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30 Travel Accessories That Make Vacationing Easier
Add these books, water bottles and more to your shopping list before your next trip.
The reliable L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack makes for the perfect travel companion. (Courtesy of L.L.Bean)
The global luggage market for trunks, suitcases and bags was worth approximately $21 billion in 2018. That value is estimated to continue growing at a rapid pace – and that doesn't even include all the other essential gear that travelers buy to take along on their journeys.
With so many new and classic products on the market, it can be hard to know what's worth trying. To help, U.S. News hand-picked 30 travel accessories – ranging from Transportation Security Authority-cleared jewelry to efficient cellphone apps to engrossing kids' books – that will make your next vacation go more smoothly.
Active Skin Repair Hydrogel and Spray
(Courtesy of Active Skin Repair)
For parents, gentle and nontoxic products are a must in a travel first-aid kit. Enter Active Skin Repair products: natural, antibacterial healing ointments and sprays for cuts, scrapes, rashes, sunburns, bug bites and skin irritations in even the most sensitive areas. These clinically proven natural products are available as both an adult-strength hydrogel and spray, as well as a spray designed for babies and kids. A 3-ounce travel-size bottle starts at $24.99. Very satisfied reviewers say the product reduces redness and heals wounds – ranging from scuffed knees to pierced noses – so quickly that it's "amazing."
Bottled Joy Water Bottle
Stay healthy and save money with your own personal water filtration system. Bottled Joy's bisphenol A-free reusable bottle purifies any water using a hollow fiber membrane and an activated carbon filter. The $29.99 kit comes with cleaning tools and a replaceable filter good for approximately 400 17-ounce bottles. Positive reviews by travelers and hikers confirm the bottle works easily once you learn how to use the filtration straw, and it even improves the taste of water at home.
BuDhaGirl All Weather Bangles
Remain mindful and chic while running through airport security with spiritual-themed, nonmetal jewelry by BuDhaGirl. Handcrafted in Thailand, the popular All Weather Bangles (AWBs) are featherweight polyvinyl carbonate rings filled with gold dust filament. The materials make them so waterproof and soundless that you can race from yoga to a dolphin encounter. The gender-neutral AWBs come in several colors and sizes, and a set of nine costs $120. Reviewers say the bangles make great gifts and rave about how lightweight they are for summer, noting that they're perfect for adding a little extra glamour to a beach trip.
Caribbean Sol Sunscreen
Enjoy the sea and protect the environment by wearing sunblock made without oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that damage coral reefs. Sunblock that can harm reefs has been banned in some destinations, resulting in savvy travelers opting for products with zinc oxide, which has been deemed safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration. Caribbean Sol sunscreens use zinc oxide as the primary ingredient. The products – which are made for adults and kids – are 100% biodegradable and come in sun protection factor 8, 15 or 30. A 2-ounce bottle of sunscreen starts at $9.99. Reviewers warn the sunscreen is thick and leaves a white sheen on the skin, but they say it's worthwhile because it prevents sunburn well.
Charmking Compression Socks
Grandparents, pregnant women and even sightseers in big cities will appreciate wearing these supportive compression socks during their travels. Charmking offers a variety of styles, ranging from anklets to dress socks to colorful, patterned knee-highs that meet medical and comfort needs. All socks are rated at 15-20 mmHg, the compression level recommended to reduce occasional swelling and provide support. Thousands of glowing online reviews confirm the socks are extremely comfortable, feel lightweight enough to wear in the summer and provide relief from swollen feet. Men's and women's packs range from $11.99 to $34.99, depending on how many pairs you want to buy.
GordVE 2.7-Inch Digital Camera
Photography buffs should carry an inexpensive digital camera when they're traveling with curious children or vacationing somewhere too hazardous for pricey equipment and delicate cellphones. This camera's display, flash, timer and rechargeable battery rival more expensive models, and it has a USB port for charging. There are dozens of competitors available, but this GordVE digital camera earns almost four stars thanks to its compact size and image quality – combined with a low price of $46.99.
