Frequent travelers are always in search of a good deal, but some things are worth spending a bit more on. What’s the point in buying a cheap travel accessory if it’s not going to last? Here are the travel tools worth investing in once—and how they’ll help improve your travels, trip after trip.
Travel Tools Worth the Splurge
Don’t let uncomfortable headphones or a screaming baby keep you from sleeping on your flight. Noise-canceling and sleep-friendly headphones are a travel tool worth splurging on if you have trouble sleeping on the plane, or simply want to block out the rest of the world.
SleepPhones look like a soft headband, but pack wireless speakers inside that will allow you to sleep in any position on the plane. You’ll forget you’re even wearing them; I use them to turn on white noise that lulls me to sleep when I’m restless in a new place. Comfortable noise-canceling headphones that pack small like Bose’s wireless QuietComfort 35 are also a wise investment if you often max-out your volume to block outside noise.
Universal Power Adapter
Don’t be the American that blew a fuse. A universal power adapter that lasts means you’ll never have to worry about blacking out the hotel or shocking yourself (you don’t want to learn this the hard way with a cheap adapter). Invest in an adapter that meets your travel needs, like Zoppen’s International Travel Adapter with Japan, U.K., E.U., and Australian compatibility for small electronics (not bigger appliances like hair dryers). It also has four USB ports for device charging, and its retractable prongs makes it a super packable travel tool.
Price and Where to Buy: Zoppen International Travel Adapter, $16 on Amazon.
If you’re a hiker, camper, or just enjoy a walk in the woods, stop heading out in your gym sneakers. A durable pair of hiking boots will save your feet and ankles from injury and fatigue, and your sneakers from getting ruined—plus, this travel tool will last forever.
Keen has hiking shoe variations for every type of adventure, whether you want packable hiking shoes for shorter treks or boots with ankle support for rockier adventures. Keen’s waterproof Gypsum II comes in both a men’s and women’s style and a variation of cool colors. These were my first hiking boots and may be my last: They’re packable, durable, and provide all the support I need.
Price and Where to Buy: KEEN Gypsum II from $86 on Amazon.
The Right Camera
Smartphone or not, every traveler should have a decent camera to capture the best of their trip. Good photos will last you a lifetime, so don’t skimp on a camera or phone that doesn’t get you clear shots. For something more capable of zooming in and getting the best light, invest in a DSLR camera—it’s a travel tool worth packing if you’re planning on printing and displaying your travel photos.
iPhone and Galaxy phones aren’t the best, but will do for most trips and can be improved with clip-on lenses like AUKEY‘s HD wide-angle lenses. If you want to be able to get high-resolution images, a packable DSLR might cost less than you think—a Canon EOS Rebel starts at around $392 and will last you many years.
Check your bag often? Consider a hard-sided suitcase that will last. Baggage handlers can get rough, and you never know what could end up broken or damaged on a bumpy flight. Briggs & Riley’s Sympatico hard-sided spinner expands by 22 percent to fit everything you need, and it compresses back down to meet airline size limits if you decide you’d rather take it as a carry-on. It comes with a lifetime guarantee that you’ll never have to pay for repairs, so while it is pricey, it could be the last suitcase you ever buy—making it the ultimate travel tool.
Price and Where to Buy: Briggs & Riley’s Sympatico International Carry-On Spinner from $389 on Amazon.
Combination Back-up Charger
A portable charging bank is a must-have travel tool in case your run out of phone battery in an unfamiliar place—but new versions are killing two birds with one stone by combining them with other travel tools like luggage scales and flashlights. Oaxis Air Scale can give you a digital reading of your bag’s weight when it’s not charging your device, and other packable chargers like Oripow’s flashlight power bank have powerful built-in flashlights that can come in handy in an emergency. Having a multi-use version on you at all times will put more than one travel problem at bay.
If you feel dehydrated or dirty when you get off the plane, you’re probably not packing the right travel toiletries. Skimping on travel tools for freshening up can cancel out all your vacation relaxation—so instead of grabbing store-brand travel toiletries, go for organic ones like Green Goo that will make you feel like your normal self. These all-natural products will save your skin and hygiene with skin-repair packs, face-wash spritz, deodorant sticks, and even baby-friendly balms for nursing remedies and sensitive infant skin. You’ll get off the plane feeling like your best self, and your seat mate won’t suffer from strong toiletry fragrances.
Price and Where to Buy: Green Goo Travel Packs from $25 on Green Goo’s website.
A Crossbody Travel Bag
Security, utility, and fashion can all be achieved with the right crossbody travel bag. Purchasing one on the smaller side is convenient and will force you to carry only what you need, and zippered pouches will keep pickpockets at bay. Travelon’s Anti-theft LTD Crossbody is fashionable enough for all environments, and its compartments have RFID-blocking technology to deter digital theft as well.
Price and Where to Buy: Travelon Anti-Theft Ltd Crossbody Travel Tote from $32 on Amazon.
Bulky coats are not your travel friend, but it’s important to have a warm outer layer as a travel tool in the colder months. Invest in a dense jacket with down, like Patagonia’s Nano Puff for both men and women. Looking for something even thinner, or one with more substance? Consider these 10 great travel jackets that are easy to pack.
Price and Where to Buy: Patagonia Nano Puff from $175 on Amazon.
Cozy Walking Shoes
Don’t sacrifice your feet for fashion, or fashion for your feet. New sockless shoes like Suavs and AllBirds are both cozy and on-trend. AllBirds’ merino wool makes them some of the most comfortable walking sneakers on the market, and Suavs’ microfiber insoles’ airflow and moisture-wicking elements prevent sweaty feet. Both are the ultimate travel tools when it comes to shoes, and you’ll never want to take them off.
Waterproof camera cases are the subject of too many horror stories about a ruined smartphone or camera on vacation. Instead, if you’re hoping to get video of your active adventures in inclement weather or water, invest in a GoPro. These tiny mountable cameras are the perfect travel tool for capturing active memories like biking, snorkeling, and skiing. Mount your GoPro, which comes in a sealed waterproof case, and don’t worry about damaging it or losing any of your photos. They might be cheaper than you think now that they’re widely popular.
Price and Where to Buy: From $150 on Amazon.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 9 Travel Products That Will Take the Stress Out of Your Trip
- 10 Controversial Travel Gadgets That May Actually Improve Your Trip
- 7 Tiny Travel Gadgets You Can’t Leave Home Without
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Editor’s Note: All prices correct as of publication are subject to change.