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The Best Smart Phones to Use When You Travel

Smartphone photo of a sunset taken overseas with bright colors in the distance

In this post, Dave Dean from Too Many Adapters shares his best tips and advice on how to pick the best smartphone for when you travel.

As a travel tech writer, I get asked about using smartphones for travel all the time. The minute we head overseas with our phones, we’re hit with a confusing mess of technical jargon, expensive roaming agreements, conflicting advice, and nonworking gear. Trying to discuss the nuances of GSM frequency bands or iPhone unlock codes with a mobile vendor in a dusty Cambodian town isn’t my idea of fun, and I doubt it’s yours either.

Since we all want our smartphones to work when we travel, I’ve put together this guide covering everything you need to know to get your smartphone working overseas — as well as the best smartphones for travel. It’s detailed, but not too complicated, and will save you money, time, and plenty of frustration!

The Best Travel Smartphones

A man using a smartphone to take pictures of a city

Traveling with a Smartphone: Tips and Advice

Phone SIM cards and tools

This is an inexpensive way to stay connected with phone and data service while you travel. The downside is that you’ll have to change SIM cards every time you change countries, so you may end up carrying a stack of SIM cards around the world with you (though I like being reminded of all the places I’ve been!).

Here are some other tips for using your phone:

1. Only use Wi-Fi when possible – Your smartphone will still connect over Wi-Fi just fine, so replace calling with Skype or Google Voice, SMS with WhatsApp, and download a bunch of offline travel apps to use when you’re away from a signal. You’ll be surprised how well that approach can work, and not getting notifications all the time is quite refreshing.

You can download Google Maps and download the map of the city online then use it without Wi-Fi. Also, you can search for your destination in Google Maps and it still works when you don’t have Wi-Fi if your location is on. You can also take screenshots and save them.

Some cities even have free public Wi-Fi in parks and public spaces like airports and train stations. If you really need it, lots of international chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks have Wi-Fi if you buy something to eat or drink. Remember to be careful with your data on these open networks (a VPN is recommended).

2. Buy a budget smartphone – While there’s a lot of junk at the bottom of the smartphone range, there are a few decent phones for travelers under $200. My current favorite is the Motorola Moto G — you’ll want to buy a microSD card for some extra storage, but other than that it’s a reasonably speedy smartphone, with a battery that lasts all day. Tip: grab the “Global” version for maximum compatibility overseas. You’ll still need to buy local SIM cards to put in it.

3. Rent a phone – You can rent phones at airports and from various companies before you leave home, but I’d only consider it for a short trip to a specific country where my usual phone didn’t work. For anything other than that, it’s cheaper just to buy a new one.

4. Rent or buy a portable hotspot – Portable hotspots are small gadgets that create a wireless network and share a cellular data connection over it — you can typically connect 5 or 10 devices to the network you create. You can rent one for short trips at an inflated daily or weekly rate, or you can buy an unlocked hotspot and stick a local SIM card in it, just as if it were a phone. Your smartphone will treat this like any other Wi-Fi network.

Getting your smartphone to work overseas without coming home to a huge bill isn’t always a straightforward task. But with a bit of time and effort, you’ll know exactly what options you’ve got when you’re on the road and you’ll be able to use your phone overseas.

Do your research, avoid the rip-offs, buy one of the above best smartphones when you travel, and you’ll be able to stay in touch, stay connected, and stay Instagramming when you travel!

Dave runs Too Many Adapters , a site devoted to technology for travelers. A geek as long as he can remember, he worked in IT for 15 years. Now based out of a backpack long term, Dave writes about travel and tech from anywhere with half-decent Internet and a great view. You can also find him talking about the life of a long-term traveler at What’s Dave Doing?  

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip? Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

Ready to Book Your Trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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Best Travel Phone of 2024

With the right phone by your side, your trips can be elevated as far as convenience and even capturing memories are concerned. Here are CNET's top picks for the best travel phones of 2024.

Updated Jan. 1, 2024 5:00 a.m. PT

Sareena Dayaram

  • More than a decade of journalism experience

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CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise. Read how we test products and services .

Apple's iPhone 15

The iPhone 15 (left) and Google Pixel 8.

Are you looking for a new phone to accompany you on a trip or your daily adventures? 

From the brand-new iPhone 15 lineup to the foldable Galaxy Z Fold 5 , there's no shortage of options for smartphone shoppers hunting for the perfect travel companion. But with so many options, figuring out which one is actually best for your needs can be less than straightforward. Do you want an all-round travel phone? Or is the camera the most important factor for you? Perhaps you value durability the most? Everyone has their own sets of needs and criteria.

To simplify the decision, we've rounded up our top picks for the best travel phone of 2024 across various categories. Each phone on this list has been thoroughly reviewed and tested, and you'll find iPhone and Android options that fit different needs and different budgets. 

Some key criteria for a solid travel phone include long battery life, water and dust protection, multiple SIM card support and versatile cameras for capturing those special moments. We believe these features are important for travelers who need a phone that can withstand different environments and situations while still providing them with the necessary tools to navigate, communicate and document.

What's the best travel phone for most people? 

Apple's iPhone 15 is our pick for the best travel smartphone for most people. For $799 (or less depending on your deals), you get one of the best camera systems money can buy with dust- and water-resistance, a decent battery life, a new USB-C port for convenient charging and eSIM support. The iPhone 15 supports eight eSIM cards or more making it convenient for travelers who need to use a temporary local eSIM in addition to their regular one. 

On the Android side, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S23 , a fundamentally excellent phone. It has a long battery life, water- and dust-resistance and four cameras. One of the cameras has a telephoto lens for zooming into faraway subjects (handy if you spot a wild animal and don't want to get up close) or simply for capturing local foods you might be enjoying. The Galaxy S23 can accommodate two physical sim cards as well as eSIMs. 

With the Dynamic Island, a USB-C port for more convenient charging and an upgraded camera with a higher resolution and a crisper zoom, the iPhone 15 is a significant upgrade for those with older iPhones. It feels like a scaled back version of the iPhone 14 Pro, making Apple's entry-level iPhone 15 feel like a bigger leap forward than last year's.

The iPhone 15 is available in two sizes. If you're looking for something on the small side there's the 6.1-inch iPhone 15. But if you value a big screen there's the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus. They run on the A16 Bionic chip which should bring notable performance upgrades to those who've had an iPhone that's now several years old. These phones also have Apple's second-gen ultrawideband chip, enabling a new feature that makes it easier to find friends or family members in a crowd. This will definitely help when traveling to an unfamiliar locale.

The iPhone 15 is the most exciting upgrade Apple's standard iPhone has seen in years. Read our iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review . 

  • USB-C port for more convenient charging
  • Colorful matte design
  • Improved camera that can automatically take people and pet portraits
  • Dynamic Island brings better multitasking
  • No always-on display
  • Find My Friends feature only works with other iPhone 15 phones
  • Discounted iPhone 14 Pro may be a better value

Best Travel Phone

The iPhone 15 is the most exciting upgrade Apple's standard iPhone has seen in years. Read our iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review . 

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Android fans looking for a petite phone for on the go don't have much to choose from. But the $800 Galaxy S23 and its 6.1-inch display provides a compelling option for those who want a phone that feels compact but still provides enough screen space.

The Galaxy S23 comes with routine upgrades like a fresh processor (a version of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that's been optimized for Samsung's phones), a slightly refined design and a high-resolution selfie camera. But it's the Galaxy S23's larger battery that makes it worth recommending. Read our Samsung Galaxy S23 review .

  • Attractive design
  • Four generations of Android OS updates
  • Longer battery life than the Galaxy S22
  • Fast performance
  • More storage in the base S23 Plus
  • Cameras are basically the same as last year
  • No improvements to fast charging
  • Regular Galaxy S23 lacks base storage upgrade

Samsung's Galaxy S23

Best Android travel phone

Samsung galaxy s23.

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After taking a big leap forward in 2023, the $499 Google Pixel 7A is our top pick for a travel phone that won't break the bank. Since it runs on the same Tensor G2 chipset as the Pixel 7, it has many of the same photo editing and language translation features which could come in handy during your travels. Apart from that, the Pixel 7A's 64-megapixel takes great photos that rival the Pixel 7's quality. The Pixel 7A is also durable with an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance and dependable battery life that lasts you a full day on just a single charge. Here's our full Google Pixel 7A review in case you want more information.

We chose Google's budget phone over Apple's cheaper iPhone SE since it has more cameras and a larger screen among other features, which should make navigation and watching your shows on the go a more pleasant experience. If you get the 7A on GoogleFi, Google's cellular service, you also get benefits such as no roaming fees when traveling internationally . 

  • Great cameras
  • Many of the same features as the Pixel 7 at a cheaper price
  • IP67 rating for water and dust resistance
  • Screen still looks dim outdoors
  • Only three generations of Android OS updates less than competitors

Best budget-friendly travel phone

Google pixel 7a.

We chose Google's budget phone over Apple's cheaper iPhone SE since it has more cameras and a larger screen among other features, which should make navigation and watching your shows on the go a more pleasant experience. If you get the 7A on GoogleFi, Google's cellular service, you also get benefits such as no roaming fees when traveling internationally . 

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With its souped up AI features, we recommend the $699 Pixel 8 if you want to travel and create content for the 'gram. Apart from its slim design, durability rating, and dependable battery life, it can also capture solid night time images and has a suite of editing tools to help you take the best possible photos. Best Take, for instance, allows you to take a few consecutive photos of a person or group of people, and then swap out a person's head with a different version from another image from the series to get their best facial expression. On the video side, there's Audio Eraser, among other tools, is another useful feature for video that helps you remove unwanted noise from the background.

Here's our full  Google Pixel 8 review .

  • Fantastic cameras
  • Lighter and brighter
  • Best Take works well
  • Low light imaging capabilities 
  • No telephoto camera like Galaxy S23
  • Audio Magic Eraser doesn't have a live preview

Best travel phone for content creation

Google pixel 8.

Here's our full  Google Pixel 8 review .

  • Low light imaging capabilities 

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Although flip phones aren't necessarily the ideal choice for traveling (due to subpar durability and cameras), if you're dead set on taking one along with you, then bring along Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5. Flip phones definitely win in the portability category. If that's your main consideration and if you're not fussed about taking the best possible photos for instance, the supremely portable and lightweight Galaxy Z Flip 5 could be a good option. However, at $1,000 it doesn't come cheap, so make sure to get a case before you venture off into a new locale. 

  • Easily Pocketable
  • Expensive compared to travel phone rivals, the iPhone 15 and Galaxy S23
  • Cameras and durability are subpar compared to slab phone counterparts

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5 pictured half-open. 

The weather widget being shown on the Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screen.

Best travel flip phone

Samsung galaxy z flip 5.

Although flip phones aren't necessarily the ideal choice for traveling (due to subpar durability and cameras), if you're dead set on taking one along with you, then bring along Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5. Flip phones definitely win in the portability category. If that's your main consideration and if you're not fussed about taking the best possible photos for instance, the supremely portable and lightweight Galaxy Z Flip 5 could be a good option. However, at $1,000 it doesn't come cheap, so make sure to get a case before you venture off into a new locale. 

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Other travel phones we tested

The iPhone SE 2022 is also a worthy contender for a budget-friendly travel phone. It has a smaller 4.7-inch screen and just one rear camera, but you get Apple's A15 Bionic chip and 5G support, for $429. 

The $600  Galaxy S23 FE is an solid phone that gets you access to  Samsung's  higher-end features without the higher price.

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The back of the Galaxy S23 FE.

How to buy a new travel phone

Look for local SIM and eSIM cards: Some countries might not have a roaming agreement with your carrier, in which case opt for buying a local SIM card or eSIM. Check with your carrier before you travel and look into what's offered at your destination.

Consider last year's models: When a new phone gets launched, stores and carriers discount their older phones to sell off existing stock.

Buy a case and screen protector:  Phones sold today are more durable than ones from even a few years ago. It's a good idea to protect your phone with a case when you travel because if you damage it, you might not have any option to get it repaired quickly.

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CNET reviewer Lisa Eadicicco testing out the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in Seoul.

How we test phones

We test every phone in real-world scenarios, focusing on its features, design, performance, cameras, battery life and overall value. We document our findings in an initial review that is periodically updated when there are new software updates, or to compare it against new phones from competitors such as Apple, Samsung, Google and OnePlus.

Photography 

Photography is a major focus for most phones these days, so we take pictures and videos of various subjects in a variety of settings and lighting scenarios. We try out any new camera modes, such as Action mode that debuted with the iPhone 14 line, or the Unblur photo tool that launched with the Google Pixel 7 series.

Battery life 

Battery testing is conducted in a variety of ways. We assess how long a phone lasts during a typical day of use and note how it performs during more focused sessions of video calls, media streaming and gaming. We also conduct a video playback test, as a simple, replicable measure of pure battery life, which isn't always included in the initial review but sometimes added later in an update.

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Emergency SOS might be one of the most important features to come out on any phone this year.

Performance measuring 

We use benchmarking apps to measure each phone's performance, alongside our own anecdotal experiences using the phone for our review. Of note are how graphics and animations look. Are they smooth? Or do they lag or stutter? We also look at how quickly the phone switches between horizontal and vertical orientations, and how fast the camera app opens and is ready to take a photo.

We perform processor-heavy tasks like editing photos, exporting videos and playing games. We evaluate whether a newer version of a particular phone includes enough features to make it worth upgrading from older models.

Read more: How We Test Phones

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23 Best Travel Electronics, According to Tech Experts

Make your next trip easier with these useful gadgets and tech accessories.

Best Travel Gadgets

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

Traveling is all about taking a break and disconnecting from daily life, but that doesn’t mean you need to leave all your electronic gadgets back at home. Whether you’re planning a big family vacation abroad or you're a frequent traveler for work, there are tons of handy travel accessories out there that can make traveling so much easier.

That’s why we've put together this list of the best travel electronics and tech gadgets to save some extra room for in your luggage. At the Good Housekeeping Institute , we review and test all types of travel gear in our Labs, from luggage trackers and noise-canceling headphones to carry-on suitcases and packing cubes . Our recommendations here include products we've tested first-hand in our own travels and swear by, as well as popular picks we found by researching seasoned travelers' rave reviews online.

Our top picks:

Jetpack MiFi 8800L

Best Travel Gadget for WiFi

Verizon jetpack mifi 8800l.

325 Power Bank (PowerCore 20K)

Best Travel Gadget for Smartphones

Anker 325 power bank (powercore 20k).

Osmo Mobile 6

Best Travel Gadget for Filming Content

Dji osmo mobile 6.

40W 4-Port USB Wall Charger

Best Wall Charger for Travel

Anker 40w 4-port usb wall charger.

Rohm Portable White Noise Sound Machine

Best Travel Gadget for Sleeping

Marpac rohm portable white noise sound machine.

AirTag

Best Travel Gadget for Luggage

Apple airtag.

Luggage Scale

Etekcity Luggage Scale

Wonderboom 3

Best Portable Speaker for Travel

Ultimate ears wonderboom 3.

6

Best Travel Gadget for Charging

M2 Mini Project Steam Iron with Solemate

Best Travel Gadget for Clothing

Oliso m2 mini project steam iron with solemate.

Read on to learn more about the most useful travel gadgets to bring along on your next adventure, and find more information about how we make our recommendations at the bottom of this guide. Looking for more travel tips? Check out our best travel tips for families and our guide to the best luggage brands for every type of traveler .

If you need solid coverage and strong Wi-Fi on your next trip, consider this Verizon Jetpack that enables you to connect up to 15 devices to your very own personal WiFi network in over 200 countries . Our tech experts like that it works on a reliable Verizon network and has impressive battery life (in our Lab tests, the battery lasted a full day, holding up to the brand's claims). Plus, it can even charge your phone if you can't get find an empty outlet at the airport. Just keep in mind that you'll have to purchase a separate data plan from Verizon to use.

Having your phone die on you while you're exploring a new place is never ideal, especially if you want to snap a photo or access Google Maps. This portable charger will be there to give you enough juice to stay connected. We love its slim, compact design, which should easily fit into any size travel backpack . We also like that it can charge two devices at once via its USB-A ports . When you've used up all the battery life, we found it easy to recharge the power bank via micro-USB or USB-C.

RELATED: The Best Travel Items to Buy on Amazon

Pack this lightweight, compact gadget if you want smooth, stabilized footage of your vacation. The gimbal stabilizer is designed to hold your phone securely in place and has built-in controls that allow you to rotate it in one sweeping motion — a.k.a. the image will be way steadier than your shaky hand. Our tech pros love that this device not only helps create professional-looking footage, but it comes with a tripod and a magnetic clamp to make attaching your phone super easy.

Doesn't it always seem like hotel rooms never have enough outlets? This charger has a whopping four USB plugs, making it a great choice for a family or anyone who wants to charge their phone, tablet, headphones and smartwatch all at once . We also like the Anker 735 charger if you want to leave your bulky MacBook charger at home and use the compact design to power your computer, phone and more.

If you or your little ones are used to sleeping with a sound machine on at home, you'll want to bring along this top-rated portable white noise machine. This model has three different sound options to help drown out any noises that could disturb your sleep, like noisy neighbors or honking city horns. Best of all, it's super small (just 3.8 ounces) and doesn't require an outlet, since it can be recharged via USB.

If you're worried about losing your luggage, we suggest investing in a luggage tracker . Just tuck one of Apple's compact AirTags inside your suitcase, wallet or even passport holder so you can keep tabs on everything right from your phone . Though you need to use Apple's ecosystem, we love that AirTags offer easy real-time tracking and a one-year battery lifespan.

If you're notorious for overpacking or shopping on vacation, bring this lightweight and compact gadget on your next trip to avoid extra luggage fees for overweight suitcases . Just hook it on your suitcase to get an instant read. Lexie Sachs , the executive director of the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, says she's gotten tons of use out of this luggage scale over the years and it's helped her figure out how to divvy up her belongings between bags to avoid going over the weight limit on the way home.

There's nothing worse than arriving at your Airbnb only to realize you forgot your Bluetooth speaker . Our tech experts recommend bringing along this portable option from Ultimate Ears. Not only does its compact size make it easy to stuff in your bag, but we found that it packs a surprisingly loud punch . It's waterproof (it can even float in the pool!), has a long 14-hour battery life and can be paired up with another Wonderboom 3 speaker for stereo sound.

Why travel with tons of different cables when all you need is this handy multi-charger keychain that you can attach to a purse or keys? We love that it's designed to not get tangled up in your bag and that it features multiple outputs and inputs (like USB-C, USB-A, micro-USB and a lightning port for your iPhone) so you can power up all your devices. Just keep in mind that the cable is on the shorter side, so your device will need to be close at hand.

If you're tired of dealing with wrinkled clothing after a long day of travel, we've found that this steam iron is great for tackling small jobs on the go . In testing, our Cleaning Lab pros were impressed with the iron's ability to press out heavy creases as well as how lightweight it is ( only 2.2 lbs.). We found that it's easy to maneuver and comes with a useful silicone rest.

JOOMFEEN Travel Adapter

Travel Adapter

If you plan on traveling abroad, you'll want to pack a universal charger so you don't end up having to go out and buy a new one for your phone, tablet or computer. Our pros like this compact pick that can be plugged into most countries' respective outlets . Once you've plugged the adapter into the wall, all you need to do is plug your U.S. charger in and say goodbye to dead batteries. It also features two USB ports for simultaneous charging of multiple devices.

Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet

Fire HD 10 Tablet

With a Fire tablet, you can download Kindle books or stream your favorite shows to stay entertained in the car or at the airport . It's lightweight and gives you the many benefits of a traditional tablet , minus the hefty price tag. Plus, it claims to have a battery life that lasts up to 12 hours. We also like the Fire HD 10 Kids model if you're looking for a tablet for your children.

Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones

QuietComfort 45 Headphones

Our testers found these noise-canceling headphones super comfortable, making long flights a lot more bearable. They f eature excellent sound quality, and we like that you can easily switch between Quiet and Aware modes , so you can hear important flight announcements without taking them off. Just don't forget to bring along the included cable so you can use the plane's audio jack if needed.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Wireless Earbuds

WF-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Wireless Earbuds

If you're someone who struggles to find earbuds that remain comfortable after a few hours, our tech experts recommend these wireless earbuds from Sony. They're an excellent AirPods alternative featuring impressive battery life and soft silicone ear-tips . And on top of the fantastic sound quality, they also come with noise-canceling features so they're a good choice for planes.

