If you survived the travel chaos of the summer, consider yourself lucky. And if you’re traveling this winter, be prepared because holiday travel is always madness.
If there’s one thing we can all learn from the summer travel season—at least as passengers—is to avoid checking a bag at all costs. Depending on the reason for your travels or for how long you might be gone, that might be impossible. But if you’re going on a short trip (say, a week or shorter), carry-on only is a very feasible goal. And the strategy isn’t just packing lighter but also smarter.
Here is a packing list of the best travel gear to get you through the airport (and beyond) as calmly and swiftly as possible this year.
July Carry On Light suitcase
Touted to be the lightest carry-on suitcase (for adults) on the market at only 3.9 pounds when empty, it’s also incredibly durable for such a thin chassis. (Also incredibly important if you’re traveling on an airline that is a stickler for carry-on weight limits and/or aircraft with smaller overhead luggage compartments.) The polycarbonate shell is water-resistant with stain-proof nylon lining, and the double wheels are nearly silent when gliding on smooth floors inside buildings. But most importantly, you can really pack a lot in there—certainly enough for a weekend getaway or a few days longer—with 32 liters (8.5 liquid gallons) of storage space inside.
Victorinox Spectra 3.0 trunk large case
Or perhaps if you’re going to check a bag, make the most of it. Victorinox, a stalwart in the luggage space, recently debuted its Spectra 3.0 Collection, a suite of savvy suitcases designed for professional frequent flyers. The granddaddy of the bunch is the trunk, available in black or the brand’s signature red, with a whopping maximized volume of up to 99 liters. (And yet the suitcase itself only weighs 11.7 pounds, a remarkably low amount given just how big this suitcase is on its own, and it won’t cut in much to an airline’s weight limit—usually at 50 pounds per checked bag—compared to other medium and large suitcases.)
Parker Clay ‘San Ysidro’ weekender bag
Parker Clay is an Ethiopian-made, B-corp certified, premium leather and handwoven goods brand offering a variety of luxury leather goods, from backpacks and weekender duffels to laptop bags to briefcases. Each style is handmade ethically and sustainably from 100% Ethiopian leather, and supports the brand’s Center of Excellence, which provides personal and professional development and employment for women in Ethiopia. To date, Parker Clay has generated over 800,000 hours of empowerment.
Pakt packing cubes
Once you have the suitcase, the most efficient way to make it work best for you is with packing cubes. These don’t take up any weight but they will give you more extra space than you could ever believe, whether you believe in rolling your clothes or subscribe to the new doctrine of “bundle packing.”
Boots Ingredients Multi-Biotic face moisturizer
Traveling is dehydrating, and while you should absolutely be drinking a lot of water, you should be keeping your skin hydrated as well. Feeling refreshed in any way keeps you cooler—both physically and mentally. When packing toiletries, you should be strategic. Try to find and pack items that can do double duty, like this moisturizer from U.K. health and beauty retailer Boots. Safe for application on both your face and hands, this vegan cream is designed to closely match the pH of your face with prebiotics and probiotics, leaving your skin feeling hydrated instantly.
Diptyque travel spray
If you’re a Diptyque devotee, now you can bring your favorite scents with you in a TSA-approved size. This 12-milliliter canister is refillable on the spray bottle of any classic Diptyque perfume (50- and 100-milliliters), and it is customizable, including a customization kit available with the purchase of the travel spray. The Travel Fragrance is available in four of the brand’s emblematic scents: Do Son, Philosykos, Eau Rose, and Eau des Sens.
Amazon Fire 7 Kids tablet
Kids will be kids, and you can’t blame them for being unhappy while stuck at the airport. (Adults usually act out much worse anyway.) While is a lot of guidance about how much screen time kids should have, nearly every parent I’ve ever met has stressed the saving grace of a tablet that they can put in front of their kids when traveling, by air or car. The battery lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge, and the 7-inch screen is protected with a kid-proof protective case, because you know that thing is going to drop on the hard linoleum floor—a lot. (And for adults, Amazon recently rolled out an upgraded version of the Fire 7, also with up to 10 hours of battery life as well as support for Alexa, Prime Video and Music, and if you really can’t avoid them, Zoom calls.)
