As a serial traveler, I hit the road. A lot. No, my goal isn’t to Eat, Pray, Love my mid-career or star in the next iteration of the Terminal. However, when you travel as much as I do (think one to three multi-day trips monthly), bad gear ends up becoming a bigger pain in the you-know-what than it would for an occasional one-off trip.
If you’re anything like me, you aim to pack smartly, to use high-quality equipment that makes your life easier (you know, like the best travel accessories around), and to look good while doing so. This isn’t your three month jaunt around southeast Asia, where showers are optional and your swimsuit is your daily uniform. This is your life as a business, adventure-seeking, or curious traveler, and you deserve the high quality equipment to match.
Beyond your typical slip-on shoes for security (hint: Toms are our go-to), here’s our round up of the best travel accessories. Period.
Best Travel Accessories for (Actually) Packing
Okay, so this section might seem biased to you, but here’s the thing: Tortuga really does make the best backpacks for urban travel, and the accessories to go in them are the best too. Our bags feature high quality construction, innovative materials, and are designed by real travelers, for their own use. Yes, you can settle for less, but why would you? We all know that investing in good quality gear that lasts, and is a joy to carry and use, is a better choice. We aren’t going to apologize for our greatness, it’s our continual goal
First things first, you need to make sure your portable travel vessel is as lightweight, sturdy, and classy as possible. The Outbreaker travel backpack (available in 35 or 45L, priced from $269) checks all three off the list. With ample pockets for internal organization, padded shoulders theand waist strap to lighten the load, and waterproof sailcloth construction, not to mention the front loading, suitcase style access to the main compartment, this bag is, simply, the best backpack for urban travel.
As if it wanted to secure a lifetime placement on any best travel accessories list, the 45 is also exactly the maximum allowable size for a standard carry on. The 35 will meet the requirements of the pickier budget airlines. Be still my heart.
Runner up: The Osprey Porter backpack, 46L.
Once you’ve settled into your hotel or Airbnb for the night, it’s time to hit the road for some microadventures. Beyond a freshly pulled espresso shot and your sunnies, your best mate for cruising around a new place is your daypack. And for this, we recommend the Outbreaker travel daypack — this daypack doesn’t play around when it comes to protecting and organizing your gear, making it a natural choice for our best travel accessories list.
Made from the same tough, stylish, and waterproof sailcloth as the bigger backpack, this daypack boasts a computer sleeve & and ipad sleeve as well as a hidden zipper front pouch and double water bottle holders that are actually deep enough to, you know, hold a real water bottle. The straps are padded, which places it head and shoulders above most packable daypacks (see what I did there… padded… shoulders… heh).
At a cool 21L, this stylish pack could also double as your main pack for traveling light on weekend getaways.
Runner up: The Northface Jester pack, 26L.
A Wet/Dry Bag
Keep your precious gear in good condition by separating the wet stuff from the dry stuff. We know moisture can weasel it’s way in (even when separated by pockets or padding), so be proactive in the fight by arming yourself the Outbreaker wet/dry bag ($49). Just roll, clip, and go — with the confidence that moisture will stay in the bag and your other stuff will remain dry and fresh.
Runner up: TYR Wet/Dry Coalition Carry All
Organizing your travel gear from the get-go will make for quick and easy grabs later. We recommend the Outbreaker packing cube set. For just $59, this three-pack collection includes one large and two small cubes. Organize like a boss!
Bonus: They are made to fit exactly in the Outbreaker travel backpacks. The 45 can hold two full sets, six cubes!
Runner up: TSO Travel Cubes
Best Travel Accessories for Transit
This isn’t your dad’s last minute airport neck pillow purchase. So while you do have to sacrifice corny patterns, you’ll gain so much more. The best travel accessories of 2017-2018, especially when it comes to transit, includes this Inflatable Hoodie Pillow for less than $20. Available on Amazon (Prime, no less!), this collapsible cushion keeps bright lights AND the neck cramps away.
Runner up: Trtl Pillow
If you’re a light sleeper or just love when quiet sounds extra quiet, investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones probably shows up on your “Duh!” list. But with so many pairs out there, which ones make for the best travel accessories? If you’re okay with bulk, we recommend the Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless headphones ($349 on Amazon); if subtle is more your style, consider the Bose QuietComfort noise cancelling earbuds ($249 on Amazon).
Runner up: Consider other Bose products before looking elsewhere.
Have an adventure within your adventure through the books you read — but not all ebook readers are up to snuff. If you want to ditch your tablet/inbox in lieu of a more practical e-reader, we recommend the Kindle Paperwhite ($120).