Amazon Paperwhite

Paperwhite

On trips, you probably don't have the space in your bag to carry around heavy, bulky books. We love this travel-sized Kindle Paperwhite e-reader , which makes downloading all kinds of books from anywhere in the world (in your language) so simple. We especially love that this model is IPX8-rated , so you don't have to worry if it accidentally falls in the pool or the bathtub . This IP (ingress protection) rating signifies that it can handle continuous water submersion. It's also so lightweight that you likely won't even notice it in your bag.

GoPro HERO9

HERO9

Leave behind your iPhone and take photos and videos on your next adventure with this tiny camera. It's made to capture the action as you ski, dive, hike, bike and more with its super durable, waterproof design (you can take it down to 33 feet deep according to GoPro). It has tons of compatible accessories to help you film, like a helmet strap and a chest mount . Our tech pros love that it shoots in 5K so you're guaranteed sharp, high-quality memories once your trip is over. If you want the most up-to-date GoPro technology and features, consider the pricier GoPro HERO11 .

LifeProof FRĒ

FRĒ

A waterproof phone case can save your phone from serious damage should it accidentally fall in the pool while you're snapping some photos. We like this LifeProof model because we're confident it will keep your phone dry and unharmed thanks to its built-in screen cover and solid construction: In our tests, it even survived an hour of full submersion in 6.5 feet of water !

Joby GripTight ONE GorillaPod Stand

GripTight ONE GorillaPod Stand

It can be frustrating when no one is around to take a family photo for you. Fortunately, this popular tripod from Joby comes with a clamp for your phone (no matter which model you have) as well as flexible legs that you can wrap around objects like a tree branch.

BUBM Electronic Organizer

Electronic Organizer

This super affordable electronic organizer will keep you from losing track of any cables, chargers, memory cards and more . Offered in ten different colors, we love that it folds up into a flat shape that will easily fit into a backpack or suitcase. There's also a convenient zipper closure for items that you want to store more securely.

Case-Mate Marine Waterproof Floating Pouch

Marine Waterproof Floating Pouch

Though most smartphones these days are waterproof, most of us still don’t feel comfortable taking our precious devices into a body of water. But if you plan on doing any water sports during your trip, bring along this waterproof pouch. Though we haven’t tested it in our Labs, it's rated IPX8 which means that it's been tested to withstand continuous water submersion without risking harm to your device . Our experts like that it features a touchscreen window so you can easily take photos and that, according to the brand, it floats.

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34 Best Travel Gadgets & Accessories of 2024

Jeremy Scott Foster

  • Last Modified: September 23, 2023

Best Travel Gadgets

TravelFreak is reader supported. Your engagement on this site allows us to bring you this content for free. Because this website contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This has absolutely no effect on our recommendations or evaluations. Thank you for supporting our mission!

Have you ever been in a noisy café trying to siphon WiFi for an important business meeting? Or in a foreign country, only to realize you have the incorrect wall adapter for charging your laptop or critical device?

We’ve all been there. And after more than a decade of travel, I’ve learned which travel gadgets are packing essentials and which ones are better off left at home. These are 34 of the best travel gadgets to pack when traveling both domestically and internationally.

1. Portable Power Bank

Mophie Portable Powerstation

One of the most important things to have is power. Not just personal power over your travel plans, but actual power to your devices. In a recent study of 1,000 participants conducted by technology company ZAGG, 89% of people considered a portable power bank to be an essential packing item.

Indeed, choosing a high-quality power bank will help keep your devices alive and thriving. It’s an essential travel gadget.

To utilize fast charging on a USB-C output, check out the mophie powerstation . With multiple USB ports, it also means you can charge it all at once. The powerstation portable chargers have a surprisingly high capacity for their size which makes it an excellent choice for travel.

Especially in the name of safety, it’s worthwhile to have a portable battery charger on hand. If your car breaks down or you get stranded in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be thankful for that extra bit of juice to send out an SOS text or to call that Uber to come to your rescue.

2. Phone Vent Mount

Mophie Phone Vent Mount

The mophie snap+ wireless vent mount is a phone mount that clips onto your car’s vents. Utilizing MagSafe technology, your phone magnetically attaches to the charging puck. The vent mount is easy to pop off and take with you for usage in any car, anywhere in the world.

It’s, low key, one of my favorite travel gadgets in my arsenal. I use my phone for navigation every day, and an easy to use vent mount for your car is super handy to have on hand.

I use this wireless vent mount in my car at home then pack it in my suitcase to use in rental cars whenever I’m traveling.

3. Multi-Device Portable Battery Charger

Mophie 3 in 1 Travel Charger

If you travel with a lot of tech gadgets and need to charge multiple devices at once, a multi-device portable charger like the mophie 3-in-1 travel charger is going to be a necessity for keeping you juiced up.

This sleek and stylish portable charger unfolds like a mini-portfolio, with three dedicated charging pads for your Apple products (whether it’s your Apple Watch, AirPods, or iPhone). A USB-C cable and adapter is included as well.

I love that this travel charger packs up neatly for travel specifically. It’s helpful for saving space in your backpack, and it has fast charging capabilities to boot. It’s one of the best travel gadgets if you have multiple devices to charge each day.

4. Protective Phone Case

Gear4 Protective Phone Case

Unless cracking your phone screen is on your bucket list, a protective phone case is a must-have. If you’re traveling a lot, your phone is likely to get a fairer share of beatings, so an ultra-durable case is going to suit you well.

A heavy-duty, protective case like any of the Gear4 Protective Phone Cases is an extra measure to keep your goods safe.

5. Blue Light Blocking Screen Protector

InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard

We spend a lot of time in today’s world staring at the screens of our mobile devices and other travel gadgets these days, and the blue LED light from our cell phones may actually harm your eyes long-term and even disrupt your circadian rhythm .

A blue light blocking screen protector like the InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard reduces eye strain by blocking blue light, and it has the added bonus of protecting your phone from impacts and scratches.

Double whammy!

6. Universal Travel Adapter

Hero Universal Power Adapter

Have you ever checked into your hotel room after a long travel day, fumbled around to charge your devices, and then realized you don’t have the right power adapter for the country you’re in?

Yep, it has happened to me way more times than this travel expert would like to admit.

Since there’s no such thing as standardized power sockets around the world, a universal travel adapter is one of the most essential travel accessories you can buy. The HERO Power Adapter is one of the more affordable travel adapters out there, and best of all, it comes with two USB ports, too.

A universal adapter is one of the best gadgets you can buy if you’re traveling.

7. Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones

Bose NC 700 Headphones

Ok, there might be something worse than not having the right adapter to charge your travel gadgets: screaming babies on planes and trains.

Even travel to the most remote places typically consists of stopping in big cities and let’s face it: the world is a noisy place. The Bose NC 700 headphones are noise canceling headphones that help turn off the unwanted noise. Bose always has the latest noise canceling, which cancels out noise and delivers perfect sound quality.

For more information about the different models, check out my full comparison between the Bose 700 vs QC35 .

8. Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Flip 6

Whenever I’m traveling abroad, my JBL Flip 6 portable bluetooth speaker is a travel essential. It always helps to start the party, whether I’m at a hostel in Thailand or a pool in the Caribbean.

Since it’s waterproof, you can bring this baby anywhere. This small Bluetooth speaker delivers a surprisingly crisp, clear and powerful volume, especially compared to other speakers on the market. The battery is fantastic too⁠—once it’s fully charged, you’ll get a full 12 hours of play time.

9. Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

A Nintendo Switch is a pretty cool gadget to pack on your next trip. This lightweight device is perfect for gaming on the go, even if you’re not much of a gamer.

The Switch has an enormous roster of available games—everything from Minecraft to Animal Crossing to Mario Bros—so you’re guaranteed to find something to keep you entertained on those long haul flights (or those budget flights without any TVs).

And, fun fact: you can buy international eShop games as you’re traveling.

The Nintendo Switch also has an impressive battery life, so you don’t have to constantly recharge your battery like your other devices.

10. Travel Pillow

The Cushion Lab Ergonomic Travel Pillow

A good travel pillow is one of the ultimate travel accessories for long bouts of travel. For me, a travel pillow can make or break a long-haul flight. Either you’re constantly adjusting your pillow, or you’re snoozing like a baby.

The Ergonomic Travel Neck Pillow from Cushion Lab is a pillow that’s designed to work for everyone: the asymmetrical design supports your entire neck, chin, and head so you’re not flopping around. You can also rotate it to better suit your sleeping style.

It even packs down into a handy little travel kit no bigger than a mug.

11. Compression Packing Cubes

Gonex Packing Cubes

I have been using compression packing cubes since I started traveling years ago and they’re still some of the best travel gadgets I’ve ever used. They work twofold by separating your clothing and compressing everything down to save lots of space (something digital nomads will appreciate).

The Gonex Compression Packing Cubes set comes with four expandable organizers in an assortment of colors, so you can pick whatever suits your style.

When you unload your backpack in your hostel or hotel and start easily pulling out your packing cubes without having to root around for your pajamas, you’ll be grateful for these. If you haven’t used compression packing cubes before, pick some up for your next trip.

12. DJI Mavic 3 Drone

DJI Mini 3 Pro

If you’re looking to up your photography game, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is one of the best drones on the market right now. It weighs in at only <249 grams and packs down to about the size of a cell phone, yet it’s a powerful piece of photography gear.

The DJI Mini 3 Pro can fly up to 11-15.5 miles and for 30-40 minutes, and it comes with a 48 MP, 1/1.3 inch CMOS sensor which can capture professional-level images and video.

As far as travel tech goes, this is one of the most impressive drones out there, and it’s super fun to travel with.

13. Mirrorless Camera

Fujifil X-T30 Mirrorless Camera

There’s no need to carry a bulky camera around with you on your travels anymore, because nowadays mirrorless cameras provide the same level of quality as DSLRs. I even wrote a whole article about the best cameras for travel .

The Fujifilm X-T30 is my top choice when it comes to mirrorless travel cameras, offering packing an incredible punch into quite a small package. With 26.2 megapixels of detail and a beautiful color profile, you get stunning photos with the Fujifilm X line. It’s a little pricier than some other options on the market, but you really can’t beat this kind of price to value ratio.

14. Portable WiFi and Hotspot

Skyroam Solis Portable Wi-Fi and Hotspot

A portable WiFi hotspot is one of the coolest travel gadgets you can get your hands on these days⁠—especially if you’re a digital nomad, and even more so if you’re spending lots of time in places with less than reliable Internet.

The Skyroam Solis is a super fast 4G LTE hotspot with the fun perk of having an embedded power bank. You’ll get more than 16 hours of battery life regardless, but the best part is that you get full WiFi coverage in 130+ countries.

It also comes with encrypted security to keep all your stuff safe.

15. Travel Door Alarm

Lewis n Clark Travel Door Alarm

Here’s another one of my favorite top gadgets and accessories: a travel door alarm, like this one from Lewis n Clark .

For a little bit of extra security while you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, just attach the alarm to a door by simply hanging it from the door knob and placing the clip in the doorframe.

When the alarm senses some vibration, it lets out a massive 91 db alarm to wake up your neighbors. Take it on your next trip for some peace of mind.

16. Pacsafe Portable Travel Safe

Pacsafe 3L GII Anti-Theft Portable Safe

Pacsafe is a frequent presence on my list of top anti-theft backpacks , and that’s because the brand offers state of the art technology when it comes to anti-theft travel gadgets.

The Travelsafe 3L GII Anti-Theft Portable Safe is exactly how it sounds: it’s a safe you can travel with. It has revolutionary 360° wire eXomesh® technology and a locking cable so you can lock your valuables down.

The 3L is ideal for stashing in your bag, but it comes in three different sizes up to 12L.

17. Portable Luggage Scale

AmazonBasics Portable Luggage Scale

Not a fan of traveling carry-on only? A portable luggage scale is one of those handy travel accessories that will help make life easier.

They won’t break the bank⁠—a reliable portable luggage scale should cost less than $15, but could save you a ton of money in baggage fees in the long run. It’s a great idea especially if you’re known to splurge on souvenirs while you’re traveling.

18. Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

According to the summer travel study by ZAGG, 53% of people considered books and entertainment to be a packing essential. I’m a big fan of paperbacks, but having an e-reader (instead of 20lbs of books in my luggage ) is so much better. For avid readers and frequent travelers, a Kindle Paperwhite is the perfect companion.

I’m impressed by how much the Paperwhite has advanced over the years. My first Kindle was barely readable, but the latest versions almost feel like a real paperback, they come with extra storage (up to 16GB), an adjustable warm light, waterproof coating (for the beach or bath tub!), and a fast charge via USB-C for up to 10 weeks of battery life.

19. Inflatable Solar Powered Light

Luci Inflatable Solar Powered Light

I know the concept of an inflatable light sounds weird, but the Luci Original inflatable solar powered light is one of my favorite travel gadgets this year.

It’s fully inflatable and collapsible so it fits easily into your backpack or camping gear, and it lasts up to 24 hours on a single charge. It comes with 65 lumens and warm white LEDs to light up your space, making it one of those essential items to carry in case of an emergency or to simply to find your way in the dark. For such a small light, it’s incredibly powerful.

20. Gotenna Mesh GPS Device

Gotenna Mesh GPS Device

One thing I make it a point to not do when off grid is pick up my cell phone. But in case of emergency, the Gotenna Mesh GPS Device is one of the best ways to stay on the path and connected to other people when I’m doing anything off-grid, whether it’s hiking or road tripping.

This simple small device pairs with your smartphone to send text and GPS coordinates to your group, even without cell or WiFi. I highly suggest picking up one of these for your next adventure, even just to give Mom and Dad some peace of mind. It privately relays messages and comes with micro USB connections for charging as well.

21. Vago Travel Vacuum Compressor

VAGO Travel Vacuum Compressor

I’m all for packing light, but having extra room is just a nice luxury sometimes. That’s why the Vago Travel Vacuum Compressor is such a brilliant tool.

All you need is this tiny vacuum device and the included vacuum bag. Attach the Vago, press the button, and watch your clothes compress.

It takes only 5 minutes, and sensors will let the Vago know automatically when to stop. The entire thing weighs just 86 grams, so you’ll barely even notice it in your luggage.

22. Sea to Summit Eye Shades

Sea to Summit Eyeshades

I’m a sensitive sleeper, and I absolutely hate light filtering through my window. So when I’m traveling, I block out unwanted light with these comfy Sea to Summit Eye Shades .

They have an adjustable strap to keep secured against your face while blocking out light, and they come with a set of earplugs. (Or maybe you can just pair them with your wireless headphones for the ultimate nap experience.)

These shades are lined with microfiber, and they’re easy to wash and reuse. Once you get a pair, I promise you’ll take them everywhere with you.

23. Passport Holder

Melsbrinna Passport Holder

I’ve never thought of a passport holder as a necessary travel gadget, but my friends who are business travelers absolutely swear by them.

When you’re in transit and dashing through customs and security while trying to make connections, the ease of having all your documents in one place can be really helpful.

There are limitless options for passport holders , but I suggest one with multiple pockets for additional documents like your Nexus card, boarding pass, visas, etc.

24. Combination Luggage Lock

Pacsafe Prosafe 800 Travel Sentry

I’m all about luggage security. Since I travel with a lot of photography gear and other travel gadgets, keeping my stuff safe is an absolute priority.

Using a combination luggage lock like the Pacsafe Prosafe 800 keeps both my carry-on and checked baggage secure while I’m on the go. Nowadays you can even find thumbprint-release luggage locks, and they’re TSA approved too.

25. DJI Osmo 6 Phone Gimbal

DJI Osmo Mobile 6 Gimbal

Taking your travel videography to the next level doesn’t mean you have to invest time and money into fancy cameras or training programs⁠—sometimes it’s as simple as using a smartphone stabilizer.

The DJI Osmo Mobile 6 is one of the most intelligent smartphone stabilizers out there. It’s super compact and packs up into a tidy, foldable package that fits in your palm. But even when folded, it’s easy to whip out in a pinch⁠—the minute you need that perfect shot, you can unfold the gimbal in an instant.

The app is also excellent and lets you shoot, edit, and share quickly and efficiently.

26. Lume Cube Mobile Creator and Lighting Kit

Lumecube Mobile Creator and Lighting Kit

The Lume Cube Mobile Creator and Lighting Kit is like a selfie stick on steroids. It’s one of those cool gadgets built with content creators in mind, and is entirely multi-functional so that you can capture photo and video content no matter where you are.

The 3-in-1 does it all: custom lighting, perfect audio, and different mounting options so you can set up your smartphone however you’d like.

The kit comes with a light panel and stand, a mic with a foam windshield and screen, and an extension stick that doubles as a hands-free tripod. It’s probably the most versatile travel gadget on this list!

27. Scrubba Washing Bag

Scrubba Wash Bag

The Scrubba Washing Bag is one of the best travel gadgets for backpackers and long distance hikers (or campers). It’s pretty much a portable washing machine for all of your trail gear, and it’s an incredibly smart bit of technology.

Toss all your dirty clothes in with a bit of detergent and some water, and you’ll be clean and fresh in no time.

You might think the Scrubba Washing Bag is an unnecessary addition to your luggage, but actually, being able to wash your clothes mid-trip means you don’t have to pack more stuff. You’ll just get to reuse your worn clothes. Plus, if there’s no laundromat or laundry services nearby, you might not have any other options.

28. Roku Streaming Stick

Roku Streaming Stick

If you’re a frequent traveler who spends a lot of time in hotels, it’s time to invest in a Roku streaming stick. It might be the most underrated travel gadget on this list.

Watching TV or movies from an iPad or laptop is easy, but being able to catch up on your shows via your hotel’s big screen TV is so much better. Just plug the streaming stick into the HDMI port, wait for it to connect to the WiFi, and then use the app on your mobile device as a remote control.

You’ll have all your streaming services at your fingertips, even Spotify. Easy peasy.

29. LARQ Water Bottle

LARQ Water Bottle FIltered

One of my best travel tips: make sure you’re always drinking clean water. Always. Nobody wants to miss several days of travel because they drank the tap water and ended up with crippling stomach issues.

I love the LARQ water bottle because it’s completely self-cleaning, with a built-in UV-C light that kills nearly 100% of viruses and bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. It even cleans the inside of the bottle, so you don’t have to ever clean it again.

You’ll also cut down on a significant amount of waste with this water bottle…at least 300 plastic bottles per filter, actually.

30. Cable Ties

OneLeaf Cable Ties

When you travel with lots of gear and you’re trying to detangle millions of wires flowing from millions of USB ports in the middle of a busy coffee shop as you set your work station up for the day…you’ll be thankful that you have cable ties .

Reusable cable ties are a godsend. You can gather your cables together, wind them tightly with the cord, and keep them neat and tidy out of the way. I use them while on the road and also at home to keep my workspace nice and orderly.

31. Compact Binoculars

Nikon Trailblazer Binoculars

I’m not sure if it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but suddenly I love having a compact pair of binoculars with me when I’m hiking or camping. Whether it’s for birdwatching, wildlife viewing, or scouting out the trail ahead, my binoculars have gotten a whole lot of use lately.

There are a ton of brands to choose from, but Nikon makes excellent high-quality, water resistant binoculars . They fold down small enough you can even stash them into your coat pocket.

32. Wacaco Portable Espresso Maker

Wacaco Minipresso Portable Espresso Maker

I know⁠—this gadget is pure luxury, but whipping out the Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Maker and brewing your own fine quality espresso shot wherever you are is a pleasure that’s worth the splurge, in my opinion.

The Minipresso GR is extremely light and versatile, and compact enough to fit in most day bags.

Grind your own beans beforehand and then add the grind to the filter basket with the included scoop, tap down the grind, add hot water into the tank, and voila! Espresso that tastes like it’s straight out of Italy.

33. Anti-Spy Detector

G4 Pro Anti-Spy Detector

Did you know that you could actually buy a hidden device detector that helps detect hidden cameras, audio bugs, and other trackers? The G4 Pro Anti-Spy Detector does just that. It’s like anti-creep detector, really.

This small, pen-like detector only weighs 30 grams and yet has the ability to detect radio waves, 2-4G mobile signals, as well as bugs at certain frequencies.

You can never be too safe these days, especially if you’re traveling by yourself.

34. Travel Insurance

I’d be remiss to write a whole article about the best travel gadgets without at least bringing up one of my favorite topics: insurance for travel. It’s the ultimate travel accessory. Believe me.

Making sure you’re insured while you’re on the road is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success. You really don’t want to be left holding a $100,000 bill.

