Judging by the crowded airports and busy beaches on my recent trip to Aruba, summer vacations are already well underway. People from all over the world are hopping flights—responsibly, we hope and beg—back to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii, so it’s only natural that we look at our favorite, trusty travel gear that has been collecting dust for months and years and wonder if it’s time to upgrade.
The answer, of course, is absolutely. It’s always yes, because new travel gear is better than a new car. It’s like wearing your best clothes on the first day of school, except instead of sitting in a classroom, you’re exploring the world. So, no matter where you’re heading—even if you’re still staying home—this gear will make you feel like a brand-new day.
Carl’s Place Golf Simulator
As much as we’d love to pack a bag and head to Maui to try a golf simulator in a luxury suite, that’s not exactly as easy as snapping our fingers. It’s also not all that simple to have a simulator installed in your own home, but the most avid golfers would probably agree that having one would be amazing. Especially when it’s custom-designed to fit your space and style.
This is where Carl’s Place excels, as it’s not just about installing a golf simulator. You actually build your own, choosing between the DIY and Pro Golf styles and ultimately developing what will be the most crucial tool in improving your game. Or, if you’re just a casual golfer, it’ll make your garage the place to be when friends and family come over for a few simulated rounds. Either way, it’s a dream come true.
Breeo X Series 19 Smokeless Fire Pit
I know, I know: a fire pit in the summer? As a Floridian that sounds insane, but the Breeo is no ordinary fire pit. Especially now that they’ve unveiled the Searplate Griddle, which makes the grilling aspect of this very cool contraption even more alluring. I’ve already been obsessed with the Outpost Grill kit since I first added it to my X Series 24, but some backyard remodeling forced me to downsize to the X Series 19, so I was worried that I’d lose a little searplate space for when I’m desperately trying to recreate the chicken skewers I devoured with my satay at Sexy Beef in St. Maarten.
The griddle makes this a total non-issue. In fact, it makes my 19 just as great as the 24 was, and it even makes cleanup easier, since I don’t have to worry about wiping off the sides. The only problem? Breeo just rolled out the X Series chair, and a table isn’t far behind it, so now I’m going to have to find space for those as well.
The only drawback of a fire pit is that it can’t join the family for vacation—unless you have a ton of space and a few people to help lift it, but even then… hard pass. When your getaway includes putting your campground culinary skills on full display, you have a lot of options. Some are messy, some are compact and convenient, and some are all the above. And one very special outdoor oven also happens to be downright cool.
GoSun’s Fusion solar oven looks like a device that needed to be retrieved from a mad scientist by James Bond, but it’s really a lightweight cooking device that’ll wow your fellow travelers while keeping them full. It can operate on solar power or plug into your vehicle and/or portable battery, but no matter what you use for juice, it’ll help deliver a meal in no time. And if it’s a romantic getaway for two, the GoSun Sport saves even more space and time.
The Looft Lighter X
Whether camping at your favorite beach or deep in the most secluded areas of a national park, or simply kicking back in your yard with your awesome fire pit, you’re going to need a flame. And now’s the time to throw all those long lighters in the trash—they barely work half the time anyway—because a genius named Richard Looft has delivered unto us the future of portable fire.
The Looft Lighter X is a rechargeable all-electric torch of the gods that can get the grill working in a matter of seconds. Long gone are the days of dads spraying lighter fluid all over the place only to have their hamburgers and kebabs come out tasting like a gas station. In fact, that’s exactly why Richard created his namesake lighter. He must have also known how kid are, too, since this was also designed with safety in mind just in case little ones get a little too bold near the grill.
GoSun Electric Cooler
Speaking of beach trips, if you’re heading to your favorite spot this summer, you will undoubtedly bring a cooler. And you know what else you’ll bring? Multiple bags of ice. While that will obviously keep your food and drinks cold for the afternoon, it will also limit the space inside the cooler, and eventually the ice will melt and everything left inside will be soggy and inedible (unless your weird friend who eats anything tags along).
Let’s take cold food storage to a new level with the GoSun Electric Cooler. With multiple options for keeping it powered (including the built-in battery) this is a premium option for keeping water, soda, beer, and snacks nice and cold as the day grows hotter, and best of all, it is still built like a cooler, so the handle and wheels make it super simple to transport.
Anker 521 Portable Power Station
And speaking of power, let’s talk about a real solution to all our vacation road trip charging woes. A great portable battery pack can provide three or four full iPhone charges and maybe, if you’re lucky, some juice for a laptop or tablet. But that’s not going to cut it when the whole family is playing games and watching TikToks to pass time in the minivan.
Anker’s 521 Portable Power Station is one of my favorite additions to my home gear, because it’s been great for keeping my laptop charged while lounging and occasionally typing in my backyard, and it’s also a godsend on those classic Florida stormy evenings when the wind knocks the power out for a few hours at a time. Sure, it’s bigger than your standard charger, but you can’t complain about losing a little extra trunk space for the peace of mind this offers.
Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Core Power Station
Glampers, rejoice! You want to bring the kitchen sink? This is the Power Station that will make the gas generator obsolete. It’s a bigger device, a lot like carrying another small piece of luggage, but don’t let that deter you from making a wise investment for both home and away. The Yeti 1000 Core Portable Power Station boasts seven charging ports, and the question isn’t what can it juice, but what can’t it juice?
Let’s start with the basics: 82 smart phone, 33 tablet, and 20 laptop recharges. Amost 200 action camera charges. It’ll keep a mini fridge running for 28 hours or a full-size for 14 (huge for when the power goes out at home). And that’s just the tip of the electric iceberg.
Goal Zero Venture 35 Power Bank
Obviously, you need a truly portable power bank as well. It’s great to bring miniature generators on road trips, but when you’re flying to the Caribbean or Mexico and need truly portable battery protection, you want a device that’s lightweight and compact, so it sits snug in your minimalist backpack while still providing the juice you need for a smartphone, tablet, and maybe even your headphones.
The Goal Zero Venture 35 Power Bank can charge your iPhone three times over before it needs to be reconnected to a portable solar panel or your hotel outlet, and it can also recharge your GoPro again and again (approximately six times), so you never miss out on those perfect action shots.
Delsey Paris Chatelet 2.0 Collection
What’s the travel equivalent of new car smell? I’m going with the new carryon roll, the way the spinners glide across the airport terminal floor as you smirk at the mile-long TSA line upon arrival at Global Entry. And it doesn’t get much newer or more stylish than the new, refreshed Chatelet 2.0 collection from Delsey Paris.
The luggage company’s signature line returns with an array of new looks, as well as better corner protectors for when complete strangers, who check every bag on the carousel as if they’ve never seen their own luggage, manhandle your gear. Other features include Delsey’s trademark Zip Securitech, a very soft lining, and even a USB port for when certain airlines cancel a day’s worth of flights and leave you stranded.
Nomatic Navigator Lite Backpack
When it comes to backpacks, we’ve tried all sizes, from duffels that’ll fit the contents of your bedroom to TSA-friendly slim bags that are good for a laptop and maybe a spare t-shirt. More and more, as we deal with the woes of boarding a plane only to find overhead space has magically vanished (it’s time to call out people who put their bags up front when they’re sitting in the back) we simply cannot overstate the value of a backpack that slides right under the seat.
Of course, it also has to carry stuff and not hurt us. That’s basically the short version of the concept behind the minimalist Nomatic Navigator Lite Backpack and Sling, as they are intended for daily use and designed so that they carry the important things—laptop, water bottle, cords and cables—but don’t weigh us down with a ton of extra fabric.
Georgie and Lou Pickleball Bag
It never really occurred to me just how much pickleball has grown in the last two years until I was visiting St. Maarten and a resort asked if I’d brought my own gear or I’d need to borrow. Now, there are custom paddles/rackets (I’m still learning terminology), shirts, hats, and even shoes. The sport has been around for decades, yes, but only now are resorts readjusting the nets on their tennis courts, and with the World Pickleball Games set to debut in 2023, it’s safe to say this is going to stick around.
That means it’s time to gear up, and that starts with a fashionable bag for all that new gear. The Georgie and Lou Pickleball Bag features styles that range from classic and sophisticated to bold and downright flashy. Planning on owning the courts at Grand Solmar Rancho San Lucas in Cabo? Roll with the Cheetah. It’s all about intimidation.
Uncharted Supply Co.’s Park Pack
Have you heard the unbelievable news? Fanny packs are back in style. If you’ve been to a theme park or Florida beach in the last two years, you aren’t surprised by this development, but if you’re shaking your head in disbelief, please know that it’s true. Now that you’re done scraping your jaw off the floor, it’s time to talk about the Cadillac Escalade of fanny packs: the Uncharted Supply Co. Park Pack.
This thing is like a cargo ship for your waist, complete with two water bottles and a first aid kit. I used it for coaching kindergarten flag football this spring, and it was a godsend if only for the number of imaginary boo-boos that were solved by Band-Aids. But bring it on a road trip to Hilton Head, Blackberry Farm, Reynolds Lake Oconee, or even just a day trip to Cocoa Beach, and it’s as helpful as any bag out there.
Treblab HD77 Speaker
If ever there’s a permanent entry to our gear guides, it’s probably this ultra-dependable Bluetooth speaker. Treblab’s HD77 pUltra Premium Bluetooth Speaker remains a fixture in my backyard pool area, as the ability to pair them for double the sound eliminated the need for costly outdoor speakers, and the excellent battery strength means they can run until the party guests are long gone.
Arlo Go 2 WiFi Security Camera
Just because you’re off the beaten path doesn’t mean you’re far from trouble. Maybe I’m just a little paranoid, having too many pairs of sandals and a pair of sunglasses snagged when I’ve left a beach lounger to enjoy the warm Caribbean Sea, but when it comes to camping or even just parking in a new place for a day of exploring, I like knowing that my gear is safe.
