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In 2016, I wrote a tell-all for "Travel Ideas Magazine" called Tindering in 25 Countries on 5 Continents. It may sound scary, but the scarier fact is that I spent a year non-stop traveling and dating and lived out of one suitcase.
Still, I had plenty of second dates and more importantly, I never had a wardrobe or luggage malfunction. That's because after five years of going through countries like the Cookie Monster goes through cookies, I've accumulated a small collection of quality travel accessories.
So, whether you're looking for a pair of pants you'll never see threadbare or a carry-on that can handle being jostled during turbulence, you'll want to check out these products that I highly recommend due to their performance and long-lasting durability.
My friend Giuseppe introduced me to this underwear. In fact, men respect the brand so much that Ex Officio's boxers have more than 5,000 reviews. Despite offering full coverage, these bikini-cut panties are made of a breathable, antimicrobial mesh that won't trap odors. I can wash them in the sink if I must and they dry almost as fast as my hands. But don't just take my word for it; they have a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 1,300 reviews.
I've had plenty of $10 tops that only lasted one season and this isn't one of them. Mine has been around for so long I can't remember when I bought it and the fabric has held up even after being washed with many low-quality detergents (at least I hope that was detergent I bought). Because I spend at least two months out of the year in Southeast Asia where it's incredibly hot and humid, I love that this is one of those rare shirts that dosen't show sweat.
I bought my Alternative Hoodie in 2016 as a souvenir at The Resort at Paws Up. I made sure to buy it during the beginning of my trip so I could wear it while adventuring around the 37,000-acre ranch — and after three years of lots of use, it's held up perfectly and is still so soft that I secretly hope for cooler weather. It's the first thing I pull out on planes, trains and Ubers when the air conditioning is out of control.
Before this sweater came into my life I would have laughed at the idea of paying $20 for a quality cardigan. But when I stepped into an H&M in Dubai (home to the world's biggest and maybe coldest mall) and accidentally brushed up against the soft sleeve of this knit cardigan, I had to try it on. That eventually lead to a trip to the cash register and I still don't regret the purchase. The 4.5-star rated cardigan (with over 500 reviews) is still the closest thing to lambswool I can afford.
These sandals are the first think I pack after my passport and I never expected that this Hawaiian gift shop "souvenir" would become so useful. Every time I'm tempted to call them flip flops I have to remind myself that most flip flops don't last five years like these do. The footbed is extremely comfortable, they're water-resistant and come in more than a dozen colors. Plus, more than 80 percent of the OluKai Ohana's 1,500 ratings are a the 5-star level!
These roomy Lululemon shorts have a 4-inch inseam and last for years. Whenever I'm in the market to buy another pair of shorts (which could be another 10 years), I'd like to try these reversible "Choose-A-Side" shorts. Why not get two looks for the price and space of one?
I've been lace-free since 2016 when I bought my first pair of shoes from Salewa. I run and hike in them (they're a lot lighter than boots), and I also wear them in airports since they're easy to remove. Unfortunately, the model I have is no longer in production, but I've got my eye on these ones which seem really similar. They have a 4.5-star rating from more than 1,000 reviews and come in at least 15 different colors.
Four years ago I stepped into the cutest boutique in Paris. I walked out wearing these pants and the only time I've looked back is to see if they're on sale. Currently, they are! Ba&sh is a Parisian brand beloved by the French and now available in the U.S. I always get compliments on these CSally Trousers (I think it's because the unique butt pockets don't look American) are currently on sale for $88.
In the two years that I've had these leggings I've probably worn them 200 times. Celebrity fans include Alessandra Ambrosio, Lena Dunham and Hailey Bieber. I've always had these in the 7/8 length, but right now, some of the 3/4 length leggings are only $75. Want a better value? Pair them with a top for only $95 total. (Enter your email and you'll save 20 percent on your first order.)
This bra knows my girls better than any other bra I own. I've even worn it as a pseudo swimming suit top in Spain. I think the fact it's so comfortable — I don't even feel the wide band— is why it has a 4.3-star average rating from nearly 1,800 reviews. Currently, it's available in more than 15 colors (price varies). At Calvin Klein, you get this fall's newly released unlined bralette ($24) with the logo from 1981 when the brand's underwear first debuted.
Of course, some tops call for thinner straps and some days call for cooler bras. That's when I reach for this best-selling cooling wireless bra which is the closest thing I have to a cure for boob sweat. If I was stranded on a deserted island, this is the bra I'd want to be wearing.
Normally, Free People pieces are super delicate, so I was surprised when my first Free People tank top held up well on travels to Australia, the Caribbean, Finland, France and a few stateside places in between. The subtly flared bottom makes this top wearable with leggings — and since it's a wardrobe staple, you can pair it with pretty much anything.
Fjällräven has what I like to call a "cult-like following" for its backpacks (this one has more than 4,000 reviews). I personally never leave home without its handy pocket bag which is big enough to fit my iPhone X, my overstuffed wallet, keys and even sunglasses, it's all I need for most days out. I also put my passport in it and wear it around my neck in the airport so I don't have to take off my backpack when showing ID.
When it comes to contemporary travel journalists, Tim Neville is a bit of a legend. So, I was stoked when I found out he also relies on this carry-on bag for multi-country trips. If you have any Marie Kondo-like tendencies, you'll appreciate the structured compartments that ultimately land this bag on TODAY's list of the best carry-on luggage. The bold colors (and there are even more options at Cotopaxi) are another feature that's hard to find in a market saturated with blue and black.
If this carry-on is all Vanessa Hudgens and I have in common then I'm OK with that. While I originally got mine for its marbled look, the best thing about this sophisticated-looking luggage is its 4 multi-directional wheels. Now, if only wish shopping carts would take that page from Calpak's book!