The Best Travel Gear for 2021
Travelling gear is an essential part of any good trip, but some travel gear is clearly better than the rest. Here are some of the best things to get, whether you’re heading out camping for a weekend or planning a months-long tour around the world.
How We Selected Items
We selected the best travelling gear based on several factors, including their overall quality, the reputation of manufacturers, and how important they are for travelling. This is a guide to high-quality gear, so the cost was not a factor unless we felt a product was overpriced for its value.
Also, this guide doesn’t cover most clothes or other personal items. This is not a checklist of things to bring while travelling but rather a selection of reviews and information on helpful travelling gear.
Part One: Luggage and Storage
This isn’t as important for short trips, but getting the correct storage options makes a huge difference for longer journeys. The main principle here is to make sure you can bring anything you buy with you. You can get the best luggage in the world, but if it’s too big for the plane, you have a problem.
Samsonite is one of the most well-known brands in luggage, and deservedly so. Their Omni PC luggage is available in three sizes (a 20-inch carry-on and 24/28-inch checked versions) and stands out as a particularly durable option ideal for longer trips.
Samsung offers a 10-year limited warranty on this product, while the exterior polycarbonate texture is durable and scratch-resistant. Side-mounted locks provide added security, while the expandable interior compartment provides a lot of added space if you need it.
Luggage is an interesting area because there isn’t much diversity in the products themselves. Luggage is, fundamentally, a rectangular box on wheels designed to hold as much as possible while you’re travelling. The real difference is in the luggage, like the high-quality wheels that can hold up under regular use.
This luggage is also surprisingly light for its size, which will help maintain your stamina if you’re taking it on longer trips.
One crushed bottle of shampoo is enough to make it clear why toiletry bags are so helpful. This particular bag is a full-sized container that unfolds into four compartments for rapid organization of all products. Various zippered compartments help keep things in place, and you can fit about five days’ worth of supplies without running low.
Transparent insides provide an easy look at where everything is, while the water-resistant exterior will hold up under rain or steam-filled bathrooms. The heavy-duty material ensures you can carry almost everything you fit in, too.
This bag also comes with a heavy-duty hanging strap. Toiletry bags are often considered more feminine, but this product is comfortably user-neutral thanks to an array of different colors that can match luggage or personal preference.
Every inch of storage matters when you’re travelling, so this bag’s ability to maximize usable space makes it a top choice for practically any trip.
Packing cubes are a relatively recent choice for many travelers, essentially acting as miniature compartments inside of standard luggage. This particular kit comes with a TSA clear bag for holding liquids like shampoo, an extra toiletry bag, a shoe bag, two small cubes, a medium cube, and a large cube.
The two plastic bags here are especially helpful because they’re waterproof and hold up well if you’re transporting sweaty or wet things. That happens a lot if you’re travelling in warmer areas, and isolating both the moisture and the smell from everything else is a real boon.
The storage cubes themselves have a water-resistant and durable fabric, with a mesh grid on one side so you can find things without having to open each bag. They’re available in several colors, though we recommend getting something that contrasts with the inside of your luggage.
Luggage is the main storage option for travel, but it’s also good to have a backpack for carrying things around during the day. For that role, YOREPEK’s extra-large bag has many advantages that most competitors don’t.
This is a multipurpose, TSA-friendly bag with an option for opening up to pass through airport security faster. It can fit one 17-inch or smaller laptop (or a bit bigger, if you get the larger bag), while the rest of the interior is spacious enough to hold clothes, food, and other travel supplies.
YOREPEK’s backpack is particularly helpful for tech-inclined travelers because it has both an earphone hole and a USB charging port for charging devices. This lets you keep several items in the safety of the bag without sacrificing your ability to use them.
The handle is unusually durable, consisting of a steel cable instead of weaker fabric or leather. Meanwhile, an airflow mesh provides ventilation and can help keep you cooler if you’re travelling in warm regions. If you’re going somewhere cold, you could realistically fit some heating pads inside and enjoy those to the fullest.
This is a great bag overall, but it is better for larger buyers. Petite travelers may want to look for a comparable smaller bag.
Space is everything when you’re travelling and few things are more of a game-changer than using vacuum storage bags for your clothes. This 12-piece set from GONGSHI comes with four sizes of bags for even more added flexibility. They’re not necessary if you’re only bringing a few clothes, but the more you add, the more helpful these become.