Best Electronic Travel Accessories
Let’s be real: no one wants to end up with their beloved electronics at 0% battery life. This is your source for information, entertainment, communication. It’s essential that you keep your device charged and ready to snap that next amazing photo. That’s why a high capacity power bank, like RAVPower’s 22000mAh Battery Pack ($37.99 on Amazon), is as essential to your travels as your passport.
My best advice? Don’t skimp on the cost or rely on a freebie from that last trade show. You want a portable charger that is durable and rugged. Power banks that can sustain multiple charges make for the best travel accessories.
Runner up: Easy Acc Power Bank
Off Grid Device
Did you know you can text and use GPS and maps on your phone without service? You can turn both your iPhone or Android into an off-grid communications tool thanks to this handy travel accessory, goTenna. At $149, this weather-proof and lightweight device will feel worth the upfront investment when you’re in a bind.
Runner up: Turns out there’s nothing that competes with goTenna’s capabilities.
You Won’t Regret Packing These
Keep your nether regions AND your towel itself dry all in one go. I’ve learned over the years that a high quality travel towel can be your BFF in a pinch — don’t be frugal on size or material quality, or you will have a much harder time. Trust me.
Our recommendation? The Sea to Summit travel towel ($22). Get the latest version and you can reap the benefits of the towel’s silver-ion antibacterial treatment, which prevents the growth of bacteria (you know, the smelly, musty stuff).
Runner up: The PackTowl Personal Towel, available in hand, beach, face, or body sizes.
Water bottles are no new comer to lists of the best travel accessories, but your task this year is to find one that is affordable, sharp, and multi-functional. We think Hydro Flask ($29.95) ticks those off the list. Unlike plastic water bottles or single wall bottles, this vacuum insulated stainless steel bottle will keep your beverage at your preferred temperature for hours. Win win win!
If you’re looking for a water bottle that will completely remove your need to buy bottled water no matter where you are in the world, then the Grayl is the one you want. Make your own clean, safe drinking water in fifteen seconds.
Runner up: Miir Widemouth Water Bottles
Portable UV Purifier
If you are planning to travel for a few days in a country where potable water isn’t guaranteed (think: all of Latin America, most of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa & much of South America), do yourself a favor and pack a portable UV purifier — commonly known as a SteriPEN. We recommend the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier for $89.95. It may seem steep, but let’s face it: your life (literally) depends on access to clean water.
Runner up: SteriPen Classic 3 w/Pre-Filter Bundle Pack
Just for Fun
Not all of the best travel accessories have to be 100% practical, right? For instance, we can’t get enough of Legit Camping’s portable hammock ($35). With the tagline “Quality you can crash on,” this hammock can pack down and will level up your typical afternoon snooze. It can also double as a way to further enjoy the park, that view, or a quick kiss with your travel bud. Ooh lala.
Runner up: ENO Doublenest Hammock
Who knows when you’ll need some ad hoc tunes? Be prepared with the JBL’s Xtreme Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($299). This splash-proof speaker means beachside and poolside parties aren’t out-of-bounds and it includes a rechargeable battery and some USB ports for a quick recharge of your other devices. The only thing missing is a crowd pleasing playlist!
Runner up: UE Boom 2
Where to Buy Travel Accessories
As it turns out, there are plenty of places to buy travel accessories right at your very fingertips. It’s as easy as Googling your preferred piece of equipment or gear, reading reviews on various websites (Google, Amazon, CNET, the list goes on…), and determining which item best suits your budget, needs, and desires.
Popular websites include Backcountry.com for a one-stop shop, but we recommend buying products directly from smaller enterprises (like Tortuga!). In this way, your purchases support both your fellow travelers and innovation in equipment production, while cutting out the middle man.
If you’re more of a brick-and-mortar old school shopper, it’s still easy to figure out where to buy travel accessories. Budget travelers should consider visiting big name stores like Target and Walmart to get your fix. For mid-range shoppers, we recommend buying travel accessories at REI or Sierra Trading Post. Luxury travelers can buy most equipment at their favorite name brand shops, from Patagonia to Nieman Marcus (yes, they even have passport covers!) and beyond.
If you want travel gear that is comfortable, stylish, and functional, do yourself a favor and bookmark this list of the best travel accessories to refer to later. Ranging from backpacks to just-for-fun hammocks, this list compromises the must have items for travel in 2017 and beyond. We even drill down on exactly where to buy travel accessories (though we know you probably have a few favorite name brands already in mind!). Regardless of your personal product choices, keep the following in mind:
- You might sacrifice price now, but you’ll pay for it in the long run. Find a balance of affordable and worthwhile.
- Ask your friends. Unfortunately, you’re not the first traveler to ever hit the road. On the bright side, you can use your network’s collective wisdom to help inform your buying decisions.
- A backpack is the best place to start. Once you’ve determined the size and space available for cramming, packing your gear becomes a whole lot easier.