Travel gadgets can always make your journey just a little bit easier, regardless of where you’re going or how you get there. Some of them you’re guaranteed to need and use, others are more of a precaution, but if needed, worth their weight in gold.
We’ve dug through the thousands of travelling accessories and latest technology gadgets out there and compiled this travel toolbox with our top gadgets. We’ve skipped the small and obvious, like earplugs, as well as the big and over-the-top, like the latest tablet or light computer, and aimed for the realistic instead.
They’re all affordable, they’re all small, and there’s something for everyone, no matter if you’re headed out on a luxury urban weekend or a back-to-basics camping adventure. Take a look and find your next travel must-have.
Beurer luggage scale
We’ve all experienced that moment of doubt as we lift our bag on to the scales at check in; wasn’t your bag so much lighter when you packed it? The last thing you want to have to do is pay an exorbitant fee for excess luggage, or have to wear all your clothes on to the plane.
The simple fix is a Beurer luggage scale. It might seem boring, but it’s incredibly useful. Weigh your bag at home and rearrange things there, instead of madly unpacking and repacking on the cold floor of an airport while everyone looks and inevitably rolls their eyes.
There are a hundred and one travel pillows out there. The vast majority are awful, and the others are either too bulky or too downright odd to want to travel with. Trtl pillow, thankfully, is neither. It looks good, it’s comfy, it folds almost flat, and is scientifically proven to be better for your neck than traditional U-shaped pillows. Sold!
Trakdot luggage tracker
Has your luggage ever ended up on another continent than you? It can be a really rotten start to your well-earned holiday. Sometimes it only takes a day or so to make its way back to you, but sometimes, it can be weeks.
While Trakdot won’t help get your bag back to you any faster, it will let you know exactly where it is, using “newly patented micro-electronics and ground-based cellular telephone technologies to track and report its position on the ground even while inside metal containers.”
Now, that’s peace of mind we could all use. It’s one of the most expensive gizmos on our list, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll never need to use it. On the other hand, if your luggage does end up stranded, this travel gadget will be well worth the price.
Kingii emergency wristband
Another lifesaver, for you, your kids, your parents – basically for anyone who can pull a handle. Kingii is a wearable inflation device that sits, out of the way, on your wrist. If you should get into trouble while in the water, surfing, swimming, boating and so on, just pull the handle and a replaceable CO2 cylinder instantly fills a high visibility bag with enough air to support an adult for up to 48 hours. Another genius idea – and another one we hope you never have to use.
Read more: Wax that board and hit the water! The best destinations to ride the wave this season
Skross travel multi-adapter
Yes, it’s obvious, but how many times have you taken the wrong adapter? We’ve all been there, and given the amount of variation in plugs across this beautiful world of ours, you’d be forgiven. Thankfully, you can now buy a multi-adapter that should see you through 150 countries. This one even comes with an additional dual USB charger, for all your phone, tablet and camera needs.
Probably not top of your list if you’re off to hotels and resorts, but if you’re heading a bit further afield, then LifeStraw could literally save your life. It removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli, and 99.9% of waterborne protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium, instantly turning virtually any water you can find into safe drinking water. One straw is good for 1,000 litres, so unless you’re going on a really long trip, you’re good to go with just one straw.
EasyAcc Power bank
“But what if there’s no plug?!” We hear you cry. Fear not, that’s where this sweet portable charger comes in handy. It’s small, but powerful enough to load up your iPhone twice with one charge, indispensable if you’re heading out camping or on a trip where electricity can be scarce.
You never know if you’ll get an in-seat monitor on your short haul flight, but given that short hauls can still be up to six hours, you might want to charge your phone or tablet, get your favourite films and programmes on it, and while you’re at it, order an Airhook.
The Airhook hooks on to the tray on the seat in front of you, and will hold your phone or tablet so you can watch away in comfort. It also acts as a cup holder, so you don’t have to keep your tray down – and leg room minimized – when you’re only enjoying a drink. Genius.
Scrubba Wash Bag
What to do when you need to wash a few bits of clothing in a small town with no laundromat? Easy – wash them in the sink. But what if there’s no sink? What if you’re midway through the Appalachian Trail and miles from the next stop? That’s where a Scrubba comes in handy. Throw in your clothes, some bio-detergent and water, and scrub them around on the built-in washboard. Done. Now all you have to do is find somewhere to hang and dry your clothes.
Swiss Army Knife
The mother of all handy knives, the Swiss Army Knife has stood the test of time and with good reason. Pack one of these in your bags, and you’ll be everybody’s best friend in a whole stack of situations, from opening beer bottles to cutting down kindling to start that warming fire.
You might not need the SwissChamp Blue, with 33 accessories, but we bet a bottle opener sounds good. If you’d rather have the lite version, try a Wallet Ninja instead – the 18-in-1 pocket tool that’s the size of a credit card.
