For the essentials, Eagle Creek has some great luggage and accessories, like this hanging toiletry kit.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Wallaby II Travel Toiletry Kit
For my laptop and carry-on items, I prefer a backpack since I have both hands full with a tuba case and a suitcase to maneuver. It’s made of rugged material and hardware, and features a clamshell-style design with schock-absorbing straps and back padding.
Wenger Sahara computer backpack
My current suitcase is by SwissGear. It’s small enough to not be a burden, but big enough to hold enough for a week.
SwissGear 21″ Upright Suitcase
The essential that I seem to forget more often than not are earplugs. Flying is bad enough without the noise. On long flights, or in other loud places, they can be critical.
Hearos Xtreme Protection Series Earplugs from Walgreens
The latest addition to my gear is an aluminum water bottle. With all this talk about dangerous plastics, I thought it would be wise to buy one of these babies (besides, it matches my luggage!)
Aluminum Bottle by SIGG
For booking, I swear by Expedia and and occasionally get a great deal on Priceline, and this year I discovered TripIt. TripIt consolidates all of the details for my itineraries. Because I make the travel arrangements for the Atlantic Brass Quintet, and always need to fly five people from three cities, I find this site extremely valuable. All you have to do is forward emails directly to TripIt, clips from the web, and add notes, pictures and other details to create a master itinerary with everyone’s information on the same page. For exploring an area, or checking hotel review, I like Trip Advisor.
My favorite travel writer lately is Matt Gross, the New York Times Frugal Traveler. He is currently posting articles and videos about his travels throughout Europe, retracing the the path of the Grand Tour.