1. A set of Sea Bands with a little nub that targets the acupuncture point on your wrists meant to help reduce nausea. This'll be great in case you get motion sick in a budget-friendlier car, bus, or ferry ride.
Promising review: "So glad I bought these. Flying usually makes me terribly nauseous. These helped so much! You need to find the right pressure point, and they are really tight. Other than that, 5 stars." —T. Schneider
Get a set of two from Amazon for $8.53 (available in adult and children's sizes).
2. A hands-free (rotating!) phone mount can help you watch what you want or take advantage of the movies available online for those budget airlines without TVs in the back of the seats. It'll work on the plane *or* while you wait to board.
Promising review: "Great idea, handy little gadget. A tiny bit bulkier than I wanted to pack, but so very glad I did! Took with me for a flight out of the country. Handy to be able to clamp or stand on tray table to watch films aired via in-flight Wi-Fi. Sturdy, versatile, appears well made, and durable. Used with Samsung Galaxy Note 10+." —KLMCats
Get it from Amazon for $12.99.
3. Tide sink packets with the perfect amount of detergent for a sink wash to help lighten your clothing load. Plus! These'll easily slide into the toiletries bag that you thought had no. more. room. Seriously, it's time to get over packing an outfit for every freaking day of your trip. No one cares.
Each pack comes with three packets. And, because they *are* liquid, they'll easily slide into the side of your toiletries bag. I've packed these on international trips to much success!
Promising review: "I have taken these packets in travels throughout the world. They are small and fit in my bag. They are good for a wash in a sink or wash bag. I use Tide at home, as my wash of choice. Glad to have them. They don’t leak either." —Barbara Jefferson
Get nine packs from Amazon for $6.60.
4. Or a pack of laundry soap sheets you won't have to slip into your toiletries bag if you're flying. This way you can save more room for souvenirs than three changes of underwear for every day of your trip.
I travel just about any chance that I get and found a WHOLE lot of success with these little laundry sheets on an almost-three-weeks European vacation this summer where I carried on only and rewore outfits several times.
Promising review: "I saw these recommended on a travel blog, and I'm glad I bought them. I used them both in a washing machine and to hand-wash some items on my trip, and in both cases, they were super easy to use and got my clothes clean while taking up a minuscule amount of space in my luggage. I would highly recommend these for extended travel." —angal2
Get it from Amazon for $7.19+ (available in four other styles, including hand soap and shampoo).
5. An airplane footrest that loops over your tray table so you can kick back, relax, and hopefully head off to Snoozeville as soon as you get comfy in your seat that was most definitely the cheapest on the plane. (We're birds of a feather, you and I.)
Promising review: "I bought this for an international flight, and I’m glad I did — sprained my ankle the last night, and this was my best friend for the return. Even with upgraded seats, I chose to use this rather than the foot rest on the airplane seat. I love that the height is adjustable, and it can work for one foot or both. Seriously a game-changer." —M. C.
Get it from Amazon for $21.99 (available in three colors).
6. Pedialyte powder packets because yes you are a grown-ass adult, but sometimes you indulge a little too much or feel a little dehydrated from traveling and could use some electrolytes. I always pack these for trips and have never regretted it. And they're much tastier than electrolyte tablets you dilute in water. Go through security FULLY hungover knowing you can fill up your water bottle with this *right* after.
Promising review: "These little tubes of electrolyte powder are a lifesaver. I am a frequent traveler and have had many instances of food poisoning. I'm always glad to have these packets in my travel bag. I keep them for myself, or sometimes other people I'm traveling with — you never know when you might get sick and severely dehydrated. Additionally, they're good for hangovers! I don't travel without them; I always make sure I have at least two packets on me at all times. They don't take up any room in my hygiene bag." —Amazon Customer
~Trust me~ when I tell you that these will work in a pinch. I bought them a few years ago to take on a bachelorette party to New Orleans, and everyone in the Airbnb was grateful I did. Since then, I've always had them in my carry-on bag when going on a trip. They REALLY came in handy when I went to the Greek islands for 10 days with an apparent mission to eat every piece of seafood and cheese within sight while washing it down with jugs of wine. These are powder in small individual packets, so they're so easy to pack! And also, you don't have to lug around a bottle of Gatorade to feel better.
Get a 24-count from Amazon for $24.31.
7. An Airfly wireless transmitter that'll let you connect your Airpods or any wireless headphones to your airplane seat...even without Bluetooth!
It also comes with a USB-C charging cable, travel pouch, keychain holder, quick-start guide, and a manual.
Twelve South is a small business that has been creating innovative tech accessories since 2009.
Promising review: "I was a little reluctant purchasing Airfly after reading the reviews, but I’m so glad I did! It worked perfectly on the plane, and while on my trip, I also used it to listen to music in the car. It acted like a speaker because I had no aux cable. It was great!" —Yamile cardozo
Get it from Amazon for $54.99.
8. A portable door lock to attach to any regular old door for your budget-friendly hotel, vacation rental, room in a guest house, or, well, just any door. It's super easy to install and won't damage the door. It'll be a comfort for solo travelers, especially.
