As someone who spends a third of their life on the road, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way when it comes to travel hacks and choosing the best travel accessories.
From packing cubes that help minimize every inch of your suitcase to tents that can be set up in under one minute, there are tons of travel gadgets on the market that make trips easier no matter where you’re heading.
After exploring 80+ countries and testing out everything from suitcases to neck pillows to toiletry bags, here’s the best travel gear I never leave home without.
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Best packing and traveling accessories
Best rolling luggage: Monos
About 15 years ago, I randomly bought a generic, three-piece luggage set at Costco for like, $150 and it held up incredibly well. I hauled the carry-on around literally 50 countries, until one of the wheels finally broke and I couldn’t find anyone to fix it. Sad panda.
I decided that was the perfect opportunity to level up, which is how I ended up with a new set of luxe luggage from beloved Canadian brand Monos.
Their timeless pieces come in swoon-worthy shades (good luck picking just one), and feature an unbreakable polycarbonate shell, ultra-sturdy telescopic handle, a built-in TSA-approved lock, smooth-like-butter 360-degree spinner wheels and vegan leather details.
Every compartment is cleverly designed, with all sorts of sizes from rolling carry on luggage to large check-ins, including some with front pockets that can hold a laptop.
An anti-microbial laundry bag, two shoe bags and a vegan leather luggage tag are included, along with a cleaner that looks like a Magic Eraser to swipe away scuffs.
If you’re looking to travel in style, this is it. And yes, you can fit an entire week’s worth of clothes into the carry-on; here’s how!
Use code GLOBEGUIDE at checkout for 5% off your entire purchase.
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Best wheeled backpack for travel: MEC
Admittedly my backpacking days are over, but I still maintain this is the best rolling backpack out there for those going on an adventurous trip through places like Asia, Europe and South America.
Rolling travel packs do double-duty by combining the best features of a backpack with the handiest aspects of a rolling duffle bag.
While they’re rugged and can be worn like a backpack, I love that they have wheels on the bottom so when you’re hoofing it through the train station or airport you don’t have to carry it—plus, you can actually access the items stuffed at the bottom of your bag.
RELATED: 5 reasons to go backpacking in South America
Best packing cubes for travel
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: packing cubes are a game changer.
These zippered bags keep everything perfectly organized in your luggage, and also compact your gear (read: you can fit more in your carry-on). I suggest rolling your clothing before putting them in the cubes to maximize space.
Monos makes some of the best compression packing cubes for travel, which come in a set of four or six and fit perfectly in their respective carry-on and checked bags. The mesh panel allows you to see what’s inside, the built-in compression zippers compress the height by up to 60 per cent, and they store flat when not in use.
I’ve also used the Pack-It Original packing cubes from Eagle Creek for years, which have easy grab handles, super durable zippers that either expand or compress the cubes, and a mesh top.
They also come in all sorts of colours: if you’re buying for a family, I recommend picking a different colour for each person to help stay organized. Click for pricing
Best hanging toiletry bag for travel: Eagle Creek
This Eagle Creek toiletry bag has been my go-to for more than a decade. It has a shatter-proof mirror, plenty of pockets to keep everything organized, and can be tossed into the laundry between trips to keep it clean.
Its best feature is the built-in hanger, so it never takes up any precious real estate around the hotel’s bathroom sink or has to touch anything dirty (which is also super handy for camping because yuck have you seen those bathrooms?!).
If you’re looking for a toiletry bag with compartments that can hold weeks worth of products (and also squish down for smaller trips), this is the one to get. Click for pricing
If you’re not ready to spring for the Eagle Creek version, check out this Amazon dupe.
TSA approved luggage lock
You never know when someone with sticky fingers might find their way into your suitcase, so don’t take off on your next trip without a TSA Approved luggage lock.
You can pick one up pretty much anywhere (airports, drug stores) for less than $10, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
READ MORE: How to avoid getting robbed while travelling
Best daypack for travel
This Eagle Creek day backpack for travel was an impulse buy, and I am SHOOK with how handy it is!
It’s like a regular backpack with interior and exterior pockets, and a padded back panel which makes it comfortable to wear.
