Figuring out what you need to pack for a trip can be challenging—especially if you like to travel carry-on only. But whether you’re heading for a weekend away with your best gal pals or a week-long jaunt to a new city, the tech you pack is important. From portable batteries and small location devices to headphone adapters for planes, we’ve tested multiple items to see what the best travel gadgets really are, and which ones simply aren’t worth the space.
We promise the products below merit a spot on your packing list. Keep them in a pouch or near your suitcases so you know exactly where they are at all times, and can grab them when the need arises. The best part? All of these accessories are available on Amazon, and most on Prime, so you can get your hands on them quickly in advance of your next trip.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date. Additional reporting by Madison Flager.
Perilogics Universal in-flight airplane phone mount
This under-$20 Amazon find has completely upgraded my in-flight entertainment experience. When I fly, I usually watch movies or downloaded videos on my iPhone so I can continue to use my noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones. This means I’m usually rotating between holding my phone in my hand and (unsuccessfully) propping it up on the tray table. This pocket-size phone mount clips onto the top of your seat tray table and perfectly holds your phone in place so you can watch movies, TV shows, or podcast videos hands-free. It features 360-degree rotation, allowing travelers to view their screen vertically or horizontally. The 1.5-inch clamp can be attached to tables, desks, gym equipment, and a variety of other surfaces. While I originally purchased this carry-on essential to use on airplanes, I’ve also attached it to my luggage handle while waiting to board a flight and on a train ride from Lucca to Florence. —Meaghan Kenny, associate commerce editor
Fancii rechargeable travel makeup mirror
If you’ve been on a group trip, you know the struggle of trying to get ready when there are too few mirrors available compared to the amount of folks in the house or hotel room. Eliminate the hassle with a portable travel mirror, like this fold-out option available on Amazon. It shifts to varying heights, has three light settings (warm, cool, and natural daylight), and folds up flat, weighing less than a pound.
Hey Dewy wireless facial humidifier
Associate commerce editor Meaghan Kenny calls this small wireless device “a complete game-changer—I’m never going back to the days of dry hotel rooms and dehydrated skin post flight.” She’s found that sleeping with it, both at home and on the road, leaves her skin less dry and helps her to wake up feeling more refreshed. It’s easy to use, too: “For as compact as the humidifier is, it can still fit 11.3 ounces of water—more than enough needed for a continuous cool mist throughout the day or night.”
Read a full review of this product.
Cincha travel belt
Sure, many totes, backpacks, and small duffels now come with a trolley sleeve to secure it to a suitcase handle, but when you find yourself using a bag without that little sleeve, keeping your things together and upright becomes a balancing act. A Cincha travel belt is the workaround: It slips over your suitcase handle, then wraps around most any bag like a seatbelt, with adjustable straps to tighten or loosen as needed.
Upxon 360° Rotation Tripod
Gimbal stabilizers come in a variety of sizes and price points. If you’re testing the waters with the smartphone travel accessory, you may want to consider this under-$50 option. The anti-shake, one-axis stabilizer allows you to capture smooth videos and crisp photos of your travels without having to think about keeping your hands perfectly still and balanced. One perk of this particular stabilizer is that it doesn’t have a corresponding app that you need to use to make the device work, so you can just pop your phone onto the handle and go. At just 7.5 inches and less than half a pound, the stabilizer can fit easily into your day bag without weighing it down.
Riemot Travel Luggage Cup Holder
We’ve all experienced those long, twisty lines at the airport coffee shop that take longer than expected and leave you rushing off to your gate, juggling an iced coffee and your phone, all while somehow wheeling your carry-on bag behind you. Make that scenario a memory of the past with this luggage cup holder. The hands-free pocket slips over the handle of your luggage to hold up to two drinks and your phone. The adjustable cup holder has a Velcro opening that can be tightened or loosened to fit your suitcase handle and stay securely on your luggage as you traverse the airport. I keep this in my go-to personal item at all times, that way I know where it is before I head to the airport. Even better, if I do somehow spill a drink when using this, the cup holder is completely machine washable; I’ve throw it in with a load of towels to keep it clean.
Phone charging passport holder
Keeping your phone charged while traveling through airports can be difficult—not every airport has charging ports integrated into the seats at the gates, and most of the time people are huddled around the one or few outlets near the gate. I love this phone charging passport holder because I can charge my phone with an included power bank, and it has an integrated cable holder, and elastic bands to keep my phone in place as I traverse the airport. I also appreciate that the holder has a space for your passport and RFID blocking credit card slots for added protection.
