5 Little Things That Our Staff Uses to Make Traveling Better

Traveling doesn't feel like a drag with these small smart items in your bag.

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April 01, 2021

Dry skin, overstuffed suitcases, expensive food — the downsides to traveling can sometimes be enough to, well, make you not want to travel. To help alleviate these common travel woes, we rely on a few handy items, because, with the right supplies, even the longest road trip or flight will feel more bearable. We're not talking about big accessories like neck pillows or an iPad; some of our favorite travel items are compact enough to fit in a purse!

From a space-saving gadget to a top-rated noise machine, our editors share their tricks, tips and recommended products for a more enjoyable trip.


A common gripe about traveling is not getting good sleep. Drown out street sounds and noisy hotel neighbors with this sleek mini sound machine. It fits in the palm of your hand, making it a cinch to pack. Reviewers (of which there are more than 9,000 on Amazon) rave about the impressive volume range on this little machine, which blocks everything from barking dogs to loud TVs.

As a parent, I can attest to the noise-blocking power. My 14-month-old slept soundly through a loud Christmas gathering in the adjacent room, while the soothing sounds of an airplane cabin lulled him into slumber. Now, I bring this on every trip, just in case we find ourselves in a room with thin walls and doors.

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Photo By: Brittney Gazaway
$16.95 (Set of 4)

This nifty set of folding containers is the travel item we didn't know we needed. Useful for storing everything from travel-size toiletries to trail mix, these reusable containers work for jet setters or families always on the go. Not only are they eco-friendly and BPA-free, but these collapsible beauties also help us save money on snacks. Fill them up before road-tripping to prevent overspending on pre-packaged goodies at convenience stores.

Associate video producer Karen Webb loves using these to store everything from restaurant leftovers to toiletries. "My husband and I love (good) theme park food, but the portions are so big that I hate throwing them away. We bring a couple of collapsible containers so we can bring the food home to enjoy later." She added that the containers are also wonderful for packing spillable items. "If I have makeup that I am afraid will make a mess, I pop them in one of these, and I know it will keep things clean or even keep all my charging cables in one place."

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Photo By: Brittney Gazaway

Arriving at your destination with dry and tired skin doesn't exactly put you in the vacation mindset. When you look your best, you feel your best, right? This is why we fell in love with this slim humidifier that makes your hotel room or airplane seat feel a little more spa-like. It extends and contracts to fit into a variety of vessels, from water bottles to mugs, so there's never a reason to not be moisturizing your skin.

HGTV executive producer Marianne Canada takes this little gadget with her on every trip. "Okay, I’ll admit that whipping out a portable humidifier on a plane feels a little extra, but the benefits are worth a little side-eye from your seatmate," she said. "This pocket-sized humidifier helps you stay hydrated on planes and in hotel rooms, and all you need is a glass of water (or a water bottle!) and USB plug."

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Photo By: Brittney Gazaway

If you purposely avoid bringing a reusable bottle with you while traveling, you know that purchasing drinks add up fast. As part of our team's ongoing effort to cut out plastic waste, we try all kinds of gadgets to make it easier to be sustainable. Enter, the roll-up water bottle. Taking up much less space than traditional reusable bottles, the Vapur holds one liter of liquid and folds down small enough to fit into your jacket pocket when empty.

Stylist Lindsey Reagan uses them on her trips to theme parks. "It was so convenient to not have to carry full water bottles in with us," she said. "As a family of four, we are already carrying lots of things for the kids, so not having that added weight was wonderful. We also enjoyed not having to stand in line to purchase water."

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Photo By: Brittney Gazaway

No one really enjoys packing for a trip. Whether you're Team Packing Cube or not, we can all agree that saving suitcase space is important. And while there's no one-size-fits-all solution for packing, we think these vacuum-sealed bags are worth trying. The portable USB-friendly vacuum pump quickly removes all the air from the bag, leaving you with a compressed and sealed pouch that easily fits in a carry-on. It's especially handy for bringing back souvenirs or separating dirty clothes.

I'm one of those people who likes to do laundry as soon as I get back from a trip. Using the vacuum to seal off worn clothing made it really easy to separate clean items from dirty ones when I got home. Plus, the stink didn't seep out to the rest of my suitcase.

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