13 Travel Accessories You’re Not Going to Want to Leave Home Without, According to Our Tests (2024)

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We test thousands of products every year and these are our top travel accessory picks to make any journey as smooth as possible.

By

Kaitlyn McInnis

13 Travel Accessories You’re Not Going to Want to Leave Home Without, According to Our Tests (1)

Kaitlyn McInnis

Kaitlyn McInnis is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer with bylines in Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Tatler Asia, CNN, The Points Guy, and more. Born and raised in Canada, she specializes in writing Canadian and international travel guides.

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Published on July 27, 2023

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a minimalist or a maximalist when it comes to travel, there is certain gear that is non-negotiable when packing. Think items you’ll always be grateful to have thrown into your suitcase or carry-on whether it’s your first or fifteenth trip abroad.

The right travel accessories should help to streamline your trip without weighing you down or malfunctioning while on the go — but getting the right gear on the first go can be tough. That’s why we personally tested thousands of different items in our lab and in the real world, all for at least six months. We continuously checked and rated for attributes like comfort, portability, and durability to best ensure our picks will actually go the distance.

The following items rose to the top for their overall quality and longevity so, here, find the best travel accessories, all reviewed by us.

Our Top Picks

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Best Travel Pillow

Cabeau TNE S3 Travel Pillow

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Our Ratings

  • Comfort

    4.5/5

  • Quality

    4.8/5

  • Portability

    5/5

  • Durability

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • There’s a headrest strap to keep the pillow in place and help reduce neck cramping.

What to Consider

  • It’s on the stiffer side at first so adjustments are necessary.

The Cabeau TNE S3 Travel Pillow earned the top spot in our books as the best travel pillow we tested — and once you’ve used it on a red-eye (or even a long car ride), it’ll be easy to see why. This travel pillow is supportive with seat-attachment straps to prevent your head from drooping, along with another strap for under your chin. Because your head and neck stay properly supported, we found this pillow to be comfortable even after spending more than 10 hours on an overnight international flight. Plus, despite its larger size, it rolls up into a compact and portable ball that can either clip onto a bag or even slip inside a larger backpack or tote.

This pillow also stands out for breathability if you sleep hot and we love that it was possible to machine wash the cover after using it on a full journey of planes, trains, and buses, too. It is on the stiffer side though, which while good for support, may require extra maneuvering to find your perfect position.

Best Packing Cubes

Gonex Compression Packing Cubes

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Quality

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • There is impressive compression to fit even more clothing inside than a standard cube.

What to Consider

  • The set is very large and might be too expansive for shorter trips or light packers.

The best packing cube set that we tested, the Gonex Compression Packing Cubes, earned top points across the board thanks to the impressive compression and seemingly endless room in each cube. The clothing cubes are ultra lightweight and the material has held up extremely well even through heavy-duty use. We also love that the zipper doesn’t show any signs of stress when the packing cubes are stuffed to their limit.

The only slight downfall is that the cubes are on the larger side and might be too big to really make a difference if you tend to use a carry-on or pack really light. If you’re looking for something that’ll help organize a small amount of clothes, you might want to choose packing cubes that are on the smaller side, or only bring one from this 3- or 4-pack.

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Best Toiletry Bottles

Liquisnugs Premium Leak-proof Silicone Travel Bottles

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Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Quality

    5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Performance

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • These TSA-approved bottles are incredibly easy to fill.

What to Consider

  • The set includes two 89-milliliter and two 60-milliliter bottles so, if you want four bigger bottles, you’ll need to buy two sets.

The quality and utility of toiletry bottles can vary greatly. While we’ve tried dozens while traveling in the past, none of them held a candle to the LiquiSnugs Premium Silicone Travel Bottles. These have a wide opening which makes it easy to squeeze your favorite shampoos and conditioners into portable, TSA-approved amounts. The silicone material is also much more flexible and durable than hard plastic bottles while the malleable material ensures you won’t have to deal with any leakage once you land.

Keep in mind that the price point for this set is higher than the average set of travel bottles (considering it only includes four bottles with no case), but it’s worth the splurge if you want something that’s easy to refill and durable enough not to spill when packed in your own case.

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Best Toiletry Bag

Away Large Toiletry Bag

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Our Ratings

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Portability

    5/5

  • Value

    4/5

Why We Love It

  • There are an abundance of pockets which makes it easy to stay organized on the go.

What to Consider

  • It’s expensive if you travel infrequently.

We’re already major fans of Away luggage — and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this case. We particularly like that The Large Toiletry Bag by Away is waterproof and has loads of different pockets inside including one for brushes and a clear pocket for makeup products, along with others for additional toiletry needs. The bag also has a convenient top handle which makes it easy to grab while on the go plus it’s worth noting the nylon material is super lightweight and can handle a lot of products without getting too heavy.

We think this bag is worth the splurge if you want something that’ll last for the long run while also providing an easy way to keep all your toiletries properly organized while in transit, and possibly even at home, too.

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The 11 Best Toiletry Bags of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Best Travel Jewelry Case

Pottery Barn Mckenna Personalized Jewelry Binder

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Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Design

    5/5

  • Performance

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • It’s portable and sleek with a high-end leather finish.

