June 29, 2022

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Travel Finishes First

34 travel products our editors can’t leave home without

15 min read

When it comes to travel, everyone has one or two things that help make any journey more comfortable. Whether it’s a pre-flight beauty routine, a cozy sweatshirt, ultra-supportive neck pillow, reliable carry-on bag or anything in between, the best travel products make traveling a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Keep reading to check out the products our editors swear by when we travel. From splurge-worthy travel gear to those everyday essentials that become even more valuable on the road, these are our travel favorites.

$14 at Cadence

Cadence’s Capsules have been absolutely revolutionary for my travel experience. I was always running out of things like travel-sized moisturizer and toothpaste and now I don’t have to worry about it at all. I just squeeze in my toothpaste, plop in my moisturizer and pour my pills into each of these canisters, and I love how they are all magnetized so they stick together. The lids are secure but easy to screw off, and it’s super easy to clean them, too. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$32 at Comrad Socks

After learning about the major benefits of wearing compression socks on the plane, I’ve never traveled without them again. They not only keep me comfy on cold flights, but they help to fight leg fatigue, prevent swelling and even deter potential blood clots when walking around or stretching in-flight is limited. I particularly love Comrad’s compression socks because they’re fun and colorful, and come in a variety of different styles and true-graduated compression to choose from! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$78 at Everlane

I’ve been guilty of wearing pajamas on a plane, but I wanted to opt for something more put-together that still provided comfort on long flights. These Everlane pants check all the boxes and are the most comfortable pants I own. The lightweight fabric and elastic waist make these a must-have. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$699 at Briggs & Riley

I am not exaggerating when I say my partner and I fight over which of us gets to use this suitcase when we’re going on a trip together. It’s peak suitcase design starting from the wheels up, which are so smooth that we have to strategically store it somewhere in our apartment where our uneven floors won’t just cause it to roll gently away. I’m an overpacker who is stubbornly insistent on flying carry-on, so the expandable compression feature is an absolute lifesaver. The handle pops up smoothly, the external pockets are just the right size for me to slide a book and scarf in one and my phone charger in the other, the zippers work well. Rather than being needlessly over-engineered, it just does all of the essential things perfectly. Yes, it’s expensive, but with the quality build and the lifetime guarantee, I’m pretty sure I’ll never need to buy another suitcase. (Until I have to get my partner one of his own.) — Rena Behar, copy editor

$14.29 at Amazon

I’m not a packing cube person, but I like to stay organized, and these mesh laundry bags are super versatile for my packing needs. I’ll usually pack one or two of the larger ones to put dirty clothes in throughout my travels, and the smaller ones are great for giving small items like socks and underwear a dedicated spot. Then, when I’m at home, I just use them to keep delicate garments safe in the laundry. — Sophie Shaw, associate beauty editor

$59.99 at Amazon or $60 at Ostrichpillow

I’ve tried a ton of different neck pillows in the past, but none have ever been as comfortable or prevented post-plane neck and back pain as well as this one. It features a unique 360-degree ergonomic design, a memory foam core and a Velcro closure that fully supports my neck and helps to maintain proper spinal posture while I sleep or read. And unlike other neck pillows I’ve tested, this one compresses to 60% of its size when stored in its little travel bag, making it a no-brainer to bring along with me in my carry-on! This is without a shadow of a doubt the first thing I will be packing when it’s time to embark on my long-haul flight to Italy next month. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$39.99 at Anker

When I’m on the go, I’m almost always using my phone. Whether it’s for streaming music, taking photos, staying connected with friends and family at home or using Google Maps to get around, I drain my battery very quickly. So, I never leave home without this portable charger, which is small enough to fit in any travel backpack or purse. I’ve found it to offer the perfect amount of juice for a single day out. Then, I’ll charge it at night and reuse it again the next day of touring. It’s really a must-have when you’re traveling. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

