Best travel brands

We’re used to seeing lists of favourite destinations, activities and restaurants — but what about those unsung essentials that make our trips easier and more enjoyable? If you’ve ever wondered which camera travellers trust with their vacation memories or which travel guide has the inside scoop, you’ll be interested in the latest poll from travel review website TripAdvisor.

In preparation for its inaugural Travelers’ Choice Awards for Travel Favorites, TripAdvisor’s panel of 7000 travellers created a short list of favourite brands in 15 categories. They then asked 23,706 travellers in five countries — the U.S., the U.K., France, Italy and Spain — to vote for their favourites.

“We asked the world’s largest travel community to tell us what they simply can’t travel without, and so our Travelers’ Choice Awards for Travel Favorites were born,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, in a press release announcing the winners.

So which brands got the most votes? Here’s a break down of the winners:

Camera: Travellers in most countries who participated in the poll pack a Canon — but Nikon got the nod from most travelers in Italy.

Coffee: Respondents from the U.S. and Spain love their Starbucks, but if you’re looking to expand your caffeinated horizons try Costa (the favourite of UK travellers), Nespresso (favourite among the French) and Illy (the choice of most travellers from Italy).

E-reader: Americans and Brits love their Kindles, but respondents from France, Italy and Spain all give the iPad the nod.

GPS / Satnav: Garmin was top of the list among American travellers, but the rest preferred rival TomTom.

Headphones: You’re most likely to find Bose on the ears of U.S. travellers, but the others will be rocking to Sony.

Insect Repellent: Travellers from the US and Spain prefer Off, but Jungle Formula (favourite of the UK) Hansaplast (France) and Autan (Spain) also lead in the polls.

Luggage: When it comes to packing, all five countries agreed Samsonite was the best brand to trust with their stuff.

Magazine: When it comes to a little light travel reading, every country has its favourite. Travellers from the U.S. prefer People, the U.K. goes for Private Eye, French travellers enjoy Paris Match, Italians opt for Focus and travellers from Spain pack National Geographic.

Rain Jacket: If you’re looking to stay dry, The North Face was the choice of U.S. and U.K. travellers, while French travelers went for Decathlon and Italians sport K-Way. (A result wasn’t given for Spain.)

Sunscreen: Nivea was the top choice for travellers from France, Italy and Spain while American travellers preferred Neutrogena and the U.K. opted for its beloved Boots.

Sunglasses: With the exception of the U.K., travellers from most countries turn to Ray-Ban to shield their eyes. U.K. travellers voted for Boots instead.

Swimwear: When it’s time to suit up, voters from the U.S. and Spain love Speedo with U.K. voters choosing Marks & Spencer, French travellers donning Banana Moon and Italian travellers going for Calzedonia.

Travel Guide: While French travellers chose Le Routard, all the rest trusted their travel plans to Lonely Planet — especially in the U.K., home of parent company BBC.

Travel Magazine: Not surprisingly, tried-and-true National Geographic got the nod from the U.S., Italy and Spain. Travellers from the U.K. are more likely to pick up Lonely Planet and travellers from France find inspiration in Geo.

Walking Shoes: Most countries picked Nike as their favourite, but you’re more like to find Clarks on the feet of U.K. travellers with French travellers donning Decathlon.

While the poll is more popularity contest than scientific survey, it is fun to see which brands travellers trust the most. Don’t be affronted if your favourites didn’t make the list — the results likely reflect regional preferences based on what brands are available in those countries. Names like Kobo and Roots might not have as big a presence on the international scene as they do in Canada.

Nor do the replies offer any indication of which products are best — such as which Canon camera to try. For that information, you’ll have to look elsewhere for reviews. If you look at comparable products among different companies, one brand doesn’t necessarily win out all the time. It’s important to look beyond the labels.

Do you agree with the results? Which brands are your favourite? Since the survey didn’t poll Canadians, we invite you to weigh in using the comments section below.

To see the full break down by country, check out the Trailblazing with TripAdvisor blog.