Then, it can fold into itself and turn into a small organizer, which makes it easy to throw into a bag or slip into the seat pocket on a plane for easy access to your in-flight essentials.
I’ve toted this around from South Africa to the Bahamas, and love how multi-purpose and compact it is compared to a bulkier backpack. 10/10 recommend, and think it’s the best packable daypack on the market. Click for pricing
Best electronics for travel
The gold standard for smartphones, the release of every new iPhone continues to wow–especially when it comes to photography.
I use the iPhone 14 Pro and it’s a game changer when it comes to quality (48 MP) and modes: Portrait has advanced bokeh and depth control, while the night mode is ideal for enchanting evening shots and restaurants.
When I went on safari in South Africa I was able to take advantage of 3x optical zoom to snap photos of the animals, and when heading out into the backcountry or driving down a road without reception the Crash Detection and Emergency SOS Satellite calling give me peace of mind.
And don’t even get me started on the 4K video quality! The stabilization and cinematic modes are my favourite, and I use my iPhone to film all of my travel content.
Since I’m terrified at the idea of losing my phone, I used a GoPro to document my crazier adventures like paragliding.
While the GoPro MAX does some pretty incredible things with the 360 mode, it’s terrible underwater so I recommend the GoPro HERO11 instead if you want to use it for snorkeling or scuba diving.
Just be sure to use it with a GoPro Floaty handle, as I’ve seen a few too many pricey devices slip away to the bottom of the ocean floor!
Waterproof phone case
If you’re set on bringing your phone into the water, then be sure to have a waterproof case on hand. While iPhones are water resistant, you can run into issues trying to charge it after the portal gets wet so this is a good way to keep everything dry.
I also love that it has a lanyard on it, which has come in handy on rafting trips when I want to have my phone close but don’t have any free hands. Click for pricing
The sleek, ultra-light, thin MacBook Air has been my go-to for years. It weighs about the same as a hardcover book and effortlessly slips into a carry-on bag or purse, which means I have no qualms bringing it everywhere with me and can work on the plane.
Being able to edit all my vacation photos before I’ve even touched down on the tarmac is a huge win in my books!
Best travel power bank: Anker
Even though the iPhone has an improved battery life, I still find it needs juice if I’m out exploring all day–especially when shooting lots of video.
Now, I pack this travel power bank to stay charged on the road, and this one is good for about six full charges. It also came in handy in South Africa where there are rolling blackouts, and would be great for camping as well. Click for pricing
Noise cancelling headphones
I always have my AirPods on hand, but when you’re trying to tune out all the noise on a long flight nothing beats Bose QuietComfort headphones.
The propeller plane is making a racket? There’s a baby crying in row 14? I wouldn’t know—I couldn’t hear anything over Jack Johnson’s sweet melodies lulling me to sleep.
The plush leather and nylon feels luxurious so you can relax instead of feeling like something hard is poking into your brain, and they do a stellar job of blocking annoying sounds out.
RELATED: The best tricks for getting a good night’s sleep while travelling
Must-have travel accessories for the plane
Even if you’re not in the top one per cent, you’ll feel like it as soon as you settle into a first-class lounge despite holding an economy class ticket. Sign up for one of these credit cards which includes access to programs like Priority Pass which lets you hunker down in airport lounges all around the world.
Anyone who’s had to spend more than four hours in an international terminal knows that $25 doesn’t go very far in the food court—plus you don’t get showers, food, drinks and wi-fi. To me, investing in a Priority Pass or a credit card that includes it is a no-brainer for anyone who regularly finds themselves biding their time on a layover.
READ MORE: The best credit cards for travel
The best neck pillow for travel
I still maintain that those doughnut-shaped pillows you can buy at the airport are the best bet for in-flight comfort, but they’re not the easiest to haul around. That’s why I use either the Therm-a-Rest compressible travel pillow or the Cabeau travel neck pillow.
The Therm-a-Rest is the best all around neck cushion for travel, since it also works great for camping or when your hotel pillows look suspect.
