January is gone and with it my urge to buy new exercise equipment, which by July then forces me to choose between spending time dusting said equipment or creating eBay listings for it. Luckily, all of that time spent at stores like Sports Authority and Academy gave me some great ideas – for travel gear. Step around all those elliptical thingies, breeze past the half-empty Fitbit displays, and you can find amazing stuff to up your game on all your trips.
Workout clothes are ideal travel clothes.
Comfy clothes make the best travel clothes. (Stocksy)
Start with basic black workout pants, add layers of brightly colored tops, and you’ve got a light-weight, wrinkle resistant, comfortable outfit for road trips and flights. If your destination is warm, you may need shorts and the sporting goods store may be the only place you can find them off-season. Bonus: running shorts with liners easily double as swim shorts. They even dry faster than most swimsuits.
Fishing shirts are the perfect top layer for any travel outfit.
Fishing shirts are pretty versatile. (Columbia Sportswear)
Ignore the fact that these clothes are sometimes referred to as “fishing” shirts and pants. Look for multiple-zippered pockets, convertible leg and sleeve lengths, and breathability. Magellan’s and Columbiabrand clothes are my personal favorites. I confess to wearing a pink Columbia fishing shirt as my top layer of clothing every day of a recent 15-day trip to the Caribbean. It kept me from getting sunburned on more than one occasion, and I always knew exactly where my lip sunscreen was: top, right-hand zippered pocket.
Find all your out-of-season necessities.
Need heavy duty bug spray? Skip Duane Read and head to the sporting goods store. (Getty Images)
If you live a climate that’s cold part of the year, sports stores stores may be the only place you can actually find flip-flops in February. Not to mention the stores carry stronger versions of insect repellant and sunscreen year-round.
The luggage of your dreams may be a “gear bag.”
Sporting good stores have great options for carryons. (Granite Gear)
Specialty gear bags are often more rugged than standard luggage, plus they have extra pockets, dividers, and straps that make packing easier. Even the wheels seem tougher. Granite Gear makes bags with removable or built-in backpacks that make you re-think your whole idea of what luggage should do for you.
There are a million choices to stay hydrated.
Drink up! (Getty Images)
Sporting goods stores have the best selection of portable water bottles on the planet. They come with hooks, handles, spritzers, spouts, and sleeves that you will not find anywhere else. The latest trend is collapsible water bags that pack flat for the trip. Go into the airport with it empty and fill it up once you’re past security. You can also take an extra water bottle to the beach to rinse the salt and sand from your hair and feet.
Organize your little stuff with help from the fishing department.
Perfect jewelry storage. (Mudder)
These aisles are where you’ll find handy clips, divided boxes, and cords to pack and secure all your stuff for the road. For example, you can use tackle boxes for cosmetics, children’s toys, or jewelry.
Campers have thought of everything.
Campers are pretty clever. (Getty Images)
Look in the camping department for things that make your non-camping travel a breeze. Life is easier with pre-packed first aid kits, dry bags, and clip-on carrying cases. There’s even portable food.