If you’re unsure where to even begin, our list of the best travel insurance companies is a great starting point.

Best Travel Gadget & Travel Accessories Summary

This list of travel gadgets and accessories is by no means conclusive, and there are likely a few things you’ll want to add to your own list as you’re traveling. (Compact wine bottle opener or quick-drying towel, anyone?)

These gadgets are meant to make your life a little easier. Enjoy the journey without all the extra fuss, and you’ll feel right at home on the road.

Jeremy Scott Foster

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23 Best Travel Gadgets That'll Make Your Next Trip Even Better

For more organized, manageable, and unforgettable adventures.

This cohort of travel tech is also constantly evolving, and it's increasingly becoming more portable: Handy enough to fit in your carry-ons or use on the go. Altogether, the best travel gadgets can make your trips more organized, manageable, and unforgettable—just better through and through. Hence, from tools you'll actually use during transportation or overnight stays, to devices that'll help you enjoy sceneries of a foreign land to the fullest, we recommend these 23 best travel gadgets below for every type of traveler and journey. Grab a cool instant camera , a portable WiFi hotspot , a universal power bank , or even a pair of binoculars, for example, then you'll really be bon-voyage-ing.

JEPWCO G4 Pro Anti Spy Detector

G4 Pro Anti Spy Detector

You never know what kind of creeps are lurking at your hotel room or AirBnb. Hence, a wireless hidden device detector that'll blow the gaff on those pinhole cameras, audio bugs, and trackers. And, it doesn't look like a detective's walkie-talkie, which is cool.

furid Airtag Wallet

Airtag Wallet

There's no reason to add any extra stress to your trip. Get an AirTag wallet and save yourself from a succession of mini heart attacks.

Twelve South AirFly Pro

AirFly Pro

Simply put, it's a TikTok viral gadget that'll connect your AirPods —or any wireless headphones and earbuds—to the airplane TV. A godsend for your inevitably long, dull flight across the country, or the globe.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e

Px7 S2e

Everybody needs some Don't Talk to Me headphones. These from Bowers & Wilkins so comfortable and sound so great that I awarded them in our Esquire Gadget Awards .

Therabody SmartGoggles

SmartGoggles

The last row of economy feels like first class when you put these on. They calm you down or put you to sleep with massages around your eyes and temples.

The Nori Press

The Nori Press

An iron and an ironing board are rarely guaranteed, so plenty of fashion types carry a steamer with them. The Nori Press is the best clothes steamer out there because it combines the features of steamer and iron. It's lightweight and packable, but it can set a nice sharp crease.

DJI OM 5 Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer

OM 5 Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer

Not just any selfie-stick. Use DJI's smart gimbal that is anti-wobbling to up your photography or vlogging skills to match even the pros. The ActiveTrack algorithm will automatically follow main objects in the frame for an HD focus. They can be walking, running, swimming, zig-zagging... This gimbal don't miss.

Omnicharge Omni 20+ 20000mah Power Bank

Omni 20+ 20000mah Power Bank

A portable charger on the road or in the air will prove a life-saver during those unexpected power-off moments. The Omni 20+ is one almighty power bank capable of charging your cameras, drones, laptops, and phones simultaneously, at up to 100W—one of the fastest speeds we've ever seen. It's got ports of all kinds for that matter, ready to lend a hand to all the heavy travel tech you'll bring along.

Leica SOFORT 2 Instant Camera (Black)

Leica SOFORT 2 Instant Camera (Black)

Most polaroids are too big and bulky to really enjoy. For any vacation, you should either get a disposable camera or this brand new Leica point and shoot. It takes digital photos you can develop later, but it can also print those photos immediately onto little polaroids.

Bellroy Tech Kit

Tech Kit

We won't tell you what iPhone chargers or power adapters to get—you probably already have the best. But we do recommend a carry-on organizer for all your essential tech accessories, and Bellroy's tech kit has a place for every possible one you might need while traveling.

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

Universal Travel Adapter

Maybe if all these heads of state and government just agree upon one shape of input/output plug, we'd have less international conflicts? Before then, grab one—or more—of these all-in-one travel adapters to, IDK, bridge the international relations?

Apple AirTag, 4-Pack

AirTag, 4-Pack

Of course, you have to get some AirTags. Four is the perfect number, because you can insure you never lose your wallet, passport, carry-on, and checked bag.

Solis Lite Hotspot & Power Bank

Lite Hotspot & Power Bank

The last thing you need while traveling is to go offline—especially if you don't speak the local language. Thus, a WiFi hotspot , like the Solis, which is one of the easiest to operate. Just connect it to the mobile app and pay for the data, then off you go—web surfing, messaging, or any easy Internet usage. Cell carriers be damned.

JBL Clip 4 Portable Speaker

Clip 4 Portable Speaker

Speaker convenient enough that you can clip onto your backpack or pant's belt loop is one that'll soundtrack your excursion. Not to mention JBL's Clip 4 is one with a durability rating of IP67 and surprisingly punchy audio.

TUMI Just In Case Tote

Just In Case Tote

Alright, this is pushing the definition of gadget, but hear me out. This nylon tote packs down to the size of a book. Slip it into any suitcase or backpack, and forget it's there. Then—if you have extra stuff to bring home or just pack more lazily—pull it out, expand it and toss all your leftover stuff in it. It's my favorite travel hack product.

Ember Temperature Control Travel Mug 2

Temperature Control Travel Mug 2

Hot coffee isn't just for homebodies who stay still and attached to a seat; travelers and adventurers alike also deserve the heat. Ember's travel mug will keep the contents inside hot at the precise temperature, and keep them secure with a leakproof, slide-lock design.

Trova Go Biometric Stash Case

Go Biometric Stash Case

Trova's portable biometric safe is for travelers who keep essentials with them as they wander through a whole new city or countryside of beautiful landscapes—so... Any traveler? Only you can access what's inside, so you can fully let down your guards and actually enjoy the trip, stress-free.

BALMUDA Rechargeable LED Lantern

Rechargeable LED Lantern

Balmuda's water-resistant lantern comes alive both under the sky and inside the four-walls, since it's main thing is mood-setting. It'll glow like a candle light to elevate your private romantic dinner near La Seine, or maybe shine a light to show your way at night in the campsite.

Get Expert Tech & Gadgets Advice, Every Day

Get Expert Tech & Gadgets Advice, Every Day

Cadence Starter Set

Starter Set

I talked about these little to-go skincare containers in our editors' travel hacks story . Instead of using drug store travel-sized products, you can take your expensive hair and skin care regimes on the road with you.

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The 10 Best Tips For Using A Cell Phone During International Travel

Traveling abroad? Use these tips to stay connected without going broke

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  • Western Sydney University
  • Switching from Android

iPhones and Android smartphones will work in any country you travel to, but their functionality can be limited depending on your current mobile plan, whether you want to rent a SIM card or portale Wi-Fi devices upon arrival, and how well you prepare your apps before your departure.

Here are 10 things you need to know to save some money and get the most out of your smartphone when traveling internationally.

Confirm International Texting, Calling, And Data Fees

By far the most-important thing you need to do before traveling abroad is to check with your service provider about their current policies relating to international cell phone use and what your current contract already allows.

Global roaming functionality used to be an extra feature that users would have to manually opt into using for an additional fee. This has now changed and many cell phone service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile now activate international texting, calling, and data features automatically as soon as the handset is used in a foreign country.

This activation usually incurs a pricey fee that's recharged on a daily basis and can get very expensive if you're planning to travel for a long period of time. Metro PCS' World Calling is another popular service many people use for making international phone calls while traveling.

Mobile providers frequently update their international roaming services with new prices, features, and payment options. Verizon , AT&T , and T-Mobile each have dedicated pages on their official websites that detail their current options. However, you may have signed up for a contract that was created before the current model launched so the updated information on their sites may not apply to you. The best advice for cell phone usage when going abroad is to talk to a customer service representative over the phone or in person about your specific mobile phone contract.

Check If Your Smartphone's Unlocked

guvendemir/GettyImagesPlus

If you're planning to use an international cell phone plan with your current provider while traveling overseas, you don't really need to worry about whether your smartphone is unlocked or not. If you're thinking of renting a SIM card once you arrive at your target destination though, this bit of information is incredibly important.

Having a locked phone means that it can only be used on one specific provider's cellular network and this means that you won't be able to use that phone in a country where that network doesn't exist. If your phone is unlocked, you can use it on other cellular networks both in your home country and abroad.

Rent A SIM Card For International Cell Phone Use

Juanma Domínguez/Moment/GettyImages

SIM card rental allows you to use all of your phone's features, such as phone calls, text messages, and cellular data, by swapping out your current SIM card for one that's compatible with the country you're visiting.

While using another SIM card, your phone will be unable to receive texts or calls to your regular phone number as the SIM card will give your phone a new number. Due to this side effect, it's recommended to tell friends and family to contact you via email or a chat app like Facebook Messenger while you're traveling.

SIM card rental is available in most regions and can be done at specialized stores in major airports and at cell phone company branches. Renting a SIM card is generally much cheaper than paying for an international roaming service, especially for those planning to travel abroad for several days or weeks.

Rent A Portable Wi-Fi Device Instead

If you don't need texting or phone calls while traveling overseas and you think you'll be fine using your smartphone's apps for communication and navigation, a popular alternative to rental SIMs is a portable Wi-Fi device .

These Wi-Fi devices are about the size of a deck of cards and can be carried in your pocket or handbag. They broadcast a strong Wi-Fi signal to which you can connect your smartphone and other devices while traveling.

Such devices can usually be rented at airports and in telephone service provider stores. Some tourist information buildings also offer them to travelers.

Invest In A Quality Battery Pack

Odds are when you're traveling overseas, you're going to be using your phone a lot more than usual to navigate and to take photos and video. Your phone will also likely be going longer without chance to recharge and all of this extra usage will use up its battery power a lot faster than normal.

To prevent you from ending up with a dead phone while on the road, some good advice for smartphone owners is to invest in a good quality battery pack that can hold a significant amount of power. These typically feature at least one USB slot which can be used to recharge your smartphone, tablet, or other electronic accessories. A quality battery pack is a solid addition to any travel tech kit.

While most battery packs can be charged by being plugged into a wall, a growing number also boast solar panels which lets them be charged by the sun. These can be useful when traveling anywhere really but they're particularly practical for travelers that go camping.

Buy A Modern USB Power Adapter

A traditional power adapter with old-school power sockets for your chargers and laptop is a necessary purchase if you want to keep your electronics charged while traveling. If you're planning to buy a new adapter though, it's worth investing in a modern model which has at least one built-in USB port .

A USB port in an adapter will save you a lot of space when packing as USB cables generally take up much less room than cables with wall plugs on one end. USB charging cables will also likely work with more than one of your devices so you won't have to bring a separate cable for everything you own.

Pre-Download Media For Long Flights

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When using your cell phone for international travel, you're bound to experience significant periods of time when you have access to neither a cellular nor Wi-Fi network and accessing online content will be almost impossible.

Because of this, it's a good idea to download some content before you travel so you have something to keep you entertained during your flight or after you arrive in a foreign country. The Netflix smartphone app lets you download many of its movies and TV shows, while the official YouTube apps have the ability to download your favorite videos if you're a YouTube Premium subscriber .

If you're not a subscriber of YouTube Premium, there's still a way to download YouTube videos to your device for offline viewing.

Other good options for offline media include the first-party digital stores for iOS , Android, and Windows 10 devices, all of which allow for the downloading of movies, songs, podcasts, and TV series. Spotify is another good choice for podcast downloads and music downloads, though you'll need a Spotify Premium membership to download songs for offline listening.

Pre-Download Maps For Offline Access

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Unless you're paying for a global roaming package when going overseas, you'll likely be arriving at your target destination with no online functionality on your phone. This can make looking up travel information on your maps app very difficult or in many cases impossible.

Some airports do offer free Wi-Fi but many don't. The airport's Wi-Fi shouldn't be relied upon either, as once you leave the airport and get in a train, bus, taxi, or Uber , your smartphone will go completely offline again.

Fortunately, many map apps allow for the downloading of maps for offline viewing before you get to your location. Google Maps supports such a feature on both Android and iOS devices while the Maps app on Windows 10 laptops and tablets also contains this functionality.

While a lot of the location data can be downloaded in map apps, most of the public transport information won't function when offline. A good alternative is to download the local public transport app for your target destination before you go. Many of these apps work completely offline and also feature some useful information on the transport services available.

Set Up Cloud Services On Your Mobile Device

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Having your smartphone lost, broken, or stolen during international travel is always a possibility. Fortunately, experiencing any one of these bad situations doesn't have to be as devastating as it once was due to a variety of cloud services that can back up all of your photos, videos, and app settings to the cloud for access on another phone, tablet, or computer in the future.

The iPhone and Android smartphone first-party cloud services, iCloud and Google Drive , are usually installed and enabled by default on their respective devices to save your data to their respective servers but there are also some third-party options that you may want to check out as a backup.

Dropbox and Microsoft's OneDrive two popular alternatives to the default smartphone cloud options but there are a number worth checking out. Most cloud services can work alongside each other to back up your data so if you reach your data limit on one, you can rest assured that one of the other services has picked up the slack.

Prepare For App Content Changes In Other Countries

While many apps and services can function abroad, many travelers discover that some licenced content on their cell phone's apps changes slightly despite the same app and account being used as back home.

For example, a variety of music playlists may be available in the Fitbit Coach and other fitness smartphone apps when using them in the United States but you may find your song selection to be more limited when traveling to New Zealand. Once Upon a Time and Frasier may be on your Netflix list back home, but when traveling to Australia you may find that they disappear from the Netflix app completely.

The changing of content within apps isn't necessarily always a bad thing, though. While some of your favorite shows may become unavailable in Netflix when traveling to Japan for example, you'll also gain access to a lot of great Japanese films and anime series that you wouldn't be able to watch with your Netflix account back home.

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How-To Geek

The best tech travel gadgets of 2023.

Getting ready for a trip? Make sure to pack these handy tech items.

Read update

We've reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best gadgets for traveling to pick up.

Before heading out on that month-long vacation or quick business trip, don't forget to gear up. From noise-canceling headphones and Bluetooth trackers to plug adapters and travel routers, these devices are the best tech travel companions.

UPDATE: 11/17/2023

Kindle paperwhite signature edition, epicka universal travel adapter, sony wh-1000xm5, anker powercore slim 10000 portable charger, fujifilm instax mini neo classic 90, nintendo switch, apple ipad (10th-generation), logitech k480, tp-link ac750 wireless travel router, what to look for in tech travel gadgets.

When shopping around for necessary gadgets to take on your next trip, there are a few things you'll want to consider.

First, it's important to think about what's necessary for your vacation or business trip---whether for work or play, you'll likely have limited space in your luggage for clunky or heavy tech. Before making any purchases, you'll want to ensure that it's something you'll need while you're away from home. Our list contains things that may be considered necessary for some, but the ultimate decision will be up to you.

Likewise, size and weight are equally important factors. If you're planning on packing your tech in a carry-on bag, for instance, you'll want to stick to pretty compact gadgets such as a portable charger or a tablet. If you play on checking a bag, you may be able to pack larger items such as an instant film camera.

Lastly, you'll want to consider your budget. If you're specifically buying a gadget for an upcoming trip, you may not want to drop a ton of cash. However, if you're a frequent flier or road tripper, perhaps it's a good idea to invest in something that's on the pricier side.

How-To Geek's product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

Best eReader: Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

If you're a frequent reader, carrying chunky books can take up precious space in your carry-on or checked luggage. However, the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition , our top pick for eReaders , eliminates this issue through its 32 gigabytes (GB) of storage and the ability to rent up to 20 titles at a time with Kindle Unlimited.

The Kindle Paperwhite Signature is hard to argue against—you can charge it via USB-C, with one full battery lasting up to 10 weeks. Additionally, its display is something to write home about. The 300 ppi screen is glare-free, while its warm lighting is adjustable. The front light also automatically adapts to the brightness of your surroundings, making it an excellent option for red-eye flights.

Although you can use your Kindle without a Kindle Unlimited subscription (an additional $9.99 a month), the accompanying plan provides a free trial and access to thousands of content with no due dates.

The bottom line? If you've been tossing around the idea of buying an eReader, the $200 Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition is your best bet.

travel pack smartphone

If you want all the updates and improvements of the new Paperwhite line, along with an auto-adjusting front light, 32 GB storage, and wireless charging right out of the box, this is the Kindle for you.

Best International Plug Adapter: EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

Planning on diving into international waters? The EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter is essential.

Universal travel adapters allow electronics to power up in different countries. For example, the United States has plugs with two flat vertical prongs, while the United Kingdom has plugs with a top vertical prong and two bottom horizontal ones. A travel adapter ensures you can charge your devices regardless of where you go.

This option from EPICKA functions explicitly as a multifunctional travel plug. However, it doesn't convert voltage, so you'll want to make sure your devices support 100 to 240 voltage---especially hair dryers and electric razors, which often don't.

It boasts four USB ports and one USB-C, all of which can be plugged in simultaneously. It covers more than 150 countries, including the U.S., the UK, Australia, and Japan.

Best of all, this adapter is super compact. You can easily pop it into your carry-on bag for quick access, perfect for unexpected layovers or delays.

A great gadget to pack in your international luggage, this travel adapter is small, compatible with USB-C and USB, and can be used in more than 150 countries.

Best Noise-Canceling Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

Whether traveling via plane, train, or car, noise-canceling headphones are something you won't want to go without. For that, we recommend checking out Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones , which is one of the best on the market.

Compatible with both Bluetooth and 3.5mm connections, these headphones are very popular, and their sound quality is a large reason why. You also get some of the best noise-cancellation around, complete with a comfortable design and convenient carrying case.

Other highlights? There's speak-to-chat technology, which automatically pauses your music when you talk. There's also built-in Alexa, touch sensor control that allows you to skip, pause, and play tracks, multiple device pairing, and two color options: Black and Silver .

All of those incredible features come with a hefty price tag, though—at nearly $400, these Sony headphones are a significant investment. However, if you have the cash to spend and want a pair of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones that will last, these are your best bet.

Looking for a good pair of headphones for your child during your next trip? Check out our recommendations for the best noise-cancelling headphones for kids !

With the WH-1000XM5, Sony has shown once again why it is the current king of noise-canceling wireless headphones. These headphones are better than ever with gestures, improved noise cancellation, and better battery life.

Best Portable Charger: Anker PowerCore Slim 1000

A portable charger is a necessity for traveling. If you've somehow managed to live without one until now—or you're looking to upgrade your current model—we recommend the Anker PowerCore Slim 1000 . Priced at less than $30, its impressively slim design can provide multiple charges for iPhones, Android devices, and smaller tablets.

Perfect for tucking into your carry-on, this Anker charger features PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technologies, which ensures that your device is receiving the fastest charge possible. It's also airline-friendly and designed to provide optimal charging to low-power devices, such as headphones and Bluetooth speakers .

That being said, it does take nearly six hours to charge this gadget to its full capacity, so you'll want to gear this guy up a day or two in advance. Additionally, while there are both USB-A and USB-C ports, cords are not included, so make sure you have those ahead of time.

This charger has a 10,000mAh capacity, PowerIQ/VoltageBoost for optimized charging, and an ultra-slim profile.

Best Bluetooth Tracker: Tile Mate

A Bluetooth tracker is a great gadget, especially when you're away from home. These handy devices can be latched onto essentials such as your bag or wallet. And if you accidentally lose them, your tracker will help you find or keep an eye on them.

Our favorite? The Tile Mate , a compact little gizmo that can be easily snapped onto travel necessities and features a Bluetooth range of up to 250 feet.

At less than $50 for a pack of two, these trackers are super easy to use and affordable. You download the accompanying Tile app, which will ring your Tile when it's in Bluetooth range (you can also ask a smart home device, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to find it for you). There's also a custom QR code on each Tile, so you can be reached if someone finds it and scans the code.

We also like that the Tile Mate can be used to find your phone. You can double press the button on your Tile to make your phone ring, even when it's on silent. And, in cases when your Tile is out of Bluetooth range, you can use the app to see its most recent location on a map.

You'll have to upgrade to Tile's premium plan for added features like Smart Alert and item reimbursement. Additionally, the Tile is battery-powered, so you'll want to ensure it has a fresh battery before jet setting.

A handy Bluetooth tracker with an easy-to-use accompanying app that will help you keep track of your absolute necessities.