Made from foam which makes it uber-comfortable, there’s a built-in drawstring that helps squish it down to the size of your forearm and molds quite well depending on which position you’d like to use it. Click for pricing
However, since it’s a bit more compact it sometimes slips into the gap between the window and the seat on and airplane, which brings me to my next pick…
…the Cabeau. This is perfect for when you’re stuck sitting upright, since it’s molded out of a thick memory foam with an adjustable strap that keeps your neck supported. It rolls up into a small dome-shape, and is also a great neck pillow for car travel. Click for pricing
Best collapsible water bottle
You wouldn’t believe how many of my fellow passengers (and flight attendants) have stopped to ask me about this Vapur water bottle, and honestly, this thing is brilliant.
First off it’s collapsible, which means there’s no clunky bottle to lug around once you’ve drained the contents. When empty it’s essentially flat and weightless, making it perfect to bring to the airport and fill up in a water fountain post-security or on the plane.
But my favourite feature has to be the carabiner that doubles as a handle, so you can attach it to your backpack while hiking or hang it on the seat in front of you. Click for pricing
Travel cup holder
Confession time: on multiple occasions I’ve completely walked away from my passport at an airport after handing it to an agent, because I was distracted with trying to juggle a latte and baggage had no free hands. Or how about when I had to kick one of my bags across the floor at an Albanian ferry terminal instead of carrying it like a normal person, because I couldn’t hold both it and a steaming cup of coffee?
This collapsible travel cup holder is for all the latte lovers out there: the fabric drink caddy slides right over your luggage handle (which easily folds up later), and has a tight velcro fastener and two slots to hold things like your phone, a water bottle and that blissful morning Starbucks.
Another option is this universal cup holder which latches onto the handle without any screws. While it’s not as compact after, it’s a good option if you also want to put a soft bag on top of your rolling carry on.
Leather passport holder
Protecting your passport is an absolute no-brainer, and I get totally wigged out when I see people just throwing them in a purse willy-nilly.
It’s probably because mine mysteriously got the slightest bit of moisture on it once, and was an absolute nightmare to try and get replaced on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend when–Murphy’s Law– I had an international trip scheduled for just a couple days later.
Learn from my mistakes, and get a passport protector!
This passport case does a lot more than just look profesh when you pull it out at customs: it also has sleeves for travel documents and cards, and makes it a lot easier to find your passport after it inevitably gets buried at the bottom of your bag. Click for pricing
Hot tip: Put your passport in a Ziploc bag before slipping it into the holder, in case any liquids make their way through.
RELATED: 5 important travel documents you should never leave without
Favourite travel clothing
lululemon packable jackets and vests
I’ve spent more money at lululemon over the years than I care to admit (read: a small fortune), because when I find something I love I buy it in about six different colours.
I’m part of the lululemon creator network and will receive a commission if you purchase through the links below
The goose-down fill in this Pack It Down jacket makes it warm enough for many climates, it’s water-resistant and windproof, and has a built-in stuff sack which compresses it for packing or converts it into a pillow (there’s also a vest version).
My ultimate obsession are the Another Mile jackets and vests.
The slim fit is flattering, they’re easy to wash and pack, and lightweight enough that they don’t take up much room in your bag but still keep you warm.
North Face rain jacket
From climbing up to Machu Picchu to whitewater rafting in Yukon, Canada, this durable rain jacket has kept me warm and dry through various adventures.
Not only is it great for keeping the rain away, but also does a surprisingly good job of blocking out the wind and has a nice, slim cut (read: it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a poncho).
The most universally flattering swimsuit, ever
Bless your hearts, anytime I post a photo of this CUPSHE swimsuit on Instagram, I get flooded with questions about where it’s from. Well let me fill you in on a secret: not only does it come in a zillion sizes, it’s also only about $40!
This one-piece suit is flatting for all body types, and has the prettiest ruffled sleeves and back detailing which are a dream in photos.
Yes, I have it in five different colours (the yellow is my favourite). Click for pricing
The perfect flip-flops
Surely I’m not the only one who used to get their flip-flops at Old Navy for five bucks, and wonder why they tortured my toes before falling apart a month later. Well, imagine my good fortune when I went to Brazil and realized they sell Havaianas there for $6!