Infantino Spiral Activity Toy
Keep baby busy when you're on the go with the multitasking Infantino Spiral Activity Toy. Made of cotton and plush materials, it attaches to a stroller, car seat or crib and has a BPA-free teether and three different toys that rattle, crinkle or swing to keep your little one entertained and stimulated. Designed for infants ages 0 to 12 months, it sells for $12.99. Reviewers say their babies love the soft toys, and parents especially appreciate that the toys make gentle sounds that are not bothersome during endless play.
L.L.Bean Stowaway Day Pack
Unfold this durable L.L.Bean day pack and watch it transform into a backpack with thick, adjustable shoulder, sternum and waist straps that provide comfort for miles. The Stowaway is made from ripstop nylon, holds up to 1,343 cubic inches of items and has a water bottle pocket on each side, internal pockets and a front exterior storage panel. While its $49.95 price is higher than many similar bags, happy reviewers say its sturdiness, lightweight design, extra pockets, carabiner loops and compact carry-on size make the backpack a good value.
(Courtesy of L.L.Bean)
L.L.Bean Turbo Transit Pack
L.L.Bean products stand for affordable quality, and the Turbo Transit backpack for $89.95 proves why. The weatherproof nylon material, heavy-duty zippers, airflow back panel, lumbar support and ergonomically curved straps enable you to comfortably carry a lot of weight a long way. The upper compartment stores electronics and a week's worth of travel essentials, while the lower section is perfect for shoes, sports gear or wet swimsuits. The Turbo Transit Pack is recommended by 92% of customers, who note they love the durable bag's laptop sleeve and abundance of slots and pockets.
Luckybar Protein Bars
Whether you're a family waiting in line at a theme park or a couple needing a museum break, save time and money by bringing your own lightweight, healthy snacks. Luckybars are gluten-free, non-genetically modified organisms, low-sugar bars made in kid-pleasing flavors and wrapped in colorful themed packaging. The preservative-free, 140-calorie Crazy Coconut bar – a popular flavor – weighs 1.24 ounces and has 13 grams of protein. Better yet, reviewers enjoy the bars as much as their kids do. A Luckybar variety pack of chocolate, chocolate caramel almond, strawberry, coconut and peanut butter chocolate bars costs $9.99.
Mock One Compact Framed Hammock
Suspend yourself anywhere with the Mock One portable hammock, a Kickstarter success selling for $174.99 each. With its small weighted stand, you can relax even without trees to hang the hammock on. You'll also get a mesh storage basket, padding, a sunshade and a carry bag (extra accessories include an optional bug net and outer tent). Some reviewers complained that the hammock is too compact for tall users and too heavy for hikers to carry. However, all agree that it is easy to assemble, well-made and super comfortable for the beach and concerts.
Mouth Watchers Doctor Plotka's Travel Toothbrush
Maintain your photo-ready smile with Mouth Watchers' folding travel toothbrush, a product developed during Boston-based dentist Dr. Plotka's more than 40-year career. This product works better than cheaper disposable toothbrushes with its silver-infused flossing bristles, which naturally eliminate 99.9% of bacteria on the brush in six hours. As Amazon.com's choice for the best travel toothbrush, it comes as no surprise that reviewers love the brush's long, soft, hygienic bristles. The brush comes in red and blue, and it conveniently folds into its own handle for easy storage. A pack of two costs $9.99 on Amazon.com.
MP Magic Socks
Don't have time to do laundry while on vacation? That's not a problem with MP Magic Socks, an antibacterial, odorless sock that reviewers confirm can be worn several days in a row without washing. These comfortable, well-fitting socks are made from fabric infused with silver, copper, zinc and other minerals to prevent odor-causing bacteria from growing as feet perspire. Having sold more than 100,000 pairs of the Classic MP Crew antibacterial socks, MP now sells sports and city styles starting at $9.90 per pair.
(Courtesy of National Geographic)
National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020
Leave the board games at home and pack the 352-page "Almanac 2020" by National Geographic Kids. Designed for travelers ages 8 to 12 (though older kids can enjoy it, too), the book – which costs $14.99 – includes richly detailed sections on animals, science and technology, the environment, history and much more. There's news on any topic you can imagine, plus brief quizzes, fun factoids, lists and short stories. Parents and grandparents say kids are obsessed with the beautiful photos and call the book "an absolute must."