Vacuum storage bags are also helpful if you want to bring a blanket, pillow, or sleeping bag on your trip. These types of items usually need some time to reinflate if you store them for a long time, but if they’re only vacuumed for a few days, they should retain their familiar comfort once you unpack them.
The bags themselves have a double-zipper seal for added strength, including a slider that helps ensure all areas get equal pressure. The air-seal is a three-layer version, while the bag itself uses a two-layer composite for durability.
It’s hard to overstate the value of these for long trips. Clothes are the bulkiest item that many people bring when travelling, so the ability to compact them down can give you several inches of additional space in your luggage. That’s enough for several new luxury items.
Organization is vital if you’re travelling internationally, and few things are more important than your passport. This leather carrying case is RFID-blocking, so it can stop people from scanning some types of information that would otherwise be available.
This security isn’t necessary for most places, but it’s nice to have. The real value of this holder is the rest of its storage, including spaces for various cards, proof of vaccinations, plane tickets, money, and even SIM cards for your devices.
The elastic band is a nice touch, too. It’s not overly grippy by itself, but it’s easy to lock the band to other things and reduce the risk of theft. That’s the feature that sets this holder apart from many of its competitors, especially if you lock it in a way that stops others from opening it.
The holder itself uses leather for general durability. You’ll need to care for the leather if you expect to use it regularly, but even without that, it should last quite a long time.
PASCACOO’s passport holder comes with a bonus pin for opening SIM slots on devices, too. That’s a tool people usually forget when travelling, and it’s often a pain to find one otherwise.
Part Two: Technology
Technology is the heart of modern travel, so these items have moved from luxury extras to must-haves for many people.
Complicated brand name aside, this is a top choice for travelling with technology. This unit comes with three USB-C ports for high-speed connections, as well as enough capacity to keep most devices charged throughout the day. It pairs particularly well with the YOREPEK bag described above, where the bag’s USB connection makes using this far easier.
This charger has several layers of protection, including defenses against overcurrents, overvoltage, over-discharge, and short circuits. A simple power button lets you turn it on or off as desired, while the dual Type-C and Micro USB inputs give you added versatility for how to charge it up again.
For context, 36,800mAh is enough to charge a smartphone like an iPhone 12 about six times. It may not work quite as well for power-hungry devices, but this charger should last you at least one day of continual use for most regular devices.
Pxwaxpy offers a 36-month warranty on this product, as well as lifetime technical support for solving other issues. Portable chargers are especially important if you’re planning to go places where electricity access is scarce or limited, and this is the best balance of quality, price, and performance in 2021.
Portable chargers are necessary for keeping devices charged up, but even that isn’t enough for some trips if you want to use devices regularly. That’s where Hiluckey’s portable solar charger comes into the picture.
This charger doubles as a power bank, providing even more electricity for emergencies while also letting you leave it somewhere safe and sunny if needed. It’s durable enough to hang from a bag while you walk around, too.
The exterior is built with outdoor activities in mind. It’s functionally dustproof, shockproof, and waterproof, with a built-in flashlight that has an SOS mode for nighttime emergencies. This kit is a little bulky, but it folds down to a reasonably compact size, and you can easily fit it into your luggage if you’re using vacuum bags to compress clothes.
One thing many people forget before travelling is that countries have different plugs. EPICKA’s universal adapter covers about 150 countries, including most places you’re likely to visit during your trip.
This adapter supports charging up to six devices simultaneously through four USB ports, one Type C port, and one AC socket. Several safety systems are in place, but keep in mind this charger does not convert either the current or the voltage. You may need extra devices for that, depending on what you’re bringing along on your trip.
As with all adapters, the value of this product depends heavily on where you’re going. Notably, it is suitable for most of Europe, the UK, the US, Japan, China, and Australia, but it’s not a good choice for some areas in Africa, Israel, or India. Check the store page to see if it matches your travel plans before buying any adapter.
Part Three: Daily Items
Daily items are a little tricky because people have different needs and preferences. For that matter, size differences alone can make some travelling gear unviable for trips. However, having all of these can help make each trip far more comfortable.
#10: Saucony Men’s Ankle Socks (Male Travelers)
Saucony’s ankle socks are ideal for lower shoes and when you’re travelling in warmer areas. These aren’t a good choice for travelling in cold areas, but the small amount of spandex gives them enough stretch to fit comfortably.
Most socks are fundamentally similar to each other, but these have a few features that help them stand out. Notably, they have a better-cushioned sole than some other socks, which is good if you expect to be on your feet a lot. They also have added arch support thanks to targeted compression areas.