Conair handheld travel garment steamer
No matter how meticulously you pack your clothes, pieces always end up wrinkled and looking like you slept in them on the other end. That problem is easily solved with this handheld garment steamer. The small electronic device weighs in at just under two pounds, so it won’t add much weight to your luggage. The steamer takes just 35 seconds to heat up, and has a removable water tank that’s easy to fill and an adjustable steam head so you can get wrinkles out no matter how your clothes are hung up. Leave this at home if you’re headed on a cruise, though; these portable steamers are not allowed on any cruise line.
Find more portable steamer recommendations.
Joomfeen Travel adapter
Whether you’re traveling internationally or domestically, having a travel adapter is always a good idea. The universal adapter allows you to plug in your devices to outlets, no matter what country you’re in. There’s also a built-in surge protector and two USB ports so you can charge your phone or watch without having to unplug something bigger like hot hair tools or a laptop.
There’s nothing worse than misplacing something or finding out that your luggage got lost in transit on the way to your hotel or Airbnb. With an Apple AirTag, you can have constant eyes on your belongings, even if they aren’t technically with you. The tiny puck-like devices pair with your iPhone or iPad and use geolocation to let you know where your belongings are. I like that I can check on the location of my luggage, purse, or whatever else I’ve dropped an AirTag into with the Find My app. This is especially helpful after a plane lands and I want to be sure my luggage made it to my final destination.
MEE Audio Connect Air in-flight Bluetooth audio transmitter
There’s nothing worse than getting onto an airplane and your wireless headphones not connecting to the seatback entertainment system. That issue is easily averted with this wireless audio transmitter and adapter. The small device pairs to your headphones via Bluetooth and then plugs into the tiny TV on the airplane so you’re never without entertainment on long-haul flights. I keep this Amazon gadget in my pre-packed go-bag, then charge it the night before I fly so I know it’s fully charged before heading to the airport. Even better is that the device can pair with two sets of headphones, so if I’m traveling with someone we can both watch the same movie at the same time.
Yogasleep Rohm portable white noise sound machine
Is there anything worse than checking into a hotel room and tossing and turning all night because of loud noises from neighbors or city streets? With this portable white noise sound machine, you can easily drown out the sounds of people, cars, or snoring companions. The machine has three sound options, and multiple volume settings so you can find the option that’s best for you. And because it’s so small at just 3.5 inches in diameter, it can fit in a backpack or carry-on bag with ease.
Etekcity luggage scale
An electric handheld luggage scale is without a doubt one of the best travel gadgets, especially if you’re prone to overpacking and always have a checked bag at the airport like me. The handheld scale uses a strap to attach to the outside handles of your suitcase. Then you simply pull up with both hands using even force for the scale to display how much your luggage weighs. This is my easy way to avoid overweight fees or having to open my luggage on the airport floor to take things out and squish items into my backpack before racing off to my gate.
Fochew Wireless portable charger
After flying through the friendly skies and making your way to your perfect vacation destination, your phone is likely showing that annoying red battery indicating that it’s almost out of power. With this wireless portable charger, you never have to get below 10 percent charge again. The charger can support wireless charging or charging with a connecting cable and can support Apple and Android products. iPhone users will be glad to know that with one full charge of the power bank, the device can charge an iPhone 12 at least eight times.
Keeping your personal information safe should be a top priority while traveling. One easy way to do that is with an RFID-blocking wallet, so skimmers in the pockets of nefarious patrons can’t get your credit card info just by walking by you. The wallet has multiple slots for credit cards, plus two zip pockets that are great for coins and paper money. Everything is further protected with a snap that covers both zippers and keeps the wallet closed.
Slim Mint ultra-thin RFID-blocking wallet
Another popular travel wallet option: the Slim Mint ultra-thin RFID-blocking wallet. The compact case can hold cash and whatever essential cards you need on you—credit cards, hotel room keys, metro cards—so that they are easily accessible. When empty, it weighs just 3.2 ounces.
VersionTech mini handheld fan
If you’re headed somewhere warm, be it a theme park or Europe in summer, one of the best travel gadgets to bring along is a mini handheld fan. This VersionTech handheld fan is my absolute favorite of all of the ones I’ve tried. It charges quickly with an included USB charger (you can also use any micro-USB cords you’re already packing), and has three speeds to keep air moving and keep you feeling refreshed. The handle of the fan can be folded back to allow it to sit on a table if you stop for a meal or coffee, or find yourself on a hot bus or train. I always have this in my backpack or fanny pack in the summer—when I whip it out and have a cool breeze blowing across my face, my travel buddies are instantly jealous that they don’t have one too.
Read a full review of this product.