What to Consider

  • It’s spacious but there’s only room for four necklaces.

The Pottery Barn Mckenna Personalized Jewelry Binder is our top pick for the best travel jewelry case for a number of reasons — but especially if you tend to bring a lot of baubles while traveling and have limited space for yet another pouch in your carry-on. The slim pick opens up like a binder rather than a traditional jewelry box which takes up way less room in your luggage. We also really liked how durable the exterior is, as it felt like it would quite literally take a truck running over the pouch for it to incur any visible damage to the exterior.

The compact jewelry case has a lot of room for things like rings and stud earrings — but it only has four distinct spots for necklaces. You may need to double up or slip them into one of the other various pockets built into the binder but, if you like using a jewelry case to keep more than four necklaces from tangling, this might not be the best option for you.

Best Money Belt

Raytix RFID Money Belt

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Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

  • Capacity

    5/5

  • Performance

    5/5

  • Quality

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • This breathable option won’t irritate the skin even with long-term use.

What to Consider

  • The belt is large enough to see when it’s under your clothes.

Shopping for a money belt can be daunting — you want something that’s secure and able to store your goods properly but it’s just as important to find something you can wear for hours on end. We found the Raytix Money Belt comfortable and smooth on the skin, while also noting that it can expand to accommodate many different sizes. The material also feels extremely sturdy and durable so you won’t have to worry about the bag wearing out, even after multiple trips.

Although we like that this money belt is large enough to accommodate bigger items (like a passport) without having to struggle to squeeze these in, the size is a little bit bulky and is actually visible with certain clothing types. This might not be ideal if you’re looking for something extremely discreet under a light layer.

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Best Reusable Water Bottle

Thermoflask Stainless Steel Water Bottle

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Our Ratings

  • Drinkability

    5/5

  • Seal

    5/5

  • Portability

    4.5/5

  • Insulation

    4/5

  • Durability

    4.5/5

Why We Love It

  • This unique water bottle comes with two different lids to suit a variety of beverages.

What to Consider

  • The exterior might get a bit dinged up with heavy use.

When it comes to water bottles, the Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle is one of the best. It’s not flashy or overly expensive like other popular reusable water bottles on the market right now but it’s extremely durable and versatile. We really liked that this option comes with two different lids, one with a built-in straw and one that resembles a more traditional water bottle mouth. We also liked that this option was thin enough to fit in a standard cup holder and also very easy to grip.

During the testing process, we noticed that the stainless steel bottle did get a few aesthetic dings with heavy usage. That being said, the bottle didn’t leak at all nor did it become damaged beyond use throughout the entire process. This makes it well worth the price in our books.

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Best Noise-canceling Headphones

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

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Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Functionality

    5/5

  • Sound Quality

    5/5

  • Noise Cancelation

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • These headphones are intuitive to use and very comfortable to wear.

What to Consider

  • They don’t fit super tightly on the head.

If you’re willing to spend a bit of money on noise-cancelling headphones, the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones are going to be a great option. We find the price point totally justifiable as we could hear every instrument as clearly as if we were hearing the music live. We also really liked that the headphones offer different levels of noise cancellation depending on your preference and setting. (Plus, you can easily tap directly on the headphones to change the level or you can do it in the smartphone app.) We found a very dramatic difference from level 0 to level 10 which is great for transitioning from, say, walking in the city to settling into a sold-out red-eye flight. It’s worth noting that at the highest level of cancellation, the tester couldn’t hear a single thing so it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings.

These headphones also earned the top spot in our books due to the fact that they’re extremely comfortable and didn’t cause irritation even when wearing them for hours on end but that also means they don't fit as tightly as some others we tried.

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Best Wireless Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

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Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Comfort

    5/5

  • Sound Quality

    5/5

  • Range

    5/5

  • Battery Life

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • These earbuds are super fast-charging and easy to connect to all devices.

What to Consider

  • The size is a bit more bulky than comparable wireless earbuds.

During the testing process, it was clear that the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II were the best option out of all the competing products. The earbuds were extremely quick to charge and had a 16-hour battery life which is more than enough to get you through most flights or the day-to-day. We also found the wireless Bluetooth functionality was very efficient and easy to pair with everything from a smartphone to a Roku TV, plus the noise-canceling capabilities were sufficient for drowning out the subway sounds or city streets while on the go.

The main drawback we noticed with this set is the bulkier size; these earbuds are quite a bit larger than the average earbud and might take some getting used to. The good part is that they come with three different tip sizes so you can adjust the in-ear part of the bud to properly fit your ear.

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The 12 Best Wireless Headphones of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Best Sunglasses for Women

Eleventh Hour Essential Polarized Sunglasses

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Our Ratings

  • Fit

    5/5

  • Performance

    5/5

  • Quality

    5/5

  • Appearance

    4.5/5

  • Value

    4.8/5

Why We Love It

  • The thick material and sturdy arms last through heavy-duty usage.

What to Consider

  • The width of these sunglasses might be too large for those with a more petite face.