Best Instant Film Camera: Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

Film cameras are all the rage right now, and this option from Fujifilm, the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic , is no exception. This easy-to-use film camera instantly develops 2.1 by 3.4-inch (53.34mm x 86.36mm) photos.

In terms of its specs, the Instax Mini 90 is pretty cool. It can automatically detect the brightness of your background or surroundings and will adjust the flash and shutter speed, so you get a great photo every time. Additionally, there's a double exposure mode you can access by pressing the shutter twice.

While it has great ratings and reviews from buyers, we would only recommend this purchase if it's something that you've had your eye on for a while. The camera itself is pretty expensive, and the price can quickly continue to rack up with the added cost of repurchasing film.

This mini instant film camera from Fujifilm is a top-tier option for capturing your trip.

Best Handheld Gaming Machine: Nintendo Switch

Having a handheld gaming machine on deck is particularly smart if you're a nervous traveler or get bored easily. These gadgets can help keep your mind and hands occupied while waiting to board a plane or killing time during a layover.

Our number one pick is the Nintendo Switch , the company's latest addition to the handheld gaming universe. The Switch was essentially born to be a versatile device for solo or group play. It features three play styles (handheld, tabletop, and TV mode), and the Joycons easily slip in and out for the latter.

Other things to love? Depending on what you're playing on the Switch, it has between 4.5 and 9 hours of battery life. It's super lightweight and compact (it weighs in at less than a pound), and the 6.2-inch touch screen is perfect for collecting coins in Mario , making friends in Pokémon, or farming in Stardew Valley. Just make sure to pick up accessories to make it easier to take the Switch with you on the go.

The original Nintendo Switch model and its price cousin, the Nintendo Switch OLED , are a pricier investment, but you can also save $100 and pick up the Nintendo Switch Lite . This budget model is a portable-only device, however, so you won't be able to take advantage of a TV mode.

If you're a PC gamer, you might also want to look into the Steam Deck , to play your PC gaming library on the go.

Nintendo's latest console lets you take your console gaming on the go. Start up a game at home on your TV, then pull the Switch out of the dock and you can continue right where you left off.

Best Tablet for Traveling: Apple iPad (10th Generation)

If you're looking for a great tablet to travel with, look no further than Apple's 10th-generation iPad . The device was updated with a refreshed design that's a lot more modern than the previous model. The larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display gives you more room to manage email, surf the web, or kick back with some Netflix.

The iPad is powered by the A14 Bionic processor, which is the same chip used in the iPhone 12 and still going strong. That means you'll get great performance and battery life, with Apple quoting up to 10 hours of usage on a full charge. There's a USB-C port on the side for charging and connecting accessories like an external drive, and you get amazing stereo speakers.

What's more, the 10th-gen iPad works with the first-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard Folio , making it a great all-rounder tablet pick. Still, another iPad model might suit you better—check out our roundup of the best iPads to see which is best for you.

The 10th-generation iPad from Apple gets a modern redesign with faster performance, a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, and USB-C, making it a solid go-to tablet for a lot of users.

Best Tablet Keyboard: Logitech K480

Typing on a tablet screen can get old quickly, especially if you're used to typing on a physical QWERTY keyboard. If you want to ensure you can get work done on your tablet while you wait at the airport or bus station, the Logitech K480 keyboard is an awesome option to add to your travel tech collection.

Affordably priced with tons of amazing reviews, this Bluetooth-capable keyboard lets you connect to three devices at once and, thanks to the switch dial, enables you to switch between them anytime. It's compatible with Windows, Android, Chrome OS, and iOS devices. Plus, the pre-installed AAA batteries can last up to 24 months.

Although this Logitech gadget is super cool, it doesn't fold up. It features a classic keyboard design, so it could be a slight pain to travel with, depending on how much space you have. Make sure this is something you need before dealing with the potential pain of packing it!

This keyboard is super comfortable to use, allows you to switch easily between three different Bluetooth devices, and has a built-in cradle for your tablet.

Best Travel Router: TP-Link AC750 Wireless Travel Router

If consistently good Wi-Fi is a non-negotiable for you, you'll want to snag a travel router before leaving for your trip. We recommend the TP-Link AC750 Wireless Travel Router , a reliable option that's small enough to pack. It features five Wi-Fi modes, two of which are specifically designed for great connection on the go.

The AC750's router mode allows you to connect to a hotel's Ethernet to instantly create a private wireless network and share access across your devices. Meanwhile, you can also choose hotspot mode, where you can enable an outdoor WISP access point to create a private Wi-Fi hotspot in public areas.

Despite these "private" connections, you'll still want to use a VPN to protect your information, especially when you're away from home.

It also has a micro USB-C port that can be used to connect an adapter, portable charger, or laptop. You'll want to note that the router doesn't come with any cords (you will, however, receive a two-year warranty, which isn't too shabby).

TP-LINK's AC750 Travel Router is a solid option for connecting to consistently good Wi-Fi wherever you go.

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innovative phone cases

8 Innovative Phone Cases and Accessories for Travel

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Ashley Rossi

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

After interning at SmarterTravel, Ashley joined the team full time in 2015. She's lived on three continents, but still never knows where her next adventure will take her. She's always searching for upcoming destination hotspots, secluded retreats, and hidden gems to share with the world.

Ashley's stories have been featured online on USA Today, Business Insider, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, Jetsetter, and Yahoo! Travel, as well as other publications.

The Handy Item I Always Pack : "A reusable filtered water bottle—it saves you money, keeps you hydrated, and eliminates waste—win-win."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience : "A week in a bamboo beach hut on India's Andaman Islands."

Travel Motto : "Travel light, often, and in good company."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat : "Window—best view in the house."

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It’s difficult to get through a full day without your smartphone, especially while traveling, so why not make the most of your phone’s case for some extra utility on the road?

Innovative Phone Cases and Accessories for Travelers

From anti-gravity cases that let you take a selfie almost anywhere to a super-thin battery case, here are eight innovative phone cases and accessories perfect for travelers.

travel pack smartphone

I’ll admit I was confused by this phone-accessory trend at first … but then I tried it. For those with larger smartphones, this accessory is invaluable as a phone grip; PopSockets double as a stand for your smartphone as well, and they can be stuck onto the back of any case or phone back.

PopSockets are also great for helping hold your phone steady when filming a video or taking photos. The grip collapses flat, so you don’t notice anything extra on your phone if you keep it in your pocket. You can even buy a mount (a.k.a. PopClip ) for your car vent that holds up the PopSocket.

travel pack smartphone

Anuck Wallet Case

travel pack smartphone

A slidable-ID case may be the best phone case for traveling because it frees you up when you don’t need a full wallet on vacation—I usually get by with just an ID and debit or credit card. With this travel phone case, you can go wallet-free—and that means one less thing to worry about losing.

travel pack smartphone

If you need reading glasses and easily misplace them, ThinOPTICS multi-purpose phone cases are for you. The flat pair of glasses slides into the back of the case, and you can pick from a variety of frame colors and prescription strengths.

Apple Battery Case

travel pack smartphone

While these innovative phone cases designed by Apple are on the more expensive side, the Apple Battery cases are your best option when it comes to charging your phone on the go. The cases are sleek and super thin, so you barely notice the battery pack. The battery lasts up to 18 hours when using LTE. Goodbye annoying lightning cables and spare battery chargers.

Ventev Charge Stand

travel pack smartphone

I really like the Ventev Charge Stand for long flights; the combo charger-stand is great for viewing shows on your smartphone (while charging). This gadget is compact enough that it won’t take up much room and works great for charging your phone on your hotel room nightstand, where outlets may not be as conveniently placed.

travel pack smartphone

No it’s not magic. The GOATcase uses Nano-suction technology to stick to smooth and flat surfaces, like mirrors, windows, or tile—and is perfect for your travel selfies. Bonus: It’s washable.

Pictar Camera Grip

travel pack smartphone

Miggo makes the Pictar Camera Grip , a set of innovative phone cases for avid travel photographers. Just slide the grip onto your phone and your smartphone instantly turns into a DSLR. Notable features for photographers include an exposure compensation wheel, “smart wheel” with preset settings, shutter release, and zoom ring. It also has a tripod mount and doesn’t cover your phone’s actual camera, so you can also use a supporting lens.

Adventure Port

travel pack smartphone

This is one of the best innovative phone cases out there for travelers because of its multi-purpose functions: Not only is the Adventure Port a passport holder and phone charger, but this phone case also serves as a wallet and has RFID-blocking technology. The zip closure adds an additional layer of security. Pick from 10 trendy colors—it’s the only travel accessory you’ll need.

More from SmarterTravel:

  • 8 Genius Ways To Preserve Your Phone’s Battery Life While Traveling
  • 9 Wearable Travel Accessories That Will Make Your Trip Easier
  • Secret Stash: Accessories and Clothes with Hidden Pockets

Discover more great tech on our Pinterest page:

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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How to pack and prepare your smartphone for traveling this summer

Tech tips: To help you plan a smooth summer vacation, here’s an overview of the tech you should pack to use a smartphone abroad, and more important, what you need to do with your phone before you depart.

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Many travelers are familiar with this scenario: You are finally going on that well-earned vacation. You decide to take your smartphone on the journey. But you run into a host of tech snags after you arrive at your destination.

You might quickly burn through your cellular data limit, for instance. Or maybe you can’t log in to some apps that send you text messages to confirm your identity. Your maps may not load. And your battery runs out of juice just when you need the smartphone most.

These headaches may spoil what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. They may even make you wish you had left your phone at home. But your smartphone is your most vital travel tool: You rely on it for navigating unfamiliar places, finding places to eat and things to do, and taking photos.

Smartphone travel checklist

Tech accessories to pack

Backup battery

3+ power cables

A multi-port wall charger

Plug adapter

SIM card ejector

Smartphone preparations

Unlock phone

Order foreign SIM card

Download apps

Download offline maps

Print out backup codes or set up authenticator

Fret not, traveler. To help you plan a smooth summer vacation, here’s an overview of the tech you should pack to use a smartphone abroad, and more important, what you need to do with your phone before you depart. (Much of this advice can also be applied to domestic travel as well.)

Pack the right accessories

The tech you pack should revolve around keeping your phone running. Michael Zhao, an editor for Wirecutter, a New York Times company that recommends products, helped me create a list of essentials:

A backup battery: When traveling, you will be using your smartphone for an extraordinary number of tasks, so you will burn through your battery quickly. A small, lightweight external battery pack is a must. Wirecutter recommends the Jackery Bolt, and my battery pack of choice is the Anker PowerCore Slim. Both are compact and capable of charging a smartphone two times.

At least three power cables : Pack two power cables for your phone: One that stays in the hotel room and another to carry with your battery pack. Your third power cable should charge your battery pack.

A multi-port wall charger : For the sake of traveling light, don’t pack multiple power bricks to charge your phone and battery. Buy a multi-port wall charger that can power all your gadgets at the same time. I pack the Anker PowerPort 4, which has four ports — enough to charge my devices along with my partner’s phone and tablet.

A plug adapter: If you’re headed abroad, know that some countries use power outlets that are incompatible with your plugs. Research the type of local power outlets to determine if you need a plug adapter. Your best bet is to order a kit that has adapters for every type of outlet.

SIM card ejector : And if you plan to use a foreign wireless carrier’s service, you will need to pack a card ejector, which looks like a small metal pin, to swap out your SIM for the foreign carrier’s. A SIM card ejector was likely included in the box when you bought your smartphone. If you lost it, you can use a small safety pin. I tape my SIM card ejector to my passport holder.

Plan for foreign trips

If you want to use your smartphone abroad, the easiest way to do so is to pay your carrier an international roaming fee. (T-Mobile or Google’s Project Fi customers get international roaming for free in many countries.)

By paying an international roaming fee, you will be able to use your phone number, and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of installing a foreign SIM card. The problem is that it is expensive: AT&T, for example, charges $60 in 200 countries for 1 gigabyte of data, which is not enough data for a two-week trip.

Using a foreign SIM card is a cheaper alternative, and it’s not difficult if you prepare by doing the following:

Unlock your phone : Your phone must be unlocked to work with foreign SIM cards. Many newer smartphones come unlocked by default, but you should call your carrier to confirm that your device will work with other wireless carriers.

Order a foreign SIM card: Often, when you arrive at your destination, you can buy a SIM card at the airport or a local cellphone store. But I have found it to be less stressful and more affordable to order a SIM card online and have it shipped to my home before I travel. For example, before traveling to Taiwan last month, I ordered a $12 SIM card with unlimited data for 12 days. I set it up to activate on the day I arrived in Taiwan.

Download important apps and maps : You never know whether a foreign country’s cell service will be sluggish or spotty, so it’s best to download crucial media ahead of time on your home Wi-Fi network.

Research and download the ride-hailing apps that are legal at your destination. And use Google Maps to download offline maps for the cities you are traveling to.

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That will spare your battery, and you will burn through less data when you are constantly looking up directions.

Also, if you are not fluent with the language at your destination, an extremely helpful app is Google Translate, which can use your phone camera to translate languages on the fly. Make sure to download the language pack in advance.

Have a backup plan for logging in to important apps : Many people use a method of two-factor authentication that requires entering a special code that is texted to their phone when logging in to an app or service. Because you won’t have access to your phone number, you may have to find alternative ways to log in.

So for accessing my Google account overseas, I print out a list of backup codes that I can punch in for logging in; I tape the list to my passport holder. You can also use an authenticator app, which generates a security code for logging in without having to send a text to your phone. This type of app also doesn’t require a network connection.

Consider some extras

After going through the crucial tasks to take your phone abroad, there are more tech options to make your vacation more pleasant.

For entertainment, I load up my tablet with books, comics and games before departing. I also occasionally pack a Roku stick, which can be plugged in to a hotel television set, to stream content I would actually want to watch.

Zhao, the Wirecutter editor, said noise-canceling earphones provide an extra level of comfort when he travels. He owns a $350 pair of headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II, which drowns out most of the noise on airplanes.

“How did I ever travel without them?” he said.

A woman wearing a blue Osprey travel backpack stands outside a pottery vendor in a Morocco market.

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

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Product image of Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45

Hidden, lockable zippers

Reasonably comfortable

Slash-resistant construction

Narrow opening of some pockets

Product image of Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

Highly adaptable

Straps fold away

Ideal for photographers

Camera cubes sold separately

Difficult to secure contents.

Product image of Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

Comfortable

Easy access to main compartment

Multiple carry options

No excursion pack included

Product image of Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

Excellent interior organization

Removable hip belt

Stores flat when not in use

Uncomfortable

Poorly ventilated back panel

Load lifters don’t help weight distribution

Product image of GoRuck GR3

heavily padded shoulder straps

incredibly tough construction

Main compartment can be customized

Uncomfortable to wear when fully loaded

Customization demands investment in pricey add-ons

Séamus Bellamy

Updated October 18, 2023

After examining several top picks for backpacks, we've found the best backpacks for traveling that you can buy online right now.

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

A person carrying a blue PacSafe backpack with his hand down an escalator.

It's like a Fort Knox that you can wear on your back.

If you’re the sort of security-minded traveler who automatically loops a bag strap around the leg of a chair when you sit down in a restaurant, the Pacsafe EXP45 is for you. It’s a 45-liter travel pack designed, from the ground up, to relieve all your security concerns. The EXP45 is constructed of slash-resistant eXomesh fabric designed to deter thieves from cutting into your backpack to steal your valuables—an asset for anyone traveling in crowded areas where pickpockets are known to operate. It's also water-resistant, but you'll still need a rain cover in heavy downpours.

The Pacsafe EXP45 also has stab-proof zippers and the best zipper lock protection of any pack that we tested for this guide.

The EXP45’s two zippers—one for its main compartment and one for its laptop/admin pocket—are both designed to mate with a thick, stainless steel bar sewn into the front panel of the pack. This bar can be secured with a standard TSA-approved cable lock, making the backpack far more trouble to break into than a thief may think it’s worth.

The backpack’s laptop and admin compartment is large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop and includes smaller pockets, ideal for a smartphone, USB battery pack, and other travel essentials. Unfortunately, in the name of security, the compartment only opens up to a depth of five inches. We found that this narrow opening made for limited access that could cause users difficulty if they need to find a smaller item, such as a passport, in a hurry.

The main compartment, which uses up the majority of the backpack’s 45-liter volume, unzips to open up like a suitcase to make for easy packing. A mesh compartment that takes up the entire inside of the main compartment’s lid is ideal for packing bulkier items, such as pants or a sweater. Compression straps sewn into the cargo compartment make it possible to cinch packing cubes into place. However, we found that they were not as effective in securing loose clothing. We loved how easy the light-colored fabric on the interior of the pack made it easy to find what we were looking for, even in lowlight conditions.

As pleased as we were with the level of security that the EXP45 offers, we were disappointed by its shoulder straps and hip belt, which were not as adjustable as those we’d worn while testing other backpacks and were not as comfortable—strange, considering how thick and comfortable the pack's two handles were to hold.

A model holds a Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L by one of its handles.

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L will appeal to enthusiast travel photographers and those who appreciate a well-made bag.

It will easily fit in the overhead bins of most major airlines and weighs 4.52 pounds. If you don't need the maximum amount of storage space that this bag provides (its overall dimensions are 29 x 22 x 33-inches), it can also be snapped and zipped down to 35L or 30L.

At 30L, the Travel Backpack could be used as a day pack, albeit a heavy one, as you explore your destination with a camera and a few basic necessities.

The pack's comfortable shoulder and sternum straps as well as its waist belt can be stowed away underneath magnetically-sealed flaps built into the bag's back panel. It’s a nice feature to have if your airline decides that the bag needs to be stored in your flight’s cargo hold—less possibility of straps getting caught in an airport luggage conveyor translates into a longer life for your bag.

The bag's main compartment is subdivided by a panel that can be zipped away to create one large storage area. The panel has two built-in pockets that offer zippered access from either side of the divider—a nice touch that allows you to tailor The Travel Backpack 45L to suit your packing needs. In the back of the main compartment, you'll find a padded laptop sleeve, along with a built-in pocket, sized for tablets 11 inches or smaller.

The bag's exterior hosts a microfiber cloth-lined pocket, ideal for storing items like your passport, sunglasses, and watch while you pass through airport security. A pair of large pockets flank both sides of the bag and are ideal for stashing a large water bottle or travel tripod. If you have the bag's hip belts deployed, you'll discover two pockets sewn into them that are well-sized for snacks or a few lens filters. I was surprised to find that there was a pair of straps hidden under a flap at the bottom of the bag, which can be used to lash a rain jacket, for example, to the exterior of the bag.

However, it's not perfect, especially when focusing on security. Peak Designs makes accessing this bag, while traveling, just a little too easy. I needed four travel locks to secure all the different zippered access points into the main compartment.

The other downside to this bag? Depending on the size of the camera cube you use, the Travel Backpack 45L may not have enough room to store all of the clothing and sundries needed for a longer trip.

Product image of Tom Bihn Techonaut 45

This bag is built to perform, primarily, as a travel backpack. During testing, I found that its edgeless, 1/2-inch thick backpack straps were well made and comfortable to wear over a long distance while carrying a heavy load. Alternatively, in situations such as navigating airport security, or waiting to hand off the bag to be stored on a bus, the Technonaut can also be hauled around by its built-in duffle handle or, using a shoulder strap.

The Technonaut's main storage compartment is accessed via a large, suitcase-style U-shaped opening, equipped with water-resistant zippers. If you’re using packing cubes with the Technonaut, the U-shaped like makes it possible to locate what you’re looking for inside of the pack, without having to remove every last item before you find it. For those who prefer to forgo packing cubes, you’ll find compression straps inside of the main compartment to help you keep your clothing and other goods in place. The Technonaut's end pocket is well-sized for a pair of hiking running shoes. Quick access pockets, located on opposite sides of the exterior of the bag, provide space for stashing a passport and larger items such as a water bottle.

The only complaint that I can level at this travel pack is that it doesn’t come equipped with a smaller excursion bag to use as you explore the area surrounding your destination.

Product image of Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

At first glance, the Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Backpack appears to have its act together: It comes with a removable hip belt that’ll help to guarantee it won’t get caught up in the conveyor belt at an airport security checkpoint. It’s a feature we both appreciate. As for pockets and other organizational aids, the Allpa 42L is a neat freak’s dream. Inside of the pack, you’ll find two large, zippered mesh compartments and two sub pockets to keep your clothing, grooming goods, and other items easy to access.

