Thanks to heavy baggage fees, travelers have become obsessed with packing as little as possible and cramming all their belongings into their carry-ons whenever possible. But as we streamline, some items we pack over and over again because they’re crucial to making our trips as seamless as possible. We may overpack or underpack when we are on the road — but are we bringing the items we need to make our trip as seamless as possible? Here’s what the travel experts always bring.
The right bag: “I never leave home without my OGIO Hamptons women’s tote bag. There’s plenty of space for your laptop, iPad, water bottle, and anything else you might need in-flight,” says Kaeli Conforti, digital editor at Budget Travel of her favorite carry-on. The bag comes in a range of colors, so you can choose your favorite. $79.99
Privacy protector: “I can’t believe more business travelers don’t use 3Ms Privacy Shields, as they allow me to work on my laptop on planes, trains, and buses, and in airports and cafés — without having to worry about seatmates or passersby peeking over my shoulder to read my emails or see my bank statements,” says Johnny Jet of JohnnyJet.com. $55.
Fitness tracker: Catherine Heald, the CEO and co-founder of Asia-focused luxury tour operator Remote Lands, tell us — “My latest travel obsession is my Fitbit, which I wear on my left wrist 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It only comes off when I shower.” Heald says that she loves the Fitbit because it monitors not only all the steps that she walks but also the stairs she climbs. “You’d be surprised how far you walk in airports and while traveling in general. If I see I’m not going to make 20,000 steps, and I make sure to take a walk before the day ends, even when in another country.” From $59.95.
Streamlined storage: Johnny Jet is also a huge fan of Scottevest products because they’ve really helped to streamline the way he travels. As he puts it, the jacket has so many hidden pockets that it nearly serves as a piece of carry-on luggage in itself. “I originally learned about the company when one of our writers got mugged in Barcelona. If she and her husband had only had their passports, money, and other valuables in one of Scottevest’s 20+ hidden jacket pockets, they would have only lost their luggage and (other) clothes that day,” he says.
International electrical adapter: Especially if you travel abroad often, Johnny Jet is fond of an all-in-one adapter so that you can just pack one plug, even if you’re crossing borders on one single trip. “[Mine] has four different electrical adapters built into the surge protector, and it works almost everywhere. It’s also small and lightweight,” he says. “I bought mine at Radio Shack (now out of business) for around $24, but I see on Amazon.com that they are going for under $4!.”
Portable, USB battery: “It’s helpful to have some extra power in a pinch, especially to make sure that the cell phone doesn’t turn out of juice in a critical time,” says Simon Tam, a touring musician and speaker who spends a good portion of the year on the road. Mophie is one of the most popular brands to have come on markets in recent years, but at $49.95 and up, its products aren’t cheap. If you need just a quick boost, there are cheaper (albeit less powerful) chargers from Anker and Jackery, from $16.99 and $19.95 respectively, as featured in our holiday gift guide last year.
Small extension cable: Tam also reminds us that in a day and age when staying connected is as practical as much as it is entertaining, you never know when you might need to hunker down and, again, get some juice. Perhaps you’re looking for an alternate route at the airport when your flight’s been delayed, or maybe you’re looking for a great last-minute hotel deal at your destination. In any case, an extension can help you make use of oddly placed outlets — or be able to share with fellow travelers if availability is short. There are even chargers with tons of USB ports these days.