$345 at Away

I have been using Away luggage for years now, and at this point, I think I’m a fan for life. The medium size suitcase is the perfect size for an over-packer like myself — I have brought this on trips ranging from four days (don’t judge) to two weeks, and it always seems to fit everything I need. I need to be organized when I travel, so I love the fact that one side is for soft clothing and the other side of the suitcase is for harder items that won’t compress. I find myself able to pack everything I need without having to struggle or stress out — plus the laundry bag in the suitcase is genius. I love this newer lavender color because it’s pretty and unique enough that I can always spot my suitcase on the luggage belt. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$65 at Away

If you invest in Away luggage, the only way to make an already great suitcase even better is to buy these packing cubes. These cubes are hands down the secret to packing every single thing I need in one bag, while somehow staying organized. I’m such a big fan of these cubes that I’ve given them as gifts to a bunch of people over the years, and I feel confident that anyone who travels (particularly those with Away bags) can use them. They’re excellent quality and the zippers somehow never seem to strain no matter how much I pack inside of them — well worth the $65. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$285 at MZ Wallace

This tote is my tried-and-true travel product. For four years now, I’ve brought it everywhere with me — including the office, weekend-long road trips, to Italy and back by plane, the list goes on — and it still looks as good as new. It also has never-ending storage; it comes with six interior pockets, three detachable pouches, a cross-body strap, a phone pocket and even a keyring strap. Just when I think I can’t fit anything else, there’s always more room for one (or 10!) more of my personal items. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$1,200 at Rimowa

When you put the sticker shock aside, this carry-on bag from Rimowa is one of the best out there. I’ve taken many carry-on bags throughout my travels, but this one reigns supreme for so many reasons. It’s got plenty of storage space inside, two TSA-approved exterior locks and the wheels glide across just about any surface. Plus, its hard aluminum exterior is about as durable as they come. I never leave home for travel without this bag in tow. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

$248 at Lo & Sons

I have tested so many backpacks with high-tech, overly designed features, but I keep coming back to this one. Much like the Briggs & Riley carry-on, it just works. The fabric feels sturdy, the straps have extra padding so they won’t dig in even if you’ve overstuffed it, and it has the correct number of pockets that I can separate small and larger items without feeling like I need a map to know what goes in which slot. It’s also big enough that I can shove an entire sweater, large scarf, and travel pillow in there if it’s too hot in the airport for me to want to wear it all onto the plane (I like to bundle), but doesn’t feel like it’s flopping around when it’s only holding essentials. I use an earlier version of the Hanover that doesn’t have the built-in laptop pocket, but they don’t seem to have lost any of what I like about it in the new design and have likely just made it better. — Rena Behar, copy editor

$200 at Dagne Dover

Whenever I embark on an overnight or weekend trip, I never leave my Dagne Dover carry-on bag behind. It’s large enough that it fits everything I need for a short trip, but small enough that it still fits underneath the seat in a plane or overhead in the storage compartment. It comes with a thick strap so it’s easy and light to carry, and also features a laptop sleeve and shoe and dust bag to keep my things organized. I absolutely can’t recommend this bag enough to frequent travelers. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$7.49 at Amazon

Planes aren’t known to be the best place to catch some shut-eye. To help make me look like I got eight blissful hours of sleep, I always bring a couple of the Global Beauty Care Collagen Under-Eye Pads in my carry-on. They help brighten the delicate skin under my eyes and diminish bags so I look awake once I hop off a flight. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$12 at Ouai and Ulta

I always struggle with product buildup when traveling, largely due to hotel shampoos and conditioners that gunk up my hair. This Ouai shampoo, which I have in both full-size and travel size, is fantastic at clarifying my hair and stripping out the buildup from those heavier products that can leave my hair greasy. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$38 at Lululemon

This bag has repeatedly sold out online, and for good reason. It’s the kind of product that you will never stop wearing and using once you purchase it. I have used it almost daily, but it really shines during travel. Whether I’m on a flight or taking a road trip, I love that this bag helps me keep my essentials — like extra face masks, hand sanitizer, my wallet and my phone — handy without moving around or adding bulk to my travel setup. I strap it around my chest and it’s a super-simple, hands-free way to carry essentials and avoid having to dig around for anything in my bags. It’s the perfect size for an iPhone, and the variety of colors and new extended sizing make it accessible to everyone. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$220 at Osprey

