It’s finally happening: we’re allowed to travel again. For the first time in months (or years for some), we can journey to meet family and friends.
For me, this means finally getting back to the UK without having to go through an expensive quarantine. For you, it could mean something slightly different.
But we probably have one thing in common, especially if you’re reading this: we both love stuff. And, specifically, you probably want to find best gear and gadgets for travelers available today.
And friends, you’ve come to the right place.
To help you out on your journey, I’ve put together a list of essential of the best gear and gadgets for travelers in 2021.
Something to carry all your stuff in
In normal holiday periods, I tend to stick to carry-on baggage. But now I’ve been away from home for a while, I needed something with more space, something to put in the hold.
This is why I went for the Horizn Studios Smart H6.
I chose this wheeled suitcase for a few reasons. First off, I’m a sucker for hardshell travel gear. Some people don’t like how they get scuffed, but I’ll accept this tradeoff for the extra protection thank you very much.
On top of that, I’m a big fan of the small details dribbling out the the Smart H6.
It’s totally vegan, has a compression pad to keep your shirts crisp, a laundry bag, and includes a battery back to keep your devices juiced up.
Overall though, it’s just a joy to use. It glides along the floor, fits a lot in it, and is a perfect travel companion for when you need a bit more space, but something also small enough to cart onto trains and into packed cars.
Easily one of the best gear and gadgets for travelers in 2021.
A bag that you can easily walk around with
Now you’ve got all your clothes and bigger bits packed away in your wheeled suitcase, you need something else: specifically, a backpack.
You might already have one — in which case, godspeed, — but if you’re looking for something new, I have to recommend one from the Amsterdam-based company Property Of.
The business makes elegant and highly-functional backpacks, bags, and accessories that both look fantastic and are hard-wearing. I’m a convert of the company’s wares and own multiple pieces from them. I haven’t been disappointed yet and count their bags as some of the best gear for travelers around.
Property Of, forever!
Sound: glorious, projected sound
You may wonder why the third thing in this list is a speaker, but don’t listen to that voice: it’s a liar. If a portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t high on your priorities, are you even jamming?
Look, there are a lot of speakers I could’ve chosen here, but since its release, the BOOM 3 has been an essential and adored part of my life. It’s hard-wearing, sounds fantastic, and the battery life is still going strong after several years. This makes the UE BOOM 3 one of the best gadgets for travelers.
Genuinely, I have almost nothing negative to say about the speaker.
But you do have some other options. If you’re looking for something a bit sleeker? Then you could try the Sonos Roam. More of a direct competitor? Try the JBL Charge 5. Cheaper? You could look at the Tribit MaxSound Plus.
But for my money, the BOOM 3 reigns supreme.
(BONUS: if you have a chunk of luggage space and want a speaker capable of powering a party, the Anker Soundcore Rave Mini is both good value and a good time).
Sound: the kind that goes on your head
I’ve written before about how damn good noise-canceling headphones are when you’re traveling — especially on a plane.
My headphones of choice in recent times have been the Sennheiser Momentum 3 (which are still excellent), but these have been recently replaced by the Sony WH-1000XM4, which are pictured above.
Look, both sets of these headphones are fantastic, but the Sony models have nosed ahead in this travel list for two main reasons: they pack down into a smaller case and have a better battery life.
I’ve also been a fan of the AirPods Max, but their high price tag alongside a case that does nothing to protect the headphones doesn’t make them a good gadget for travelers.
The WH-1000XM4 though? An absolute dream. Friends, you’ve found that new pair of over-ears you were after.
Sound: the kind that goes into your ears
Each of them have their separate strengths, but the AirPods Pro fit incredibly comfortably and are terrific when you’re using a range of Apple devices. On the other hand, the sound quality and noise-canceling of the WF-1000XM4 edge them ahead of their counterparts.
I genuinely couldn’t pick between them. So they both win.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and different, I’d also recommend thinking about the Nothing ear (1) too.
Stay hydrated, pals
Make sure you drink plenty of water while you’re traveling, okay? And the best way to do that is with your very own water bottle.
For that, get a Chilly’s bottle.
They keep whatever liquid you want hot or cold, are totally customizable, and I love them. Dearly. And so will you. Easily one of the best bits of travel gear around.
Keep that brain buzzing with words
Okay… this one I feel a bit weird about.
Everything else on this list I literally brought with me while traveling. I haven’t done the same with the Kindle Paperwhite pictured above.
Instead, I’ve brought a couple of books with me (Mystic River and Wonder Boys, for those who care) and am planning on buying more as I go. Actually, what am I saying? I’ve already bought several since being here.
This though is a personal foible. If I’m being honest, an e-reader is one of the best gadgets for travelers around. For most people, the Kindle Paperwhite is the device of choice, but if you want to avoid the evil of Amazon, give the Kobo Forma a spin.
Me? I’m sticking with paper this trip, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
Something I did bring along was my iPad Pro, which is perfect for reading comics and magazines on. A tablet could fill a similar void for you too.
Make sure you stay fit
One of the first things to go on a trip is my fitness routine. This time around, I’ve tried to change that — and part of this approach has been jumping rope.
I started this at the beginning of the year to try and reduce the pressure on my joints from running. Since then, I used two different skipping ropes, both of which broke.
Then, I discovered Crossrope. They make excellent equipment with interchangeable ropes that are a joy to use. There’s also a companion app — although I’ve just been following YouTube workouts.
Honestly, it’s the best workout gear for travelers going. Light enough to carry, but torturous enough to help you shed those holiday pounds.
Of course, I also brought a pair of running shoes along with me. I swear by HOKA as a brand, but always go to a store and get some advice on running shoes. Don’t buy them online if you value your feet.
Keep all these cool things charged
One of my big issues with traveling is all about which plugs and adaptors to bring. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that any more because of this gorgeous little device.
Yeah, it has a dire name — Anker PowerPort III 3-Port 65W Charger — but it’s the best gadget for travelers going today.
As the name suggests, it has three ports (two USB-A, one USB-C) and can output 65W in total. The USB-C port in particular can output 45W, meaning it’s powerful enough to charge laptops. On top of this, that array of attachable plugs are a dream.
Basically, this little bit of Anker kit has made my life so much simpler. And for that, I salute it.
(P.S. if you’re looking for an external battery pack, I’ve also had great experiences with Anker’s gear. I didn’t bring one with me on this trip, because the Horizn Studios Smart H6 at the top of this article has one included).
Time to have some fun
It wouldn’t be a travel list if there weren’t some straight-up fun shit on here.
First off, Monopoly Deal. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Monopoly sucks. And you’d be right. But Monopoly Deal doesn’t suck. It’s a fast-paced card game that’s easy to pick up and have a lot of fun with — especially in a big group.
On the topic of other games that are easy to cart around, Hive is an excellent two player game. It’s like faster and simpler chess with bugs. I’m also a sucker for Hanabi, which is a co-operative deck building game.
In terms of other stuff, I’ve been loving experimenting with teenage engineering’s OP-1. This portable synthesizer, sampler, and controller is an exciting bit of audio equipment that’s a huge amount of fun to use. I’ve had a great time jamming on it during my travels.
So, there you have it, friends! A collection of the best gear and gadgets for travelers. You’re most welcome.
Get the Plugged newsletter
Subscribe to our snarky newsletter all about consumer tech.Follow @plugged