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The Best Travel Gear (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Going on vacation? Make your trip more comfortable and convenient with these products.

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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON April 2, 2021

Maybe you've been planning a trip for some time or you've decided on the spur of the moment to travel to a destination on your bucket list. Either way, there are several items you must pack to have an enjoyable and comfortable getaway. Travel gear comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices, but many items are universal no matter where you choose to go.

 

Whether you're traveling for work, visiting family over the holidays, or simply vacationing with your friends or loved ones, a well-packed duffle bag, suitcase, or carry on can make your adventure much more efficient. In our guide below, we include some of the top travel accessories available that will make your upcoming trip, whether by car, train, or plane, more enjoyable.

Best Overall
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
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Summary
Summary

This daypack is water-resistant and features a main compartment, interior sleeve, mesh side pockets, and a front pocket. It comes in a variety of colors.

Pros
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Hard-to-beat warranty
Cons
Cons
  • Straps don’t accommodate larger people very well
  • Water bottles don’t fit well in side pockets
Best Overall
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
Best Value
International Power Adapter Travel Plug
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Summary
Summary

This 120-volt power adapter works in 150 countries and features four USB ports, so you can charge four devices at once.

Pros
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Compatible with many electronic devices
  • Small and easy to use
Cons
Cons
  • Not a voltage converter
  • May not stay put in a U.S. vertical outlet
Best Value
International Power Adapter Travel Plug
Honorable Mention
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage
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Summary
Summary

This 20-inch carry-on bag has four spinner wheels and comes in other sizes as well as numerous colors. Its packing dimensions are 20 by 13.5 by 9.5 inches.

Pros
Pros
  • Easy to move around on most surfaces
  • Good organizational spaces
  • TSA lock included
  • 10-year limited warranty
Cons
Cons
  • Bag scratches easy, which makes it less appealing
  • Four wheels may be hard to use on carpet
Honorable Mention
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage
Travel Gear Close Up
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Benefits of Travel Gear

  • Makes the journey more comfortable. Some travel accessories are specifically designed to make traveling easier. For example, if you sleep on the plane or train, a pillow can be helpful. If you plan on spending several hours in the car with rambunctious companions, noise-canceling headphones are a great option.
  • Versatile. While you may be purchasing some gear for a specific destination, many items can be used year-round. A good backpack can be great as a carry on or also for a day hike. You can bring a water bottle with you while exploring a European city as well as take it to work or the gym every day after the trip ends.
  • Necessary. Certain travel accessories are required, such as luggage and wallets to hold your credit cards, passport, and other documents. You need certain items to properly complete a trip. 

Types of Travel Gear

Clothing

You can pack clothes from your closet when you travel. However, some shirts, pants, underwear, outerwear, and footwear is designed especially for travel purposes. These items are often designed with comfort in mind. Many brands are also easy to hand wash, and they dry quickly for convenience. They often come in complementary shades, so you can mix and match without worrying about clashing.

Electronics

These days, most people have a hard time without an electronic device such as a smartphone nearby. We're so used to being connected and the internet. As a result, you probably want to take your phone, earbuds or headphones, tablet, and e-reader along with you. Many of these items can be used at home, in the states, and abroad. But some are specially designed for international travel, such as adapters.

Bags

You really can't go far if you don't have a bag to hold all your belongings. You may need a suitcase for a flight, a duffel bag for an overnight adventure, or a backpack for a camping trip. Whatever the case, it's important that you choose the proper bag for your needs.

Top Brands

Samsonite

Samsonite has been in business since 1910 and was founded by a luggage salesman in Denver, Colo. The company is one of the most well-known luggage manufacturers in the world. We recommend the Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage.

Osprey

Based in Southwest Colorado, Osprey has been in business since 1974. The founder made his first backpack at age 16 and created a business that is known for its great-fitting packs, including the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack.

Mack’s

The Michigan-based Mack's gets its name from a pharmacist who sold his earplug business to a musician in 1962. The company that sells Mack's products, McKeon Products, produces moldable and pre-molded silicone and foam earplugs as well as sleep masks, ear drying aids, and earwax removal drops. One top product is the Mack’s Flightguard Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs.

Herschel Supply Co.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Herschel was founded in 2009 by two brothers, who chose the name based on the town in which three generations of their family lived. Its products include luggage, travel bags, clothing, and accessories. Check out the Herschel Chapter Toiletry Kit.

Travel Gear Pricing

  • Under $20: There are plenty of travel accessories that you can purchase without spending a lot of money. From ear plugs to water bottles, these items are very helpful despite their low cost.
  • Up to $50: As we already noted, travel gear comes in many forms. You can find items such as earbuds, toiletry bags, passport holders and neck wallets, and other items for a reasonable price.
  • $100 and up: Some travel accessories are more expensive, such as electronic equipment and luggage. If you want a tablet, camera, or GoPro, expect to pay a little bit of money. Good luggage can also be pricey depending on the brand and the features provided.

