There’s an old song lyric from the Broadway musical “Anything Goes” that reminds us, “Oh, there’s no cure like travel/To help you unravel/The worries of living today.” It was true in the 1930s and it’s still true today. But in real life, travel can also be stressful, particularly when you forget to pack something important — and especially now in 2020 when the world of travel has changed dramatically.
It goes without saying that a passport, camera, and a fresh pair of underpants (a little hand sanitizer and your favorite face mask never go amiss right now either) are must-have travel items, but it’s those lesser-thought-of items that can make a trip easier, stress-free, and overall more enjoyable. The best travel gear can keep you out of sticky situations when far from home — if you know what to pack.
If traveling abroad, must-bring travel accessories might come in the form of a universal power adapter. Hotel hoppers might consider a calming scented candle. For the packing enthusiast, there’s a product that helps organize a suitcase into categorized sections.
To find these items, we turned to social media and asked 18 avid adventurers, photographers, travel bloggers and influencers which travel accessories they never leave home without when packing for a trip.
Keep reading to discover these adventurers’ must-have travel gear.
1. TSA Approved Cable Luggage Locks
Recommended by John Jacobson, @johnpauljay johnpauljay.com
“I always bring mini locks to lock all of my luggage zippers and avoid any theft. This is because I carry a lot of expensive camera gear/laptop.”
Most of us know somebody, perhaps it was us ourselves, who’s had personal items stolen while traveling. Using a luggage lock, like this one from Forge, provides peace of mind, making it a must-have travel item. John’s go-to locks are simple and effective, but they also include a marking called a Travel Sentry Symbol, which tells TSA Agents that they don’t need to break the lock to search inside. TSA has a special key to access this lock, and to make sure they leave things the way they found them — they don’t get their key back until they resecure the lock. This is a small but mighty piece of travel gear.
2. Apple Smart Battery Case with Wireless Charging
Recommended by Everett Williams @everettwilliams
“I think it’s safe to say we all probably use our phones more when we travel, whether it be on planes, using maps, or staying connected. There have been so many times I am on a plane without power… or just out and about and I get low on battery and have to figure out how to get back to where I need to be. So I never leave without an extra form of battery power to just keep all those problems completely out of mind and let me better enjoy my time traveling.”
It’s hard to imagine leaving home without a smartphone, let alone traveling to a foreign country without one. That’s why travelers need to avoid dead batteries at all costs. With this special case, a phone’s battery life increases up to 50% and offers multiple charging methods, including wirelessly with a Qi-certified charger or manually with a USB-PD-compatible charger. Everett uses an iPhone 11, but Apple still makes this charging case for previous versions of the iPhone.
3. JBL FLIP 5 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Recommended by Jeremy Foster, @travelfreak
“A small but rugged Bluetooth speaker is one thing I never travel without. Whether you’re chilling on the beach, starting a party in your hostel or hotel room, or just want some relaxing background music while you work, the ability to take music anywhere I go has proven to be very helpful for both my sanity as well as meeting other travelers on the road. My personal favorite is the JBL Flip 5, which you can purchase on Amazon for under $100. I love this one in particular because it’s shockproof, waterproof (really!), and is shaped perfectly to fit into the water bottle holder of your backpack.”
Take it from Jeremy at Travel Freak — music matters, especially when trying to enjoy a trip. The JBL FLIP 5 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker is available in over 10 different colors, to match all unique and adventurous personalities. This kind of speaker is perfect for beach days, cookouts, hikes and anywhere else music should be enjoyed. Also, as Jeremy said, it easily fits into the water bottle holder on your backpack, making it incredibly packable.
4. Moleskine Classic Notebook
Recommended by Josh Osborn, @thejozbo
“Staying creative is always exhausting, so when I feel like my creativity juice is running low, I try to get a little sketch session in. I think when I was younger, drawing was what eventually led me to be a creative person, so it’s always been a great way to get ideas flowing. I use Moleskin notebooks as a way to; 1. Stay Organized, 2. Be able to write down ideas/thoughts quickly if I am working on other things.”
A high-quality Moleskine notebook allows travelers, like Josh, to express themselves creatively, take a much-needed break from the action and excitement, and simply not look at a screen for a little while. What’s even better is that it bumps up your style game with the choice of four different paper styles and 15 color variations.
5. Apple AirPods with Charging Case
Recommended by Owin Pierson, @owinpierson
“Just makes things easier!”
He’s not wrong, especially if venturing solo! Wireless earbuds are a game-changer for many, and the sleek, minimalist Apple AirPods are leading the charge. With this pocket-size travel companion, relaxation comes easily thanks to Siri and hands-free voice commands for music, texting, or finding directions to your next destination.
6. SAUNORCH Universal International Travel Power Adapter
Recommended by Oliver Adkins, @the_mumbling_photographer
“As a photographer who loves remote places, the biggest problem is having all my gear charged and ready to go. I’ve learned to make the most of an opportunity by doing a quick charge. Travel adapters like this one are great because you can charge multiple things at the same time.”
