10 travel accessories for your next trip

Whether you’re traveling solo or bringing the kids, make travel more enjoyable with the best travel accessories.

There’s only so much you can control when traveling. And sometimes, you just have to make the best of busy airports and cranky toddlers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come prepared.

Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, by yourself or with loved ones, you can increase your odds of an enjoyable trip when you pack the right gear. Before your next trip, consider upgrading your experience with a few of these clever travel accessories.

1. Noise-canceling headphones for sound or silence

Playing music or watching a movie is a great way to pass the time if you’re taking a flight or long train journey—or even just waiting for the bus. So headphones on any trip are pretty much a given. The travel experts at Travel + Leisure choose noise-canceling headphones for their ability to promote relaxation on the journey as well. 

They’re not the only ones.

“It’s crucial I get a little sleep on planes so I can land ready to go and start adjusting to a new time zone immediately,” says Lindsey Calhoun of travel blog Leisurely Linds. “I love that they tune out sounds from the airplane itself and from other passengers.”

Travel bloggers Kami Shoemaker and Laura Meyers have found other ways to relax using their headphones, too. Shoemaker, of travel blog Travel Explorator, likes to download and listen to white noise while she sleeps. And Meyers of Laure Wanders pops hers on to serve as a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

2. A power bank so you can charge ahead

Feel lost without your cell phone? That feeling can intensify when you’re traveling. At various points on your trip, your phone could double as your map, camera, payment method, movie screen, book—the list goes on. 

That’s why a portable power bank is one of the best things you can bring when traveling. 

“I tend to drain my battery horribly fast because of all the time I spend on my phone taking photos and looking at directions,” says travel blogger Rose Campau. “Investing in a power bank was one of the best things for my travels.”

Full-time travel blogger Dymphe Mensink of Dymabroad agrees. “It’s important to always be able to use your phone when you’re traveling. If you have a power bank with you, you can charge it even when there’s no outlet nearby.”

She remembers one potentially sticky situation when her phone died before she could show her electronic ticket to board a train. “I was very happy to have my power bank with me,” Mensink says. “It allowed me to charge my phone, so I could access my tickets and get on the train.”

3. A refillable water bottle to fuel your thirst for adventure

“There’s nothing worse than being thirsty on a plane and not having access to water,” says Keri Baugh of family travel blog Bon Voyage With Kids. Make that being thirsty anywhere. 

A refillable water bottle means you have water when you need it. And you won’t have to go without or stray from your schedule to find some. Plus, Baugh adds, “It’s better for the environment and saves money.” Case closed.

A couple of quick tips from Gilian Manassee of sustainable travel blog Jill on Journey: If you’re flying, you can keep an empty bottle in your hand luggage and fill it once you get through security. And if you’re worried about having drinkable water available, “get a water purifier bottle that can filter water from any tap around the world.”

4. A universal travel adapter for whenever you roam

A power bank can help you in a pinch, but what happens when even that needs charging? “Showing up in a new country and not being able to charge your electronics is not a good feeling,” says Charles Breitbart of travel website TripTins

Instead of buying different adapters for different countries, he suggests a universal travel adapter. “The adapter I have hasn’t failed me throughout the six continents,” he notes. “And it charges several devices at the same time.”

5. An inflatable travel pillow to smooth out the bumps

Train, bus or plane—they’re not known for their plush seating. Whichever mode of transport she takes, Shoemaker finds a travel pillow makes her trip more comfortable for sleeping or relaxing. 

“If you suffer from back or hip pain, it provides a huge relief to the body when sitting in uncomfortable seats,” she says. Shoemaker recommends an inflatable version for ease of carrying and packing. And hers self-inflates so that she doesn’t have to worry about blowing it up all the time.

6. Sleep aids to help with those Zzzs

“Traveling is exhausting by nature,” says Alejandro Beltran of New York City-based travel website New York Simply, “and you get the opportunity for shut-eye at the most random times.” To grab the chances when they come, Beltran says a sleep mask is a must for him. “It takes up little real estate and gives you the ability to rest, regardless of your surroundings.”

If your sleep deal breaker is noise—or lack of it—consider bringing something to replicate your atmosphere at home. 

Meaghan Clawsie, the owner of Texas-based travel agency Elated Escapes, usually falls asleep to her ceiling fan. So when she’s away, she uses a white noise app on her phone. Leisurely Linds’ Calhoun recently brought a mini sound machine to Patagonia to replicate the hum of her home city. 

And Laure Wanders blogger Meyers relies on simple earplugs for her guaranteed good night’s sleep. “They actually saved me last night, because there was a loud party going on,” she says. “Thanks to my earplugs, I didn’t hear anything and slept like a baby.”

7. Compression bags to squeeze in that little bit extra

You may have heard of packing cubes and their ability to keep clothes and accessories organized in your case. Bloggers Campau and Baugh both say compression bags are even better. “Not only do they let you fit more clothes into your suitcase, but they can squish into smaller spaces, saving room,” Baugh says.

Campau puts them at No. 1 on her list of indispensable travel accessories. “They shrink the footprint of your belongings and keep your items safe from spills as well as bugs hitching a ride home in your luggage,” she says. “I always pack an extra one or two just in case I make a few extra purchases on my trip.”

8. A foot hammock for stifling stiffness

Tall or short, it’s hard to know what to do with your legs when you get on an airplane. Beltran finds that keeping his knees locked at 90 degrees for any extended period of time gives him joint pain. Clawsie gets back and butt pain because her feet don’t quite reach the floor. 

Both have found relief with their foot hammocks. “I can comfortably lounge in my chair, and the pressure on my back is lifted,” Clawsie says. 

Beltran likes being able to adjust his hammock to suspend his legs from his ankles or calves. “This allows for plenty of blood flow,” he says, “which keeps my legs from falling asleep.”

9. Anti-theft gear to protect your valuables

Wherever you’re going, it never hurts to be aware of the possibility of theft. Having the right gear could deter potential thieves or even just give you the peace of mind you need to relax and enjoy your travels. 

And there are plenty of options. Breitbart uses luggage locks. Nina Ragusa of travel blog Where in the World Is Nina swears by her anti-theft backpacks, which she says offer great durability as well as protection.

When on the road, Campau says her biggest enemy can sometimes be herself. “It’s easy to lose track of a small item when constantly moving and your normal routines are off,” she says. So she keeps her most valuable belongings in a small travel safe. “It fits in the palm of my hand, is water-resistant and has tracking technology in case it wanders off.”

10. Toiletry bottles that won’t leak on your clothes

Is there anything worse than opening your suitcase to find your favorite shampoo smeared all over your clothes? “I’ve tried every possible toiletry packaging,” Clawsie says. “The flip-top bottles always leak.” In her experience, toiletry bottles with screw-top lids are the way to go.

Frequent business traveler and travel writer Katie Boutwell says that after trying numerous bottle types, she’s landed on the silicone style. “They have the ability to expand at different altitudes, an extra seal on the squeeze top and a wide opening for easy refills,” she says. “Since converting to silicone, I’ve not had a single toiletry bottle leak in four years and 50-plus trips.”

Baugh’s a big fan of a relatively new product on the market: rubber skins that stretch over the tops of your toiletry bottles, sealing in the contents. She describes them as “a lifesaver.”

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