The exterior of this travel bag is no slouch either, offering a laptop sleeve, a top zippered pocket to stow sunglasses, AirPods and other small items, sleeves for a tablet and one for a smartphone, and, finally, a number of lashing points where, with the help of a carabiner or a bit of twine, it’d be easy to attach a pair of sandals, wet rain gear or any number of other items to.

We really liked how easy it was to compress the Allpa 42L when it’s not in use: It can easily be folded up and placed into a drawer or the back of a closet to forget about until your next adventure.

All of this, however, couldn’t make up for how uncomfortable and hot the pack was to wear during testing. Part of what seemed to make it so uncomfortable for both of us to wear was unlike our main pick, the Allpa has a frame sheet that is only rigid over the wearer’s spine and comes with no internal frame.

This allows the contents of the pack to rest directly against your body, making for a sweaty, uncomfortable carry. We were also disappointed in how adjusting this backpack’s load lifters failed to make a noticeable difference to Allpa’s weight distribution or overall comfort.

Product image of GoRuck GR3

GoRuck makes Seamus’ favorite everyday carry rucksack, the GR1. So it's not surprising that he was excited to test their 45-liter travel backpack. The GR3 is made of the same, heavy-duty, water-resistant materials as the GR1, but boasts a large enough volume to carry everything a traveler might need for weeks or, if you wash your clothing frequently, even months of travel.

It boasts wide, padded shoulder straps as the company’s other rucksacks do, but also comes with a heavily padded hip belt designed to mitigate the weight of what you’re carrying. We were pleased to find that the hip belt was held in place with a generous amount of Velcro, making it possible to remove it for easier storage of the GR3 in a closet at home or in the overhead compartment of an airplane.

However, during testing, we found that while the hip belt helped to distribute the weight of the bag’s heft to Seamus’ hips, it quickly became uncomfortable. After an hour of wearing it, he discovered that the muscles in his lower back had been tweaked to the point that it took a long soak in a hot bath to unbind them.

Depending on your point of view, the inside of the GR3 will either make it the best travel pack you’ve ever used or one of the most disappointing. While it does boast a large mesh pocket and a built-in zippered pocket in the lid and at the top of the main compartment, respectively, the majority of the GR3’s internal space is a blank slate.

However, Seamus found that, unless the GR3 was packed to capacity, cubes made by other manufacturers such as Tom Bihn and Arc’teryx, tended to all slide to the bottom of the bag during transport, making for an unbalanced load that might well have been the cause of the pulled muscles he sustained during testing.

Despite our disappointment with this incredibly well-built backpack, it could be exactly the sort of travel backpack that someone who visits destinations where other backpacks might not survive is looking for.

Product image of Topo Designed Global Travel Bag

Carry-on friendly

3-way carry

None that we could find

Product image of Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack

Whether you’re hiking on vacation or rushing to catch a bus, this lightweight and durable Osprey Farpoint 40 pack is made to keep up with fast-pace travelers. It includes a mesh harness and hipbelt, as well as a torso adjustment feature. If comfort and speed is your priority, then this is the backpack for you.

Lightweight

Adjustable fit

Product image of  Patagonia Black Hole MLC Bag

Carry all of your belongings for a road trip, flight, or weekend away with this Patagonia Black Hole MLC Bag. At 45 liters, it passes most carry-on size requirements. The water-resistant and ripstop fabric makes this a durable bag that’ll last for years to come. You can easily store your tablet and other travel items in the spacious storage compartments.

Water resistant

What You Should Know About Travel Backpacks

A person wearing a fully loaded Osprey travel backpack.

When fully loaded, the Osprey Ozone Duplex proved comfortable to wear.

Travel backpacks look suspiciously like hiking backpacks, such as the ones offered by popular brands like The North Face or Arc’teryx, on the outside: good ones come with the same load-bearing straps and are made from the same materials as a pack you’d feel comfortable bringing into the wilderness for a weekend trip camping. Inside, however, it’s an entirely different story. Set a travel pack down on its back, unzip its main compartment and it opens up like a suitcase, with all of the organizational aids that you’d expect to find inside of a piece of carry-on luggage. This combination of features makes them easy to pack and unpack, easy and comfortable to carry in a wide variety of situations.

What to Look for In a Travel Pack

When shopping for a travel backpack, here's what will make your life on the road a lot more comfortable:

  • A main, inner compartment that opens up flat, like a suitcase, to aid in packing and unpacking.
  • The inner compartment should boast at least one zippered pocket for organizing your clothes, toiletries and other sundries.
  • A main compartment with compression panels and straps to compress your cargo and keep it from shifting during transport is a bonus that allows the pack to be used with or without packing cubes.
  • An area that military types often call an "admin panel," which can store a laptop or tablet, pens, maps, tickets, passports, you name it. It's most helpful in the detachable part of a daypack, so you can carry valuables while leaving the cargo bag at their hotel.
  • Speaking of daypacks, travel backpacks that feature one are very handy.
  • A travel pack should come with an internal frame to help protect your belongings and keep your stuff from shifting around on your back while you travel.
  • A padded hip belt is a must: they’re designed to transfer the weight of your pack from your shoulders to your hips, helping to save you from discomfort and injury.
  • Whenever possible, load straps should be integrated into the pack’s shoulder straps to pull the pack closer to the back, transferring more of its weight to the hips.
  • Zippers that can be used with a TSA-compatible lock are essential for slowing down thieves and ensuring that none of your gear is lost while in transit. Some packs come with fabric loops for this purpose. You don’t want that. Metal zipper locks are where it’s at.
  • While there are few bags out there that are truly waterproof, you should at least look for one that's weather-resistant. Lacking that, invest in a rain cover to ensure the contents of your bag don't get soaked in a downpour.

More Articles You Might Enjoy

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the testers

Séamus Bellamy

Séamus Bellamy

Senior Editor: Mobile Devices & Wearables

Séamus Bellamy is a senior editor on Reviewed's Electronics Team. Before coming to Reviewed, his work was featured in The New York Times, The Globe & Mail, BBC World, Macworld and Maximum PC.

Rebecca Boniface

Rebecca Boniface

Contributor

Rebecca Boniface is a certified PADI dive instructor, full-time nomad, and DIY enthusiast.

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The Best Travel Backpack

Four Osprey travel backpacks, two blue, two green, sitting next to each other.

A travel backpack easily carries all your stuff while letting you navigate airports, subway stations, and city streets. After traveling with travel backpacks for years across dozens of countries, we recommend the new versions of Osprey’s Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 travel packs.

These bags fit everything we need for trips ranging from just a week to months of continuous travel. They come with a sizable daypack and are even airline-carry-on friendly.

They’re also highly adjustable and well padded, meaning that not only can you get a perfect fit, but the packs will also remain easy to carry and comfortable to wear for long treks, even if there are stairs, cobblestones, or narrow alleys in your way.

Everything we recommend

travel pack smartphone

Osprey Farpoint 55 Men’s Travel Pack

The best travel backpack for those with taller torsos.

Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Farpoint has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel.

Buying Options

travel pack smartphone

Osprey Fairview 55 Women’s Travel Pack

The best travel backpack for those with shorter torsos.

Comfortable, adjustable, and carry-on capable, the Fairview has everything we needed for a week, or even months, of travel.

travel pack smartphone

REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack (Men’s)

Larger, for people with longer torsos.

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this pack just as comfortable and easy to fit as any other we tried for people with longer torsos. However, it’s too big to carry on a plane.

travel pack smartphone

REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack (Women’s)

Larger, for people with shorter torsos.

Thick padding and highly adjustable straps make this pack just as comfortable and easy to fit as any other we tried for people with shorter torsos. However, it’s too big to carry on a plane.

Upgrade pick

travel pack smartphone

Salkan The Backpacker

More stylish, with more padding.

This attractive but expensive travel backpack has customizable straps and great, cushy padding. It comes in only one size, however.

I traveled with a Farpoint 55 for years, across dozens of countries for months at a time. In 2023, Osprey released new incarnations of the Farpoint 55  and the sized-for-smaller-torsos Fairview 55 .

These new versions mostly kept what we liked about the previous ones and fixed what we didn’t. Best of all, they’re among the least expensive travel backpacks available. After several years as runner-ups, the packs are once again our top picks.

The front of the main pack still unzips like a suitcase, so you can easily fit and access a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries. The daypack, which attaches to the front of the larger pack, has room for camera gear, daily essentials, and a small laptop (via a built-in sleeve). The main pack’s straps can tuck behind a zippered flap, so they won’t catch on anything if you check your luggage.

The best change: The main packs are now overhead-bin-sized for most airlines. (You’ll have to use the daypack as your underseat bag.) Other notable updates include height-adjustable shoulder straps and big exterior pockets on the daypack. Previous versions of these bags used ripstop nylon. The current one uses a heavy-duty recycled polyester, which held up well during a six-week trip across Europe.

Osprey offers a lifetime warranty.

If you want something a little larger than the Osprey packs, the REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Men’s (for travelers with longer torsos) and the REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Women’s (for travelers with shorter torsos) are just as adjustable and comfortable. The Ruckpacks had been our top picks for several years—we now prefer the new Ospreys because they’re carry-on sized.

The Ruckpacks have a smaller daypack than the Ospreys, which isn’t as good for photographers and digital nomads, but the main packs are larger, which can be good if you’re carrying bulkier items like a heavy jacket. While not carry-on-sized, the main pack’s overall dimensions are still manageable. The Ruckpack 60+ is also a little cheaper than the Osprey packs.

The Ruckpacks are made from a tough, recycled ripstop nylon that stands up to wear. REI offers a return period of up to a year if you’re a member (90 days if you’re not). However, if the problem is a manufacturing or materials defect, the packs are covered by REI Co-op’s warranty, which has no specified expiration date.

The Salkan The Backpacker looks and feels like a higher-end travel backpack. The polyester cloth feels extremely rugged, and there’s extensive padding in every place the pack touches your body.

Available in black and lightish green, The Backpacker has nine color options for its exterior compression straps, so you can mix and match based on your preferences—or even change them up. This gives The Backpacker the most customizable palette of any of our picks.

While looking more stylish on TikTok and Instagram isn’t generally a primary consideration for us, overall The Backpacker feels well made, and it has many of the same thoughtful features as our top and runner-up picks, including lots of pockets, smooth zippers, and height-adjustable shoulder straps.

These are offset, however, by a much higher price. Also, the main pack is technically too large to be a carry-on for most airlines, and the bag comes in only one size. (Salkan says it’s best for people 5-foot-6 to 6-foot-4).

The research

Why you should trust me, who this is for, how we picked, how we tested, our pick: osprey farpoint 55 travel pack and fairview 55 travel pack, runner-up: rei co-op ruckpack 60+ recycled travel pack, upgrade pick: salkan the backpacker, the competition.

A selfie of this guide's writer on top of the Rock of Gibraltar, with a picturesque view of the sea and the city behind him.

I’ve lived, worked, and visited 60 countries on six continents, as well as all 50 US states. I spent the majority of 2014 through 2020 traveling. Over the last few years, I’ve done a mix of extended road trips and multi-month international adventures. For all those years, I lived out of a backpack while abroad. I’ve also traveled in Africa, China, and throughout Europe with a variety of terrible backpacks and luggage, so I know what’s best to avoid.

In addition to covering travel gear here at Wirecutter, I write about travel and tech for CNET , Forbes , and The New York Times itself, and I have my own YouTube channel . My first travel book, Budget Travel for Dummies , comes out in January.

A travel backpack is for people who want to travel around the world unencumbered by heavy, slow-moving wheeled luggage. An internal-frame backpack in the 50- to 65-liter range has more than enough room for all of the possessions you need to travel anywhere for an indefinite amount of time—as long as you’re okay with doing laundry once you get to a destination. (If you’re going to carry heavy jackets, going-out clothes, multiple pairs of footwear, or other bulky gear, you may want something a tad bigger .)

A travel backpack is not for business travelers who’d like to maintain appearances, nor is it for outdoor enthusiasts looking to spend six weeks hiking in Patagonia. If you prefer something that rolls, check out our guide to the best carry-on luggage . And if you want something that you can carry on your back for shorter periods of time, that’s business-casual-friendly, and that you won’t ever need to check, see our review of the best carry-on travel bags .

Based on my experience and research, we looked for travel backpacks with the following qualities:

  • Fifty to 65 liters, including a daypack: We looked at bags between 50 and 65 liters (including an integral, removable daypack). Packs this size can easily hold everything you need for any length of trip, while being small enough to remain manageable while you’re wearing it.
  • Clamshell opening: For extended travel use, backpacking backpacks have annoying qualities, including that they tend to load only from the top and are sealed with a drawstring. This design saves weight and means there’s one less thing to break. But it’s a total hassle when you want something from the bottom of the bag because you have to unload and reload the entire pack. We looked for bags where the front zips fully open like a suitcase, making it easy to pack or repack and find things during your trip.
  • A well-framed structure: A fully loaded backpack, even a small one, can easily weigh more than 20 pounds. My old Farpoint 55 usually hovered in the mid-30s, though that included a DSLR, three lenses, a battery pack , a laptop, a 360 camera , and other work-related gear. A fully supported internal-frame pack distributes the weight onto your hips, which are much stronger than your back and shoulders. If you’re going to be doing a significant amount of walking, you’ll want something with a frame.
  • Durability: We looked for features to help the pack last, like some sort of cover to contain the straps (for easier storage on planes and trains), as well as lightweight and water-resistant materials.
  • Plenty of storage (and separation): I’ve done all of my traveling in the past five years with a 55-liter backpack (which includes a 15-liter daypack). I tend to overpack a bit, but 55 liters lets me carry everything I need (the full list is below) for weeks, or even months, at a time.

Here’s what I usually bring for any length of trip (and this is our standard kit for testing):

  • main pack (the command module , if you will)
  • daypack (the lunar excursion module )
  • pair of walking shoes or sneakers (along with the shoes I’m wearing)
  • five shirts, one pair of shorts, one pair of jeans (not shown because I wear them in transit), one merino wool underlayer
  • warm hat (because my head lacks insulation)
  • five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, one extra T-shirt for laundry day, one bathing suit (I really recommend packing cubes )
  • rain jacket in an Eagle Creek bag
  • various adapters , camera batteries, chargers, etc.
  • various toiletries, vitamins, etc.
  • Osprey rain cover
  • razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
  • well-worn flip-flops
  • travel towel
  • portable Bluetooth speaker
  • prescription dive mask
  • merino wool jacket
  • inflatable pillow
  • smartwool half-zip midlayer
  • sun hat (because my head hates sun)
  • extra travel adapter for daypack (when the daypack is my carry-on)
  • pen (vital!)
  • a small laptop (a 15-inch MacBook fits in all of our picks)
  • GoPro batteries and filters
  • earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones
  • Writer Emergency Pack
  • USB battery pack #1
  • USB battery pack #2
  • backup headphones
  • iPod Classic (because you can’t always stream music)
  • USB charger
  • Sigma 30 mm f1.4 (with a wireless mouse to its right)

For our first version of this guide in 2016, we narrowed our choices to 11 possible contenders. For that initial round of testing, I poked and prodded the different packs to sort out whether they had any obvious flaws or issues. I had adults of various sizes try each pack to get a sense of what short and tall people preferred.

For each subsequent update, including this one, I tested with similar methods whatever new or substantially redesigned packs were available. In between updates, I took one of our picks on some extended travels.

The Osprey Fairview 55 and the Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpacks.

The Osprey Fairview 55 and the nearly identical Osprey Farpoint 55 have been one of our picks since the first version of this guide came out in 2016. (The Fairview is for people with 15- to 19-inch torsos, as measured from the top of your hip bone to your C7 vertebra, the one that sticks out when you press your chin to your chest. The Farpoint is for those with torsos from 17 to 22 inches long.) They’re now our top picks again, and here’s why.

Two green Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpacks - the main pack on the left and the daypack on the right.

You can carry them on the plane. Once you detach the daypacks, the main packs are now carry-on-sized, making them the most versatile travel backpack we’ve tested. Interestingly, the total capacity remains roughly the same as those of our other picks—that is, we were able to stow the same amount of clothing in this bag as we could in the REI Co-op packs and the Salkan . The daypack, in this case, would count as your personal item—on most airlines, this would mean you couldn’t also bring a large purse or a briefcase.

Or check your bag—your choice. The shoulder straps can be secured behind a zippered panel, so if you want to check the bag or put it in a packed luggage compartment on a train or bus, they won’t catch on anything. Doing this essentially turns the main pack temporarily into a duffle bag, complete with sturdy and well-padded handles on the top and side.

The straps of the Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpack.

They’re adjustable. Like our other picks, the main pack has height-adjustable shoulder straps. This crucial feature lets you get an all-important personalized fit that makes carrying the pack for any length of time far easier. The straps were padded enough for our testers’ comfort (though not as cushy as the Salkan’s, and slightly less so than the REI Co-op’s).

They have comfortable, easy-to-use daypacks. The daypacks are roughly the same size, or a little larger, than those of our other picks, something travelers who plan to cart lots of camera gear or other daily essentials will appreciate. The top of the shoulder straps connect to form a sturdy handle, which is extremely, ahem, handy. Each daypack easily holds a 15-inch MacBook and is comfortable to wear over long treks. There are two large exterior mesh pockets for water bottles . Though the daypack is a little short on organizational slots and pockets, its comfort made it the best overall.

The backpacks are tough. The Farpoint and the Fairview are made from 450-denier recycled polyester, which feels thick and sturdy, though more “plasticky” compared to the Salkan. (Denier is a measure of the fiber thickness in a fabric.) I put the Farpoint through six weeks of train, bus, and airplane trips across Europe, and it didn’t show any signs of wear or breaking.

You can attach a lock, if you want. Unlike the Salkan The Backpacker, both the main pack and the daypack’s main zippers are lockable.

The backpacks come in more color options than our other picks. Currently, the Farpoint comes in black, green, blue, and grey. The Fairview comes in black, green, red, and purple.

The packs include a lifetime warranty. Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee covers repair of any damage or defect for life—or replaces the pack, if repair is impossible. If you just want to return the pack unused, you have 30 days.

It’s been a pick in this guide for seven years—and counting. I have put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. After testing this 2023 pack, I liked it so much that I bought one for myself, replacing an Osprey Farpoint that had been my go-to pack for years of travel.

It comes in additional capacities. If you already have a daypack that you like, the Farpoint 40 and the Fairview 40 are just the main pack from the 55 (they’re also picks in our guide to carry-on travel backpacks ). You can add the daypack later if you want. If you want more space and don’t mind checking your luggage, the Osprey Farpoint 70 and the Osprey Fairview 70 are slightly larger versions of their Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 counterparts—anything we’ve said about the Farpoint 55 and the Fairview 55 also applies to them. They would work well for those who want to go with the Osprey but need more room in the main pack for, say, clothes for multiple climates, bulky items like ski parkas, and the like.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The U-shaped opening of the daypack is surprisingly small, restricting access. You can’t easily spot things at the bottom or carry bulky items. On the other hand, this does limit what might spill out of the pack if you forget to fully close it, something that has happened to me several times with the old half-clamshell design.
  • Previous versions of the Farpoint and the Fairview had large zippers that basically fused the daypack to the main pack. With this version, the daypack hangs off the back, secured only by the nylon compression straps. The straps loop through reinforced parts of the daypack, so it seems reasonably secure, and this new design does let you stuff more things in both packs—but as someone who carries a lot of expensive gear in the daypack, I’m less than excited about it.
  • The pack isn’t as comfortable as the heavily padded Salkan. Osprey seems to have prioritized weight and breathability over padding. In warmer climates, though, this could be a good thing.
  • Unlike our other picks, the Farpoint and the Fairview don’t include a rain cover. One is available separately, however. Osprey recommends the large size for the 55 L packs.
  • The new design is slightly smaller than the old one, as well as being a little smaller than the REI Co-op and Salkan packs.
  • Lastly, while looks are entirely subjective, the Farpoint and the Fairview are very much “backpack-looking backpacks.” The dark color choices are safe, to put it mildly.

Two blue REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Packs - the main pack on the left and the daypack on the right.

The REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Men’s and the REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel Pack - Women’s were previously our top picks, until they were replaced this year by the improved Osprey packs.

It’s easy to get just the right fit. The Ruckpack has well-padded and height-adjustable straps, closer in size and padding to those of the Salkan than those of the Osprey . Like the Osprey but unlike the Salkan, the Ruckpack comes in two models, one marketed toward men and the other toward women. The men’s model, available in black or blue, is for people with torsos between 17 and 21 inches. The women’s model, available in black or reddish orange, fits torsos between 15 and 19 inches.

