Unique Travel Accessories For A Stress-Free Vacation

the best travel gear and accessories for your next adventure, according to experts
The Best Travel Gear and Accessories courtesy

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Though the pandemic put a halt on all forms of travel, from family vacations to business trips to quick weekend getaways, it looks like Americans are once again itching to explore and discover new destinations. According to the U.S. Travel Association, “travel spending improved considerably in September and is now at its highest mark since the pandemic started at 6% above 2019 levels.” Whether you’ve recently booked an all-inclusive resort for your honeymoon or are planning a big family road trip, our pros have pulled together a list of everything you might need to ensure a smooth, stress-free vacation.

At the Good Housekeeping Institute, our analysts and engineers have been testing travel products for more than two decades across our Labs. Below we feature the travel gear that’s outperformed in our tests and has been rated highly among consumer testers, ranging from reliable suitcases to comfortable walking shoes, beauty must-haves, gadgets to keep you entertained for hours and handy travel accessories. According to our pros, this is the best travel gear to bring along on your next adventure in 2022 and beyond.

Our top picks:

The Best Travel Gear for Packing / The Best Clothing for Traveling /The Best Beauty and Hygiene Travel Must-Haves / The Best Travel Gear for Sleeping / The Best Travel Electronics / Unique Travel Accessories

After our top picks in each category, read further to learn how we test travel gear and accessories and why you should trust Good Housekeeping.

The Best Travel Gear for Packing

No one likes arriving at their vacation destination only to find the wheels of their suitcase broken. To enjoy hassle-free air travel, the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab recommend investing in a high-quality, durable suitcase. Whether you’re looking for a lightweight carry-on, spacious hard-shell or compact smart suitcase for a quick business trip, these luggage brands and packing essentials will help make preparing for your next adventure a breeze.

Away's trendy, colorful line of carry-on suitcases is a popular pick among consumers and our Textile Lab's best overall luggage brand. Our pros love that it features a spacious interior while remaining super lightweight thanks to a polycarbonate shell. We also like that you can opt for a suitcase with or without a built-in USB charger so you can charge your phone on the go. If you need to remove the battery before boarding, you can do so easily with the push of a button.

READ MORE: The Best Carry-On Luggage to Buy in 2022

When you’re looking for size, quality and value, look no further than this sleek suitcase. Our Textiles Lab analysts were impressed with the performance of Open Story luggage in recent Lab testing, noting that this durable suitcase handled drop after drop without any dents or damage. Consumers pointed out that the suitcase was easy to maneuver on various surfaces and that they found its modern design appealing.

Fighting for space in a crowded overhead compartment or unexpectedly checking your bag at the gate can be frustrating. If you don’t want to take any risks, consider this Samsonite suitcase that should fit under most airplane seats. According to our Textiles Lab experts, it comes with a comfortable handle and compartments for your laptop and toiletries. Best of all, the suitcase’s abrasion-resistant polyester exterior showed no signs of wear in tests.

READ MORE: Best Underseat Luggage to Buy in 2022

Whether or not you’re planning a trip to Disney World, your kids are bound to love this Disney-themed hard-shell suitcase that comes in popular character prints. Our Textiles pros like that it’s super compact and lightweight to make it easy for your kids to roll around without your help, and that it features oversized zippers and a wide, curved handle made for smaller hands. Though it only comes equipped with two wheels, our users still found it easy enough to maneuver.

READ MORE: Best Kids Luggage

Those planning a road trip or an adventure might want to consider leaving their suitcase at home and grabbing this lightweight duffle bag instead. Our Textiles Lab likes this top-performing bag from Patagonia, which can convert into a backpack should you get tired of carrying it on your shoulder or via the top straps. Not only is it offered in several shades, but it can be compressed into a small bag when not in use, so you don’t have a bulky suitcase taking up your entire hotel room.

READ MORE: Best Duffel Bags for Your Next Vacation

Sometimes you don’t need a big suitcase for a quick weekend getaway. Our pros love this Lo & Sons bag, which is not only stylish but super spacious so you can fit in all your essentials. The Textiles Lab likes that there’s a separate shoe compartment, so you don’t have to worry about your clean clothes getting mixed up with your dirty sneakers. The bag also features a trolley strap so you can easily secure it on top of your suitcase should you end up needing one.

Everything you need on your next adventure comes with this comfortable, spacious travel backpack, including a bungee system on the exterior to hold your jacket, a laptop compartment and an organized zippered compartment for all your smaller travel essentials. In Lab tests, our textiles experts were impressed with the backpack's water resistance, durability and thoughtful design.

READ MORE: Best Travel Backpacks of 2022

Keeping your suitcase organized is no easy task, but that's when these thin packing cubes save the day. Not only are packing cubes useful for keeping track of what clothing is where, but they can help maximize the space in your suitcase. Win-win. The pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab love these cubes' durable, lightweight design as well as each built-in handle for easy access whether you're using a backpack, carry-on or duffle bag.

