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Must-Have Travel Accessories

Must-Have Travel Accessories

I love to travel and I find myself on a plane or a train at least once a month. As I get a little older, I value comfort and convenience, but I don’t want a lot of cheap stuff. I joke I only want a few things, but of the finest quality. Here are my favorite travel accessories, many under $30.

I note when anything has been provided to me for free. Also, links may be affiliate links. This means if you click through and buy, we make a small percentage of what you would have spent anyway.

Inexpensive travel accessories you must have for your next trip. From essentials to nice-to-haves.

Vim & Vigr Compression Socks

I had a doctor’s appointment coincidentally the day after I flew home from an event. My doctor noted the swelling in my legs from edema. He recommended I wear compression stockings during and after air travel.

I’d had to wear compression socks during one of my pregnancies, so I was familiar with them. The problem is compression stocking are so ugly. They are the legs equivalent of granny panties.

The brand Vim and Vigr sent me a pair of their super cute compression socks. I love them! Not only do they offer multiple fabric choices like a wool, cotton, nylon, and moisture-wick nylon, but also their colors and designs are fun and attractive.

Packable Luggage Scale

If you have to check a bag, you might know what it’s like to plop it on the scale at airport check in and find out you are over the limit. I have stuffed shoes in my purse before just to make the limit. I would stuff shoes in my bra before I pay extra to check my bag.

You could always use your home scale to figure out if your bag is too heavy before you leave, but what happens before the trip home when you’ve added in souvenirs or shopping? And everyone knows dirty clothes are way heavier than clean clothes.

Having a small, light luggage scale that you store in a pocket of your suitcase can be a lifesaver. You’ll never again have to decide if you need to throw away your dirty laundry at the United ticket counter. For example.

They make fancy digital, multi-featured luggage scales, but keep it simple. This one from Samsonite is about ten bucks.

Portable Power Bank

Before I leave my house to travel I make sure I have three things: my wallet, my smartphone, and a portable power bank to keep said phone charged. Everything else is gravy.

A few years ago the usual swag at conferences was a small “lipstick” charger. Those are fine in a pinch, but they don’t hold much power and they can heat up alarmingly. They are just cheap and unreliable.

Spend a bit more for a larger unit. The one I have can charge two devices at once, and holds enough juice to keep my phone going throughout a long day of travel.

This is the exact one from KMASHI I’ve had for more than a year. Love it. Never leave home without it.

Extension Cord

Well, not a cord. More like extra, portable outlet space.

You can never tell which hotels are going to have enough outlet space. I need two outlets very near the bed to charge my phone at night and to power my CPAP machine. And then I need to power up my computer at the desk. That’s fine if it’s just me, but if you have a traveling companion, he or she will need just as much charging space.

I’ve been in quite nice hotels with a shocking dearth of outlets. Or the outlets are too far from where you need one. Much like a little luggage scale, it’s useful to have a small travel extension cord that is always packed and ready to travel.

This one from Belkin is also a surge protector and can charge through a USB connectors.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes changed my life, man! I’d stumbled on to the concept in the pre-Pinterest days of 2003. Back then we had to get our packing tips from a newspaper column, like animals.

My husband and I, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to take four small children to Disney World. For a week, including the fifteen hour drive each way. In August.

The one good idea I had that year was to pack a complete outfit for each day for each child into a ziploc bag. Those seven outfits packed down small, fit in their tiny Power Ranger suitcases, and let me know they wore clean socks and underwear every day.

Fast forward to last year when I met travel blogger Roni Faida. She gave me a set of her travel cubes, and now I can’t pack without them. All my clothes are packed so orderly, and are compressed to take up so much less space in my luggage.

The best part is, I unpack at the hotel, then as the days go by I store my dirty laundry in one of the packing cubes. And on the way back, TSA are less likely to see your dirty drawers if your “electric toothbrush” triggers a search of your suitcase. (I do not have an “electric toothbrush”.)

Again, store your empty packing cubes inside your suitcase at home.

Watch Roni’s short video on how to use packing cubes, then pop over to her site, The Travel Guru and feel good buying from a small business.

Travel Journal

“But, Anne,” you say, “it’s the digital age. I store all my travel memories on SnapBook and InstaTwit.” Yes, and that’s something I guarantee you will regret in ten or twenty years.

Stop storing all your travel memories online. Have a dedicated travel journal where you not only write more than 140 characters about Paris, but also store those little bits of travel ephemera, like ticket stubs and postcards. Maybe even print off some of your pictures afterward and tape them in your journal, just like an explorer. (Not Magellan. His trip didn’t end well.)