It’s sturdy. The Ruckpack uses a recycled, 210-denier ripstop nylon. It feels similarly sturdy as the Osprey, though not as sturdy as the Salkan. Previous versions of the Ruckpack have held up well over time, and we’ll continue testing to see how the 2023 version wears.

It’s bigger than the Osprey, although the daypack is smaller. Capacity wise, there’s a bit more room in the Ruckpack’s main pack than in the slightly smaller Osprey’s. The daypack, however, is a little smaller. Which backpack works better depends on what gear you carry and how you want to carry it. If you have a lot of things you want on your person at all times, the Osprey is better. If you have more or bulkier clothes, and no camera or less-bulky daypack gear, the REI might be better.

The blue REI Co-op Ruckpack 60+ Recycled Travel pack daypack.

It has more pockets than our top pick. These pockets are on the inside (three are accessible via external zippers) and the outside (on the hip belt, for instance). This is especially convenient if you want to quickly stash items or get to them without having to open the main compartment. And, unlike the Osprey packs, the Ruckpack includes a rain cover.

You will have to check it. The Ruckpack’s dimensions make it too large to qualify as a carry-on, even if you detach the daypack from the main pack. The main pack’s straps can be stored behind a zippered panel when you check your bag.

The main pack’s zippers are easily lockable. However, the daypack’s zippers don’t have the standard holes for easy locking. Instead, you have to thread the lock through the holes in the pull tabs. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s an odd oversight.

REI has a good return policy. REI has a one-year “ 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed ” return policy if you’re a member (90 days if you’re not). This is not quite as epic as Osprey’s lifetime guarantee, but you should have enough time to determine whether or not you like the pack. However, if the issue is a manufacturing defect, you should be able to return it any time.

The gray Salkan The Backpacker travel backpacks - the main pack on the left and the daypack on the right.

The Salkan The Backpacker is a higher-end travel backpack for people who want the comfort of our top pick but are willing to pay more for swappable design options and more organization.

It has more organization than our top pick. The capacity of the main pack is 45 liters, basically the same as that of our main picks . It has more organization and compartments than the Osprey packs, however. There are two large water-bottle compartments on either side and a laptop compartment inside, as well as several other small, zippered compartments. In addition to the main zippered hatch, the top opens with a drawstring like a hiking backpack, allowing fast access or storage. This drawstring design does allow you to stuff a bit more into the pack than the Osprey or REI Co-op packs. However, the main pack is technically too tall to be a carry-on for most airlines.

The straps of the Salkan The Backpacker travel backpack.

It has the best padding. The shoulder straps are well padded—the best I’ve seen—and height adjustable. The back panel and hip straps are generously padded, too. All this does make the pack nearly twice as heavy as the Osprey, though we’re talking only a few pounds (under 8 pounds compared with the Farpoint’s 4-plus pounds). For reference, the Farpoint, fully loaded with all my clothes, heavy camera gear, and so on, was around 35 pounds, including the bag itself.

You can customize it. The pack is available in two main colors: black and light green. In addition, the straps have complementary color options, including orange (shown above), pink, and maroon, plus five other choices. This allows for more personalization and flair compared to the Osprey and REI Co-op packs. Salkan also sells several accessories to go with The Backpacker, such as packing cubes, water bottles, and a laundry bag that attaches to the inside of the main pack.

It’s sturdy—but has not-so-great attachments. The bag’s 900-denier polyester fabric (even stronger than our top pick’s 450-denier fabric) is extremely strong and should resist rips or tears. What zippers The Backpacker has run smoothly, but the design oddly eschews them in key places. While the main compartment has a zipper, as do multiple smaller compartments, the main and daypack’s top openings do not, using drawstrings and a flap instead. These flaps are secured with aluminum “G”-shaped hooks (Salkan calls them buckles) that slide into nylon straps. The hooks feel nice in your hand and could well last longer than the plastic clips on the Osprey and REI Co-op packs. However, connecting them takes a few moments longer than using a clip or zipper would—time that adds up. They also feel less secure, like they could slide loose under load and movement. (These hooks are also what connect the daypack to the main pack.)

It has a great warranty. Salkan has a “ ‘No Landfill’ Lifetime Guarantee ”: “If there is something wrong with your backpack that shouldn’t be, then we’ll try to repair it, and if we can’t, we’ll replace it.” In addition, the company has a 100-day trial period within which you can return or exchange the pack if you don’t like it.

But it’s pricey. The Backpack costs much more than the Osprey or REI Co-op packs. While it’s arguably better-looking than either, this doesn’t add much functional difference. The pack’s comfortable, but so are the others. It’s adjustable, but so are the others. It comes with a rain cover, but so does the REI Co-op pack, and Osprey’s is $40. Is the Salkan’s extra cost and organization worth the better aesthetics? That’s not for me to say.

And we couldn’t attach a lock. There’s no way to lock either the main pack or the daypack. There’s no way to attach a lock to the “G” hooks. The nylon drawstrings at the main pack’s top opening, as well as the daypack’s, offer no practical way of attaching a lock. For such a well-designed and feature-rich pack, this is a surprising oversight. Is this a dealbreaker? Probably not, at least for most people. With the daypack buckled and the drawstring closed, it’s highly unlikely someone could reach in while you’re wearing it without you noticing. However, I frequently leave my pack in luggage rooms at hotels or the occasional hostel without lockers, and not being able to lock it when it’s out of sight would concern me.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything we tested in previous iterations of this guide—just what’s still available.

During our research, we checked out a number of companies that make great packs, but none of those packs met all of our criteria. In most cases this was because the company specialized in top-loading bags, bags with wheels, bags that were too big, or very large bags that didn’t include daypacks. These companies included Black Diamond, Berghaus, Dakine, Eagle Creek, eBags, EMS, Ferrino, Gregory, High Sierra, Kathmandu, Kelty, Minaal, MEI, The North Face, Ortovox, Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Rick Steves, Thule, Timbuk2, and Victorinox.

The Deuter Aviant Access Pro has many of the features we liked, but its daypack is too small. The pack’s also more expensive than our top picks.

The men’s and women’s Thule Landmark 60L are well-made, sturdy packs, with a wide main-pack opening and most of the same features that we like in the other packs. They’re more expensive, though, and the daypacks aren’t as comfortable.

The Tropicfeel Shelter Backpack is a highly customizable pack to which you can add “modules” that expand capacity or change its use. It’s a cool idea, and the pack seems well designed, but it’s extremely expensive and doesn’t really add that much practical use over our main picks.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Meet your guide

travel pack smartphone

Geoffrey Morrison

Geoffrey Morrison is Wirecutter’s former AV editor, current editor-at-large, and a travel writer and photographer. He covers action cameras, gimbals, travel backpacks, and other gear. He has been to all 50 states and 60 countries, and he is the author of Budget Travel for Dummies and the sci-fi novel Undersea .

Further reading

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The Best Camera for Your Dream Vacation Isn’t a Smartphone

by Ben Keough

Packing for the vacation of a lifetime? Don’t forget to put a good camera in your bag. We have picks for travelers (and vacations) of all kinds.

Four tripods that we tested to find the best tripod, each with a camera attached to the top.

The Best Tripod

by Erin Roberts and Arriana Vasquez

If you want to shoot sharp photos while using a slow shutter speed, we think the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 tripod is the best choice.

An array of our top picks for the best portable bluetooth speakers against a beige background.

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker

by Brent Butterworth

The UE Wonderboom 3 is the all-around best portable Bluetooth speaker because it sounds good and looks cool, and it’s the most rugged model we’ve tested.

Three of our favorite backpacks, totes and duffle bags on display

Wirecutter’s Favorite Bags, Totes, Backpacks and Carryalls

by Truth Headlam

Whether you’re going to school, work, the gym, the store, or on vacay, you need a bag. Here’s the Wirecutter-recommended carrying gear we love most.

clever Journey

Your Ultimate Guide to Essential Items for Airplane Travel: Pack Like a Pro for a Smooth Journey

According to a survey conducted by SmarterTravel, a whopping 94% of travelers regard their smartphone as the most essential item for airplane travel. But what about the other items that can make your flight not just bearable, but enjoyable?

  • Discover the must-have items for a hassle-free flight
  • Learn how to pack smart and comply with FAA regulations
  • Explore personal travel tips from seasoned travelers like Brian Kelly
  • Leverage technology for a smooth travel experience

The Essential Airplane Travel Kit

Technology is your best travel companion.

Fact: 94% of travelers consider their smartphone as the most essential item for airplane travel.

Smartphones can store your boarding pass, itinerary, hotel information, and more. Don't forget your charger or power bank to keep your device fueled up. E-readers or tablets can also keep you entertained during the flight.

Abide by the Liquids Rule

Fact: The FAA allows passengers to carry on board a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes, each container being 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less.

Airlines enforce this rule strictly . Make sure your toiletries conform to these limits. Miniature versions of your favorite products or travel-sized containers can be lifesavers.

Comfort Essentials

A good flight is a comfortable one. Brian Kelly , the founder of The Points Guy, quotes: "I always pack my travel essentials: a comfortable eye mask, noise-canceling headphones, and a soft, thick scarf that doubles as a blanket." These items, along with a neck pillow and compression socks, can make even the longest flights comfortable.

Snacks and Hydration

Airplane food may not always hit the spot. Pack some healthy snacks like nuts or protein bars. A collapsible water bottle will keep you hydrated throughout your journey.

Dress for Comfort

Layering is the key to airplane comfort. As temperatures may vary from the airport, the plane, to your destination, dressing in layers can ensure comfort at every stage. Easy to slip on-off shoes also aid the security check process.

Health Essentials

Air travel can take a toll on your health. Packing a small first-aid kit with essentials such as band-aids, pain relievers, motion sickness medication, and any prescription drugs you take is always a smart move. Don't forget your hand sanitizer and a pack of disinfecting wipes.

Entertainment Essentials

Long-haul flights can get boring, so make sure to bring your own entertainment. Load your device with ebooks, music, movies, or games that can function offline. A good book or a crossword puzzle can also be great companions.

Personal Insights and Secret Tips

Organize your essentials in a small bag or pouch for easy access. Remember, space is limited on planes. An organized packer is a happy traveler!

Also, keep a copy of your documents such as your passport and driver's license on your phone - they can be real lifesavers.

Maximizing the Tech Advantage

As our dependency on technology deepens, there's no denying that it can offer tremendous benefits to the savvy traveler. Use travel apps like Google Maps, TripAdvisor, and Duolingo to navigate, find local attractions, or even learn a few phrases of the local language. Wi-Fi can be unpredictable, so remember to download offline maps, movies, or music.

What are some essential items for airplane travel? These include a smartphone, charger, toiletries in appropriate sizes, comfort items like an eye mask or neck pillow, snacks, and a water bottle.

Can I bring full-sized toiletries on the plane? No, according to FAA regulations, each container must be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less.

What items do frequent travelers recommend? Items like a comfortable eye mask, noise-canceling headphones, a soft scarf that doubles as a blanket, and a neck pillow are often recommended.

Is it necessary to carry a physical copy of my boarding pass? While it's not necessary, it's recommended to have a backup. Most travelers now use their smartphones for boarding passes, but technology can sometimes fail us.

What kind of snacks can I bring on a plane? Dry snacks like nuts, protein bars, or crackers are recommended. Note that there might be restrictions depending on your destination due to customs regulations.

What are some ways to make a long flight more comfortable? Items such as a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, and a blanket or warm scarf can contribute significantly to comfort during long flights. Also, regular movement and hydration are vital.

What should I wear for a long-haul flight? Wear breathable, loose-fitting clothes. Layering is recommended as it allows for adjustments according to varying temperatures. Slip-on shoes are also recommended for ease during security checks.

What health essentials should I carry? A basic first aid kit, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and prescription medications are all important. Remember to carry any necessary health-related documents as well.

How can I entertain myself during long flights? Books, music, movies, games, or learning apps are great options. Make sure they're downloaded and accessible offline.

Traveling doesn't have to be stressful. With the right essentials and a bit of planning, your journey can be as enjoyable as your destination.

Being prepared can take a lot of the stress out of travel. By taking the time to pack wisely, you'll ensure that you have everything you need for a comfortable, enjoyable flight. So, start your journey on the right foot by packing these essential items for airplane travel.

With careful preparation and packing, your journey can be just as delightful as your destination. Here's to hassle-free travels and unforgettable adventures!

  • SmarterTravel
  • FAA Guidelines
  • The Points Guy
  • TSA Travel Tips
  • Google Maps
  • TripAdvisor

Remember, each journey is unique , and the essential items for airplane travel may vary from person to person. Always prioritize comfort, convenience, and compliance with the airline and security guidelines. Bon Voyage!

Your Ultimate Guide to Essential Items for Airplane Travel: Pack Like a Pro for a Smooth Journey

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The 8 best battery packs and portable chargers for traveling

Jason Schneider

Whether you’re traveling across the country or just across town, you’re bound to find yourself in a situation where wall outlets aren’t available when you desperately need to juice up your laptop or smartphone. To help ensure that all your devices have enough power until you get to your destination, we’ve put together this list of the best portable battery packs to toss into your bag. You’ll find a range of options, including all-in-one powerhouses like the Omnicharge, MagSafe battery packs that pop right onto the back of your iPhone, and even a budget pick or two so you can save your pennies for that holiday shopping. Read on for the best portable chargers for your holiday travel.

Anker 622 Magnetic Battery (MagGo)

Anker is a marquis brand for chargers and accessories, and the 622 MagGo battery pack here is a culmination of sorts. Compatible with Apple’s new MagSafe functionality introduced on the iPhone 12 and 13 generations, this Qi-style wireless battery pack will find its way instantly to your iPhone’s sweet spot. There’s also a foldable, origami-style stand on that back that doubles as a grippy surface when it’s stuck to the back of your phone and a stand when you’re propping it up on a table — a handy extra feature when you’re spending hours on a train or a plane and are looking to catch up on your Netflix.

But you don’t need an iPhone to find value here. At 12.8 millimeters, this is simply a high-quality, ultra-thin battery bank with 5,000 mAh of capacity, meaning you can plug in a tablet or phone via the USB-C port to charge the old fashioned way. Thanks to Anker’s mini-cell technology, this thing is totally pocketable. The 622 battery pack is available in a ton of fresh colors including Interstellar Gray, Misty Blue, and Lilac Purple.

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Best Budget: Aukey PB-Wl02 Basix

Aukey, another ubiquitous budget brand that delivers high-quality battery pack charging for a lower price point, comes in with the Basix as our favorite affordable charger for a few reasons. First of all, the sleek, slim design puts this charger at basically the exact thickness footprint of a smartphone inside a slime case. This makes it great for holiday travel, because you can easily slip it in your backpack or your back pocket.

The PM-WL02 has an admirable capacity of 10,000 mAh, offering plenty of juice to charge up a phone more than a few times, and because there’s Qi wireless charging functionality, you won’t even need a cable. There’s even a rigid little kickstand that pops out of the back, allowing you to prop a phone up in landscape orientation to watch videos on your journey. While there’s compatibility with up to 10W of charging, it isn’t the fastest charger out there, and the ultra-basic LED indicator lights don’t provide as much detail as a higher-dollar option. But for the price, the PB-WL02 is really easy to recommend.

Nimble Champ

Measuring just three by two inches, at a thickness of less than an inch, the Nimble Champ is quite simply one of the most compact chargers on the market. That size makes it an excellent choice when you’re on the go because it’s easy to slip into side pockets of backpacks or hold behind your phone while you charge it. There’s no wireless charging functionality here, but thanks to 18W power-delivery charging, you’ll want to use it wired anyway. This thing delivers a lot more power than the size would imply — allowing you to charge two devices simultaneously and load up to 10,000 mAh of charge. And because this is a Nimble battery pack, there’s a focus on using recycled materials to manufacture, ship, and package the battery. It’s good, clean power that you can also feel good about.

Apple MagSafe Battery Pack

On build quality alone, the official Apple MagSafe battery pack is one of the best options on this list, but it does carry with it the need to have a generation 12 or 13 iPhone. While you can technically finagle it to charge anything that has the wireless charging coils on the back, this slim little pack is designed best for use with the latest iPhones. The capacity isn’t huge, but it provides up to 70% of additional charge on your iPhone, depending on which model you have and what battery-intensive tasks you regularly do. Once the pack is magnetically snapped to the back of the iPhone, there are even some nifty little software indicators to track performance, baked right into iOS. You’ll pay the Apple Premium for the fit and finish and extra software bells and whistles, but for Apple fans on the go, this is a really safe bet.

Omnicharge Omni 20+

One thing about portable battery packs is that not all of them pack the punch you need to charge your more power-intensive devices, like a laptop, tablet, or Nintendo Switch. The Omni 20+ is a device that delivers on its name. With enough output power capabilities to charge even a high-consumption laptop, this little square is sort of the Swiss Army knife of battery banks on our list. There’s up to 100 watts of power via the AC outlet on the side, meaning you can even power something that requires a standard three-prong outlet. There’s a 60-watt USB-C port for the power guzzlers in your carry-on bag, plus dual 18-watt USB-A ports for charging up a couple of phones, as well. What we really like about the Omni 20+ is the form factor: With a clear, detailed indicator screen to monitor temperatures, output, and battery health, plus plenty of big buttons to adequately control your juice, there’s no guesswork needed here. This is just a sleek, high-quality battery bank that’ll charge or power virtually any device you throw at it.

Zero Travel Cube

Zero is a bit of a newcomer in the phone power peripheral space, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few tricks up their sleeves. Zero’s Qi-certified battery pack ecosystem contains an option called the Travel Cube. This product essentially takes two of their ultraportable slim portable battery chargers and affixes them to a third central power bank in one small, travel-friendly block. This middle device also works as its own portable charger, allowing you to charge a phone with the USB-C port while you’re charging two of the slim battery banks. This is an obvious advantage for travelers who want a lot of extra power, a ton of options, and a slim package to toss into their bag.

The 10,000 mAh capacity is a solid amount of headroom for smartphone charging, but when you factor in two additional Zero battery packs (which you have to buy separately from the travel cube), it nearly doubles the total charge capacity. The Travel Cube comes in a sleek white footprint, making it look really nice — even with two pads charging on it — and it features nice, bright LED indicators for monitoring the remaining battery capacity. We would have liked to see Qi wireless charging available on the cube point itself, but this is a small gripe for the functionality afforded with the larger Zero ecosystem.

Techsmarter 30000mAh Waterproof Charger

Most of the portable chargers on our list — as indicated by the word “portable” — are travel-friendly products that will survive a trip pretty easily. This Techsmarter 30,000 mAh battery pack goes a little further by putting the battery pack you need to keep your devices charged into a thick, rugged, durable case. This charger comes with an IP66 certification that means your charger will be protected by both heavy precipitation and a fair amount of dirt and dust. This makes it ideal for those who spend the holidays camping or hiking, or for those who are just a little clumsier than most. The Techsmarter charger also features a built-in flashlight for added functionality, plus an SOS mode if you’re stranded on the side of the road. Of course, this battery pack is no slouch for charging functionality, either — featuring 45W Power Delivery capability for charging larger devices and an 18W standard charging output for a fast charge on smartphones, and enough juice to run a tablet. The design is a little bulky, and it isn’t the slimmest device to put into your bag, but much of the durability makes up for that.

Anker PowerCore Fusion III

Many of the portable chargers on this list sport multiple ports to charge up phones and tablets simultaneously, but in many cases, you can’t also charge the portable charger’s internal bank while you do this. The Anker PowerCore Fusion III is a fascinating hybrid because, on the surface, it looks like one of Anker’s super-capable wall-charging bricks. Instead, the Fusion also bakes in a battery bank, so while you’re plugged into a wall and charging your devices, the internal battery is also getting topped off.

This is ideal for those long airport waits where wall chargers are usually readily available. You can plug into the walk to keep your phone and tablet charged up in anticipation of your flight, but you will also simultaneously be charging your backup battery bank. Because this charger is made by Anker, you can expect clean output and quality, with 18W high-speed USB-C ports for your more demanding devices. With only 5,000 mAh of capacity, this isn’t the largest charger you’ll find, but thanks to the foldable wall-wart prongs and the added 2-in-1 functionality, this is a great backup battery to have at your disposal as you hit the holiday season.