National Geographic Kids Weird But True! USA
Count on National Geographic Kids' "Weird But True! USA" book to keep everyone mesmerized. Details about a floating post office in Michigan and the magnetic ink used to print U.S. paper money are among the 300 odd statistics and facts about America children can read in the book. With 208 pages, the terrific photos, simple layout, colorful fonts, glossy paper and soft binding make this an easy read worth passing around. Reviewers say this $8.99 book is a great conversation starter for their kids. It is designed for ages 6 and older.
PackPoint Travel Packing List
According to reviewers, PackPoint makes packing much less stressful. The free PackPoint Travel Packing List app – a Google Play Editor's Choice Award winner – generates packing checklists based on your destination, travel dates and selected activities. It can even take into account the weather forecast and your access to laundry facilities. You can then share these lists with your travel mates. The paid version of the app, PackPoint Premium, costs $2.99 and offers additional features, such as the ability to export your packing list to the note-taking app Evernote.
Patagonia Sun Stretch Shirt
(Courtesy of Patagonia)
Enjoy the sun without harm in Patagonia's stylish performance gear. Sun Stretch shirts made with ultraviolet protection factor 30 protection allow only one-thirtieth of the sun's ultraviolet rays to penetrate. Designed for fishing, these quick-dry, lightweight, nylon-polyester-blend tops have a relaxed fit and enough stretch to accommodate movement yet maintain a fresh appearance. Reviews by outdoorsy travelers say the Sun Stretch fabric quality is much better than other sun-proof shirts they have tried. Women especially find the $95 to $99 shirts perfect for covering up a bathing suit or wearing on a trail.
Polarsteps Travel Tracker
The free Polarsteps mapping app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times – for good reason. It tracks your movements and geotags photos (even when your devices are offline), then syncs when you have a Wi-Fi signal so you can add photos or comments and edit "steps" or place names for accuracy. You decide if your journal stays private, posts to Facebook or deserves a printed book. Reviewers enjoy being able to follow the adventures of loved ones through the app, though some users say you may occasionally experience technical errors with the GPS.
Quip Electric Toothbrush Set
(Courtesy of Moxie Group PR)
Travelers with a strict dental routine at home will love traveling with Quip, a sleek electric toothbrush that runs three months on one AAA battery and stores in a hygienic plastic sleeve that can be mounted on a mirror with a suction cup. Quip is quiet enough that it won't wake your travel companions, and it features a built-in timer that reminds you to move the brush around your mouth every 30 seconds. Prices start at $25, while replaceable heads and toothpaste are available by subscription. Though some reviewers complain it doesn't clean as well as conventional electric toothbrushes, travelers appreciate its compact size and lightweight carry case.
Roav SmartCharge Car Kit F2
Make your next rental car a personal oasis with the Roav SmartCharge wireless in-car FM transmitter, which costs less than $30. This technology provides a stable Bluetooth connection through an FM channel, allowing you to play your own music and make hands-free calls through the car's speakers. The transmitter also has two USB charging ports, and the associated app can remember your parking space by recording the site of the car's last Bluetooth connection. Happy reviewers report that once the Roav SmartCharge is paired, the audio signal is even better than using an AUX-in port.
Scosche ReVolt Dual USB Car Charger
Road trippers who rely on smartphone navigation apps need lightning-fast charging. Enter the Scosche ReVolt charger, which costs $19.99 and has two 12-watt USB ports that run so efficiently off of your car's power source that it can charge two iPads at once. The ReVolt charger is optimized for the fastest charging of iOS devices, but it works with most other electronics as well. Blue light-emitting diode-lit ports also make nighttime use easy. The ReVolt charger earned five stars from users who appreciate both its charging power and compact profile, which frees up room on their consoles.
Vacationers can track group travel finances while processing several foreign currencies and current exchange rates with the free Settle Up app. Even offline, users can keep up with who paid for what and send group members a shared link to see all expenses, group debts and individual balances. Each member can filter their own view, manage the expenses and transactions of others and export data to their email accounts. Satisfied users find the app easy to use and say it's the friendliest way to split costs at the end of a weekend getaway.
