A vacation should be fun and easy, but all too often, we run into a slight inconvenience that turns an otherwise nice and affordable trip into a costly and stressful getaway. It can sometimes feel like a real effort to just get through your trip successfully. To make your adventure a breeze, we’re rounding up 10 of the most underrated travel gadgets—from new tools to old must-haves—that ensure your journey goes on without a glitch.
1. Compression packing cubes.
Not your typical packing cubes, compression packing cubes allow you to fit more clothes into a tight space, such as a suitcase or carryon bag. With double zippers to flatten each rip-stop nylon cube, you don’t need to tote around an extra pump or worry about puncturing a plastic compression bag on your travels. Pack clothes and other soft items in the cube and zip it up with both zippers to get the maximum space-saving benefit.
2. Portable battery charger.
People rely on their phones a lot when traveling: scanning barcodes to check-in for a flight, watching videos to pass the time on a plane, listening to music, mapping a route, etc. And it’s amazing how quickly batteries drain on different devices. To ensure the device you rely on during travel remains powered, pack a portable battery charger in your carry-on or other easy-to-reach bag. Remember to also pack the charging cords of your devices and confirm they’re compatible with the portable charger you select. This one has USB ports and works with Apple and Android devices.
3. Digital luggage scale.
Compact and affordable, a digital luggage scale is an often-forgotten item that can save significant time and money. Use it to weigh your checked bags in question before heading to the airport. Usually, any checked bags over 50 lbs. will incur additional fees. If your bag is over that, redistribute items within it to other bags to avoid (sometimes seriously high) extra charges.
4. Backup headphones.
It’s always a good idea to bring a backup pair of old-school headphones or earbuds on a flight. Depending on your airline and plane, in-flight media options may be restricted to your cell phone or the front-seat TV monitor. Onboard monitors usually provide a 3.5 mm jack to listen to audio, so earbuds with a 3.5mm plug, like this style, are your best option for TV viewing and listening on a flight.
5. Portable door lock.
Technology has changed the game for hotels and other accommodations around the world. Today, you can typically walk into a vacation house or hotel room with a simple code or swipe of a card. Protect your privacy and prevent unauthorized entry into your home away from home with a portable door lock. This portable door lock is small, reusable, and requires no installation tools.
6. Smart tracking devices.
One of the biggest travel woes is lost luggage, and with airport operations stretched thin, it’s becoming more and more common to see checked bags misplaced. Smart tracking devices, like the Apple air tag or the Tile Pro, let you keep track of items near or far. Just attach the tracking device to your checked bag, set up the app on your phone, follow the steps to connect the app to the device, and start tracking your item. An ideal way to keep an eye on your stuff at all times, make sure the tracking device you choose is compatible with your phone.
7. Travel adaptor.
Particularly useful if you’re traveling outside of the country, a travel adaptor lets you convert a power outlet to match another country, so you have the ability to charge your electronics, like your smartphones, laptops, GPS, and wireless headphones. Since outlets differ in voltage and prongs from country to country, go prepared with an adaptor that solves the compatibility problem for you.
8. TSA-approved multitool.
You might not use a multitool in your everyday life, but they’re valuable when traveling. Useful for everything from cutting open a vacuum-sealed bag to tweezing out a splinter, a multitool is an item you’ll reach for more frequently than you think. This one is bladeless and TSA-approved, which means it’s considered OK to take to an airport.
9. Safety pins.
You can MacGyver almost anything with some safety pins. So underrated you’ve likely had a few sitting in a drawer unused for years, they can be called on in a pinch while traveling. A must-have for an unexpected rip in your clothes or lost button, they also come in handy for fastening close curtains and pin-closing pockets and handbags so nothing falls out.
Even though you envision a quiet and tranquil getaway, that’s not always what you get. Loud noise and disruptions happen—on a plane, at your destination, or out and about. To get the restful sleep and quiet time you hoped for, pack a pair of earplugs. The versatility of these lets you enjoy more without interruption.
Save Money on Travel
Got the travel bug? Consider a road trip! Check out our article, “4 Tips for Saving Big Money on a Road Trip,” to learn how to do it on the cheap.