What is the one travel item you absolutely can’t leave at home? Or perhaps, the top three pieces of gear that you have to travel with? I’m not talking about items that are non-negotiable, like whitey tighties, but actual travel gear, which if you left home without, you’d immediately have to buy.

Southern California sunsetI recently asked this both on Twitter and Trippy, and I was surprised at the diversity in the answers. Travel insurance was the most practical answer I received, while the most intangible (and humorous) remark was tolerance. One person actually said that they can’t even go to the grocery store without their camera (let alone travel without it). But beyond a camera and phone, there wasn’t much consistency in the answers. And what’s most interesting is that of the 20+ answers I received, not a single answer involved the one travel item that I absolutely have to travel with.

So what is the one piece of travel gear that I can’t leave home without? No, it’s not a flask. It without a shadow of a doubt is a pair of headphones. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that one of my favorite elements of storytelling is music, even if I can’t read sheet music worth a damn. Music, if I can be cheesy for a moment, is the window to the soul.

But more than once, I’ve actually bought a pair of headphones at the airport when I realized I hadn’t brought my own. Music, among a handful of other things, zens me out like few things do. And before leaving on a trip I’ll often create a travel playlist that’s representative of where I’m traveling. For example, my Hawaii playlist includes Jack Johnson, The Beach Boys, Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole (famously known for his “Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” medley), Elvis (naturally, because of Blue Hawaii), and for laughs, Lil’ Wayne’s “Hawaii 5.0.”

Aerial from airplaneBut just as importantly, it’s a noise reducer. My modus operandi when flying a red-eye flight is two glasses of red wine at the airport followed by inserting headphones upon getting to my seat on a flight. It’s certainly not foolproof, but by and large it’s worked enough to afford me a few hours of sleep more often than not. Not to mention it’s served as a baby-noise-cancelling device.

It seems only appropriate then, that when Verizon (which I am a customer of, now more than ever after discovering the virtues of their insurance following Costa Rica’s Río Tempisque swallowing my iPhone) asked to do a giveaway on Whiskey Tango Globetrot, that I wanted it to be a giveaway for a set of headphones. Yes, in part because headphones are my favorite piece of travel gear, but largely, too, out of necessity, since there are wires literally coming out of my current pair. But thank goodness for wireless technology, right? Because that’s what Verizon sent me, a pair of Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 wireless earbuds.

Now I’m not going to give you a drawn-out review or even regurgitate all the tech mumbo jumbo you can get from the product page. I’m simply going to tell you my experience as it compares to my previous set of headphones and being my first wireless pair. Oh, and I’m going to give a pair away to one reader!

Digital travel gear

To test the integrity of the Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 headphones, I first went to the gym. You know that guy who falls off the elliptical (picture Bill Murray in Lost in Translation) or whose phone goes flying across the gym because his headphones catch the handles? Yeah, well that guy is me, and no matter how many times I’ve tried to avoid it, it’s continued to happen several times. That is, until last night, since these headphones are wireless and just drape around the back of your neck. Bonus points for being sweat proof, evidently because of military-grade nano-coating. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds awesome and bad-ass. And I’m for anything to make me feel more like a bad-ass and look less like a stupid-ass at the gym.

I used the headphones pretty regularly for two to three hours yesterday, with the battery level dropping to medium before I shut it off. However, according to the headphones, they can be used for 14.5 hours when fully charged. Since the earbuds are Bluetooth-enabled, it includes an inline mic, found in the remote by the right earbud that also controls music, volume, answering, and hanging up calls (or, like me, screening calls). The nifty little charging case (which I used to charge via my laptop) provides an hour of listening time for every 20 minutes connected.

Giveaway

But now for the goods. While the Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 headphones are $99.99 on Verizon, they are currently on sale for $79.99 through the end of the month. However, you can get them for free. They say that nothing in life is free, but a pair of these headphones now are. All you have to do to be entered to win the wireless headphones giveaway from Verizon (open to U.S. residents who are least 18 years old through the end of March) is comment below and tell me what single piece of travel gear you absolutely can’t leave at home. You can receive additional entries by doing any (or all) of the following:

  • Tweet: I just entered @spencerspellman’s #WTGlobetrot giveaway for a pair of wireless headphones from @verizonwireless.

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What single piece of travel gear can you absolutely not leave at home?

The following post and giveaway comes in partnership with Verizon.