This is the most important must-have travel item for anybody visiting a foreign country. Of the travelers, bloggers and influencers, we asked, a universal adapter was the #1 most suggested travel gear. When looking for an adapter, like Oliver said, it helps to have one that can charge multiple devices at the same time. This specific adapter is designed for travel in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and Asia. This essential piece of travel gear will help you plug in your devices in 150 countries and automatically adjusts the current output to match the device charging.
7. Avex Fuse Stainless Water Bottle
Recommended by Parker York Smith, @parkeryorksmith
“It’s annoying having to always buy individual bottles of water when traveling. Also, I’m strict about how much water I intake each day, so having the bottle allows me to keep track much more easily.”
Buying individual bottles of water isn’t just annoying, it’s an unsustainable habit we should all try to break. By choosing a reusable water bottle, not only are you making the “woke” choice, but you’re also equipping yourself for the dehydration that comes with a long day of travel. Parker’s bottle, from Avex, is designed to keep beverages hot for up to 22 hours and cold for up to 43 hours and is also dishwasher safe. The trick here is to arrive at the airport with an empty bottle. Once you pass through TSA, fill it up with ice and filtered water to get you through your flight comfortably.
8. Bulldog Men’s Skincare and Grooming Age Defense Moisturizer
Recommended by Shaun Birley, @shaunbirley
“Moisturiser is a must — traveling dries your skin and it just makes me feel a lot better when I use it throughout the flight. I really like the anti-aging vegan moisturizer from UK brand Bulldog.”
As we now know, hydration is a must when traveling. Though drinking more water helps replenish your internal body, a good moisturizer helps revitalize your external body. Travel writer Shaun Birley’s go-to travel moisturizer, from Bulldog, is in TSA compliant packaging (3.3 fl. oz.) and contains Rosemary, Echinacea and Vitamin E antioxidants to help restore natural moisture to a guy’s hyde without that greasy feeling afterward. For those who read labels, Bulldog products do not contain artificial colors, synthetic fragrances or ingredients from animals.
9. Micronized Instant Kava Powder
Recommended by Gregory Dava, @gregorydava
“Kava is often referred to as nature’s valium. It’s a plant extract from Fiji that combats anxiety and induces sleep. Melatonin literally does nothing for me, so I always make sure to pack Kava in my carry on so I can easily mix it into any beverage. My favorite blend is the Vanuatu Borongoru, it’s a lifesaver when you’re traveling somewhere that has a substantial time difference as it helps regulate sleep in your new time zone.”
For those who venture to places other than Miami and Las Vegas, sleep, believe it or not, is a vital part of enjoying a trip. Travel is exhausting! For some people, like Gregory, sleep may not come easily. Thankfully, herbal supplements, like kava powder from Kava Kalm, are a chemical-free way to ensure you get the rest needed to wake up refreshed and ready for a new adventure. Pro tip: if you’re somebody who gets pre-flight jitters, mix a small amount of kava powder into your beverage to relax your muscles and mellow out before takeoff.
10. Diptyque Feu de bois Candle
Recommended by Patrick Janelle, @aguynamedpatrick
“There are a few things I do to make my hotel room a home, and one is always packing my own candle. I tend to have a rotating selection, but one of my favorites is Feu de bois from Diptyque. It has the smell of a crackling fireplace, so it will fill in the cozy vibes no matter what room situation I end up with.”
Patrick knows how to make things his own! If you get homesick, a familiar candle is a great travel hack that immediately elevates any hotel, hostel or camping situation. Scent is closely related to memory, perhaps more so than any of the other senses. That’s why packing your favorite candle not only adds a familiar, cozy feeling to your adventure but also contributes to the creation of new, happy memories. This candle from Diptyque burns for 50-60 hours and has a musky, woody, manly fragrance; everything you need to feel right at home.
11. AVANTO Slim Fit Running Belt
Recommended by our very own Taylor Galla, @taygalll
“I used this the entire time I was in Southeast Asia to protect myself against pickpockets while moving between countries. It worked like a CHARM and made me feel safe the entire time!”
A decent money belt should be a go-to travel accessory when heading out of the country. Because, sadly, not all people are good people. Taylor’s money belt is a stellar pick for men and women alike to hold your most important belongings in secrecy. Whether you’re headed out in a tee and shorts, dress, or long-sleeve shirt and pants, this thin belt can easily hide tight around your body to ensure your most valued items won’t leave your side on your trip. This belt is kind of a “better be safe than sorry” type of travel accessory because you’ll never know you actually needed it until it’s too late.
12. Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
“I recently bought an old fashioned Polaroid [film] camera which I now take with me on every trip. With smartphones and digital cameras, it’s so easy to take thousands of photos at the blink of an eye. I miss the nostalgia of photography and printing photos, so now I try and take just one Polaroid photo from each trip I go on. Just one shot to make it count. I love how even though it’s a cheap Polaroid, it’s making me think a lot more about my photography again!”
