Whether globetrotting or vacationing stateside, part of the fun of traveling is using cool, functional gear to make your adventure more enjoyable. But have you seen the prices of travel accessories in sporting goods stores? Some pieces are far beyond my budget.
Luckily, practical, economical options are available from a variety of locations online, in the mall and even in some big-box stores. These dupes will help you get the gear you want at prices that won't make you want to scream "Au revoir!" in the store!
Instead of: Vapur Foldable Travel Bottle (18 oz.), $9.99
Carrying a water bottle makes great financial sense when traveling, and investing in a foldable one will help eliminate unnecessary bulk and weight on the go. These two options are both popular, but the Water2go will help you save a few bucks, which is especially beneficial if you plan to buy one for every member of your family.
Instead of: Sherpani Skeet Medium Crossbody Bag, $42.95
Whether rushing through a crowded terminal, navigating a busy marketplace or simply strolling on unfamiliar city streets, using a crossbody bag keeps a traveler's money and valuables close. I've been using a Target-branded Mossimo Co. bag similar to this one for over ten years now—no holes, no busted seams, no broken zipper. People think my sleek lil' number is a high-end travel brand and are always offering compliments. I even got convinced to loan it to a neighbor for her trip to New York City last summer. A keep-it-all-together bag like this for less than the price of a lunch is a purchase you won't regret!
Instead of: TravelSmith Packable Backpack, $29
When a crossbody bag just won't do, a sensible, durable backpack is the next step up. It's definitely worth its weight when traveling! But why choose a backpack that actually weighs a lot when the same functionality can be achieved in a smaller pack? While TravelSmith packs are often sought by on-the-go travelers, the same functionality can be achieved from a nearly identical product made by L.L. Bean (which always offers free shipping with no minimum purchase online). Since the Day Pack folds into its own pouch and weighs less than 3 ounces, this will be one travel item you won't have to notice until you need it!
Instead of: Kate Spade Carlisle St. Passport Holder, $68
Protect that priceless passport in style with a fun and funky cover that showcases your personality. And while I'd love my personality to scream "travel chic" a la Kate Spade, I can't resist the tempting, "look-at-me!" Vera Bradley patterns available in a soft cotton fabric that's washable. Want to save even more on this and another Vera Bradley travel purchase (like a tote, umbrella, or beach towel)? Check out this article for Vera Bradly savings strategies.
Instead of: Sport Buff Headband, $20
Try: PrAna headband, $10
Ever since I saw the first season of Survivor, I wanted a wear-everywhere Buff. I got my wish with one as a gift, and it turned into a great travel accessory—until I lost it. Rather than replace it at $20, I purchased a $10 prAna headband and have found many more uses for it. I can loop it around my neck, ring it around my wrist or tie it to a backpack. And it doesn't make my head nearly as hot as a Buff. Alas, I can't wear it as a tube top like the female contestants on Survivor, but (let's face it) that wasn't in my travel-accessory plan anyway. To save even more, keep your eyes peeled for style/color markdowns on prAna at retailers. It's not unusual to see markdowns for a $6–7 price point.
Instead of: Moleskine Classic Notebook, $12.95
Keep track of those travel memories and record precious sketches in an easy-to-carry notebook. I don't know exactly what, but something about these little books makes me feel like a budding Ernest Hemingway. Since I'll never have the fame and fortune he did, Hemingway can have the Moleskine—I'll happily settle for the half-price option of the Picadilly, a more cost-appropriate knockoff readily available at Barnes & Noble stores.
Instead of: Magellan's Laundry Soap Sheets (pack of 50), $10
If laundering clothing by hand will be part of your travel responsibilities, you'll want a product to help you (without having to take your chances by making suds from hotel bar soap or body wash). And why risk packing a liquid in your suitcase? Magellan's laundry soap sheets are a practical, long-lasting purchase, but spend six dollars less to get the same pack of 50 by Sea to Summit at REI, another store that offers incredible savings opportunities.
No one likes grimy hands and germy fingers, and germs travel much more easily in confined spaces like airplanes. So whether traveling by plane, train or simply wandering the great outdoors, hand sanitizer is a must. Bath & Body Works offers strong-scented gel options with glitzy, glittery holders for an add-on price, but Purell offers an all-in-one package for less. Find these at the checkout counters or travel sections of grocery and drugstores. Occasionally, Purell even releases coupons for their products.
Accessories? Check. Cool gear? Check. Money still in my pocket to spend on travel? Check!