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10 Popular Travel Gadgets You Don’t Need

There is no shortage of gadgets and gear to make travel easier, but sometimes it’s what you don’t pack that makes all the difference. Give these popular items a pass next time you’re prepping for vacation to save yourself time, money, and frustration.

Travel Pillows

Starting off on a controversial note: skip the travel pillow next time you’re packing a carry-on. Many fancy new models that claim to solve airplane neck pain are over-engineered and ineffective. Even the classic u-shaped options fall short of expectations and are a pain to keep attached to the handle of your luggage  while hurrying through the airport. Skip the hassle in favor of a travel shawl or blanket scarf that can be bundled up for neck support or used as a blanket in the chilly cabin.

Travel Iron

These mini devices are undeniably cute, but also undeniably unnecessary. Most hotels provide an iron or steamer in-room. If not, odds are you can find one by calling down to the front desk. In a pinch, hanging a wrinkly garment in a steamy bathroom while you shower will do the trick. Either way, leave this gadget behind. 

Travel Hair Dryer

Shark HD435 FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System, Powerful Hair Blow Dryer & Multi-Styler with Auto-Wrap Curlers, Curl-Defining Diffuser, Oval Brush, & Concentrator Attachment, Stone

Like irons, hair dryers are frequently provided in-room or by request from the front desk. However, if traveling with your own hair care devices is a must for your routine, minimize the number of items you need to pack by opting for a multitool that can dry, style, and diffuse. 

Luggage Scale

Sure, it can feel high tech to hang your suitcase from a fancy scale, but you know what works just as well? Any household scale. If your bag is small enough, just set it down on the scale to get the weight. For heavy-duty luggage, simply weigh yourself alone, then weigh yourself holding the suitcase, and find the difference. Violà—instant luggage scale.

Mini Toiletries

We all know those cute little bottles of shampoo end up right in the garbage as soon as you unpack. Even tossing them in the recycling is no guarantee that they’ll be disposed of properly.  Not only is this bad for the environment, but also bad for your wallet. Skip the pre-filled drugstore minis and go for reusable containers like these from Cadence. They’re TSA-friendly, designed to be used with haircare and skincare products, and look nice enough to live on your bathroom counter at home until the leftover product is used up.

Smart Luggage with Chargers

Lithium batteries, often used to power portable chargers, are allowed in the plane cabin. However, passengers asked to gate check their luggage will have to remove the battery, leaving them with a normal—and expensive—suitcase. You’ll get more mileage out of your investment by springing for a separate portable charger that is TSA-approved and can travel between your luggage, your purse, your daypack, or even your pocket.

Passport Covers

RFID Blocking Passport Organizer

Most TSA checkpoints will ask you to remove passport covers before going through security. Don’t be the person holding up the line while wrestling your passport free from its case. If you still want to keep your passport protected, opt for a wallet like this one from Royce, which lets you store your passport in an easily accessible sleeve alongside your ID and credit cards.

Packing Cubes

If you’re moving apartments or organizing a suitcase for an extended trip, packing cubes are for you. For everyone else, these organizational tools only add bulk to your bag, take up valuable space, and create a frustrating mess as you unzip every pouch searching for your toothbrush. Most travelers can skip the cubes and go with old fashioned rolling and folding to maximize luggage space.

Items with Hidden Pockets

The boot with the secret pocket or the scrunchie that lets you zip up your extra cash may make you feel like a secret agent, but the novelty will wear off quickly. Who wants to take down their hair or unzip their shoes every time they need their credit card? Instead, invest in a pick-pocket proof bag


Unless you’re a professional or passionate hobbyist, you don’t need to drop a thousand dollars on high-tech photography equipment. With a bit of practice, your smartphone can capture stunning shots worthy of your Instagram grid.

All of the products featured in this story were hand-selected by our travel editors. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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