13 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.
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.
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."
Packing cubes are great and all, but they can be cumbersome to manage when you're settling into a hotel room, rental or campsite. We love that this organizer goes from suitcase or backpack right to the closet. Everything stays neatly packed and easily visible thanks to mesh openings, and the hooks allow for convenient access.
"I'm not about that checked bag life at all, so the Pack Gear backpack organizer allows me to only bring a carry-on wherever I travel," said our Social Media Assistant Editor, Ashlyn Kittrell. "I can fit 15-20 items of clothing as well as my toiletries and underthings in this organizer, and it all fits securely in a 30L capacity backpack!"
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."
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."
Why is it that when we're unpacking it always seems like we come home with more stuff than we packed? Souvenirs are likely to blame for this, but instead of shoving your nice new things into an already crammed suitcase, bring along this clever foldable duffle. It's compact enough to fit in a full suitcase but large enough to fit any extras you pick up during your trip. Plus, it's carry-on size!
I like bringing this with me on family trips. I usually use it as a tote bag while exploring a city, as a dirty laundry bag to keep worn clothes separated, or to stow newly acquired trinkets.
Whether you're pro-packing cubes or not, the undeniable benefit of using them is organization. Usually, packing cubes don't save space, they just make it easy to separate out clothing items and accessories. These compression cubes, however, have the added benefit of not only keeping your suitcase orderly but saving space as well.
When I packed sweaters and jackets for a cool-weather trip to New York City, I was amazed at how much I could fit in these compression zipper cubes. My pile of sweaters and pants looked significantly smaller once packed in the cubes. I actually threw in an extra sweater, just because I could!
One of the most challenging parts of trip planning is packing weather-appropriate clothing. Weather predictions are never 100 percent accurate meaning you could get caught in a random rainstorm or chilly day without the proper attire. We love this lightweight roll-up rain jacket because it covers all the bases: compact, easy-to-pack, lightweight, waterproof, and cute! Whether you're headed to a city or a campsite, you'll definitely want to bring this along, just in case.
"As someone who often forgets to pack rain gear, I love this product," Webb said. "It packs to about the size of a standard umbrella and I feel like it weighs less. So I'm far more likely to just keep it in my go-bag, just in case rain hits! Not to mention, it's really cute!"
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," Webb said. "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."
This portable wash bag is one of those things you didn't know you needed until you have it. While we most commonly use it for outdoor adventures, it certainly comes in handy when you want to travel really light, whether for business or leisure. Headed to a hotel abroad with just a carry-on? Bring along the Scrubba so you can re-wear clothes. Stain your nice shirt before a business meeting? Act fast and Scrubba will remove any trace.
"I love this product because it allows me to pack light and do laundry as needed while traveling," said Alisha Bube, Associate Product Designer. "It also doubles as a dry bag for days at the beach or on the water!"
We're really serious about our tea and coffee here at HGTV, so serious, in fact, that when we found this collapsible kettle, we became instantly obsessed. Whether you like making your own pour-over away from home or prefer brewing your own Earl Grey, this electric kettle boils water in no time.
"This is such a fun product because I feel like it's basically bringing the comfort of home with you without taking up much space," said Webb. "When it's collapsed, it is small enough to fit in a tote or a backpack; then it pops up to make the perfect single-serve amount of tea."
It seems like there are never enough outlets in hotel room and home rentals which is why we never travel without this handy extension cord and power strip. When your phone or laptop charging cord won't quite reach, this nifty little accessory saves the day.
This really comes in handy when, like me, you travel with kids and everyone needs to charge their device. You can even use it in the airport while waiting for a flight when outlets are really scarce.
If you struggle to fall asleep on planes (hello, me!), this Bluetooth sleep mask is a must. It blacks out all light and connects to your device wirelessly so you can listen to soothing music or sounds to help you drift off to sleep. At less than $25 and with more than 10,000 ratings on Amazon, this is really a no-brainer buy.
Unfortunately, it's really hard for me to fall asleep anywhere other than my own bed, so this eye mask-headphone combo is a lifesaver when I fly, stay in hotels or take road trips.