If it’s more of a backpack than a wheeling carry-on trip, I turn to my beloved Farpoint. This bag has held up through more than a cumulative year of backpacking trips; I’ve lived out of it on three-month and eight-month trips, throwing it on top of minibusses in Thailand and toting it onto ferries in Greece, along with shorter outings, and it’s stood by me the entire time. (Though I will admit to a minor seam rip thanks to my overpacking tendencies, I patched it at a shoe repair shop on the road and then easily shipped it back to Osprey when we got home for repairs.) I especially love how it opens around the entire width of the bag, rather than just at the top, allowing me to arrange the perfect packing-cube bento bag, and the straps zip up neatly inside a cover if I need to check it on a plane. The Farpoint is the one I’ve personally been using, since I bought it before the women-specific Fairview was released, but if I decide to replace it, I’ll probably swap over to a Fairview to dial in a better fit in the torso. — Rena Behar, copy editor

$30 at Skinstore

Whenever I fly, I bring a few of these 111Skin eye masks. They help create a relaxing moment on the flight and keep me from looking too tired after traveling. While the Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye Masks are my favorite from the brand, this set of three is travel-friendly, comes with a case and lets you try the different masks. — Sophie Shaw, associate beauty editor

$25.99 $19.99 at Amazon

This power adapter is an absolute must-have if you’re traveling internationally. It’s got four easy-to-use settings — EU, UK, Australia and US —that will cover you in more than 150 countries. It can simultaneously charge five devices through its four USB ports and one universal AC socket. I’ve even started using it at home, as it can accommodate so many USB cords to charge up all of my devices at once. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

$39 at Ostrichpillow

I can’t even get close to sleeping on the plane (or truthfully, anywhere) unless I have an eye mask with me. I can’t live without this eye mask from Ostrichpillow because it’s weighted and can get hot or cold, depending on how I store it and what my needs are at that particular moment. However, I use it as-is on the plane and it really helps to get me to sleep, and keep me asleep for a longer period of time. It blocks out every bit of light and has an adjustable strap, so it never slips off of my head. After using this eye mask during travel, I’ve legitimately noticed a decrease in my typical post-plane red, swollen and puffy eyes and under-eyes, as well as my inevitable painful migraines. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$139 at Nordstrom

I hate checking a bag and even carry-on suitcases can feel too big for me to lug around on all my trips, so I’ve tried to find the best backpack with ample storage that’s durable but also not hideous-looking. This bag from Baboon to the Moon has absolutely stolen my heart. Not only do I love the red color inside and out, but it’s proven to be nearly indestructible, with a waterproof exterior, lots and lots of pockets and the ability to fit under the airplane seat. — Rachel Lubitz, senior lifestyle editor

$69 at The Skinny Confidential

My face gets extremely swollen and puffy during traveling, but especially after, which is why I always make it a point to pack my TSC ice roller if I’m going to be somewhere with a freezer. Once cold, this hot pink skin care tool dramatically decreases any puffiness and redness, while also helping to bring back blood flow and heal my inevitable post-travel migraines. I also love to bring this thing with me to use during the duration of my trip because it’s a key part of my “normal” skin care routine, so it helps me to stay consistent and makes me feel as if I’m at home! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$58 at Amazon

If I’m heading away on a beach vacation (or just about anywhere, for that matter), I’ll take a speaker with me. This XB13 Bluetooth device is a great speaker option — we even dubbed it the best portable speaker for travel after our testing. It’s small but produces an impressive sound. Plus, this bundle is even better for travelers, as it comes with a hardshell case to keep the speaker protected in your suitcase. I love the fact that I can pair two of the speakers together to create a stereo sound on the go. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

$98 and $88 at Wildfox

Whether I’m traveling by car, plane or train, it’s imperative I wear something that’ll keep me comfy and warm, but also something that’s practical and can be shed when it inevitably gets too hot. Enter this set, which has become my go-to for traveling. Not only is it super cute, but it’s legitimately the softest clothing I own and also has a slightly oversized fit, allowing for the utmost comfort. Each piece can be worn separately and is also available in 11 different colors, depending on your taste. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$80 at Icebreaker