Key Features

Portability

The last thing you want to do while traveling is carry large, bulky items that are heavy and/or awkwardly shaped. Choose travel gear that is streamlined, lightweight, and easy to pack. Maybe you don't need a camera and can use your smartphone instead. Or perhaps you can get by with a set of earbuds instead of large headphones.

Durability

Sure, you can purchase cheap travel accessories and save a few bucks, but is it worth it? Probably not, particularly if you want these items to last through more than one adventure. It pays off to invest a little bit more in objects that are made well with high-quality materials, particularly if you plan on using them over and over again.

Versatility

The good news is that a lot of gear you need for traveling can serve more than one purpose, as we noted earlier. Still, it's a good idea to purchase an item that you can use at home as well as at a campsite, abroad, or during a work-related trip. Items such as earplugs for sleeping or toiletry bags are great for year-round use.

Other Considerations

  • Style. Who says you can't travel in style? And who doesn't want to? One of the best things about travel gear is that you can show off your personality a little bit. Perhaps you like bold colors and expressing it with bright backpacks or travel pillows. Or maybe you like to wear funky hats or sunglasses when you're traveling across the country. Whatever it is, you do you.

Best Travel Gear Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Whether you're hiking, exploring a new city, or simply need a storage solution when you're traveling, the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is a good option. Made of polyester and 210D nylon double diamond ripstop, this backpack weighs just over a pound, is water-resistant, and comes in nearly a dozen different colors. It features a large main compartment as well as dual-stretch mesh side pockets and a front pocket for containing smaller items. There's also an interior sleeve that can hold items such as a hydration reservoir or a tablet. Overall, it has a 20-liter capacity, and the back panel is made of mesh for comfort and airflow. Users report that it's comfortable and holds up well over time. Plus, the company provides an excellent warranty and will repair damage or defects regardless of a product's age. 


One downside is that it may feel a little tight for larger people as the straps are a little narrow and short. Also, the two side pockets don't do a good job of holding water bottles.

Best Value
International Power Adapter Travel Plug

When you travel abroad, it can be tough to charge your equipment properly unless you have a product like the International Power Adapter Travel Plug. Designed to work in 150 countries, this 120-volt adapter can be used in Australia, Europe, China, and Japan. One of the best features of this device is that you can charge four devices, such as phones, tablets, and cameras, simultaneously using the USB ports. It's compatible with various Apple and Android devices. Another great feature is the pins lock, so when you press the adapter into the outlet it stays securely in position instead of the pins sinking back into the device, which can be a hassle. Overall, it's small and easy to use whether you're traveling within or outside of the United States. 


However, this adapter is not a voltage converter, so you must make sure the outlet voltage matches the voltage of the electronics you choose to charge. Also, it may fall out of a U.S. vertical plug if a heavy charger is plugged into it.

Premium Pick
Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage

Pack all your belongings in this Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels. This is the 20-inch, carry-on model, and it meets the size requirements of several airlines. Users like how much space the bag provides despite being a carry-on version. It's also available in larger sizes in a variety of colors. The bag weighs 6.7 pounds, and the packing dimensions are 20 by 13.5 by 9.5 inches. It has four, multi-directional spinner wheels that make it easy to move around and has a lightweight locking telescopic handle. It has a zippered interior divider and cross straps for organization. There's also a side-mounted TSA lock for security, and Samsonite provides a 10-year limited warranty should it have any issues related to defects. 


The biggest downside with this suitcase is that it's easy to scratch, so cosmetically it won't look as nice after just one use. Also, the four wheels are harder to roll over carpet than two-wheeled options.

Most Convenient
TravelWise Packing Cube System

If you aren't the world's best packer, you can benefit by using the TravelWise Packing Cube System. Available in a variety of fun colors, this five-piece organizer set includes one small, two medium, and two large cubes. It allows you to pack items into small units, which makes packing for a trip easier and more efficient. The five cubes are made of lightweight and durable nylon that won't add much weight to your suitcase. They feature a mesh design to promote airflow and are colorful, so they're easy to locate if you need to reach into your bag for specific items. Also, they're designed to keep clothing from wrinkling as they won't shift during transport. TravelWise even provides a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, which is a testament to its confidence in the product. 


One issue with these cubes is the liners may not hold up well in a washing machine. Also, the zippers may get stuck now and then.

Honorable Mention
Zero Grid Neck Wallet w/RFID Blocking

If you want to protect your valuables while you're traveling, consider the Zero Grid Neck Wallet w/RFID Blocking. This travel pouch and passport holder is easy to conceal either around your neck or on your belt. It is designed to protect your cash, credit cards, identification, and other documents. It has built-in RFID blocking, so thieves don't have access to your personal information. The pouch is made of lightweight, water-resistant 210D ripstop nylon that is breathable and moisture-wicking. It has three separate zippered compartments for organization and can hold items such as your keys, passport, and boarding pass. What makes this product unique is the manufacturer will reimburse you up to $300 if items from it are stolen. Also, it includes two recovery tags that aid in its recovery should you lose it. However, it doesn't accommodate large smartphones. Also, it may feel a little big around a smaller person's neck.

