going to travel this year, regardless. Clear, which operates operates biometric travel document verification systems and entry points at many major American airports, saw a record-breaking surge in travel in March 2022, suggesting travel is not only returning to pre-pandemic levels but exceeding them. In March, 24 of 27 airports exceeded 2019 verifications by an average of 49% percent. Clear says given its members (who pay $179 per year, or $15 per month) are typically frequent fliers, meaning these stats are a good early indicator that travel may be returning stronger than ever.

And based on research from travel guidance firm The Vacationer, more than 42% of Americans are expected to travel more this summer than last, while only 12% will travel less. (The 42% is a notable jump from the 25% who said they would travel more in last year’s survey.)

So if you’re planning a trip, either by car or by air soon, here’s a suggested packing list for your rebound summer travels this year. (Just don’t forget your face mask—still required on airplanes—and double-check rules and required paperwork for entry basically everywhere you’re going.)

Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet

Personally, aside from my passport, my must-have travel item is a book. But I read quickly and need to have many books at my fingertips. Having a tablet elevates the game, having tons of books, movies, games, other apps, and an Internet browser at my fingertips without having to tote around a laptop but also saving my eyes from squinting at a smaller smartphone screen. (And many parents have also echoed support for having a tablet on hand, with plenty of kid-friendly TV shows ready for diffusing any emergency and/or tantrum.)

Bandolier smartphone case and strap

This one is more for people who wear a lot of clothes without pockets, thus, nowhere to easily put your phone all the time unless you lug a handbag around. The Bandolier case is exceptionally travel-friendly as you can snap the strap on and off the case whenever you need to do so, making it easy to carry your phone around hands free when juggling a number of other bags or suitcases. You can also get an optional coin purse that also easily attaches to the case, which can fit your credit cards and boarding passes.

Canon IVY CLIQ+2 instant camera printer

There’s been a quiet but growing movement among younger techies that the old ways of life (at least dating back to the 1990s) are better than what we have now. (Just consider the return of “dumbphones,” as people try to cut back on their screen time.) Such is the way with photos—why bother with Instagram when you can print out your own photos from your own camera? This Canon point-and-shoot does both: photobugs can snap digital photos and then print two-inch by three-inch photos and place them almost anywhere with a peel and stick backing. And for photographers who still want to emulate current styles (i.e. selfies) the camera also sports a large selfie mirror and LED ring light.

ChapStick ‘Total Hydration’

This is something that’s both easy to forget and easy to lose, but you really don’t want to do either. It’s always easy to become dehydrated, especially without realizing it, when traveling, but ever more so when in an airplane. Containing Omega 3/6/9 and Madecassoside, this advanced version of ChapStick will keep your lips hydrated for up to eight hours and even minty fresh.

Comrad compression socks

Speaking of airplane maladies, blood circulation can also take a hit, especially on long flights. Compression socks are a gamechanger to keeping the blood flowing from the lower half of your body to your heart, and Comrad makes a whole assortment of styles for men and women, from quirky to suit-ready and ankle-length to knee-length.

Evolvetogether natural deodorant

When assembling a dopp or toiletry kit, one item that often goes overlooked is deodorant. Not only is this a critical misstep—especially when traveling anywhere with sweaty temperatures—but they’re so easy to pack and instantly refreshing in the middle of a long day. Evolvetogether’s natural deodorants are perfect for on-the-go schedules. They’re clear, soothing, and the scents aren’t overwhelming.

Mindright superfood bars

Snacks are highly underrated as must-bring travel items, but you do not want to go anywhere without having some kind of snack—whether it be hard fruit, pretzels, or a granola bar—available. Sometimes you’ll find yourself hours away from the next opportunity to purchase food, like being stuck for two hours in line at border control or a plane stuck on a tarmac. Mindright’s superfood bars are slim and small but pack a big punch with antioxidants, nootropics, and adaptogens inclusive of ginseng for mood, ashwagandha for calm, cordyceps for energy, and MCT for brain fuel. Flavors include chocolate sea salt, peanut butter cup, toasted coconut, and blueberry almond.

Blue Stripes Urban Cacao trail mix

Trail mix has long been a traditional go-to as a travel-friendly snack, especially for long and outdoorsy trips that require both a longer shelf life and a sustainable protein hit. Blue Stripes, which makes a slew of health-focused products around the currently trending superfood cacao, upgraded its version of trail mix with cacao fruit, chocolate-covered whole cacao beans, and dark chocolate chips.

Nathan ‘Stealth’ windbreaker jacket

Experienced travelers know that no matter where you’re going—no matter how hot you expect a place to be—you should always pack well in layers. This windbreaker, available in men’s and women’s sizes, is the optimal just-in-case layer. It weighs less than a pound, is not noisy when unfolding or in movement, and it folds into itself for easy packing in almost any size bag, fitting easily in a medium size purse or even a pocket in a much larger coat.

Northside ‘Apex Lite’ waterproof hiking boots

If you’re going to enjoy the great outdoors, especially anywhere with a mix of dry and wet ground, these are the best hiking boots you can buy. These boots are light enough to wear anywhere (so you don’t feel dragged down by your feet) and they really are waterproof (and easy to clean when muddy). They arrive ready to go—you barely need to break them in—and based on personal experience, you can even run through an airport terminal in these to catch a connecting flight. True story.

Oura Ring Generation 3

Once relegated just to techies and fitness junkies, wearable tech and fitness trackers have gone mainstream over the last few years. Wearable gadgets that track steps and sleep, especially, have become most popular with most consumers. None are easy to wear and efficient in tracking everything you could possibly want than the Oura ring. Available in silver, gold, and platinum, this is also a real piece of jewelry with a price tag ($399) to match. But the Oura ring is easy to configure and monitor though a smartphone app, tracking your steps, sleep cycles, and other fitness activities. You don’t need to carry your phone around with you, and it is much less likely to get caught on things than a bracelet or wearable device around your neck.

Ritual Synbiotic+ supplements

Many people travel with a variety of vitamins and supplements, on longer trips especially, but those bottles can get cumbersome. Multivitamin maker Ritual recently released a new daily three-in-one supplement for prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic purposes, designed to help support gut, digestive, and immune health. Available in a 30-day supply, the mint-essence capsule can be taken with or without food. And the bottle is designed with moisture-controlled technology to protect probiotic strains, which makes it convenient to keep out with your other daily supplements and not forgotten in the minibar refrigerator.

The Route ‘Shake and Shield’ sunscreen

Whether you’re going skiing or surfing, to the mountains in the beach, even if you plan to spend most of the day in the shade, you must always—ALWAYS—pack sunscreen. After your passport and face mask, sunscreen should be the first thing you prioritize when packing. Not only can it save your life in the long term but it will save you a lot of pain (physically and emotionally) in the short term. No one wants to ruin a trip with a bad (and preventable) sunburn.

Certified with the the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation, The Route’s Shake and Shield sunscreen is an SPF 50 tinted lotion, formulated to block 99% of UVA/UVB radiation and protect against pollution and blue light. It offers skin soothing, lightweight, luminous hydration and has a patented “KLEAIR” technology that helps boost antioxidants against free radicals.

Summer Fridays Light Aura vitamin C and peptide eye cream

Eye cream can be a lifesaver after a long night and/or a long flight. Powered by a super-potent vitamin C and peptide blend, this eye cream from skin care brand Summer Fridays brightens the eye area and supports skin’s natural collagen production for a firmer, smoother appearance. The moisturizing formula includes caffeine to de-puff, vitamin E to soothe, and natural optics to illuminate all skin tones.

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