READ MORE: Best Packing Cubes for Maximizing Carry-On Space

The Best Clothing for Traveling

It can be difficult to narrow down the clothing to bring with you on your trip, but it’s important to pack some comfortable, staple items in addition to all your cute outfits. You’ll be happy you brought a pair of comfortable walking shoes after a long day of exploring a new city, as well as that breezy lightweight travel dress on a hot, summer day. In addition to clothing, our pros also recommend packing a few travel accessories like laundry detergent or a travel steamer to keep your clothing in pristine condition no matter where you are.

Exercise dresses are so popular for a reason — they’re extremely comfortable and an easy item to throw on when on the go. Our Textiles experts like this dress from Outdoor Voices not only because our testers rave about it, but because it's moisture-wicking and versatile. It’s the perfect choice for a day you’ll spend hiking, golfing, biking or taking a walking tour. Best of all, it features a built-in bra and shorts for full coverage.

READ MORE: Best Travel Dresses You Need For Your Next Vacation

On days you’re going to be walking for hours, make sure to pack these comfy Allbirds sneakers in your bag. Ninety-one percent of our survey respondents from our tester panel gave this pair a perfect rating for comfort. Our Textiles pros like how you can wear them with or without socks, and once you’re back from vacation all you have to do is toss them into the washing machine.

READ MORE: Best Walking Shoes for Women

Compression socks can work wonders when you’re seeking relief from swollen feet during a long plane ride or after hours of walking. By applying graduated pressure to your calves and feet they can help alleviate swelling and improve blood flow. Our Textiles analysts recommend this pair from Vim&Vigr, which earned top scores in both performance and durability tests and was a favorite among consumers.

READ MORE: Best Compression Socks for Women

Need a quality pair of comfortable socks for your next adventure? Whether or not you plan on hiking, our Textiles experts recommend Darn Tough socks for any everyday activity. This Merino wool pair is moisture-wicking as well as great for colder temperatures. It also helps prevent blisters by staying put securely on your foot with a seamless design. Our pros like that each pair comes with a lifetime guarantee should you experience significant wear and tear.

READ MORE: Best Hiking Socks to Protect Your Feet

Nothing makes walking down Italian cobblestone streets more enjoyable than comfortable walking sandals. If you plan on getting your steps in while you’re on vacation, our Textiles experts recommend packing these Vionic sandals. Available in both medium and wide widths as well as various shades, they’re a great fit for a lot of feet. Our pros like that they’re orthotic shoes but thanks to their modern design, no one will be able to tell.

READ MORE: Best Walking Sandals That Are Super Comfy and Cute

There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your hotel or Airbnb only to find a suitcase full of wrinkled clothes, with no iron or steamer in sight. Fortunately, this compact steam iron that’s recommended by our Cleaning Lab is easy to squeeze into a suitcase. Our pros like that it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver. In tests, we were impressed by how successfully it pressed out wrinkles.

READ MORE: Best Steam Irons of 2022

If you’re going away for a few weeks or are trying to pack light, consider bringing along some of these laundry detergent strips so you can clean your clothes and re-wear them. Our Cleaning Lab pros recommend this pick from Norwex, which earned some of the best performance scores in Lab tests and helped remove stains like ketchup, wine and mud. We also like how the strips come in a lightweight paper envelope so they’re easy to pack.

READ MORE: 5 Best Laundry Detergent Sheets

The Best Beauty and Hygiene Travel Must-Haves

There are certain beauty must-haves that you just can’t leave behind (and shouldn't have to!). Whether you’re looking for a reliable eye mask for your next red-eye, or need a bag that's big enough to store all your makeup and toiletries, our pros narrowed down their favorite beauty and hygiene picks that fortunately come in travel-friendly sizes.

Fight bad hair days anywhere in the world by bringing along your own hair dryer. Our Beauty Lab experts like this travel-sized pick from Drybar, which folds up nicely so you can stash it in your suitcase. Not only does it feature two voltages so you can use it abroad, but it got a perfect score for its easy-to-use controls in Lab tests and impressed our pros with its quick and efficient drying time.

READ MORE: Best Travel Hair Dryers that are Trusty Space Savers

Our pros love this clear toiletry bag for any sort of travel thanks to its spacious, organized interior that features two zippered compartments as well as mesh pockets for smaller items like lipstick or concealer. It comes in both a mini and standard size, but what we love most are the collapsible carrying handles that make it easy to pull out of your bag when going through security, and flat when going back in your suitcase.

READ MORE: Best Toiletry Bags

This TSA-approved clear makeup case makes going through security a breeze thanks to its transparent paneling. Our beauty pros love that it’s offered in three sizes, making it a great choice for any makeup routine. Though we wish it featured organizational pockets, we like its classy, modern design (offered in leather or nylon) as well as its sturdy structure.