It’s hard to find a good pair of women's sunglasses that won’t break the bank — but we found something worth writing home about in the Eleventh Hour Essential Polarized Sunglasses. We really liked this pair for the thick material and sturdy arms; it felt as if they would last even with frequent, less careful usage. We were able to place these sunglasses on our heads multiple times throughout the testing period and haven’t noticed any stretching or widening of the arms so, if they fit now, you know they’ll fit a year from now, too.

Keep in mind that these sunglasses unfortunately only come in one size and the width might be too large for anyone with a particularly petite face structure.

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Best Sunglasses for Men

Raen Aren Polarized Sunglasses

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Our Ratings

  • Fit

    5/5

  • Performance

    5/5

  • Quality

    5/5

  • Appearance

    5/5

  • Value

    4.7/5

Why We Love It

  • The lightweight design is so comfortable, you may forget you’re even wearing sunglasses.

What to Consider

  • The frames are a bit small and might not feel comfortable on those who have a broad face structure.

The Raen Aren Polarized Sunglasses were our top pick for the best sunglasses for men. We tested dozens of sunglasses and this pair rose to the top for a lightweight design and stylish but versatile aesthetic. We found this pair to be so comfortable that we actually forgot we were wearing sunglasses at all. The dark polarized lenses also offered the right amount of sun protection without necessarily being too dark or difficult to see out of while in the shade.

Although we found these sunglasses to be very comfortable (even during long days), it’s worth noting that the frames are a bit small compared to other sunglasses for men. This shouldn’t be an issue for most but if you do have a more broad face structure, it’s something to be aware of.

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The 10 Best Sunglasses for Men of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Best Compression Socks

Away Travel The Compression Socks

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Our Ratings

  • Value

    5/5

  • Fit

    5/5

  • Support

    5/5

  • Feel

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • These compression socks look just like regular socks.

What to Consider

  • The price tag is a bit steep for a single pair of socks.

Looking for compression socks that don’t, well, look like compression socks? The Away The Compression Socks are basically compression stockings for people who don’t want to compromise style for comfort. We loved that this pair was functional and efficient but still looked like any other sock. We were able to wear them with regular outfits and nobody would be the wiser, plus the lightweight, cotton/polyester blend held up extremely well, even after multiple wears and washes.

It’s admittedly quite expensive for a single pair of socks — but these compression socks are comfortable, durable, and surprisingly stylish so it’s worth the investment for a pair that’ll last for years.

Best Car Phone Mount

Andobil Car Phone Holder Mount

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Our Ratings

  • Ease of Use

    5/5

  • Stability

    5/5

  • Quality

    5/5

  • Value

    5/5

Why We Love It

  • This car phone mount is very sturdy and won’t fall off once properly installed.

What to Consider

  • The installation process might involve some trial and error at first.

The Andobil Car Phone Holder Mount will be the last phone holder mount you’ll purchase — or at least that’s how we felt after trying this for ourselves. It can be set in any position once installed and it doesn’t wobble around or fall off. It also has space on the bottom for a charging cable and a built-in release button so you don’t have to worry about squeezing your phone in and out each time you leave your car.

The only downside we noticed was that the installation process might involve some trial and error. This phone holder mount has three different options for installation in your vehicle: there’s a suction cup using a 3M pad to stick on the dashboard or directly onto the windshield, or there’s a different attachment to click into the vent instead. This is great for variety’s sake but can mean trying out a few different methods to see what you like best.

The 8 Best Car Phone Mounts of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Our Testing Process

The Travel + Leisure team tests thousands of different travel accessories, gadgets, and gear both in our New York City lab and in the real world. Any products we test and like, we continue to test for at least another six months to best gauge exactly which items will hold up for the long term while on the road. We evaluate each product category using attributes like comfort, durability, and portability in order to rank which items work best for trips of all types, and our results from various tests lead to this best-of-the-bunch list.

Tips for Buying Travel Accessories

Prioritize usability

There are a lot of really nifty travel accessories on the market, but when you’re shopping for your next trip you’ll want to really focus on usability over novelty (not to say unique and practical items don't exist). Consider whether or not each item is actually essential for your trip or the destinations you frequent. For example, if you always have to have a drink in hand then a drink caddy for your luggage and stroller could prove indispensable. You’ll also want to reference real-world reviews — like ours — to get an idea of how well a given item works and whether or not it’ll last through the rigors of regular travel. Your carry-on and checked luggage space is precious so there’s no sense filling it with accessories that won’t streamline your experience.

Consider your trip length and type

Each trip will require a slightly different packing list so to avoid overpacking you’ll want to be sure to think about what each item will actually bring to the table. For example, if you’ve scored an upgrade to business class for your red-eye, you can probably leave your travel pillow at home this time. If you’re jetting off for a quick weekend trip, you likely won’t have to bother with packing cubes the same way you would for a multi-destination trip with different climates to consider.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Kaitlyn McInnis worked with travel editors to determine the results for the best travel accessories based on a series of tests completed by expert product testers in our New York City lab.

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13 Travel Accessories You’re Not Going to Want to Leave Home Without, According to Our Tests (2024)

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