Regular readers of my site may already be familiar with the basics of traveling light, but if you’re new and happen to find this place, you may be wondering where you can find all that information.
The stuff is all stashed away in the link labeled “ARCHIVE SITE” above. It’s there because the information, for the most part, is pre-9/11; many articles are a decade old!
Instead of trying to comb through and revising each article, I thought it would be easier to freeze them in time and properly label them so you would see that the articles are not current. That said, there’s a lot of good stuff in there worth sharing still today. So periodically, I’ll run one of my older articles, revised where appropriate. I’ll make sure to let you know it originally ran in the past. Good, yes? So let’s get started!
[The following is an all-new updated blast from the past from the Travelite archives.]
Must-Have Resources for Every Traveliter
“If you don’t read any further at this Web site, just go to the following sites and you’ll be a smarter traveler and travel shopper.”
Since I originally published this article a decade ago, the Internet has exploded. Any store or company worth its salt seems to have a Web site, and many of them have gone from plain-looking sites (many without the ability to purchase items online) to really fancy, with tools like wish lists and customer support live chat, that make Internet shopping as convenient as possible.
The sites I recommend here have been around for a while, and although there are other Web sites that sell similar items at similar (or even lower) cost, these sites are different, because I believe they are travelers who sell travel-related products, and not just business people who happen to sell travel-related products among their vast inventory. What that means is that the stuff they sell have been tried and tested; they aren’t just fancy, but practical. The products feel right.
I wholeheartedly recommend these sites, not only for their products, but for their customer service. These sites also understand our desire to travel lightly, and offer you most of what you’d want when packing your things for your trips.
The following are those that I feel all readers should at least take a look at. Disclaimer: I produce this FAQ for free. I have not been paid by any of the following for their inclusion here, nor do I get any commercial gain from this listing.
If you decide to contact any of these places, please do me a favor by mentioning that you read about them here on the Travelite FAQ! Thanks!
In the process of becoming a traveliter, I believe everyone should try to get their hands on the following:
Magellan’s: For More Comfortable, Safe and Rewarding Travel
Originally a mail order catalog company, Magellan’s went online, secured its own domain web site (it’s hard to believe, looking back now, how many businesses didn’t have their own vanity name Web addreses!). They were relatively early in the orders shopping game, and their online catalog back then was as comprehensive as their print catalog. Those who like to pore over the print catalog and mark up items while daydreaming about their vacation trip will find a perfect harmony here; Magellan’s still maintains that balance of online and print catalog nicely.
You may have travel-related stores in your nearest mall, but Magellan’s, in my opinion, is the king of mail-order travel merchandise. I’ve never seen any other place with more or better travel “stuff” than these guys. They’ve got everything from money belts and travelpacks to collapsible water bottles and toiletry kits. They also specialize in electrical adapters and converters.
I have shopped with Magellan’s these last few years, and their customer service (both mail order and in person) are incredible (to a level I thought was basically non-existent in the ’90s). Drop by their store if you’re ever in Santa Barbara. I was a bit surprised at the small size of their store, but it made perfect sense since they specialize in minimal packing.
TravelSmith: Outfitting Guide and Catalog from TravelSmith
What Magellan’s is to travel “stuff” TravelSmith is to travel clothing. The folks at TravelSmith call themselves “the Gurus of Travel Wear,” and I have to admit their products are both unique and impressive. For example, many of their outfits (for both women and men) are lightweight and wrinkle-resistant. Their prices are a bit on the higher side if you’re used to other mail order firms like L.L. Bean and Lands’ End, but TravelSmith outfits seem tailored for traveliters. Note that there is some merchandise overlap between Magellan’s and TravelSmith, although it is minimal.
The iconic product that Travelsmith sells is what they call “The Indispensable Black Travel Dress.” Originally introduced almost a decade ago, the simple dress was a combination of product development and marketing genius. Made of a soft and stretchy fabric that didn’t require ironing or dry cleaning, the dress had no zippers, buttons, or snaps. The high empress/princess waistline camouflaged belly pooch and gave an A-cup wearer the feel of having a more curvy figure on top. Travelsmith slowly began expanding their line by introducing various lengths, different sleeve lengths, necklines, and colors. Over the years they probably sold about 20 variations on this dress. The nice thing is that the basic product is still available today.
Most of the clothing they sell are their own brand. They regularly introduce new items, so if you see something you like, you might consider picking it up right away. Conversely, they also need to shed their older inventory regularly, which means you can find some incredible bargains in their sale section. If you live in Northern California, you can get on their mailing list so you can be notified when they have one of their huge warehouse sales. Great prices, but bring your comfy shoes, because you’ll need to scour the racks to find the right sizes and such.
In addition to these original two recommendations, let me also suggest the following:
Norm Thompson offers travel-friendly products but is not completely travel-centric like Magellan’s and Travelsmith is. You’ll find some nice items there, but if you want to buy travel clothing, be very mindful that what you are buying will work for you. Check to see if an item is specifically marked as machine (or hand) washable, or that it resists wrinkles.
My general impression is that Norm Thompson sells a better, more stylish selection of menswear than the previous two, but so much of that is up to each individual taste.
If you are a fan of Baggallini purses, Norm Thompson is the place to go. They offer a very comprehensive line of their products.
Campmor gets a nod here for being the bargain hunter’s dream. If you are looking more for adventure travel gear, or you’re on a budget, take a look here before you go to some of the other retailers like REI. I usually look to Campmor for things like layers for winter travel.
The only thing to be mindful of is that they are usually limited in their inventory, so you need to see if they actually have things in your size. Most of the products there are on sale because they are a clearance house. But hey, it’s cheap cheap cheap, and if you’re minding your wallet, Campmor can be a great buddy!
What can I say about Rick Steves? He is my personal travel role model, my travel guru. He originally introduced me to the carry-on-only concept in his “Europe Through the Back Door” TV series on PBS, and he continues to share his knowledge and nudge hesitant Americans to travel overseas.
Visit his Web site. It is a wonderful melange of stuff that often reminds me of a big train station, full of hustle and bustle. He continues to sell some really fine travel products, including his classic carry-on travelpack. He offers guided tours to a huge array of European destinations. He has free podcasts of his radio shows, as well as some walking tours (my husband and I listened to his Paris podcast and had a great time listening to him explain some things about the Notre Dame as we sat across the street and marveled at the great cathedral).
He has written hundreds of articles over the years, all available to read there. And then there is the Graffiti Wall. It’s not a typical bulletin board so much as a collection of advice from Europe Through the Back Door travelers, in the form of a huge long list. Find your topic of interest and click on its link. There, you will hear from other travelers about what pickpocket scams to look out for, or what walking shoes are the most comfortable to walk in all day.
Happy travel shopping!