Having the right gear in your pack can help you pack light, be prepared, and have a good time. Keep in mind, if you are upgrading your gear closet with the intention of travel, ensure that it can also be utilized in a wide variety of applications in your life. If you buy a merino shirt for ski touring, you should be just as at home wearing it in a museum in Milan or a market in Mexico. This will help you stomach some of the up front costs associated with high-quality, highly-functional gear.
The gear listed here is my own personal recommendations. I am not affiliated or supported by any of these companies. Here are a few of my favorite splurges.
Packing Cubes and Sacs:
Packing Cubes will simplify your life and expedite your transitions. I wouldn't go anywhere without them.
Merino wool clothes:
I have skirts, socks, shirts, long johns, and even bras in wool. Wool is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture, so it will not trap secretions from your pores on your skin surface. Typical stink is from bacteria feeding on your natural secretions—sweat, which gets trapped between your skin and clothing. Wool allows moisture to pass though your clothes and release into the air, while synthetic materials trap moisture on your skin creating a lovely atmosphere for bacteria to feast. Wool also has natural antimicrobial properties keeping your stink at bay, A.K.A less laundry for you!
Silk sleeping bag liner:
These are handy in hot countries in place of a sleeping bag, or in hostels. Sometimes hostels will make you pay to use their sheets. I don’t always bring this; it depends on where I am headed. I usually don't bring it to Europe, but I do bring it to S.E. Asia.
Get one large enough to cover your important parts. Pack towels are essential in hostels and if you couchsurf or camp. Here is one example of one, but anything like this would work.
You will need something with which to romp around the city and put your water bottle and camera in. Get something that is compressible for when you are not using it.
I love them all. I am currently using a 38 Liter Kode ski pack, but they do not make them in that size anymore. I have also used and love the Osprey Aura for women and the Osprey Mens Atmos.
dress like an onion:
Never bring a large coat, bring layering pieces instead. Made for men and women the Patagonia R-1 is an essential, albeit, expensive, layering item. A light weight down coat/down sweater is indispensable in nearly any location.
For Men and women, the Outdoor Research helium rain jacket is small, packable and very waterproof.
Don't get sick!
The SteriPEN is the most useful water purification device I have found. I use the classic version, but there are many different kinds to suit your needs. What sets the SteriPEN apart from other water purification methods is that the SteriPEN uses UV light to break the cell walls of bacteria and viruses, most filtration methods are only affective in killing bacteria, and most other purification methods are time consuming and alter taste. The SteriPEN is low-profile and can be used in drinks like tea and juice, as well as water, so you never have to offend hospitality when someone offers you a drink while traveling. It is easy to discreetly treat a drink with the SteriPEN.