Since the magic of snapping your fingers and instantly transporting from one place to another doesn’t exist, the reality of commercial traveling is what it is. Airports are stuffy, crowded hubs for anxious and weary travelers.
As someone who has spent years frequently traveling for work and fun, I’ve learned to help ease painful travel headaches by arming myself with some can’t-live-without travel accessories.
The following travel items have helped me skip crowded lines, pack more efficiently, and even achieve the impossible task of sleeping on flights.
Author’s note:I don’t get any compensation for promoting these items.
1. Bose QuietComfort 35: $349 on Amazon
Cheaper alternative: BeatsX: $94
I don’t think it’s possible to travel (or go outside my apartment) without earbuds. They fill several important purposes, including:
- Listening to podcasts, music, audiobooks
- Blocking out all unwanted noise whenever you feel like it, or when it’s necessary (i.e. crying babies on planes)
- Talking on the phone
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My favorite earphones are Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. The sound quality is superb and you can also use it to talk on the phone. They are excellent at blocking out all outside noise and allow you to get lost in your music, podcast, or audiobook.
When it comes to the price, however, I’d never spend $349 on headphones — I happened to receive them as a gift.
If you think paying $349 for headphones is borderline outrageous, a cheaper alternative is Apple’s BeatsX earbuds. You can get them on Amazon for less than $100 and they’re way less bulky.
These little earbuds are my favorite by far. I use them every single day for my commute to the office, taking calls, and hikes.
They also do a wonderful job of blocking out a noise and the sound quality is awesome.
They are wireless, which means it only provides about 4-6 hours of listening time before it needs a recharge.
2. Trtle Pillow
Price: $29 on Amazon
I never understood how people slept on planes with neck pillows. They just never worked for me.
Banishing the neck pillow forever, I decided to do a quick search on Amazon before a long flight to Australia last year and found Trtle Pillow, which had a ton of glowing reviews.
Think of it as a travel version of the whiplash neck brace. The pillow is like a stiff scarf that you wrap around your neck. You position the plastic part so your head can lean comfortably on it, and then wrap the rest of the pillow around your neck (like a scarf). It wraps around your neck and stays put with some impressively strong velcro.
Not only did it have thousands of stellar reviews from happy travelers, it was only $29. This seemed reasonable, especially if it would help me get some precious sleep while flying.
Price: $22 monthly subscription
Free options: Library card + Overdrive, Libby, or Hoopla
Before a flight, I always load up on new audiobooks. Listening to an audiobook on a flight is a relaxing way to catch up on some reading and hopefully fall asleep.
As a huge audiobook enthusiast, I pay for the monthly Audible subscription, which allows me to select two books a month. I also use my library card with my favorite library apps – Libby and Hoopla.
You need a library card in order to access books on Libby or Hoopla. You’re allowed up to 10 rentals a month on Libby and 8 on Hoopla. Each rental lasts for 21 days.
4. Large infinity scarf that doubles as a blanket
Price: ~ $20
Depending on where you’re sitting on the plane and how crowded it is, the temperature can vary. But once you’re in the air, the A/C is always cranked up.
So for the cold-blooded bringing an infinity scarf that doubles as a small blanket can be beneficial. These are the types of scarves that are in the shape of a circle so you can easily wrap it around your neck. The trick is to get a medium to a large sized scarf so it’s big enough to cover your legs on a cold flight. If you have the Trtle Pillow, you definitely won’t need a scarf around your neck too.
5. 8-Oz Flat water bottle
Price: $10 on Amazon
My roll-on suitcase is smaller than the average carry on suitcase. I purposely bought a 19-inch suitcase because I know certain airlines in Europe have smaller overhead bins and you may be subject to only underneath the seat in front you. This suitcase and a backpack are the only bags I travel with, so space is very limited and bulky items, like water containers, are avoided.
Since staying hydrated on flights is important, I bought an 8-oz bottle I found on Amazon to save space. It slides easily into my backpack and into the seat back inside the plane. I’ve also gotten a lot of compliments on it from fellow travelers.
6. International plug adapter
Price: $12 on Amazon
Flying overseas means the outlets will probably be different. Having an all-in-one plug adapter definitely came in handy to charge my phone and laptop.
One thing to add is that this is a plug adapter, not a transformer, which converts the electricity.
Tip: Always do a quick Google search to find out if the country you’re visiting uses a voltage that is compatible with the U.S. Otherwise, you may end up frying your electronics.
7. Uniqlo down jacket
Remember when Uniqlo stores first opened in the U.S.? People went berserk. The flagship Uniqlo store in Manhattan’s SoHo district is always an absolute madhouse.
There’s a reason why people love it — the prices are reasonable for what you get. I purchased a down jacket to layer inside thinner coats, and it works like a charm to keep me warm. Naturally, I use this jacket to travel because it is so versatile.
The best part is being able to squeeze the jacket into a tiny ball and stuffing it inside my minuscule Eagle Creek travel packing cube. Having this jacket means I can leave bulky winter wear at home. Also, if I am unsure about just how cold or windy a travel destination is, I bring this jacket as a backup since it doesn’t take up a lot of room in my backpack.
8. Eagle Creek Packing Cubes
Price: $40 on Amazon
I used to scoff at the notion of travel packing cubes. Thinking it was another marketing ploy to get travelers to buy more, I never tried it. However, I reached a point where I was tired of always rolling up my clothes tightly and finally gave in to trying them out.
I use the 3-cube set from Eagle Creek and I can fit so much more into my little suitcase. When I need to bring extra clothes, these cubes really come in handy. I packed a month’s worth of clothing into these three small cubes.
Having packing cubes is an easy way to efficiently pack and organize my suitcase.
9. & 10. TSA PreCheck & Global Entry
TSA PreCheck: $85
Global Entry: $100
I’ve had TSA Precheck since 2013 when I used to travel once a month for work. Thinking back on all the moments I’ve skipped huge security lines in busy airports makes it totally worth it.
I added Global Entry last year which helps minimize time spent in lines when returning back to the U.S. from an international trip.
This year I received both my TSA and Global Entry for free, thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Traveling doesn’t have to be difficult thanks to these travel items
So there you have it, these are 10 of my favorite travel items that help me travel better, faster, and more comfortably.