READ MORE: Best Makeup Bags to Stash All Cosmetics

The Purell Hand Sanitizer Gel is a favorite among our Lab experts, who find that the aloe and vitamin E formula doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue like other hand sanitizers. We like that it’s not overly drying, even with a 70% alcohol concentration, and that it’s available in a compact travel size, making it easy to fit in your purse or bag wherever you go.

READ MORE: Best Hand Sanitizers

Though some airlines no longer require wearing a mask while in-flight, you may want to consider packing one as flu season approaches to protect yourself and your loved ones. According to the CDC, “Masking is a critical public health tool for preventing spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask.” If you're looking for a pack of 10 KN95 masks that are offered in a variety of tones and prints, one GH analyst found this site easy to order from and loves that it offers great discounts. In addition to soft ear loops that make it easy to wear this mask for an extended time, we also like the adjustable nose bridge so you can get a secure fit.

READ MORE: Coronavirus and Face Masks: Everything You Need to Know Right Now

The Best Travel Gear for Sleeping

Though traveling is exhilarating, it can also be exhausting if you don’t get the proper rest that you need. To ensure your journey is a peaceful one from start to finish, our pros recommend a few essentials to help you get a better night’s sleep. Whether you’re taking an overnight flight or you’ve ended up in a noisy hotel room, these picks should help you get some rest.

Anyone who has ever tried sleeping on a long flight knows how hard it can be to get comfortable. This travel pillow is recommended by the Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab, Lexie Sachs. The soft, memory foam pillow features straps that attach to an airplane's seat to prevent your head from falling sideways so you can actually get some rest. Our pros also like that once you've reached your destination, it can be compressed back into its compact travel case.

READ MORE: Best Travel Pillows

Most of us have trouble sleeping in a bright room, so it’s a good idea to always have a sleep mask with you. By covering your eyes, these masks are useful when you really need to get some rest. Our Textiles experts like this mask from Bucky, a top performer in Lab evaluations for its contoured design, ease-of-use and durability. It comes in a range of colors and, according to our pros, excelled at blocking out light in tests.

READ MORE: Best Sleep Masks of 2022 for the Most Restful Sleep

Whether it turns out that there’s a nightclub next to your hotel or you can’t sleep because of early morning construction, earplugs can be a lifesaver. Just pop them into your ears to block out pesky sounds that previously kept you up. Shoppers on Amazon love this pick from Mack’s, which has more than 40,000 raving reviews. Though they’re disposable, many users found that they were able to use them for two to three nights.

READ MORE: Best Earplugs for Sleeping

The Best Travel Electronics

While we agree that you should try to disconnect during your vacation, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your favorite electronics back at home. Whether you want to bring along some reading material, entertainment or tools to keep your gadgets up and running, our tech experts recommend bringing these top-tested travel electronics on your next trip.

Our Media & Tech pros swear by this pair of wireless Bose noise-canceling headphones when flying. Not only is it comfortable to wear for hours, but it does an excellent job at blocking out white noise, like the annoying drone of a plane. The QuietComfort 45 aced Lab tests for performance and impressed our pros with its excellent sound quality, making this a travel gadget to definitely not leave behind.

READ MORE: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2022

There’s nothing quite so disappointing as arriving at your final destination only to discover that your luggage has been lost. To keep better track of your belongings, our pros suggest getting a tracker like an Apple AirTag. Our pros like its compact, lightweight design and that it offers real-time tracking so you know your suitcase is coming before it actually arrives at the baggage carousel. Just keep in mind that if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem, you’ll have to opt for another luggage tracker like the Tile Pro, which unlike an AirTag is compatible with Android devices.

READ MORE: Best Luggage Trackers for Keeping an Eye on Your Checked Bags

Leave your laptop at home and bring along a tablet to keep yourself or your kids entertained on your next trip. This pick from Apple will suit most consumers’ needs, according to our tech pros, with an A14 Bionic chip that can handle a variety of tasks like streaming, gaming or FaceTiming. We like that it’s compatible with the Apple Pencil (1st gen) and Magic Keyboard Folio should you ever need to take a business call while away.

READ MORE: A Complete List of the Best Tablets to Buy in 2022

Though many of us love highlighting and jotting down notes in a travel guide or flipping through the pages of a book, lugging around too many hard copies can get heavy very quickly. Our tech pros suggest investing in an e-reader like the Kindle Paperwhite, which is not only super compact, lightweight and waterproof (it’s IPX8-rated, meaning it can handle continuous water submersion), but it also gives you access to anything you want to read, anywhere in the world. We like that, thanks to its slim design, it’s extremely easy to fit in a purse or backpack for the day.