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Jason Schneider

Losing battery power on your phone is not only inconvenient when you're in the middle of your favorite game -- it can be hazardous when you need to contact family or miss an important business call. The Pxwaxpy 36800mAh High Capacity Portable Charger joins other solid Cyber Monday deals with a 19% price cut, so you can ensure that will never happen -- at the best price. The charger is $37 regularly and is now $7 off and selling for $30. This external battery pack features universal compatibility with your favorite handheld electronics at your desk, on the go, or in the great outdoors.

The latest version of this portable charger consists of an ultra-high-capacity 36800mAh battery pack that provides at least a half-dozen separate charges for your iPhone or Android handset. It features 2.1A USB output and 2.1 A USB-C input plus 2.1A Micro USB input for newer smartphones. It is universally compatible with most handsets including, but not limited to, the iPhone 13 range down to the iPhone X and most modern Samsung Galaxy models. The charger is also compatible with tablets, a variety of additional smartphone brands, and accessories like Bluetooth earbuds, fitness trackers, and smartwatches, and rivals many of our current favorite chargers.

No one — not Mark Zuckerberg, Ivanka Trump, Chance The Rapper, or Megan Thee Stallion — can escape the curse of the phone battery; we all need a charger. Every single person on the planet, or every person with a phone, is at the mercy of the battery. Digital Trends readers aren’t exceptions, but we do have an edge; right now, when you enter the coupon code DTAUKEY03, you can save $9 on this 20,000mAh Aukey Portable Wireless Charger at Amazon. That’s a huge amount of peace of mind, and convenience, for only $37, down from its regular price of $46, exclusive to Digital Trends readers.

When we say “wireless,” we mean wireless. You can place your phone next to this Aukey portable charger — in fact it comes with a fold-out stand so you can lay back, or continue to use your phone, and watch as it charges — and it will provide your phone with its lifeblood in record time. How fast is it? Well, it can give an iPhone 50% of its power in half an hour. And it’s not a device that you’ll need to be running to recharge, either. It has 20,000mAh capacity, which is more than enough to charge an iPhone 11 four times before you’ll need to plug the charger in. And once you do, this portable charger’s USB-C capabilities mean that you’ll never have to wait long for it to juice up. That said, it’s also equipped with a USB-A port, which can be used simultaneously. Charge more than one device at once — up to three in fact — one in each USB slot and one wirelessly.

You can officially pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. You don't have to pay full price, as there are some fantastic deals at a variety of retailers. Ordering right through Samsung is your best bet for a great Galaxy S24 Ultra deal. You can get up to $750 off for a trade-in, and a $50 Samsung credit when you buy from the link below. If you pre-order soon, you'll get the storage on the phone doubled for free, and an additional $100 Samsung credit. There's even a 15% student discount. The best unlocked Galaxy S24 Ultra pre-order deal If you want an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, Samsung is the place to go. Go direct and you can enjoy up to $750 enhanced trade-in depending on the age of the phone you’re trading in. As well as that, you can benefit from $100 Samsung credit, a storage upgrade that doubles your room, and 15% student discount if you’re eligible. Even better, by going through our link, you can add on an extra $50 Samsung credit bumping the full figure up to $150. The perfect amount for a free pair of earphones or a hefty discount on a new smartwatch.

The best Galaxy S24 Ultra pre-order deals at T-Mobile If you’d rather sign up with T-Mobile while buying your Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, you still get the double storage bonus. Additionally, there’s up to $1,000 off via trade-in depending on the phone you’re trading in. It’s delivered via 24 monthly bill credits and requires you to sign up to a Go5G Plus or Go5G Next plan. Alternatively, you can gain up to $500 off via a trade-in and signing up for a ONE, Magenta, or Go5G plan.

Android Police

The best travel apps you need to use in 2024.

Cut down the time and stress of planning a trip

As you're scoping out your next vacation destination, all that wanderlust can romanticize the realities of travel. This means you need to plan an itinerary, pack a bag, have access to a navigation system, and plan out all those Instagram-worthy snapshots you want to show off at your next family reunion. Sometimes the prep leading up to a vacation can bring on some stress, but keep your eyes on that change of scenery, that beach day with your favorite Bluetooth speaker , and all those sightseeing excursions you planned via Google's toolkit . Don't get too overwhelmed—once you've picked the duration and destination of your getaway, you can use a few helpful apps to help you sort out the rest.

No matter how long your trip, you'll have peace of mind knowing you're totally prepared and can focus on being present in all those memory-making experiences. Ready to start planning? These apps will help you with all the prep you can think of.

1 Wanderlog - Trip Planner App

Planning out every aspect of your trip is easy with Wanderlog, and you can add as many tripmates as needed. Even though the app doesn’t allow you to book flights or make reservations, you can forward the information to the app and save it for reference. A free account offers everything you need to plan the perfect trip, but you can upgrade to an annual Pro account ($49.99/year) to unlock advanced features.

The app lets you create an itinerary by adding specific locations to each day. Plus, you can add accompanying notes and checklists, which is handy for tips, reminders, and keeping track of people you want to visit. Wanderlog might be the perfect travel app because it also helps you stay on budget, lets you split costs, and offers suggestions for new places to explore.

2 TripIt: Travel Planner

Like Wanderlog, TripIt helps you build an itinerary, but you can safely keep all necessary information in a single place. Manually add transportation, navigation, lodging, and other notable details, and, to make things easier, you can connect and sync your Inbox to import emails or forward them to TripIt. If needed, you can invite tripmates and let them edit your trip. The app is free, but you can subscribe to Pro for $48.99 per year to access real-time alerts, notifications, and other advanced features that will come in handy if you’re a frequent flyer.

TripIt gives you a safe space to save all types of travel documents and important contacts that are accessible even when you’re offline. Additionally, in partnership with Riskline, the app includes COVID-19 travel guidelines to advise you about the requirements and restrictions for your destination. What a great way to stay informed, so there are no surprises upon arrival!

How would you like to travel and discover new places all from the comfort of your home? If you're looking for your next dream destination or are already there and want to find nearby attractions, this app can help with both. It has made traveling and discovering new places easier than ever with a user-friendly interface. Framey also allows you to share photos from your travels for others to see and get ideas for their own future trips.

Once you find people to follow, you'll be able to see their posts on your home feed. Here, you can like, bookmark, and comment on posts. The ability to see more information about the location, such as its hours, directions, and nearby attractions, is a very useful feature. This can help you decide if it's a place you'd like to visit. Finally, you can use the search function to look for destinations and attractions all over the world, and you're sure to be impressed by the stunning images you'll find here.

Not everyone wants to stay in a hotel or with friends and family when they travel. Sometimes, you want something that is more affordable, has room for the entire family, and feels like home. Airbnb lets verified users rent out their space (usually a house, cabin, or condo) to travelers. You can explore Stays and Experiences based on location, date, and number of guests (including pets). Plus, many filters are available to help you narrow down your results. In addition, each listing has a photo gallery, and you can add listings to your wishlist for later reference.

While Stays are for those planning their own trips, Experiences are in-person and online activities hosted by local experts that let you learn or try something new. You can customize your budget and even book an experience for a private group. For Stays, you can learn more about the host and included amenities, read reviews from past guests, and contact the host if you have more questions. You can even become a host and rent out your personal space if you’re looking to make some extra income.

5 Polarsteps - Travel Planner & Tracker

This free app lets you plan your trips city by city and keeps track of every place you’ve visited with its optional “Travel Tracker” feature. Polarsteps will automatically track your routes and create a digital travel diary, giving you more time to enjoy your trip. Best of all, enabling this feature won’t kill your battery as it only uses about 4% daily.

For each trip, you’ll get a unique link that you can share with family and friends; they’ll be able to view your trip details but won’t have edit access. The digital maps are where Polarsteps shines — you can switch between Satellite and Street view. Once you’ve added all your planned stops, it will show the best routes and approximate travel time. The app also offers destination guides outlining the best places to visit, stay, and eat in a beautiful slideshow format.

6 AllTrails: Hike, Bike & Run

Trails aren’t just for hiking; they’re excellent for biking, running, backpacking, camping, bird-watching, fishing, and more. No matter your preference, this app will show you information and images of trails near and far. You can also use multiple filters and sorting options to find trails that suit your needs. While AllTrails is free and ad-supported, you can upgrade to AllTrails+ for $35.99/year. If you do upgrade, you can print or download maps, get alerts for wrong turns, find trails by distance from you, and view trail elevation in 3D.

The “Navigate” feature shows you a live map as you journey; it ensures you don’t get lost and keeps track of your activities in the app. You can choose a nearby route or start without one if you want to do your own thing. It also keeps track of time, distance, elevation gain, pace, and speed. As you’re journeying, you can add photos, see how many calories you’ve burned, add a waypoint, change routes, and see detailed navigation info . Lastly, you can connect with friends and other members to see and interact with their activities and discover new trails.

7 Tripadvisor: Plan & Book Trips

This app has a lot to offer, and it’s pretty easy to lose track of time as you discover new places locally or around the world and read helpful reviews from other users. In addition, you can plan trips alone or with a tripmate, save places you want to visit, view your saved places on a map, book hotels and experiences, view your bookings, and leave reviews for places you’ve visited. Tripadvisor is free and ad-supported; however, you can join Tripadvisor Plus for member-only pricing and perks at $99/year.

You can add notes and external links to your trips and see an overview of each city featuring a map, tons of local images, hotels, things to do, restaurants, and nearby popular destinations. Booking hotels is done on Expedia, using the in-app browser, letting you compare rates so you don’t overspend. With hotel booking and trip planning in one app, Tripadvisor gives you the best of both worlds.

8 MAPS.ME: Offline maps GPS Nav

Navigation is a huge part of planning a trip, and that’s where this free, ad-supported app comes to the rescue. You can look up any location and download maps for offline navigation to always have access. If needed, you can add terrain and subway layers to maps. To see additional information about a location, either tap a spot on the map or do a search, and it will show the address, coordinates, and distance away from your current location. Using the ruler feature, you can mark multiple points on a map to find the distance between them, which is excellent for planning daily activities.

You can create routes and choose which type of roads you’d like to avoid, like unpaved roads. If you’re traveling across states or countries, MAPS.ME will give you the option to download additional maps for each area so that it can create the best route for you to navigate ( similar to Google Maps ). Downloading multiple maps can be time-consuming but worth it to get the most out of the app. The power-saving mode is handy and can be set to off, automatic, or maximum. With automatic mode, the app will disable battery-draining features as needed.

Have you ever wondered how long the estimated wait time is at an airport, if there are any flight delays, or what items are allowed in your carry-on and checked baggage? MyTSA puts all the information you need to pack, prepare, and travel in one place. It will show you the closest airports to your current location to help you choose the best one and see important details. You can also add airports to your favorites for easy access. You'll also find an "AskTSA" section where you can get live assistance via Messenger and Twitter.

The "Can I Bring" tab has a full breakdown of the most popular items people may want to bring with them, like alcoholic beverages, bottled water, bug repellent, deodorant, electronic toothbrushes, golf clubs, vaping devices, and much more. MyTSA lets you know if you can have the item in your carry-on and checked bags. Some items have special instructions, which you'll see by tapping "see more details." This is extremely helpful to ensure that none of your items have to be left behind.

10 PackPoint travel packing list

Packing is another essential part of traveling; you want to ensure you have everything you need and appropriate clothing for where you’re going. With this app, packing will be the least of your worries. First, you’ll need to enter a little information about your trip: when and where you’re going, the duration, and the intended activities. PackPoint will then generate a packing list based on the expected weather and chosen activities, and you can check them off the list as you pack. New items can be manually added if needed, and you can swipe to remove items you don’t need.

While PackPoint is free, you can upgrade to Premium for a one-time payment of $2.99. Upgrading removes ads and unlocks custom packing templates, custom activities, TripIt integration, and Evernote integration. PackPoint practically does all the thinking for you when it comes to packing, plus it’s incredibly user-friendly, so you can’t beat the price.

It's the perfect time to start planning a trip

From packing apps to apps that help you find hiking and biking trails, the details of your next trip will all fall into place. Forget the travel agency and plan your lodging, activities, and navigation on your smartphone. While it can seem stressful to plan out every detail of your trip, you'll save money doing so, plus have the apps at your fingertips the entire duration of your journey. If you're really trying to stick to a budget, complement your travel planning with these apps for cheap travel .

The 12 Best Travel Tripods for Your Next Adventure

No matter where your wanderlust takes you, you’ll capture the moment better with this essential piece of gear.

best travel tripods

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

However, that premise goes out the window as soon as the shooting conditions change. If you want to shoot with a long exposure time, shoot in low-light or nighttime conditions, shoot video , or just want to take nice solo photos when you're traveling alone, you'll want a travel tripod.

While tripods are useful, they also tend to be bulky and heavy, so having a specific tripod for travel makes a big difference. Compared to standard tripods, travel tripods are usually smaller when collapsed, weigh less, and have smaller secondary parts like hinges, feet, and handles.

Not all travel tripods are created equal, though. Some are better suited to large DSLR cameras , while others may only work with smartphones. Here are the best travel tripods to consider for your upcoming vacation to suit all budgets, camera types, and experience levels.

Best Travel Tripods

Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

Best Overall

Peak design carbon fiber travel tripod.

Tripod, Camera Tripod for DSLR AT24EVO

Geekoto Tripod, Camera Tripod for DSLR AT24EVO

Osmo Mobile SE Intelligent Gimbal

Best Travel Tripod for Professionals

Dji osmo mobile se intelligent gimbal.

Selfie Stick Tripod

Best for Smartphones

Atumtek selfie stick tripod.

AM124 Carbon Fiber Tripod

Best Travel Tripod for Heavy Cameras

Sirui am124 carbon fiber tripod.

Element Traveller 5-Section Tripod Kit

Best Ball Head

Manfrotto element traveller 5-section tripod kit.

Max Grip + Tripod

Best for Action Cameras

Gopro max grip + tripod.

Flexible Camera Tripod

Best Flexible

Fotopro flexible camera tripod.

Selfie Stick

Most Compact

Bze selfie stick.

Travel Video Tripod

Best for Video

Manfrotto travel video tripod.

The Expert: I'm a freelance travel writer and editor who focuses primarily on adventure travel, which means I often take photos for stories in challenging conditions. While landscape photos may seem easy, I often shoot scenes with moving water, night sky, and time-lapse shots, which all require a tripod. I've used many tripods while traveling and am very conscious of weight and size as I often come close to airline weight limits with my bags, especially if I'm already carrying a heavy camera and lenses.

What to Look for in a Travel Tripod

Not every travel tripod will be marketed as a travel tripod, so when selecting one to use during travel, there are a few specific factors to consider.

One of the two most important considerations is weight. Every pound counts when you're working against airline baggage weight limitations, especially on smaller planes or airlines with lower-than-normal weight limits. Sturdy studio tripods can easily weigh into the 15-plus-pound range, but for a travel tripod, you'll likely want to keep it somewhere around 4 pounds or less—roughly the weight of a pair of boots. Plastic travel tripods will probably be the lightest but potentially the least durable. Carbon fiber is extremely strong and lightweight, but much pricier.

Our Pack-and-Go Picks: Best Travel Accessories | Best Travel Bags | Best Travel Gifts

The second most important factor is size. Traditionally, tripods have (as the name belies) three telescoping legs. Travel tripods still have that feature, though many have uniquely shaped legs or modified center columns and handles to make them thinner and shorter when compressed, at least compared to a tripod not designed for travel.

Next, consider the weight capacity/limit: If you find an inexpensive tripod with small measurements, look at the weight rating before you buy it, especially if you have an SLR camera with heavy lenses. Every travel tripod should say the maximum weight it can hold. Keep in mind there are risks to exceeding the weight rating. Either the tripod will break or, more likely, the weight of your camera and lenses will cause it to tip forward, potentially damaging your camera.

Finally, look at the device that attaches your camera to the tripod (called a mount, or mounting plate) and make sure the mount will work with your camera. If you're buying a smartphone travel tripod, get one with a smartphone mount (usually a spring-loaded hook that grips across the back of your phone). If you're looking for a travel tripod for a DSLR, make sure your camera has a threaded hole on the bottom.

Look for a tripod with a quick-release plate to make mounting and removing your camera much. Quick release plates stay screwed into the bottom of your camera and snap onto your tripod, so you don't have to thread your camera in each time.

Note: You can buy tripod mount adapters, but you'll still have to deal with weight limitations—so you can usually mount lighter cameras to smaller tripods, not the other way around.

How We Selected These Travel Tripods

multiple travel tripods

To choose the best travel tripods, I relied on my personal experience using travel tripods and talking with other photographers on their preferred brands and tripod features. From there, I narrowed down my potential picks, then researched user reviews, materials, and features for each.

Once I had a roundup of the top travel tripod options, I finalized my selections based on the best for each superlative below, intentionally choosing from a variety of brands, price points, and photography experience levels.

Peak Design doesn't make dozens of products within each category, but the ones it does make are incredibly well designed and engineered, and very intentional—there’s a reason behind every material and feature selection.

That seems true of the brand’s highly awarded travel tripod, which packs features like a hidden phone mount, a ball head with a twistable lock, extra clips for straps and attachments, and legs that can lower into an almost-flat position into a very lightweight package.

It may look like a standard tripod from the outside, but what makes Peak Design Travel Tripod so great for travel is its compact circumference. When packed, the tripod’s legs, ballhead, and adjustable central column fit together like puzzle pieces, allowing it to be much thinner than most travel tripods. Peak Design is also a B-Corp, is a member of 1% for the Planet, is climate neutral, and has a gear resale program to keep used gear out of landfills.

If you’re not hung up on name brands or particularly care about having a tripod that’ll be able to handle extremely tough conditions, consider the Geekoto AT24Evo. It may not be made with ultralight, ultra-durable materials like higher-end travel tripods, but you get features of much more expensive options in a relatively inexpensive package. That includes a ballhead for a full range of angles, a tall maximum height, a detachable monopod (akin to a selfie stick), and a quick-release plate.

This is an ideal budget tripod for tall shooters as it has an impressive maximum height of 77 inches, though that does come with a relatively long (19 inch) packed length.

Tripods with gimbals—weight-balanced devices that allow cameras to smoothly pan and rotate even while moving—were once solely the provenance of big-time Hollywood videographers. But now, with so many travelers making their living as professional content creators, travel tripods with gimbals have become much more common—and much more affordable.

This unit moves on three axes and the DJI app has built-in templates for easy shooting and editing. Features include motion stabilizing, single-finger controls, snap-on phone connectivity, and gesture control so you can stay in charge even when you’re in front of the camera.

The only downside is that the actual tripod part is fairly short, but that’s a fair trade-off considering it’s a travel tripod, camera gimbal, and selfie stick in one package small enough to fit in a jacket pocket.

For those who mostly take pictures on their smartphone, this unit has a convenient 2-in-1 design that’s ideal for traveling. It weighs less than 1 pound and folds down into a compact 12 inches, yet as a tripod, it reaches 51 inches tall. It can also be held as a selfie stick for those times you want a group photo.

This tripod is compatible with most popular smartphones, including iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and more. It comes with a rechargeable Bluetooth remote—a big bonus—that you can use for self-portraits while traveling solo.

It’s possible to find travel tripods that hold more than 26 pounds—but unless you’re a Hollywood cinematographer shooting on a massive video camera, they’re likely going to be overkill. The weight rating on the SIRUI AM124 Carbon Fiber Tripod is more than enough for heavy cameras with massive lenses, and I love that it has extra stability-focused features like retractable spikes on the feet and a central hook to add extra weight for counterbalancing the camera.

Aside from the price, the biggest downside is that photographers will have to make due with just a til-and-pan mount, or pay nearly $100 extra for the ball-head version .

The aluminum ball head on this travel tripod allows you to easily adjust your camera’s angle to capture any shot, with an independent 360-degree pan. It weighs less than 1 pound and extends to more than 56 inches, thanks to its five-section telescopic legs, which can also be positioned independently to accommodate any terrain.

The travel tripod has a maximum weight capacity of 8.8 pounds, making it best suited for small DSLR cameras, and a spring-loaded hook at the bottom of the center column to add weight for extra stability. It also comes with a carrying case for easy transport.

One of the reasons action cameras are great for travel is they can be mounted on almost anything—helmets, chest straps, underwater handles, and even the tips of skis and snowboards. But having multiple mounting options is useless if what you really need is a way to hold it still for time lapses or on-camera video recording.

Fortunately, the GoPro Max Grip + Tripod is both an extendable selfie stick and a tripod in one, and its compact size is one of the smallest I’ve seen. I keep my action cam mounted to it throughout my travels as the twist-locks are easy to deploy and the magnetic legs keep the tripod secure when I’m using it as a selfie stick.

