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TRAVEL & COOKING PRODUCTS
OUR FAVORITE TRAVEL PRODUCTS
INIU Portable Chargers are super slim and easy to carry in your daypack. The pawprint indicator reports remaining power. It's not only an on-the-go charger, but a handy flashlight in an emergency.
UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip Surge Protector is thin and light. Its 5 foot cord wraps around the power strip for easy storage. European hotels often don't have a lot of outlets, so the 2 plugs and 4 USB ports on the
is power strip allow me to charge all of my devices at once. I also carry extra charging cords in a variety of bright colors to help keep them organized ... and to not forget them in my hotel room.
BAGSMART Electronic Travel Cable Organizer keeps all of your travel cables and cords in one place, and it's waterproof.
Bonanza Converter/Adaptor converts foreign electricity from 220-240V to 110-120V for single US voltage electric products. It includes plug adapters for the different standards (US, UK, EU, AU & Asia). This product has two modes: the adaptor mode for devices such as iPhones, iPads, laptops and other dual-voltage appliances, and the converter mode for appliances such as hair dryers, curling and straightening irons. Make sure you buy this before you travel, as they do not sell adaptor/converters in Europe.
Smart phone neck lanyards and wrist straps keep your phone safe when you are leaning over a bridge or jostling through a crowd to get that perfect shot.
For the plane:
Macks Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs. After leaving a multitude of pricey earbuds on planes and in hotel rooms, I have found these cheap, comfortable, disposable earplugs really do block out sound and are / The key is to get them to expand and fit into your ear canal. Roll the ends of the earplugs into a shape and size that feels appropriate and gently work them into your ear canal. Hold them in place long enough to let them expand and create a seal.
Blitzu compression knee socks When you're flying, altitude and cabin pressure can increase the chance of swelling or even blood clots. I like this brand because it combines the stability of kinesiology taping with the performance of compression fabric. These socks are designed to hug your legs tightly to help your veins and muscles circulate blood more effectively, but are still comfortable during long flights. They are also great for long hikes and skiing.
For some reason, plane seats are designed with a deep C-curve, which doesn’t match the natural curve of the spine. Inflatable pillows work best to custom fit to your neck or lumbar. Urophylla Inflatable neck pillow. I like this brand because the pillow is soft velvet and designed to support your head so you are not wobbling when you are trying to sleep. I also travel with a TREKOLOGY Ultralight Inflating Travel/Camping Pillow for lumbar support. Both are compact and lightweight so fit easily into my carry on.
Swiss Gear 20” Expandable Upright Carry-on rollerboard suitcase.
Travel Smart Digital Luggage Scale There’s nothing worse than showing up at the airport with an overweight suitcase. Most times you will have to pay extra and/or repack on the spot. I carry this luggage scale on tour with me and it always gets passed around to my guests as they are packing up their souvenirs to go back home.
LugLoc GPS luggage Tracker provides automatic worldwide tracking if you lose your luggage. It's easy to use, with real-time notifications on your smartphone.
Spacesaver Premium Travel Roll-up Compression Packing Bags are heavy-duty, durable, puncture resistant and reusable. They are great to organize the clothes in your suitcase and to separate dirty laundry. Simply seal the ziplock bag and roll the air out to compress; open the seal to release.
Wine Skin Bags help you travel with confidence when you want to bring home a few bottles of wine, spirits or olive oil in your suitcase. Its double adhesive seal and thick lining helps protect the contents of your luggage from leaks and breakage.
For day touring:
I wear a very small crossbody purse with lots of pockets to keep everything organized, so I'm not rooting through a cavernous bag (a pickpocket's dream). The Baggallini Triple-zip Crossbody is stylish and practical. It has plenty of room for everything I need for the day and a secure, well-organized wallet. I put my credit cards in a small RFID blocking pocket. RFID chips are in personal identification items like credit cards and passports, and the blocking technology intercepts handheld RFID readers used by thieves. With this crossbody purse, my hands are free to take photos, do commentary or carry shopping bags, and it's small enough to comfortably and safely set on my lap when I’m at a restaurant or sitting on a train. It comes in a variety of colors, is waterproof, and after a few weeks of traveling, a machine wash makes it look just like new. I also carry a purse hook so I never have to lay my purse on the ground at a table or in the restroom.
If you prefer a backpack, the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack easily packs down into your carryon and then brought out for day touring. It has mesh straps, an outer water bottle pocket and just enough room for what you might need for the day. Many museums and churches require you to check larger backpacks before entering, which is inconvenient and takes up precious tour time. Remember, any backpack leaves you vulnerable to pickpockets who come up from behind, so bring only what you need for the day and put your cash and credit cards in a money belt or neck wallet.
Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket Travel Money Belt When it comes to money belts, the lighter the better. Traveling in hot weather can sometimes make these uncomfortable, so this is why I like the Eagle Creek brand. Many of my guests find that the Eagle Creek RFID Blocker Neck Wallet is even more comfortable than the belt. Both are thin and moisture-wicking but still have RFID blocking technology. RFID chips are in personal identification items like credit cards and passports, and the blocking technology intercepts handheld RFID readers used by thieves.
Another great product I travel with, especially if I am doing lots of hiking on a trip, is a Bandi Belt. It comes in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns, fits over you head and securely holds your phone, passport, keys, cash, cards, and small essentials.