There’s something magical about sitting down in a living room, maybe on a sofa covered in plastic, and flipping through an old, faded photo album. To Macca’s point, it’s almost like old photos had more value when you knew you could run out of film. Even if it’s not your personal must-have travel item, it’s a great way to reintroduce creativity and nostalgia during and after a trip. With the Fujifilm Instax’s Polaroid-style film, each shot offers an opportunity to memorialize on the fridge, on your desk, or in your Moleskine notebook.
13. Jack & Jones Men’s Glenn Original 816 Slim Jeans
Recommended by Rahul Prabhakar, @rahulprabhakar
“My favorite brands are Jack & Jones and United Colors of Benetton. I am a casual dresser but I like to look relevant in my pictures.”
A wise, very laid-back person once said, “comfort is key.” When it comes to the best travel gear for men, it’s no different. For guys like Rahul, who are constantly on-the-go, his favorite pair of jeans from Jack & Jones allows him to stay feeling good and looking good in his blog photos when traveling.
14. Silver Gray Duct Tape
Recommended by Chef Oren Zroya, @cheforen
“Duct tape can help you fix stuff very easily if needed, from a busted suitcase to a ding on your surfboard. One time at the airport, I was heading to Thailand for a surf trip in Bali and my suitcase fell apart, so I wrapped it up a few times in duct tape and it was as good as new. One time in Nicaragua, I found some art I wanted to bring back home with me. I took my duct tape and some cardboard and used it to wrap around the art to protect it and brought it all the way back to Malibu unharmed.”
This is why you never argue with a chef — because they’re usually right. Duct tape, while seemingly unconventional, is a must-have travel item for anybody seeking adventure. This particular duct tape used by Chef Oren, who’s a full-time private chef and part-time surfer, is waterproof, UV ray and temperature resistant, and works on a myriad of surfaces, including wood, stone, and plaster. The bottom line here: you never know when you’ll need it, but you’ll always be glad you have it!
15. Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal 2 in 1 Face Scrub and Facial Cleanser Stick
Recommended by Mykola Hruts, @mykola_hruts
“When I’m traveling, I still try to take good care of my skin. But because of liquid restrictions on the planes, it’s hard to find full-size face care products. That’s why I like Yes To 2-in-1 scrub and cleanser stick. It’s suitable for all skin types. Part of the award-winning beauty crew, Yes To, whose natural line that utilizes the goodness of fruit and veggies, is packed with natural ingredients and Beta-Carotene, perfect for normal-to-dry skin. Paraben-free, cruelty-free and at least 95% natural.”
This is the perfect way to get around liquid restrictions when flying! Charcoal products are here to stay, and this facial cleanser stick from the brand Yes To combines the power of charcoal powder and tomato extract in a twist-up stick design to rid skin of dirt and grime while leaving it looking clear and natural. It’s also very easy to use and won’t cause problems at airport security. In a way, you just “draw” all over a wet face to exfoliate and allow the formula to lather into your pores.
16. SAXX Snooze Sleep Pants
Recommended by our very own Tyler Schoeber, @tylerschoeber
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. These pants are the best lounge pants money can buy. I’ve worn them on every single flight and car ride since I’ve bought them and they come in handy no matter the situation. These seriously got me through this one time where I had to sleep overnight in the air-conditioned arctic zone that is the Orlando airport for a seven-hour layover to Colombia. Although I had to push together two rows of waiting seats to create a makeshift bed, these pants kept me comfortable throughout my entire slumber.”
We love these so much, we can’t stop writing about them. They are super-soft, super-lightweight and extremely packable. Wearing these feels like you’re wearing a cloud, and if you’re the kind of person that normally sleeps in your underwear, these pants are great for when you have to sleep in a hostel with a bunch of random strangers and don’t want anyone to see you in your knickers. They really feel like you have nothing on.
17. YAMIU Packing Cubes
Recommended by Beth and Jeff, @findusinparadise
“Items that we would NEVER travel without are packing cubes, as it means all of our clothes and toiletries etc. stay super organized.”
A dream come true for the overzealous organizer, these packing cubes from YAMIU ensure that your items stay exactly where you packed them while being tossed around by baggage workers and mid-flight turbulence. Packing cubes are some of the best travel gear for men who are always fighting a losing battle against wrinkles. The seven-piece set, recommended by Beth and Jeff, includes two clear, waterproof cubes for toiletries or wet clothes, a bag just for shoes, and three different sized cubes for separating other items any way you see fit. If you think it’s something that could change your life, the 4.8/5-star rating and more than 3,500 reviews would agree with you.
18. Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow for Neck, Chin, Lumbar and Leg Support
“Usually people have the C [neck pillow] but when you do 30-41 hours of flights and airports, and you cross the world while going from one freestyle motocross show to the other, you need something which can be used in different ways.”
We need to thank Barbara and William for bringing this to our attention, especially for those who don’t have a window to lean up against when they fall asleep. Dot&Dot’s twistable travel pillow conforms and contorts to any shape you might possibly need to finally get comfortable in the air, on the rail or even in an Uber heading out of LAX or JFK at rush hour — that’s real pain. This must-have travel item erases the need for any other travel pillow with its flexible design and use for multiple parts of the body.