Shynerk Baby Car Mirror
Don't drive distracted by your tiny back-seat passengers. Instead, install the Shynerk Baby Car Mirror for peace of mind. Made of shatterproof acrylic glass, it easily affixes to a back-seat headrest so you can look in your rearview mirror and get full views of babies in rear-facing car seats. It has a clear, wide-view reflection, pivots a full 360 degrees and only costs $15.99. Users love the mirror's large size and find it's easy to install and adjust for the perfect view.
Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid Backpack
Designed for kids ages 3 and older, Skip Hop's animal-themed backpacks are durable and easy to clean, with a roomy chamber that holds all the toys, games and books you'll need for your travels. The $20 packs come in 18 different animal designs and feature an insulated pouch for snacks, a mesh pocket for sippy cups and wide, comfy straps that are perfect for tiny travelers. Parents note the backpacks hold just the right amount of supplies for kids, who reportedly love these adorable animal packs so much, they wear them all the time.
The Clutch Stroller by Delta Children
You can carry Delta Children's compact Clutch travel stroller on board your next flight because it weighs less than 12 pounds and folds into a shoulder bag. In addition to durable fabrics and quality swivel wheels, the stroller features smart accessories like reflective tape on the five-point safety harness for nighttime visibility. Reviewers love it for travel but note that the small sunshade and non-reclining seat keep it from being their primary stroller. Relatively affordable at $139.99, the stroller fits babies and kids weighing up to 50 pounds. It comes in black, pink, aqua and red.
Tilley LTM6 AIRFLO Hat
Protect yourself from sun, rain or hail with the classic AIRFLO broad-brim hat. Made by Canadian company Tilley, this $90 best-selling hat comes with a lifetime guarantee. Designed for outdoorsmen and adopted by the rustic chic crowd, it comes in seven colors, has UPF 50+ coating, repels water and stays afloat. Double straps keep it on despite gusty winds, and an air vent at the crown provides heat relief. Reviewers agree that even after a lot of abuse, the hat washes well and is so light that you forget you're wearing it.
(Courtesy of Toad&Co)
Toad&Co Chaka Skirt
Reduce packing hassles with this sustainably made skirt that goes from temple-touring to the taverna with hardly a wrinkle. Toad&Co's best-selling Chaka Skirt is made of the company's exclusive, machine-washable Samba fabric – a moisture-wicking blend of Tencel (a plant-based fiber), organic cotton and elastane for stretch – which gives it a soft jersey-like drape that keeps its shape. Reviewers say the skirt's broad, gathered waistband, flowing A-line shape and easy care make it ideal for travel. Priced at $60, the Chaka Skirt comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
To-Go Ware RePEaT Utensil Set
This bamboo knife, fork, spoon and chopsticks set from To-Go Ware is hygienic, BPA-free, lightweight, stain resistant and even dishwasher safe. Ideal for camping and picnics, portable utensils like these are a great way to keep disposable cutlery out of landfills. Travelers find them so easy to eat with that, in some cases, they have started using them at their office and on the road as well. A bonus: The colorful pouch has a clip-on carabiner and is made of recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastic from used water bottles.
Uniqlo AIRism Collection
Whether for an infant, an adult or someone in between, Uniqlo's moisture-wicking base layers keep wearers comfortable in any weather. This Japanese retailer excels in functional design, offering a quick-drying, microfiber line of underwear, tank tops, T-shirts and more that go from hiking to touring a new city. Whether you choose the original AIRism line, AIRism Seamless underwear or the extra-breathable AIRism Mesh garments, you'll enjoy the collection's anti-microbial and odor-free benefits. Reviewers especially love the light feel of the smooth innerwear and say it's stylish and versatile. AIRism products start at $9.90 and come in several colors.
(Courtesy of UNIQLO)
Uniqlo Blocktech Outerwear
Travel in style – rain or shine – with Uniqlo's Blocktech outerwear. The lightweight, weatherproof coats and parkas for men, women and children come in above-the-knee or hip lengths and multiple matte colors. Blocktech is a proprietary fabric that's sleek, stretchy and breathable while still being waterproof, windproof and easy to roll up in a bag. An adjustable hood and taped seams keep you dry in most storms. Reviewers say the elegant cut makes the coat versatile enough for biking, business trip meetings or evening outings. Prices range from $39.90 to $99.90.
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