The slim design is ideal for keeping the tripod mostly out of the frame on 360-degree action cameras, but it’ll work with any type of action camera that uses a similar mount.

This tripod doesn’t offer the height of a standard model, but its unique flexible (and waterproof!) legs can be wrapped around any surface—including trees, fences, poles, and more—allowing you to capture unique angles. The tripod comes with attachments for a standard camera, smartphone, and GoPro, and it has a ball head that easily rotates 360 degrees.

This travel tripod weighs just a few ounces, plus there's a Bluetooth remote control included for selfies. With a reasonable price point, the package is great value for all you get.

This selfie stick is as lightweight and compact as they come, allowing you to easily take photographs of yourself and your travel companions. It’s designed to hold smartphones, including popular iPhone, Android, and Samsung models, and it extends to 40 inches for good wide-angle shots. It also comes with a small tripod base and Bluetooth remote.

Keep in mind that this selfie stick is designed for smartphones only, not a heavy DSLR camera.

Capture stunning video footage while traveling with this tripod, which extends to nearly 5 feet and offers 360-degree panning for incredibly smooth images, thanks to its fluid video head. It also supports cameras up to 8.8 pounds.

Other top features include lever-style leg locks for fast setup, as well as a leveling ball joint to ensure perfect horizontal alignment on uneven ground. It has a removable pan bar and two camera adapters, and there's a carrying case included.

K&F Concept Concept Camera Tripod

Concept Camera Tripod

Most tripods have a maximum height around 60 inches (5 feet), but this one extends to 69 inches, allowing you to capture those high-angle shots. The tripod weighs just over 3 pounds, and it has a high, 22-pound maximum weight capacity.

The aluminum-alloy tripod features a 360-degree ball head for panoramic shooting, and one of its legs can be removed to convert it to a monopod. Its inverted central axis allows for low-angle shooting, as well.

National Geographic Travel Tripod Kit

Travel Tripod Kit

This travel tripod is your best bet for backroad adventures. Constructed of lightweight carbon fiber, it weights less than 3 pounds and easily converts to a monopod for nature photography. Plus, it comes with a durable carrying case.

Other highlights include five-section legs with twist locks, a 360-degree ball head, and three leg-angle stops for better stability on uneven terrain. Its 90-degree column mechanism allows you to shoot from ground level or directly overhead, and there's a spring-loaded hook on the tripod's bottom to hang it.

Travel Tripods that Go the Distance. Expert Suzie Dundas Offers These Buying Tips!

peak design travel tripod

PM : What is the biggest difference between a budget travel tripod and an expensive one?

SD: The difference can vary quite a bit. Think of travel tripods as having three main points to evaluate: weight, size, and strength. You can generally have two of those without paying a lot. If you want it to be lightweight and small, it may not be very sturdy. If you want it to be sturdy and lightweight, it may not be that small.

If you want it to be small, sturdy, and lightweight, you’ll probably have to buy a more expensive one. So the biggest difference between an inexpensive travel tripod and a pricey one generally comes down to which of those qualities you’re going to sacrifice (or not).

PM : How important is thickness of a tripod?

SD : Thickness doesn't matter at all—what matters is the sturdiness. In general, it’s fair to say that thicker tripods will be more stable, but that’s not to say that there can’t be thin, stable tripods, especially if they’re made with strong materials like carbon alloys. The actual thickness of the materials is secondary.

The only exception to this may be if you choose a travel tripod with plastic legs (which will likely be an inexpensive option). You may want to go with something a bit thicker to reduce the chances of it breaking or getting bent if it accidentally gets sat on or smashed in your suitcase.

PM: Twist or flip?

SD : With telescoping legs, you’ll find two methods of locking the legs when extended: twist locks or flip locks. Twist locks are easy to use: twist the locks in one direction to lock them, twist them in the other direction to unlock (and collapse) them; It’s essentially a wringing motion.

Tripods with twist locks are generally less bulky, setup is quick, and the lack of extra levers means they’re less likely to get snagged or caught on straps and bags. However, it can be easier to think they’re locked when they’re not, and they can trap abrasive materials like dirt and sand in the mechanisms if not cleaned occasionally.

Flip-style locks have some kind of lever or tab you’ll flip to switch between locked and unlocked. These levers may add a bit of extra width or bulk to your tripod, and they’re a bit slower to set up as most tripods will have at least six of these levels on the legs.

However, buyers who are new to using travel tripods will likely benefit more from flip-style locks, as it’s much easier to tell with a glance if they’re locked or not, eliminating accidental falls. Twist locks also tend to be a feature of higher-end (i.e. more expensive) travel tripods.

PM : How much is too much to pay for one of these?

SD : How much is too much to pay for a travel tripod is an impossible question to answer, except in very broad strokes: plan to pay somewhere between $30 and $1,000.

Travel tripods designed for phones and action cameras will generally be cheaper than travel tripods for professional-level cameras. You can get a high-end, durable travel tripod for a phone for less than $100, and likely less than that.

However, if you’re shooting on a more expensive camera, you don’t want the device holding that camera to be too inexpensive or poorly made. You also want to ensure your travel tripod for a DSLR can maintain its integrity and strength even when knocked over on rough ground or airplane storage bins, banged around in your luggage, or handled roughly in transit. Cameras are expensive and you want to be able to trust your tripod to protect them.

That’s not to say you need to go much beyond the $300 range, but it does mean DSLR shooters won’t want to consider price as the most important factor. And if you’re shooting professional-level content with extremely long or heavy lenses, you’re probably looking more at the $500 range, especially if you add a DSLR gimbal attachment.

PM : What are some extra features to be on the lookout for?

SD : Travel tripods are certainly not as complicated as the cameras themselves, but there are a few features you need to consider. If you plan on shooting video, you’ll likely want a pan handle. It’s just what it sounds like—a grippy handle you can use to smoothly pan the camera.

Another feature on many, but not all, travel tripods is an adjustable center column. They allow you to adjust the camera height without adjusting the legs. They’re especially useful on travel tripods with flip-style locks that take longer to adjust or for taller photographers.

You’ll also want to look at the tripod head: the apparatus that allows you to move and swing the camera while still attached to the tripod. Many higher-end and professional travel tripods will have ballheads, which can rotate your camera at virtually any angle between 0 and 180 degrees.

The other most frequent travel tripod head is referred to as a “tilt-and-pan.” These generally allow you to move the camera to the left and right, plus forward and backward, but only at 90-degree angles. Travel tripods with ball heads offer a much wider range of flexibility for shooting and are quicker to adjust.

Originally from the East Coast, Suzie Dundas is a Lake Tahoe-based freelance writer and editor who now splits her time between enjoying the outdoors and writing about them—she's the senior outdoor editor at Matador Network and a regular adventure and travel contributor at TripSavvy.com . She has written feature stories for publications like Outside Magazine , SkyLife Magazine , Playboy , Frommers, INSIDER, and more, and contributes couples travel and honeymoon content for TheKnot.com . Suzie co-authored Lonely Planet Sustainable Travel Guide and is the author of 2021's "Hiking Lake Tahoe." She has undergraduate degrees from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in media and political communication from George Washington University. Follow her on Instagram at @HikeUpYourSkirt or find more of her work at suziedundas.com . 

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The 13 Best Camera Accessories for Travel of 2024

We love lightweight, protective gear for traveling with our cameras, especially when it’s functional and durable.

travel pack smartphone

In This Article

Jump to a Section

  • Our top picks
  • Tips for Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more .

Travel + Leisure / Kristin Kempa

Capturing photos and videos of our travels is one of the best ways to preserve memories that we can look back on for years to come. Traveling with camera gear big or small can sometimes be tricky, but luckily, some accessories make it a much easier feat. From carrying and protecting your gear to gadgets galore that can help you take the perfect shot, we’ve narrowed down some of the best camera accessories for travel. 

We’ve researched dozens of items to help make travel photography more intuitive, safe, and overall enjoyable. Whether you’re shooting with a smartphone or a professional-grade camera, or taking photos of cityscapes or on-the-go hiking adventures, the world of camera accessories is a big one, with options for every type of photographer. These are the 13 best camera accessories to bring along on your travels.

Best Camera Backpack

Peak design everyday backpack 20l.

Peak Design

  • Design 5 /5
  • Capacity 5 /5
  • Portability 5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5

This has a well-organized interior and fits under the plane seat.

It doesn’t stand up on its own when you place it on the ground.

The Travel + Leisure team tested 21 camera bags for travel , and this camera backpack snagged the award for the “best overall” spot for its spacious capacity, intuitive design, and portability. It looks and feels nice to tote around your gear, with ample interior storage dividers and pockets for your camera body, lenses, extra batteries, and memory cards; a padded laptop slot; and more. Two side pockets allow travelers to pack a water bottle and a tripod as well. The design performs well in the field, with dual side zippers offering on-body access so you can quickly get the shot. During testing, we liked the waterproof bottom panel and noted that the weather-resistant material on the rest of the bag was effective. The magnetic flap-and-hook closure of the top storage area is perfect for another small camera body, a clothing item, or snacks, making it versatile as a great carry-on bag for your flight in addition to a solid camera bag on the ground.

Best Camera Backpack for Hiking

Shimoda adventure backpack.

It has extra padding for comfort, crafted for outdoor adventurers.

The removable main compartment inhibits the interior space a bit.

There are great camera backpacks for travel and then there are great camera backpacks for travel and outdoor adventures. This carry-on friendly pack by Shimoda Designs comes in both a unisex and women-specific design for the ultimate fit to your body. It’s ideal for photographers who focus on landscapes and capturing outdoor adventures, with padding and support in all the right places (extra shoulder and hip padding), weather resistant materials, and quick access to your gear. We also like that it comes in three sizes (25 liters, 30 liters, and 35 liters), so you can choose based on your camera body and additional lenses that you typically carry. The interior has padded walls with fabric fasteners to configure your set-up, and the optional small core unit holds a mirrorless camera and a lens. You can store additional lenses in the other main compartment. 12 exterior attachment points and two side pockets are ideal for adventurers who typically bring tripods, climbing gear, and more. As a bonus, an included 3-liter hydration sleeve allows for easy water storage.

Best Portable Light

Lume cube rgb panel pro 2.0.

This functional lighting source is also lightweight and portable.

Although you can control settings using the buttons on the device, it’s easier to navigate through the menu via the app.

For photographers interested in adding a portable yet strong light to their travel camera set-up, the upgraded Lume Cube RGB Panel Pro 2.0 is our top pick. The sleek design makes it easy to fit in your camera bag, and the fact that it doubles as a power bank is a major bonus in case you need to charge up your phone while in transit. The battery life is impressive, lasting up to four hours at 50 percent brightness. It also features a wide array of RGB color options (literally millions), and the 204 LED lights stretch a distance of up to 1.6 feet. You can mount this light on a tripod or a camera and control special effect options using the Bluetooth app on a smartphone. This is a versatile and functional lighting option for photographers as a whole, but the lightweight profile makes it super easy to travel with as well.

Best Camera Packing Cube

Peak design camera cube.

Peak Design 

You can use this packing cube inside a variety of different bags to protect your gear.

The packing cubes come in five different sizes, so it’s wise to consult the size chart online to make sure your camera set-up will fit correctly.

Sometimes you just need a removable cube for your camera body and lenses that you can switch easily between different bags depending on your needs. This is the one. The Peak Design Camera Cube is customizable and protective, helping to keep your gear safe while traveling. Sturdy folding dividers with handy shelves and even a “floating pocket” for lens caps, memory cards, and more offer a maximized use of space, with weatherproof zippers to keep the elements away from your precious items. The zippers run the length of three sides, making it a breeze to access your camera and re-pack it up.The 360-degree grab handle means you can safely and quickly get to the camera cube so you don’t miss the shot. 

Best Lens Pouches

F-stop gear protective wraps.

F-Stop Gear 

These wraps are made from a form-fitting, self-adhesive material so they stay put.

It’s best to use the wraps in tandem with a camera bag for the ultimate protection.

Enjoy peace of mind with the complete coverage of F-Stop Gear’s brand-new, innovative Protective Wraps, which come in three different sizes. These inventive wraps can be conformed to your lenses, camera body, or other fragile gear like your laptop or tripod to help keep them safe while traveling. You can roll, fold, or wrap the wraps around the gear, and each wrap has an impressive ability to adhere to itself without you having to fuss with buttons or zippers. Crafted from scratch-resistant fabric with plant-based foam adding extra shock-protection, these versatile wraps are incredibly lightweight yet effective and since you can mold them to your specific gear, they will take up as little space as possible in your bag, making them perfect for travel. 

Best Quick-access Camera Clip

Peak design capture clip.

It clamps to almost any strap and easily transitions from clip to tripod with the same hardware attachment.

Backpacks with thicker straps make it more difficult to attach the clip properly.

The Peak Design Capture Clip is a must-have camera accessory for outdoor adventure and city photographers alike. The clip gives you super-quick access to your camera and allows you to stay hands-free, a luxury that renders you ready to capture whatever scene you come upon — and fast. Whether you need to hold trekking poles, eat a quick snack, climb up a rock slide, or anything else life throws at you, the Capture Clip is designed to allow you flexibility, and it does it well. The clip itself is a compact and lightweight device, making it a travel-friendly option for camera security on the go. The lock release keeps your camera secure, even when you’re pushing the limits outdoors. 

Best Portable SD Storage

Pelican micro memory card case 0915.

This gives you crush-proof and watertight storage for your memory cards.

Memory cards are not included.

You spent all that time filling up your memory cards with amazing captures on your trip. The last thing you want is to have them ruined by water, dust, or have them break under the weight of other items in your bag. Rated as IPX-4, this rugged memory card case will keep up to 12 SD cards, six mini SD cards and six micro SD cards protected from unsavory conditions you might encounter in your travels. The case is rough and tumble yet fits in your hand, with an interior liner that absorbs shock so your memory cards don’t have to, making it an amazing travel companion that won’t take up too much space in your camera bag.

Best Portable Hard Drive

Sandisk 1tb extreme portable ssd v2.

  It has a rugged, water- and dust-resistant design.

While it supports the Apple iPhone 15 Pro, it does not support the ProRes Video file type.

Transport and store your data safely throughout your travels with the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD hard drive. Made for photographers who travel in a wide variety of conditions, this hard drive can handle being dropped from up to six feet, and its weather- and dust-resistant design means it can hack everything from a beach trip to a ski trip. An included carabiner loop makes it easy to tote around, with the ability to attach it to your backpack or tote, and the built-in hardware encryption protects your privacy. Fast writing speeds will keep you on the go as well so you don’t have to wait forever to transfer 2,000 photos you took on your waterfall hike. 

Best Portable Tripod

Oben ctt-1000l carbon fiber tabletop tripod and smartphone adapter kit.

B&H Photo

This tripod can hold up to 11 pounds.

Be careful not to overextend the legs as the bottom wedges may come out, and they’re tricky to reinstall.

Lightweight and packable, the Oben CTT-1000L Carbon Fiber Tabletop Tripod is a great travel accessory for vlogging, photography, selfies, and situations where you need a steady long exposure shot like with astrophotography, northern lights, or waterfalls. Although it’s small and lightweight, this tripod is durable and can support cameras up to 11 pounds, making it flexible for smartphones, point-and-shoot, mirrorless, and DSLR cameras with a variety of lens options, though you wouldn’t want to put a large telephoto lens on it. It’s possible to purchase this tripod with either the smartphone adapter or a video mount, making it versatile for your photography and videography needs. 

Best Camera Rain Covers

Ruggard rc-p18 rain cover for dslr.

This budget-friendly two-pack offers great value for its functionality.

These rain covers are not built to last forever, but they’re good for a handful of trips.

Protect your camera gear from weather, dusty conditions, mud, and more using the Ruggard RC-P18 Rain Cover. These plastic covers have a simple yet effective design. They’re see-through and offer access to your camera’s controls and a drawstring closure to keep moisture out, as well as a pre-cut viewfinder opening that you can attach to your camera’s rubber eyecup. It’s large enough to cover a DSLR or mirrorless model with a lens up to 18 inches long and 7 inches wide. For a rain cover that will add weather protection to your set-up and takes up hardly any weight or space in your luggage, this one is a great choice that won’t break the bank.

Best Power Bank

Anker prime 20,000mah power bank.

It charges devices super fast.

If you want to charge your camera battery, you’ll need a compatible adapter.

We like how compact the Anker Prime 20,000mAh Power Bank is — so small that it can practically fit in your pocket, so you know it won’t take up too much room in your carry-on bag. The high-speed charger can bring a laptop from 0-50 percent in approximately 40 minutes. It comes with two USB-C ports and one USB-A port, so you can charge multiple devices at a time — just make sure you have a compatible adapter to use it to charge your camera. The power bank itself can be fully recharged in a little over an hour, setting you up to stay charged and connected all day long. Consult the smart display on the power bank for up-to-date information on battery life, power input, and output. 

Best Portable Lens Cleaning Kit

Sensei doc-ck deluxe optics care and cleaning kit.

This has everything you need in one kit.

You might want to purchase additional pre-moistened cleaning wipes to add to your kit as this only comes with two.

Your lenses and other areas of your camera gear will inevitably get smudges, dust, fingerprints, and dirt on them while you’re traveling. That’s where the compact Sensei DOC-CK Deluxe Optics Care and Cleaning Kit comes in to save the day. With a blower, two brushes, a lens pen, wipes, a microfiber cloth, and a cleaning spray packaged up nicely in its own carrying case, you can’t go wrong with this value. You can store it easily in your luggage, and it has pre-cut foam to hold all of the items in place. If you don’t quite need all of those items, there is also a “basic” and “standard” version of the kit as well.

Best Photo Editing App

Adobe lightroom mobile photo editing app.

Adobe  

This makes photo editing intuitive and easy on the go.

If you pay for the monthly subscription, you can have access to the newest versions when available for download.

Whether you take most of your travel photos with a professional-grade camera set-up or your smartphone, having a good photo editing app on hand can really enhance your images, especially when posting to social media platforms while on the road. The Adobe Lightroom Mobile Photo Editing App is compatible with most iPhone, iPad, and Android phone models. Whether you want to do basic edits such as boosting the color saturation or brightening an image up or more advanced effects like background blur or erasing something in the background, this app can do it. It gives you access to professional tools for editing while remaining user-friendly for beginners.

Tips for Buying Camera Accessories

Prioritize durability and portability.

After investing in camera gear, the last place you want to skimp is on accessories, especially for traveling. From keeping your camera safe in transport, using it in the field, and keeping it clean, you want to make sure to prioritize durability in addition to choosing items that are lightweight and portable. Finding accessories that will last through your trips and won’t weigh you down are key factors to consider when shopping.

Consider your photography experience level and goals

When shopping for travel camera accessories, it’s also wise to consider what you aim to use your gear for and how serious you are about photography. Traveling with a point-and-shoot camera to capture timeless memories on your trips will require less as far as accessories than if you’re a professional photographer with a more complex photography and videography kit. However, if you plan to work your way up to more serious photography, it’s not a bad idea to purchase quality products that will go the distance.

Invest in a quality camera bag

A high-quality camera bag is one of the most important camera accessories you can buy, especially because it can count as your carry-on or personal item, and many models have space to fit other important items like your laptop, chargers, snacks, or even a packable jacket. Investing in a good camera bag will help provide peace of mind when traveling and also give you quick access to your camera and lenses when shooting on the ground. Choose a bag that offers weather resistance and is comfortable to wear as well. You’ll have to decide if you need a bag for city photography or outdoor adventures, as they will differ in their features. Many people have more than one camera bag, depending on how they plan to use it.

Yes, as long as you store your camera gear in a piece of luggage that fits your airline’s carry-on rules to ensure it fits either in the overhead bin or under the seat. It’s recommended to only check your camera gear if you have a hard case with a security device, but even then, if you can avoid it, you should always carry-on your camera set-up as you don’t want to risk it getting damaged or lost.

Pack your camera in a safe and secure bag with padding and/or dividers to keep it from scratching or bumping. Don’t overpack your camera bag either as you’ll be more likely to have your bag flagged for TSA security to look through it. It’s also a good idea to pack a rain cover and/or choose a bag that has weather-resistant material and ample padding inside for extra protection.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L contributor Lauren Breedlove used her first-hand experience as a travel photographer to find the right camera accessories and products that are portable enough for travel, while also being suitable for a variety of shooting conditions around the world. She also included a camera bag that was tested in the T+L lab and long-term tested by T+L editors in their travels.

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