Thinking about packing it in your carry-on? GOV.UK states you may carry a blade shorter than 6” in your carry-on, but, when you’re flying back into the UK, bear in mind that other countries may have different limitations (e.g. The USA’s Transport Security Administration prohibit any kind of knives).
Nothing beats lolling around on a comfy bean bag in the shade on a hot day! Gone are the days where the best bean bags were sealed bags containing plastic or polystyrene pellets. Thanks to the Fatboy LAMZAC® – the comfort of a bean bag can now be carried with you – to the beach, festivals, ski trips or, quite literally, anywhere you’d like to take a rest.
The lightweight, durable Fatboy fabric inflates quickly and easily, folding out into a comfortable air bed with space for two that will provide you with all the rest and relaxation you need on your outdoor forays. When you’re done snoozing, deflate the Fatboy and pack it into its subtle backpack, which you can easily carry around with you.
GoPro HERO 5 camera
GoPro cameras have changed the way we film and share video remarkably. The HERO 5 is about as state-of the-art as it comes – featuring wireless app compatibility with your mobile phone that allows for quick yet effective editing, sharing and storage.
The perfect companion for mountain treks, snorkelling, rafting, surfing, biking, snowboarding and other outdoor activities, the HERO 5 allows for up-close, point-of-view footage of all your travel exploits on-land, underwater and in the air. Attach one onto your chest mount for your next skydive!
JBL bluetooth speaker
Music bod or not, good sound tends to be underrated. The wave of portable Bluetooth speakers on the market has brought about something of an evolution in the way we listen to our favourite music, podcasts and audiobooks.
One of our favourites is the JBL Charge 3 Bluetooth speaker, which in addition to playing powerful stereo sound, is also waterproof. In fact, there is little the designers of this nifty gizmo haven’t thought of – you can even take calls from your speaker at the touch of a button, thanks to its noise reducing and echo cancelling features. Campfires, poolside parties and festivals are but a few of the many locations you’ll find this speaker to be a worthy travel companion.
Read more: Turn it up! The best music cities around the world
Skyroam mobile hotspot
Despite the long-awaited end of roaming surcharges in Europe, using your mobile phone to surf the web abroad remains an expensive affair. For those who enjoy the perks of the world wide web but don’t necessarily have access to Wi-Fi hotspots such as cafes and the like, the idea of a cheap way of accessing the net on-the-go can be a somewhat unrealistic dream.
Thanks to the Skyroam mobile hotspot, however, quick, reliable internet access that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is a now reality. Choose between buying one outright (ideal if you travel often) or renting (apt for those who travel less frequently) and enjoy unlimited internet access anywhere in the world for 24-hour rates as low as £8.
Read more: The top digital nomad destinations across the globe
Garmin Sports Tracker
You don’t have to be an impassioned fitness enthusiast to see the practicality of carrying a sports tracker with you on your travels. Wearables have become increasingly popular gizmos over the last few years and now come in all shapes and sizes to cater to the needs of a diverse group of people – from mountaineers to surfers and everything in between.
The Garmin Vívosmart® 3 is our pick of the bunch, with its five-day battery life, 24/7 heart rate monitoring and a seamless design, which blends in well with your bangles and friendship bands, or looks good on your wrist if worn solo. Take it with you on those long treks, swims, bike rides and kayak trips.
Urban Armor Gear iPhone/iPad covers
iPhones and iPads were not designed for rough terrain and often get damaged on adventurous exploits. There are, however, many ways to protect your equipment while you’re out travelling.
Apt for digital nomads and adventurers alike, Urban Armor Gear’s range of protective sleeves will keep your technology safe and dry in just about all travel conditions. Light composite construction, tactile grip and a design that meets military drop-test standards are some of the perks of Urban Armor’s products.
The Metropolis case range designed for iPad protection is our pick of the lot. Choose from colour palettes such as cobalt (blue), magma (red) or black shades, all of which feature an in-built Apple pencil holder. If you’re not a Mac user, fret not – you will find more protective Urban Armor Gear for other brands on their website.
Easybreath Snorkelling mask
Snorkelling is a great way to explore the sea. Thanks to the latest generation of face masks, gone are the days of donning clumsily-fitting goggles and the uncomfortable sensation of water trickling in through snorkel pipes.
Of the masks on the market, Subea’s Easy Breath Full Face Snorkeling Mask is our recommended option, with its broad field of vision, robust build and aquatic colour scheme. The mask can be used by anyone from the age of 10 and aims to make it as easy to see and breathe in water as on land.
Not content with treading water on the surface? Dive deeper and you will no longer have to contend with water seeping through the piping, compliments of revolutionary technology that keeps it out. More adventurous sea explorers can add an extra dimension to their snorkelling, with mask variants such as Neo Pine’s Easybreath Snorkeling Mask, which adds the comfort of a GoPro camera mount on its front (at a slightly higher cost).