Although not designed specifically for travel, Saucony sells these for aggressive training and workout sessions. Durability matters on trips because replacements can be hard to come by, so make sure you bring several pairs.
#11: Saucony Women’s Performance Socks (Female Travelers)
These socks are similar to the male traveler socks but sized for women instead. They are slightly different from the men’s socks, though, with extra cushioning in areas that see more impact and a more comfortable toe seam for heavy use.
Like most good sock brands, Saucony sells these in a wide variety of colors and sizes so you can find something that matches your preferences. The right number of socks to bring depends on what you’re doing, but we recommend at least three that you can rotate between and wash as necessary.
These brightly-colored containers hold three fluid ounces of liquid each. What sets these apart as an excellent choice for travel is the highly squeezable design. There’s no real place for liquids to get stuck, so you can get out as much as possible and get the most from your trip.
These bottles have wide openings for filling, which is vital if you’re trying to pour thicker liquids like shampoos into them. The caps feature a practical no-drip valve system to help avoid spilling out anything you don’t want to use. Although they’re not transparent, it’s easy enough to tell how full they are by squeezing the outsides.
One important thing to remember here is that some care products don’t interact well with silicone. You may see products that the silicone absorbs, and it can be hard to tell what will work and what won’t. Consider packing liquids about two weeks before your trip to be sure the containers won’t swell in transit.
Many people use liquid shampoo and conditioner, but it’s often easier to bring a solid bar that you can keep using throughout your trip. IndulgeMe’s bar is environmentally friendly, with ingredients that are generally safe to use anywhere in the world.
Bars like these also reduce the number of liquids you need and the chance of a puncture ruining your storage. As if that wasn’t good enough, this bar is also suitable for use as face and body wash. That makes it a four-in-one product where you can use as much or as little as you need each day.
Try to buy and use this bar before your trip so you know how fast you tend to go through them. That can help you estimate your usage for the trip and ensure you bring enough to last the entire time.
High-quality microfiber towels are both durable and practical for travel. This option comes in large and extra-large versions, folding down extremely small and fitting into a convenient carrying bag.
Microfiber makes sense for travel because it dries skin quickly and dries out much faster than traditional towels. The microfiber pattern here uses interlocking stitching for added durability, which is another major consideration when you’re out travelling. An extra hang-dry strap makes it easier to dry it out after use, too.
Most products that are good for camping are also good for travel, and that holds true here. This particular towel is just as helpful for beach use as it is for drying off after using the shower, so it’s a practical choice for nearly any environment.
This towel can double as an extra layer for a blanket during an emergency, but it’s not warm enough to serve in that role full-time. The exception is if you’re staying in a warm area and want a slightly warm covering, in which case this can work quite well.
Subtlety is key for security and few things are more subtle than this specialized unisex security belt. Unlike some other belts, there’s very little that can give this away as something for potential thieves to look out for. Even better, it maintains security regardless because it’s practically impossible for anyone to open it without you noticing.
Travel security belts don’t have a lot of space, but they’re an excellent way to carry some cash and any particularly important documents you need to have on you at all times. Keeping about $100 in a belt like this should be enough to help you get almost anywhere you need to go during an emergency.
Actual storage will vary based on things like the thickness of your country’s bills, but on average this belt can hold about four dollars folded up. Any more will make it a little too thick to wear comfortably.
As a bonus, you usually don’t need to take off your belt while going through airport security. That makes this a good way to store cash without worrying that another passenger will filch it while you’re going through security.
People often say you shouldn’t drink the local water while travelling, and there’s some truth to this. Most developed areas are safe enough and unlikely to hurt you, but it’s always better to be as safe as possible. That’s where this flexible, refillable water bottle comes in.
Vapur’s bottle is easily foldable and comes with a hook to stop it from unrolling. The same hook makes it easy to attach to the outside of most travel and camping gear for easy access while it’s full.
Unlike some other bottles, this one stands easily while it’s full instead of dropping over all the time. Vapur sells these in various colors to match personal aesthetics, and in various sizes to meet different needs.
All of that is great to start with, but the bottle itself is practically water-weight. That may not seem like a big difference compared to other water bottles, but every bit of weight you can remove helps out on longer trips.
#17: Travel First Aid Kit
Safety comes first, but you can’t always rely on having convenient transportation to high-quality hospitals in emergencies. That’s where General Medi’s miniature first aid kit comes into play. This kit includes 110 pieces covering bandages, gloves, swabs, scissors, tweezers, and other supplies that are useful in emergencies.