The Arlo Go 2 WiFi Security Camera is a portable device that can be attached to a carport or tree to keep an eagle eye on the surrounding area, thanks to 130-degree field of view and clear images and 1080p video. My favorite feature is the siren I can trigger from my phone if I get an alert that someone is snooping around my campsite.
Big Wave Golden Ale Shirt
Every tropical traveler needs an aloha shirt, and here’s a very important secret: Reyn Spooner pretty much makes the best in the game. But what happens when we combine that clothing company with one of the best breweries in the world… that just so happens to have been born on Hawaii’s Big Island? Well, you get an amazing aloha shirt that pays tribute to the fantastically delicious Big Wave Golden Ale.
For real, though, there are a ton of cheap pretenders out there, so if you’re looking for the best possible Aloha shirt, it doesn’t get much better than this amazing collaboration that puts Hawaii’s majesty on 100 percent cotton. Not really feeling the shirt vibes? That’s fine—there’s a simple solution for you: the slowtide quick-dry towel that uses the same awesome pattern. Or just get both and fully celebrate all that we love about Hawaii.
LIVSN Ecotrek Pants
We’re suckers for a great product that started as a Kickstarter campaign, if only because the product was designed by travelers for travelers, with every step of a journey in mind. First it was Pakt’s excellent backpacks, and now it’s this pair of exceptionally versatile pants from a company that truly understands our need for comfort when we’re out and about for an entire day, and especially if we’re going straight from the airplane to the adventure.
The all-weather Ecotrek pants are ideal for any climate, as they can handle the burdens of activities from hiking to climbing, as well as the elements that come with the terrain. Equally important: they look nice. That means they’re also fine for when your airline delays your departure and leaves you hanging out in the airport for a few extra hours.
LIVSN Women’s Trail Tights
Again, comfort matters as much as functionality, because sometimes sitting in the ever-shrinking airplane seat can be as grueling as exploring The Quill on St. Eustatius. Created with recycled nylon, the durability of the LIVSN Women’s Trail Tights is instantly evident, but that doesn’t mean comfort has been sacrificed for the sake of versatility.
If your vacation features a little bit of everything, from sunrise yoga on the beach to driving a UTV along the coastal inlets of Curaçao’s Shete Boka Park, and you love to pack light, these tights are the quintessential piece of clothing that could do it all. Fortunately, they also dry quick since you’ll probably need to wash them in between adventures.
ScubaScreen’s Full Boat
We are huge proponents of reef-friendly sunscreen, but the eco-awareness in our toiletries shouldn’t end there. After all, many of our daily hygiene products and accessories contain ingredients that aren’t good for the ocean. Enter: ScubaScreen, a cosmetics company that aims to eliminate that concern, while also using a little creativity to benefit divers who use the products.
The sun and sea can do a lot of damage to your hair, so ScubaScreen has unveiled eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner products that boast reef-friendly formulas that exclude the harmful parabens and disruptors that mess with marine life. If you need the whole package, the Full Boat includes the shampoo, eco-conditioner, and Wreck Repair leave-in conditioner. Our favorite part? The bottles include spare o-rings just in case you experience a blowout.
Rhum Clément Blanc
When we can’t travel, we still love to keep some of our favorite aspects of certain destinations close to us. For me, that includes a weekly Ti’ Punch that not only reminds me of some of the best spots in the French Caribbean, but also to get my next trip to Martinique on the books so I can finally do a real deal rhum tasting.
In the meantime, I’ve made Rhum Clément Blanc a mainstay in my bar cart, partly because its “AOC Martinique” designation makes me confident that it’s the same as or close to what I’d be enjoying in a Ti’ Punch while lounging on the sand at Anse Céron. But I also prefer this stuff because it just tastes so good with these basic ingredients:
- 1 quarter size lime disk
- 0.25 oz sugarcane syrup
- 2 oz Rhum Clément
How to Make It:
Squeeze the disk into the glass, add syrup, and rhum. Swizzle! Add ice if desired.
A lot of people live under the mistaken idea that all tequila is just tequila. Yes, that’s the case for some of the mainstream brands that you’ll hurt your back bending over to pick up from the bottom shelves, but there’s so much creativity in the industry today, so one of the best perks of travel is trying new brands and discovering bottles that we might never learn about if we’re just picking our go-to labels from the local store.
I’ve become a big fan of Curamia’s Blanco for experimenting with margs at home, because there’s a heavy citrus essence to the nose and taste, but also some pepper that kicks in at the end. If you don’t really care about the wordiness of tasting notes, that simply means it’s very delicious, especially if you just want a sipping tequila that has a little fruitiness. We also love that this brand was founded by women and is produced in a distillery that boasts 95 percent female. That’s just cool.
And so is this recipe for the Piña Picante cocktail:
- 1.5 oz. Jalapeño Infused Curamia Tequila Blanco
- 2 oz. pineapple juice
- 0.5 oz. agave
- 1 oz. soda water
- 1 tsp. tamarind pulp
How to Make It:
Combine all but soda water in a shaker and shake lightly to combine. Pour into tall glass and fill with ice. Top with soda water.