READ MORE: Best E-Readers to Buy in 2022

To ensure your gadgets’ batteries never fail you in a time of need (like when you’re trying to find your way home or access your hotel reservation), our tech experts recommend this portable power bank from Anker. Its compact, slim design makes it easy to throw in a backpack without weighing you down, and our pros like that it can charge up to two devices at once via USB-A ports.

Don’t forget to pack this universal charger if you’re going to visit another country while you’re on vacation. Since different countries use different plugs and outlets, this adapter enables you to keep using your existing phone, laptop and device chargers. All you have to do is plug the adapter into the wall and then connect everything like you normally would back home, just through the adapter. That's right, no need to rush out to buy a local iPhone charger!

Much like a great toiletries bag, an electronics organizer can keep your tech accessories in order. Our tech pros like this pick, which features a zippered compartment for smaller essentials like SD or SIM cards as well as various elastic bands and mesh pockets for your cables and chargers. Best of all, this organizer folds up into a flat shape so you shouldn’t have any issue squeezing it into your luggage.

Unique Travel Accessories

While not all travel accessories are essential if you're tight on space, you might be grateful later on that you made that extra room in your suitcase. Packing a few key accessories can spare you the hassle of having to go shopping while on vacation, and it usually prevents you from paying tourist prices. From towels to organizers, these are our experts' favorite travel accessories to bring along with you.

When you're heading on a well-deserved beach vacation, make sure to grab this microfiber towel that comes in several bright colors. According to the Textiles Lab, it’s a great choice for travel thanks to its quick-drying materials and lightweight construction. Our pros also like that it comes with a handy carrying case so it's easy to transport from the beach and back to your hotel.

READ MORE: The Best Beach Towels for Summer 2022

It’s important to stay hydrated while traveling, which is why our pros advise bringing a water bottle with you. Our Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab pros like this best value pick from Camelback, which is made from durable, BPA-free plastic. It includes a two-finger loop handle that makes it easy to carry around while you explore and, according to the brand, the design is leak-proof when closed.

READ MORE: 12 Best Water Bottles of 2022

Whether you’re going hiking or spending a few days on a cruise, it can be nice to observe a beautiful landscape in sharp detail. With a great pair of binoculars, you can easily spot whales far out at sea or watch birds that would have otherwise looked like flies. The Media & Tech Lab recommends this pair from Nikon for traveling, thanks to its lightweight design, impressive magnification and small close focus that makes it ideal for birding or similar activities.

READ MORE: 10 Best Binoculars for Seeing Every Detail

If you’ve ever been worried about your bag being snatched off your hand, a fanny pack is an easy way to keep all essential documents close to you and easy to access. Our Textiles Lab experts like this Dagne Dover pick for traveling thanks to its roomy interior compartment and organizational pockets. Our testers also rave about how durable it is should you accidentally spill something during vacation.

READ MORE: Best Fanny Packs

For those who like to overpack or would feel better knowing how much your suitcase weighs before arriving at the airport, this gadget is for you. A luggage scale not only indicates whether you’re under or over the weight limit, but this pick is compact and lightweight so it’s easy to pack along with your other accessories. Sachs has used it herself over the years to help divide up her belongings between bags and avoid baggage fees.

Travel Hack: Why Our Experts Recommend Using Packing Cubes

Packing your suitcase and fitting everything in the right place isn’t always as easy as it sounds. While most bags these days include a compartment or two for undergarments, clothing and other essentials, items can shift around while in transit or get lost underneath a stack of shirts. To keep your bag in order, Senior Textiles Product Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Textiles Lab, Emma Seymour, recommends investing in a few packing cubes, like this set from Eagle Creek.

“Packing cubes are small bags designed to keep your clothes organized and less wrinkled in your luggage,” Seymour says. They not only help keep your belongings organized during your trip, but also when you arrive at your destination. When using packing cubes, Seymour suggests packing your clothes into the cubes first, then fitting the pieces into your bag like a puzzle. “You can even get packing cubes with built-in compression, so squeezing in that extra outfit (or two!) is no big deal. Whether you’re backpacking or traveling with a hard-shell carry-on, “most packing cubes are available in sets that include various sizes, ideal for organizing intimates and larger pieces.” And once you’ve arrived at your destination and are unpacking your suitcase, GH pros recommend placing the packing cubes directly into the drawers to keep your clothes protected from unknown surfaces.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

For decades, the Good Housekeeping Institute has been providing expert reviews and advice on the best travel gear and accessories you can buy. Media and Tech reviews Analyst Olivia Lipski, who covers everything from consumer electronics to travel, home, fitness and more, worked with several of the product experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute to feature the best travel gear we’ve tested in our Labs as well as products that have impressed our consumer testers. Not only does she have years of product review experience under her belt, but she’s a travel enthusiast with plans to visit all seven continents (with only two more to go)!

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