Just make sure that if you're flying, it's easy to access in your bag. I have this, and it's been flagged by security a few times.
Promising review: "I just got back from a solo trip and used this at the hotel. It made me feel so much safer, and I’m SO glad I found this product. If you’re traveling alone and want some extra security, this is a great product to have on hand." —Jess S.
Get it from Amazon for $14.99+.
9. A portable safe you can secure to a beach chair to keep your valuables safe or to keep your passport in your hotel room in case there's no safe or the safe isn't working. (Raise your hand if you've stayed in a small hotel without a safe. ::raises hand::)
After putting this in MANY travel stories, I bought one for myself for a summer European vacation where I found myself at several beach clubs. It was perfect for keeping mine and my friend's belongings safe while we dozed in our beach chairs or swam in the sea. Plus, it's the perfect size to hold phones or wallets, and easily carry in your beach or tote bag. Just make sure that you leave it unlocked during transit if you're flying because I've had TSA want to take a look at mine a few times.
Promising review: "I bought this to attach to my lounge chair at the beach (to safeguard my phone and credit card/cash). I had peace of mind while I was swimming or walking down the beach. It was light enough to carry in my bag. I’m glad I purchased it." —Penny Kitchens
Get it from Amazon for $23.98+ (available in three colors).
10. A bendy travel pillow for helping you sit upright in the most awkward of positions, whether it be on a bus, train, plane, or ferry.
Promising review: "I ordered five travel pillows to try out for my trip to Madrid, and this was the winner. I have fibromyalgia and normally get terrible neck and shoulder pain when flying long distances, but this pillow helped me so much. If I switched positions, I would just reshape the pillow to support whatever I needed to. My daughter and I both have one now, and we use it in bed every night, too. I am so glad we found this amazing pillow. 😊" —Pam Goodson
Get it from Amazon for $24.99 (available in four colors).
11. A pocket-sized, refillable travel perfume atomizer you simply pump on your normal size perfume bottle to keep you smelling like your signature scent while you're on the go. Yes, I paid all that dough for a Le Labo but no I won't pay more dough for their (still v pricey) travel bottles.
^ That's me pumping my signature perfume into one of these travel atomizers I've been using for about a year. As the reviewer down below mentions, it's great to just throw in your purse on the reg for a fragrance re-up throughout the day. As you can see, it's about the size of my thumb and therefore takes up very little room. Plus! It's smaller than most rollerball travel fragrances you can pick up. This first one is working so well, that I just have the other three in storage. But if this one bites the dust this summer during travels, I'll be OK about digging into my stores to use one of the remaining three...especially at this price point.
Promising review: "These little bottles allowed me to take four different scents with me on my trip. I was about to take one big glass bottle, but I was worried that it would break, so when I saw these, I read reviews and took a chance, and I'm glad I did. I love it!" —QueenFrecklez
Get a four-pack from Amazon for $7.55.
12. A waterproof pouch that I buy for every water-adjacent vacation (so mostly warm-weather trips like Croatia and Greece). But! As soon as I booked my flight for Iceland, I bought one of these to take along to The Blue Lagoon. It survived rain, hail, and all kinds of steam rising off the water.
It fits any phone up to 100 mm x 170 mm (or about 3.9 inches x 6.7 inches). It also keeps out sand, dirt, and rain.
With these, I find that they're good for about a day due to condensation. So, for a trip I'll buy two to three, except for this one where I just knew I'd be in the water at the Blue Lagoon. And while I'm on the subject, check out a TikTok I made using the phone case! On the day I went, we had to duck and run inside because of rain. And it was hailing on us when I was in the water, so I had to face a certain way to keep from getting pelted in the face. But, when in Rome! Then we went inside and ate lunch at the Lava Restaurant, and it was GORGEOUS and clear outside post-lunch. So, this case worked well taking pics in both bad and good conditions (as you can see from the two pics for comparison). I've used this case to take underwater pics, on boat rides, and have worn it with the lanyard jumping off a boat into water. So, I really trust these!
Promising review: "Vacation must-have. I was skeptical about purchasing a waterproof case, but I’m so glad I did because I was able to capture fun water excursions worry free!" —Lisa D
Get it from Amazon for $7.99 (available in 13 colors).
13. A collection of compression packing cubes to use over and over again without having to remember to pack a pump for sucking out the air in case you know you won't be beholden to luggage weight limits.
Again, just be sure to look up any weight restrictions on carry-on luggage. I ran into that problem last summer (it was in Croatia while flying British Airways, btw), but the person at the airport check-in counter that gave me some trouble about my bag just seemed to care about my roller carry-on. So, I'd suggest using these in a backpack or tote bag you plan to put under the seat.
Promising review: "These things are amazing. I’ve stuffed them to the max. Bought a second set because I was so impressed. So glad I spent the extra money on these, instead of some of the cheaper options I saw. I am confident these will last a very long time. They are super sturdy, functional, very attractive (I bought pink), and helped to keep me organized on my trips." —Meshelle
Get a pack of six from Amazon for $39.99 (available in twelve colors).