Honorable Mention
Lenovo True Wireless Earbuds

Whether you're planning a long trip or just a short weekend away, it's nice to have entertainment, and the Lenovo True Wireless Earbuds are a great way to listen to your favorite tunes or podcasts. Designed for travel, work, and the gym, these Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds feature a sensitive touch panel that allows you to control music, phone calls, and more. They have a 5.8mm bio-diaphragm speaker, which provides deep bass when you need it, and work for four hours before needing to be charged using a USB port. They also charge in just one hour, which is pretty quick. Also, they are water-resistant, so you don't have to worry if you sweat or get caught in the rain while wearing them. 


The biggest complaint about these earbuds is they aren't the best noise-canceling option. They also don't have a volume control on them.

Honorable Mention
Rainleaf Microfiber Towel

The Rainleaf Microfiber Towel is great to have on hand whether you're camping, hiking, or traveling. The best features of this towel are that it dries quickly, and it's extra absorbent. It can absorb five times its weight in water. You can use it frequently over a short period because it dries so fast. Available in numerous colors, this microfiber towel feels soft against your skin. It's portable, lightweight, and comes with a breathable, mesh carry bag with a loop, so you can hang it from any convenient spot. The company also provides a lifetime warranty, which is a bonus. 


Unfortunately, you must wash it before using it, as the colors may bleed. Also, it may not be the best option if you're looking for a towel to dry long hair.

Honorable Mention
Mack’s Flightguard Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs

If flying makes you a little uncomfortable, the Mack’s Flightguard Airplane Pressure Relief Earplugs help relieve ear pressure, ear-popping, and other pain. The earplugs are made of soft silicone with flexible flanges for comfort. They feature aero filter technology that regulates air pressure when the altitude changes and easy-grip stems that make them simple to insert and remove. Ear, nose, and throat doctors recommend this specific earplug brand to cope with air travel discomfort. And as a bonus, they minimize in-flight noise as they have a noise reduction rating of 26 decibels. They're easy to use and come with a storage case. The company also backs them up with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. However, some people find them comfortable while others don't, so that's something to keep in mind. Also, some users struggle to keep them in.

Honorable Mention
Herschel Chapter Toiletry Kit

Travel in style with the Herschel Chapter Toiletry Kit, which is available in 3-liter and 5-liter options in colors ranging from navy blue and black to red and woodland camo. This particular model is 9.5 x 4.5 x 6 inches. This no-frills signature travel kit features a striped liner, front zippered pocket, internal mesh storage sleeve, and a main compartment with a waterproof zipper. In addition to toiletries, you can store other items in this bag as well, making it a versatile product. The 5-liter option can hold bathroom essentials as well as other items in its three separate compartments, including keys, a wallet, and smartphone. Overall, it's high quality and sturdy. The material is also thick enough to contain minor spillage. There are few complaints about this bag except that some users wish it was just a little bit larger.

Honorable Mention
Brita Plastic Water Filter Bottle

It's important to be hydrated when you're traveling, and the BPA-free Brita Premium Filtering Bottle is a great way to stay on top of that. It holds 26 ounces of water and includes a built-in filter that reduces chlorine content and improves taste. It is 10.5-inches high and three inches wide. The bottle is leakproof and can fit into a regular-sized cup holder. The lid is also easy to open, it has a carrying loop for convenience, and you can wash it safely in the dishwasher. It's more environmentally friendly than disposable plastic bottles and can save you money as well. 


Unfortunately, you need to replace the filter after it filters 40 gallons, which is about two months of use. This can drive up the cost over time. Also, if you don't rinse the filter properly before putting it in the bottle, the water tastes funky.

Tips

  • Don't overpack. If you choose a smaller backpack or suitcase, you're forced to pare down the number of items you carry. This will make it easier for you in the long run.
  • Don't forget to pack a lock. It will provide extra security should you need to lock up your belongings in a hotel, hostel, or other location. Combination locks are best because you don't want to lose any keys.
  • Bring along a first-aid kit. It's always a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected, and you may not be near a store or pharmacy to buy band-aids, ointment, and other items for minor cuts and scrapes.

FAQs

Q: What should I buy for traveling?

That depends on your destination and the length of the trip. But some must-have items include luggage, clothing, toiletries, a cell phone, camera, headphones, chargers, comfortable shoes, sunglasses, water bottle, etc.

Q: Where can I buy travel gear?

You can purchase travel gear both online and in stores. Make a list, and compare prices before making a purchase.

Q: What should you not bring when traveling?

Items you should avoid packing on a trip include paperback books and magazines that take up a lot of space, expensive belongings that may get lost or stolen, uncomfortable footwear and clothing, and items your hotel may provide, such as a hairdryer. 

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best travel gear item is the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack. It has a 20-liter capacity, is very comfortable to wear, and comes with a lifetime warranty, which shows how much confidence the company has in its products. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the International Power Adapter Travel Plug.