It’s better to carry as many emergency supplies as possible, but this kit is the best option for travel because it covers all the basics without being too large. A carabiner makes it easy to attach this to the outside of a bag if the inside is too full, though you may want to avoid that in high-theft areas.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with the layout of this first aid kit before you start travelling so you can locate things in emergencies. Taking a few classes on administering first aid can provide extraordinarily valuable experience if you wind up in an emergency and need to treat yourself.
Another way to improve security when you’re travelling is by using a travel alarm system. This particular model works for both doors and windows, which is much better than door-only lock systems. It’s easy to set up for practically any door, too, and people on the other side usually can’t tell it’s there.
When it goes off, this travel alarm rings at 91 decibels. For comparison, this is similar to the level of noise from lawnmowers, hairdryers, and many power tools. It’s also louder than the average alarm clock, but quieter than concerts or most car horns. This level of noise isn’t dangerous as long as you don’t have it going for extended periods.
Some travel alarms can hit 120 decibels, but that gets into genuinely dangerous territory if you’re listening to them for more than a few seconds. An alarm that permanently hurts your hearing is too much, so this device works at a much more appropriate level. It’s loud, but not dangerously so.
Sleep masks are a great way to reduce light levels and sleep more comfortably, especially if you’re still adjusting your schedule and need to sleep during the day. Unfortunately, most masks have gaps around the bottom that can still let light in, defeating the purpose.
EYIVIY addresses that with a contoured sleep mask that uses low-bounce memory foam to hug the face better. The practical result is that far less light has an opportunity to get in, resulting in a better experience. This design also keeps the mask itself further from your eyes, making it easier to blind and move your eyelids without disturbing things like makeup.
Most companies market sleep masks towards women, but this mask is suitable for all adult travelers and most teenagers as well. It works best if you sleep on your back, but even side sleepers shouldn’t notice any particular problems while wearing this mask.
Earplugs are often paired with eye masks when you want to sleep comfortably. They can’t help with a strange bed or pillow, but drastically reducing other sensory input can turn a rough sleep into an acceptable one.
These particular earplugs are a reusable design that comes with small and large versions of silicone and memory foam heads. The memory foam is the better choice here, offering a noise reduction of about 29 decibels. This is noticeably better than many competing products, which only reduce noise by about 20 decibels.
For context, this is about the same reduction as taking a noisy restaurant or heavy vehicle traffic and reducing it to the sounds of a quiet office. Normal voices will sound like whispers instead, which means other people can probably talk without disturbing you.
These earplugs have a multi-step noise reduction process, starting with a durable outer metal shell. They should stay in most ears without trouble, especially if you use their form-fitting memory foam heads. It might be worth investing in two pairs of these just in case.
It’s hard to take a proper pillow with you when you’re travelling unless you use vacuum bags to shrink it down. That can alter the feel of your favorite pillow, though, and it’s not compatible with all types of pillows. The simple solution here is getting a travel pillow that can get the job done wherever you need to go.
BlueHills’ soft pillow is a great choice for most people. It’s wide enough to let you sleep in practically any position, while soft enough to feel good against the skin. However, the thing that makes this stand out is the fact that this isn’t actually a pillow.
Its real identity is a travel blanket that comes in a soft storage bag. It’s comfortable enough in pillow form, but if you unfold it, you can stay much warmer in practically any environment. That means this pillow is pulling double duty and ultimately saving you space while you travel.
For all the positives, there’s one reason we can’t recommend this pillow to everyone: it’s warm. This is a major plus if you’re going to a cold area and want to get as warm as possible, but it’s not as useful if you’re travelling to hotter parts of the world and want to stay cool instead. If you’re heading to the tropics, leave this behind.
Most neck pillows on the market these days are memory foam options, which work well for both comfort and contouring. However, they’re also rather bulky when you’re not wearing them and quite a pain to store in luggage. That’s where this unusual option enters the picture.
Travelbob’s inflatable neck pillow comes with a hand pump on one side so you can rapidly adjust it to your liking. Meanwhile, airflow vents within the fabric ensure a steady supply of cooling air can circulate and stop you from getting too warm.
This is essentially the opposite of the BlueHills travel pillow above. That option is better for colder climates, while this neck pillow is a good choice for warm areas where you want head support without the risk of heating up too much.
Once you’re done using this pillow, you can deflate it to a fraction of its size and realistically store it in your luggage without displacing other things. The outer layer is removable and machine washable, while an optional chin strap can help you keep your head in place.