This is, by no means, a full-proof method or device for protecting and tracking your belongings should they become lost. But at least it’s something. When it comes to finding your keys around the house (or even the neighborhood), Tile is a genuine lifesaver that works incredibly well at an astounding value given the price point (which has remained relatively stable over the years) and minuscule form factor. Compatible with both iOS and Android apps for tracking, Tile Pro has the longest Bluetooth range at up to 400 feet and the loudest ring, so travelers can hear their luggage ringing in a crowded airport. If you think your suitcase is truly lost, you can use the Tile app to view its most recent location, or select “Notify When Found” to enlist the secure help of Tile’s global network to aid in the search. The company says it has heard customers say airport officials often don’t have any info about their lost luggage…until they show them the location on the Tile app, upon which those bags were retrieved.
Alternatively, you can slip a Tile Slim into a passport holder, wallet, or luggage tag. And you can place a Tile Sticker on all those things that you have out on an airplane—i.e. laptop, glasses case, tablet, earbuds case, etc.—that are high-value and likely to be left behind on a chaotic travel day.
Beis pet leash
If you travel with pets, you know that even though it’s worth the effort to bring them, it’s still a lot of work. Beís makes plenty of extremely useful, functional, and aesthetically pleasing accessories that makes travel feel cool again, and the brand has been expanding these to include more items for pets, including carriers and a leash that includes a minimalist crossbody pouch that can fit a phone and a passport with ease as well as waste bags. You can even fold up your boarding pass and stuff that in there if you still have to print it out.
This has to be the smallest (or at least one of the smallest) deodorants that you could pack that is both effective and lasts a long time (both in keeping odor to a minimum and just how many applications you can squeeze out of a tiny tube). The hyper-concentrated cream contains a proprietary formula without any fragrances and micro plastics, which the brand asserts is kind to your body and the environment. tubes range from 15 to 20 milliliters and requires a pea-size amount at every application. It’s easy to carry and can last up to 10 weeks, especially good for long backpacking journeys. To top it off, it is packaged in a sugar cane tube that is recyclable.
FlyKitt Pack by Fount
Even the most experienced frequent flyers still need a little help recovering from jet lag, especially on extra long long-haul flights. Fount, a personalized health system focused on body optimization and human performance, is gearing up to launch its FlyKitt, touted to be packed with everything travelers need to breathe, feel, and sleep better after coming off of long travels. That includes tailored dietary supplements (including a vegan option) to support the immune system and shift your circadian rhythm, compression socks for blood circulation, special sunglasses that control both the total amount of light and specific frequencies reaching the eye to keep your time shift in place, and pre-dosed coffee and sugar mixes to influence central and peripheral circadian rhythms. (And of course a set of ear plugs, an eye mask, and some RXBar protein bars for good measure.)
Beats Fit Pro True wireless earbuds
Beats by Dre has long been setting the gold standard for wireless, Bluetooth-enabled earbuds that provide high-quality audio and don’t fall out of your ears, especially during high-intensity fitness and exercise sessions. The Apple-owned brand has taken the next step with Beats Fit Pro, a set of premium true wireless noise canceling earbuds that comfortably lock in place thanks to a wingtip design. Owners can squeeze out up to six hours of listening time on a single charge, plus an additional 21 hours provided by its pocket-sized charging case. And when you really need to recharge quickly, the Fast Fuel feature can offer at least an hour of playback after just a five-minute charge. Available in black, white, sage gray, and stone purple, the sweat- and water-resistant earbuds are powered by Apple’s H1 chip, enabling automatic switching between iCloud devices, audio sharing, hands-free access to Siri, and Find My iPhone in iOS.
Apple iPhone 14
Apple’s latest iteration of the iPhone continues to improve its camera capabilities, making it a must-have device for both amateur and professional photographers. The iPhone 14 promises up to 2.5 times better quality for low-light photos on the main camera (thanks to bigger sensor and a larger aperture that lets in 49% more light) and two times better on the ultra-wide lens. The main camera also touts two times faster Night mode exposure. Also a time saver: Apple boasts the iPhone 14 has the best battery life of any of its standard iPhone models yet with up to 20 hours of video playback on the 14 (and up to 26 hours on the 14 Pro). Pricing starts at a flat rate of $799, but AT&T is running a promotion this holiday season, offering up to $1,000 credit after trade‑in of an eligible older model, which would make the iPhone 14 free after 36 months after trade-in.
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