Yes they cost a bit more here in North America, but are worth every cent: the thick sole keeps its shape and provides decent support, the plastic never seems to rub against my skin and best of all they have so many great colours!
I have a few pairs, and highly recommend these gold ones which seem to go with just about every outfit. Click for pricing
Best travel accessories: Miscellaneous items
The best travel eye mask
I have a confession. I once rated this eye mask as one of the world’s most ridiculous travel accessories, because it kinda looks like you’re wearing a bra on your face.
But then in the quest to find the perfect eye mask, I circled back to this one and bought it. And wear it every.single.night.
Why? Because it doesn’t let any light in, the fabric is raised away from your eyelids so it doesn’t squish against your face, and it’s way more comfortable than other masks I’ve tried in the past. Sure I may look ridiculous in it, but it’s worth it for getting zzz’s. Click for pricing
HotHands Hand Warmers and socks
As someone who spends a lot of time freezing their @#$ off because I live in Canada, I always have a pack of these HotHands warmers in my bag during winter trips to keep my fingers toasty. In case ya didn’t know, frostbite is the ultimate buzz kill.
They also make these thermal socks, which I wear in my boots everyday at home and they’re super cozy.
Travel size laundry detergent packets
If your vacation is scheduled to last more than a week you’ll need clean clothes at some point—and laundry service isn’t cheap.
Bring a few of these laundry detergent packets to easily wash a few key items in the sink (or the bathtub of a five star hotel, like I may have done after cycling across Jordan). Just make sure you have enough time to let everything dry before packing up again!
Pop up tent
Pretty much the only reason I go camping is so no one can judge me for day drinking (amirite?), so I don’t love that it usually takes over an hour to set up a campsite which cuts into my wine time.
That’s why I was psyched to come across the Coleman Instant Tent, which is exactly what the name implies.
Thanks to its brilliant design which includes built-in poles, I managed to set up the entire tent by myself in under two minutes—and bet I could get it down to 45 seconds now that I don’t need to read the instructions. Game changer.
RELATED: 10 camping tricks that will make your life easier
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- Travel hacking 101: How to get free flights
- The best credit cards for travel
So many great ideas on this list! I will need to check out Tieks. They look very comfortable. My all time favorite travel accessories has to be packing cubes. I can’t remember what it was like packing without them!
You’ve got everything covered here! Very interested in the sleep machine – not because I have trouble sleeping but didn’t know something like this existed. Some new things here for me to check out.
Oh perfect! Yes I only got my sleep machine last Christmas, and have had to pull it out a few times this year 🙂
Great suggestions. I am looking at buying a Go Pro and some packing tubes!
I’m loving the voice control feature on the new GoPro!
You’ve got some of my favorite things on here. I wish I could wear Tieks since everyone loves them but they have no arch support! Which is a must have for me.
Yeah that’s true, they’re not great for support or walking on things like cobblestones, but seem to do the trick otherwise.
Love the list and I have versions of several. My rolling backpack with the attachable laptop case has changed my life. It made traveling lighter a reality and keeping everything in one bag has been a blessing. Need to find those locks next.
Great list. I love the rolling backpack. I really need to get one of those. I’ve had my eye on tieks for a while too. They’re super cute and convenient… but so expensive. One of these days I’ll just bite the bullet and get a pair.
They’re definitely pricey, but they last a long time- I’ve had mine for I think more than 6 years so far.
That is a very thorough list. Love the idea of first class lounges when you travel. They really are a great way to make a long layover worth while. A shower in need as they say.
Are Hot Hands allowed on airplanes? I have taken these products backpacking and they are good for those nights you just need a little more warmth for sure.
We are heading to Thailand right now and have made good use of travel cubes and water bottles for sure.
Umm I’ve never actually been asked if Hot Hands are allowed on airplanes- I can’t see why not, they’re essentially just a fabric pouch.
A very well written and laid our article about travel accessories. I can definitely use a few of the accessories for sure.
This is a really comprehensive list. For me, what strikes me the most would be the travel bags. I definitely feel like I could be a more efficient packer and a bag that would help me do that would be an awesome asset for my travel collection. Well done!