Have you ever seen something small and seemingly insignificant that simply blew your mind — something you didn’t even know you needed until it came into your life? That’s how we feel about a handful of essential travel gadgets we refuse to leave home without.
TPG staffers Ashley Kosciolek and Kristy Tolley have teamed up to bring you their short list of gizmos — from a shoe wallet to a rubber ball — that every savvy traveler should consider acquiring before their next trip. Some may even surprise you.
Bonus: Each is less than $15.
In This Post
Ashley: When I travel, I often go for runs in places I visit in order to ward off the pounds from all the local foods I know I’ll be trying. It’s difficult to hold essentials without carrying some sort of pack, which is why a small wallet that attaches to your sneaker is ideal. This version, by Amphipod, attaches around your laces with Velcro and expands to securely hold cash, an ID and a credit card or two with its zipper pocket.
When you’re not out exercising, shoe wallets can be used to hold small items inside a larger bag or backpack so you can more easily find them later.
Bug Bite Thing
Ashley: If you’re anything like me, mosquitoes find you wherever you go. It doesn’t matter if you wear long sleeves and pants or if you douse yourself in DEET. You still find yourself covered in bites any time you venture outside.
Instead of stressing about exceeding carry-on liquid rules with preventative sprays and after-bite itch creams, toss the Bug Bite Thing in your bag. The small, reusable plastic device, which comes in a variety of colors, creates suction that draws out insect venom and saliva to help alleviate itching after you’re bitten.
Riemot luggage caddy
Ashley: When I fly, I end up having to go in and out of my backpack 20 times to grab my ID, and then there’s the added headache of finding a place to put my phone when it won’t fit in my pocket. Throw in a bottle of water and a coffee to sip on before I board, and it’s like I’ve got my own juggling act.
This Riemot cloth cup holder for luggage has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions when I just didn’t have enough hands. It slides easily over the telescoping handle of any piece of luggage, and it has three pockets to carry drinks, your phone and travel documents in an easily accessible spot. When not in use, the pocket folds up super thin to be stowed in my backpack.
Ashley: Duct tape isn’t exactly a new or groundbreaking product, but it’s more versatile than you might realize, especially when you travel. I keep a roll in my carry-on for use in emergencies — like when my luggage breaks, I tear a piece of clothing or I need to attach paper luggage tags before boarding a cruise.
These days, Duck Tape brand duct tape comes in tons of fun colors that can be used for just about anything. Made of polyethylene, it comes in 10-yard rolls that are 1.88″ thick. It’s one of my go-to essentials; the minute I don’t have it with me is exactly when I seem to need it.
Ashley: Over the years, I’ve accumulated several cute hats during my travels, but for the longest time, I rarely took them back out into the wild with me when I left home. I found that wearing them on the plane to my destination made me feel silly, and packing them in my luggage was a no-go because I didn’t want to crush them.
Then, one day, while walking through the airport, I saw a woman with a hat clip. I immediately went to Amazon and bought one that allows me to clip any hat to my carry-on backpack, eliminating the need for me to wear or carry the hat or squish it into my bag. This one, which is available in several colors, offers two metal clips joined by a durable elastic band.
Portable door lock
Kristy: I travel solo quite a bit and safety is always top of mind for me, especially since I tend to listen to more true crime podcasts than I probably should. There’s no such thing as being too cautious, in my opinion.
Most hotel doors have both a latch and deadbolt. However, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental properties and older or smaller hotels may not.
Wherever I’m staying, these portable door locks provide an additional layer of security and help me sleep better during my travels. They’re also TSA-compliant.
For additional security consider this portable door lock and door stop alarm combo.
Cost: $12.88 (single door lock), $12.99 (door lock and door stop combo).
Kristy: It may seem unconventional, but this traditional child’s toy can work wonders for tired muscles after a hectic travel day.
Lie on the floor and place a couple under your upper back between your shoulder blades. Push up with your feet and roll yourself up and down and let the balls do their magic.
For a long tour day, use them to show your feet some love. Stand on them to stretch out your arches.
Cost: $4.89 (for two).
Kristy: I rarely leave a hotel without packing the toiletries, so I’ve amassed quite a stockpile of shower caps. When I travel, I slip my shoes into them before packing them. It keeps the rest of my luggage items dirt free.
If you don’t have a stash of hotel shower caps, you can snag a three-pack of shower caps on Amazon.
Cost: Free or $4.99.
Silica gel packets
Kristy: This is another item you can have for free. Simply collect the silica gel packets from the packaging of recent purchases and store them in a mason jar. If you can’t secure free ones before your next trip, purchase a bag (of 55) gel packs from Amazon.
Their moisture-wicking power can protect your camera equipment and electronics from moisture damage, especially when you’re traveling to a high-humidity destination.
Stash a few in your luggage or place them in your shoes to help prevent odor-causing bacteria. Your swimsuit didn’t dry completely before you had to pack it to go home? Pop it in a Ziploc bag with a silica gel packet and your suit will be dry within hours.
Cost: Free or $8.99.
Baby swaddling blanket
Kristy: Our family is well past the newborn kid stage, but we’ll never outgrow these blankets. They serve as the ideal all-purpose towel. They’re super lightweight and absorbent.
If you get caught in the rain, use one to dry yourself. If you don’t already have a scarf or jacket, it makes a great plane blanket.
Cost: $14.99 (for a four-pack)
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on invaluable (dare we say life-changing?) travel products. If you have an inexpensive or non-traditional travel item you never leave home without, let us know. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our TPG Lounge community on Facebook.