I’m really trying to convert my wardrobe to natural fibers as much as possible after learning that polyester-based fabrics are basically just plastic, and merino wool has been a big part of that migration. One of my favorite companies for it is Icebreaker, and the Tech Lite T-Shirt is a regular component in my travel wardrobe. It’s what I wear nearly every time I fly, since it’s comfortable, easy to layer, super-breathable and still cute. It also wicks moisture and resists odors, which is great if you’re living a backpacker lifestyle and don’t have time to wash your three shirts very often. For a more fitted, V-neck style, I’m also a big fan of Unbound’s slightly thicker merino tees. — Rena Behar, copy editor

$45 at Ceremonia

Ceremonia has officially become my favorite brand for hair products, so I’m thrilled that they have a travel-size kit of their best products. I use the Pequi Curl Activator almost every day, so it’s great to be able to bring it with me when I travel without having to carry around a giant bottle. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$14 $11.20 at Ulta

To help plump dry plane skin, I carry a mini version of Avène Thermal Spring Water on every trip. It’s a little bougie, but it’s incredibly refreshing and hydrating. It’s also great to take to theme parks or on hikes. Pro tip: Stick it in the fridge the night before. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$26 at Nordstrom

One thing I will absolutely never travel without? These. Out of all of the under-eye eye masks I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried a lot) these are the absolute best. They’re packed with an ultra-hydrating serum that sinks deep into the skin and results in glowy, de-puffed under-eyes. I’ve worn them on long car rides and even on planes — I have absolutely no shame! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$6.62 at Amazon

The thing about traveling to new places is that you never know what to expect. Really, that’s why we love to travel! But, what’s not so nice is when you’re met with unexpected noise during your travels or at your accommodation. Whether it’s a noisy hotel neighbor, nearby construction at the rental house or even a crying baby on a plane, I always carry Mack’s earplugs to block out unwanted noise. This 10-pair pack is small enough to store away in any carry-on bag during my travels. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

$9.99 at Target

I’ve gone on many trips where friends and family don’t pack sunscreen because it can be such a hassle and can cause messes. That’s where this Cetaphil stick sunscreen comes in handy. It may be little, but it offers SPF 50 and is water-resistant. — Lindsey Smith, associate editor

$22 at Amazon

If you’re like me and never take off your jewelry even when you’re traveling, you need these. The towelettes are small and compact, so you can store them in your makeup bag or carry-on, and are also fast-drying, so they never leave a mess when you’re on the go. They instantly (and safely) remove everything from dirt and oil to beauty buildup and other residues from traveling, and always look new and shiny afterward. I don’t know how I ever traveled without them. — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$75 at Away

Besides the fact that it fits perfectly into my Away suitcase, I love this hanging toiletry bag because it fits so many products. I am an overpacker, in particular when it comes to my many beauty products, and this hanging toiletry bag has been one of the first ones to truly fit all of my items. It’s deceptively spacious, yet it takes up less room in my suitcase than other toiletry bags I’ve tried, and once I get to my destination I can easily leave all of my products hanging in the bag for access. I’ve tried a variety of different bags and pouches over the years, and this one has been the most promising so far. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social

$45 at Dagne Dover

This bag always comes with me when I travel because it keeps my products super-organized and tidy. And unlike my other toiletry organizers, this one stands upright, so I like storing my shampoo and conditioner and any other hair care or skin care essentials I want to prevent from spilling. It also features a handle on top for easy carrying, a zip-top closure, customizable compartments inside and an extra ring to hang things like scrunchies — all of which I absolutely love! — Stephanie Griffin, senior digital content strategist

$150 at Shinola

While a quality travel wallet is terrific for storing all of your travel documents, money and passport, I love the simplicity of carrying a card case for my travel credit cards. This card case has five pockets — enough to fit my essential cards — and can fit in a secret compartment in my travel backpack or even my back pocket. Plus, I love that Shinola allows you to monogram the card case to make it your own. — Emily McNutt, senior travel editor

Find out which credit cards CNN Underscored chose as its best travel credit cards of 2022.

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