Kolumbo “Unbreakable” Travel Umbrella The rib frame on the Kolumbo is designed to spring back in to shape when the umbrella is flipped inside out during high winds. It's
I like to carry a collapsible water bottle that can be folded down to fit into my purse.
In the hotel:
ConAir Cordless curling iron This high performance hair curler is rechargeable, offers up to 25-minutes of cord-free runtime and won't blow the electricity in your hotel.
If you like an electric travel shaver, the Braun M90 Mobile Electric Shaver is compact and runs on AA batteries.
Hotel rooms can be very dry, so if I'm traveling somewhere in the colder months or need a little moisture in the room, I break out my Pure Enrichment MistAire Travel Humidifier. This little gadget converts a water bottle into a moisture-producing water tank that that gives me a little extra moisture in my hotel room. The plug in can adapt to European voltage and the automatic turn off assures it's not going to burn out overnight. It's quiet and has a nightlight ... key when you are staying in lots of different hotel rooms.
Downy Wrinkle Release is a lifesaver! Most European hotels do not have irons in the room, and your only option is their laundry service. Spray your clothes and tug on each section to remove the wrinkles. It really works!
Safety and Security:
Of course, the first rule is don’t bring the good stuff. If you are carrying some valuables, however, consider carrying a Pacsafe Portable Safe. This steel wire mesh bag can be cabled to hotel furniture, a beach or restaurant chair, scooter or anywhere items need to be left unattended for awhile. It's to keep hotel staff from pilfering your stuff, a little peace of mind when you go for a swim, or to deter the casual snatch and grabber.
Surefire E2D Defender Tactical Flashlight My brother-in-law, Todd, gave this to me when I started traveling extensively on my own. This is an ultra-compact, dual-output tactical flashlight that you can bring through TSA. It has a high-intensity white-light beam — ten times the light needed to temporarily blind an aggressor — and an ultra-long runtime low beam that’s suitable for navigating at night or performing close-up tasks. I also carry a safety whistle. It hasn't happened, but these two tools would enable me to temporarily blind a would be attacker, draw attention to myself and give me valuable time to get away.
A few of my health and beauty secrets:
A Rubz Ball and Yoga Toes keep your feet in top shape. The spikes on the Rubz Ball hit the pressure points on the bottoms of your feet, and the Yoga Toes hurt so good as they stretch out your toes. At the end of the day, these two little remedies alleviate the fatigue and tension in your feet, legs and back after a long day of walking on cobblestones.
Compeed Blister Bandages are a miracle product! They relieve rubbing, pressure and friction we all experience when we travel. These blister pads act like a second skin, creating a moist healing environment while protecting blisters from dirt, water, germs and bacteria, helping them heal naturally. Unlike regular bandages, Compeed Blister Bandages stay in place for a few days, even after showers and exercise. They will save your trip! You can find them in pharmacies throughout Europe, but I always bring a pack in my day purse just in case.
Neutrogenal travel face wipes Individually wrapped facial cleansing towelettes are are great because you always have a fresh and effective wipe for deep cleansing and makeup removal. Great for the plane and in your daypack for a quick refresh.
LA Fresh Travel Lite Individually Wrapped Antiperspirant Wipes Summer travel can be brutally hot. I pop one of these in my purse for a little freshen up on a scorching day.
Sundowns Naturals Melatonin I take this when I arrive in country to help me catch up with jet lag. There is no official recommended melatonin dosage, but 0.5 milligram to 5 milligrams for adults and 0.05 milligrams per kilogram to 5 milligrams for children taken about one hour before bed is a guideline.
OUR FAVORITE COOKING PRODUCTS
Here are a few tools and products to help you make the recipes published in my book, The Art of Traveling Italy: An Insider's Guide to Traveling Fearlessly and Wisely.
Pasta machine An Italian design icon, the hand crank pasta machine is found in every kitchen throughout Italy. This classic machine helps create all kinds of pasta fresca. You can roll out sheets for lasagne, ravioli or agnolotti or cut pasta ribbons
Dough scraper — to clean your work surface.
Ravioli stamps — to cut and create pasta pillow shapes.
Bicicletta — to cut even strips for pasta pillow strips and lasagne noodles.
Extra-deep Dish Lasagne Pan Lasagne Verde al Ragu requires layers and layers of pasta, filling and sauce, so this 12.75 x 10" pan is 3.2" deep, and perfect for plenty of layers.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven. This 5.5 quart heavy-duty pot is perfect for making Barolo Stew, Osso Bucco, Risotto, Brodetto, Sauces and Ragus, and of course, our Timpano. Yes, it's very pricey. But if you are going to buy one Dutch Oven, invest in this one. It is built to last. Its surface is enameled with a vitreous layer of porcelain that is fused to the cast iron, which protects it from cracking. All Le Creuset cast iron cookware can be used safely on a stovetop or in the oven ... and it comes in lots of beautiful colors.
Some of our favorite Italian food products:
Aperol is the key ingredient of Italy’s most loved happy hour drink, the Aperol Spritz.
Castelvetrano olives Castelvetrano is so much a staple on our family aperitivi board that my nephew’s first word was “ovive.” Castelvetrano olives come from southwestern Sicily. These Kermit-green rays of sunshine have a fresh, crisp texture and a rich buttery taste.
Cucina e Amore arborio rice for risotto
Caputo “00” pasta flour
Cento San Marzano tomatoes
Cento Anchovy paste
Pecorino Romano D.O.P.
Urbani Truffle salt
Italian Savoiardi ladyfingers for tiramisu