#23: Travel Phrase Book
This is hard to give a specific recommendation for because which book you need depends on where you’re going. No realistically sized book will cover every country, although Rick Steves’ options are good if you’re heading around Europe.
Try to read a preview of each phrasebook before you buy it. The best books include phrases that specifically tell the listener what you’re hoping for them to do, such as providing yes or no answers or pointing you where you want to go. High-quality guides also have useful input based on a nation’s culture and structure.
For example, an extremely useful phrase to know for travelling to Japan is “Watashi wa densha”. This translates to “I am (a) train”. That’s grammatically incorrect on purpose because it will immediately let the listener know your Japanese skills are very poor, but they’ll still understand that you’re likely trying to find the train and they can point you in the right direction.
This phrase works well in Japan because trains are such an important part of daily life there. Most people take a train ride at least every few days, and even if they don’t, chances are they still know where the nearest station is. Japan is heavily urbanized and relatively traveler-friendly, so you can usually find additional help for anything you need if you can get to a train station.
This type of phrase won’t work effectively in areas without a dense train network, though, which highlights how important it is to know the right phrases for each region.
Physical books are significantly better than digital ones. Having live electronic translation is useful, but if your devices run out of power, a physical book will remain useful.
Part Four: Other Gear
There’s plenty of travelling gear on the market, and most of it’s acceptable for most travelers. These items aren’t as useful for every trip, but they may come in handy depending on where you’re going.
A portable water bottle is the best choice for drinking on the go, but if you’re travelling to areas with uncertain access to water, this can be a literal lifesaver.
LifeStraw’s personal water filter allows you to drink directly out of streams and other sources of water that have bacteria and other biological organisms. The dense fiber membrane filters out practically all bacteria, parasites, and microplastics that could be in the water.
However, no personal filter is perfect. This particular choice doesn’t filter out certain metals, and it won’t let you drink seawater because the dissolved salts will still be present. Fortunately, most sources of water aren’t harmful if you’re only drinking from them once or twice.
Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly if you get a personal filter. Otherwise, they may stop filtering water at all, and that can be lethal in an emergency. This is a backup safety product, not the main thing you should drink out of on most trips.
Don’t take this out at the airport, but a battery-powered travel speaker is a great way to enjoy music, podcasts, and other media while you’re out and about. JBL’s CLIP 3 is a waterproof Bluetooth speaker suitable for practically every environment. It also comes in a range of snazzy colors to help match the rest of your gear.
The part that makes this speaker stand out is its padlock shape, complete with a built-in carabiner clip at the top. That makes it easy to hang from clothes, hooks, and nearly anything else so you can direct the audio however you like. The interior battery is rechargeable, too, so you don’t have to worry about finding or disposing of batteries during your trip.
BAGSMART is somewhat unusual for getting onto this list twice, but that just speaks to the quality of their products. This particular bag is a cable organizer capable of holding various electronic cords and connectors in their own pouches.
It has areas for regular cords and cables, connectors, adapters, SD cards, and even small computer mice. A few pens, computer or otherwise, will also fit snugly inside it.
The exterior has a water-repellent fabric. It’s not outright waterproof and you’ll be in trouble if you submerge it, but casual moisture shouldn’t get in. Dual zippers make it easier to open and close from either side, while a non-slip interior design helps keep everything in place.
This isn’t a must-have for every traveler, for with the increasing popularity of taking electronics on trips, having a safe way to store and organize all the peripherals makes a lot of sense. Best of all, the overall container is slim enough to easily fit with most luggage.
#27: POHO Pill Box
This is only for travelers with medical needs. Pills can be an important part of overall health and safety, and this box comes with two levels of protection to minimize the risk of things accidentally opening. Each compartment holds more than many competing products, and they’re organized into three compartments for each of seven days.
Depending on your needs, this could work for holding up to three weeks worth of pills. The one downside here is that the outer case isn’t quite durable enough to hold up under heavy use. It’s fine if you wrap it in softer items, but you may want to get a padded case or even another hardshell case for maximum protection.
Sadly, there aren’t too many pillboxes that are truly travel-friendly. This isn’t a bad product by any stretch of the imagination, but there are areas where it could be better. The upside is that the containers are intentionally easy to open on purpose, making them good for users with arthritis or similar difficulties.
The products above are some of the most valuable things to pick up when travelling. Not every person needs every piece of travel gear, and some people will need things that aren’t on this list. However, once you address your basic storage, safety, and health needs with your travelling gear, you’re ready for almost anything.