You can either have one book for multiple trips or for each year or for that one bucketlist trip, or use a tiny, wee little notebook like from Field Notes for a few months or for each major destination you visit.


This kind of tourist pass can be called different things depending on the city. In Montreal, it was the MTL Passeport, but in most large American cities, there’s CitiPASS. For one price it grants admittance to multiple attractions around the city. Usually a pass like this pays for itself after you visit two or three of the museums or tours or whatnot, and you wind up paying 50% off usual ticket prices.

Check out the pass for southern California, as it has a great bundled deal for Disneyland at $150 off.

Consider checking to see if your own town has a pass like this. It can be fun for long weekends or a staycation, and you can visit all those local places you keep meaning to check out.

Alternatively, check out Groupon for your trip. It can be a really cheap way to try restaurants and attractions. Just read the terms very carefully yo make sure it’s valid during your trip.

Wristlet with RFID Blocker

I many touristy cities your credit card info can be lifted without the thief having to touch your wallet. Wristlets are a compact and convenient way to carry some of your stuff. They fit your money, your phone, and a few essentials when you go in places that don’t allow bags.

If you get one with an RFID blocker, they you’ll also be thwarting data bandits.

Crossbody bag

I might travel with a big purse or tote so I can maximize my carry-on capacity, but I like to tuck a small crossbody bag in my luggage for day to day use when I sight see or am at a conference. No big purse to lug around and more room than a wristlet. Use the wristlet as a wallet while you travel and leave your regular wallet at home. You don’t need all your everyday wallet contents when you travel.

Travel light, pack smart, and save money when you book a hotel. I like to use the Hotel Tonight app when I have to find a place last minute. Use my Hotel Tonight coupon code of APARRIS10 and get $25 off your first booking.

A feel like I always save money with Hotel Tonight, even over discount booking sites. But, since you can only reserve a room with Hotel Tonight seven days in advance, I use or for any travel where I make plans months or weeks in advance.

Looking for more travel content? Read these packing tips, ways to save for travel, and everything you need to know about TSA PreCheck.

Must have products for your next road trip. Find our best, awesome travel accessories for women. Great gifts for travelers or graduates. (Or you can be like me and just shop for yourself.)

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Anne Parris

Anne Parris is a managing partner Midlife Boulevard. Her personal blog, Not A Supermom, is your typical mommy blog that her kids say used to be funnier. Anne has a business degree and a dusty résumé from a top accounting firm and a Fortune 500 company, which she reminds herself of every time she is washing underpants. She lives with her family in Virginia and blogs mostly to support her coffee habit.

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Rosemary Superager

Sunday 18th of June 2017

For years I have saved the bags that you get when you buy nice shoes, boots or handbags. You can also swipe the laundry bags from hotels. They are super for using for packing. I put all underwear in one, all jeans/T shirts in another, shoes in a third and keep an extra one for the laundry. It means if you need to open your bag in the airport all people see are a nice set of clean bags and no knickers. The bags all wash well in my experience and help keep your clothes clean and unrumpled in the case too, because they lie flat without sliding around.

Rosemary Superager

Sunday 18th of June 2017

PS. Great article - after years of travelling on business, I can vouch that Anne has cracked it!

Suzanne Fluhr

Friday 16th of June 2017

You have some great suggestions here.

A light, cross body bag is the way to go. I have one where the zipper hooks onto the strap as a security measure. Instead of a traditional wallet, I use an RFID card case for credit cards and flat change purse for cash.

I haven't yet tried packing cubes. I like to tie my clothes down tight in my suitcase. They arrive looking ironed. I travel with a 20 inch roller bag regardless of for how long I'm traveling. I also have an Eagle Creek briefcase/back pack that I bought during a public transportation strike in Philly many, many years ago. It has served me very well and fits easily under the seat in front of me on an airplane.

Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

Thursday 15th of June 2017

Great tips here Anne. I use a few of these items but the luggage scale, packing cube and extension cord are three items I will be buying for my next trip. We are off to Spain in October so can't wait!

Laura Dennis

Thursday 15th of June 2017

Who wouldn't wear compression socks if they are that cute?!!? I also love anything that will help organize my packing. Thanks for the tips!

Anne Parris

Thursday 15th of June 2017

I used to just lug a huge suitcase and pack all the things. Now it's just so much better to travel light and still have every necessity.


Thursday 15th of June 2017

Good stuff, Anne! I used a lot of these tips on our travels, especially the journals. For fun, I buy journals in the country we are visiting, and use those for travels. Will definitely check out that outlet/surge protector. Thanks!!

Anne Parris

Thursday 15th of June 2017

That's a great idea! That way your journal is unique and a souvenir.

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