39 Best Travel Items: Gear, Gadgets, Toiletries, and Tech (2024)

Last updated: April 15, 2024

I travel a lot. These are my battle-tested travel items.

From electronics, batteries, and adapters to toiletries, organizers, my favorite backpack, and more.

This article is written for business travelers, solo explorers, digital nomads, and content creators. But moms and dads and students will find helpful stuff, too.

Nothing is sponsored. I paid for all of these.

There are lots of electronics because I’m a tech geek. But a few items might surprise you:

  • The best battery packs
  • A great big carry-on suitcase
  • Must-have toiletry accessories
  • 3 good organization things

These are the actual products I use and purchased. Links are mostly all to Amazon which is where I bought them, with my affiliate code added. Non-affiliate links provided by request on email.


These are my undergarments that I pack for every trip.

(1) Shirts

Smartwool Men’s Merino Wool Short Sleeve Tee

My friend Tynan got me hooked on Merino wool. It doesn’t smell after use like cotton does and stays fresh longer. I have two tee shirts in my travel bag: one exclusively for sleep, and one for gym workouts and daily wear.

(2) Underwear

ExOfficio Men’s Give-n-go Briefs

I used to travel with a clean pair of underwear and undershirts for every day of travel.

How naive I was back then.

Switching to merino wool undershirts and these travel underwear is an easy win to minimize and still smell nice. I travel with two pairs of these underwear. I wash them in hotel sinks or in the shower. They easily dry overnight or in a few hours.

(3 & 4) Socks

Smartwool Crew length, Zero cushion & Smartwool Men’s No Show

Two pairs of each. Pretty straightforward. Although I guess no-show socks are cringe for guys now?


Being organized makes me happy. It also makes travel and packing easier.

(5) Extendible Travel Bags

Gonex Compression Packing Cubes

These are great. You can probably get any brand; this is just the set I use. I put clothes in these plus one for toiletries and misc stuff. I love packing cubes and containers like this when I travel. It helps keep me organized. The only time I use the zippers for compression is if I’m over-packed and need to cram everything in.

(6) Small Zipper Pocket Bags

HRX Package Small Mesh Cosmetic Bags with Zipper

I use two of these in my backpack: one for electronic accessories like cables and one for toiletries. Any brand would be fine here. I think I use some free ones that my mother got from a Delta Airlines amenity kit.

(7) Lotion Containers

Silicone Travel Containers

I have a disturbing number of lotions and creams: hand lotion, face lotion, suntan lotion, etc. I like to have these creams available when I travel. So I put them into a variety of these little travel containers.

Be careful when packing liquids and lotions. Almost all travel containers leak due to imperfect seals and air pressure. These are the best I’ve found but I’m still searching for something more perfect.


After traveling for years with only a backpack, I am now old and lazy and added an extra suitcase for most trips. It’s nice to have the extra space to bring my own buckwheat pillow plus some extra clothes. I also like having a little bit of space to pack a few copies of my book to give away to people that I meet.

(8) Backpack

Minaal Daily Backpack

You’ll almost always find me with my backpack. I guess it is like my man-purse.

I have used this specific Minaal Daily backpack for many years. My friend Tynan told me about it. I like that you can tuck in the straps and turn it into a briefcase. But my favorite thing is that the zippers go all the way to the very bottom, so it can zip entirely open and sort of fold out flat. This backpack also has a bunch of pockets and storage areas.

Sean B. emailed me about the Samsonite Sillhouette 17 Backpack which looks neat. He says it counts as a personal carry-on for most budget airlines, too, and not a luggage item.

(9) Roll-on Suitcase

Amazon Basics Expandable Softside Carry-On

This is just a suitcase. Nothing fancy. It works fine and it gets the job done.

I wanted the biggest possible roll-on that easily stores in aircraft overhead compartments. Have used this for a few years and it holds up well.


Some of these might surprise you. Or maybe not.

(10) Compact Foldable Hair Brush

Arthaxi Travel Hair Brush for Purse

I think I bought six different compact brushes to find this one. It is the smallest brush with these type of bristles. It folds up. There’s even a mirror. I’ve used this for about a year and it holds up fine. Others I tested broke, were too big, or scratchy.

(11) Electric Toothbrush

PHILIPS Sonicare One Battery Toothbrush

I like this one because you can remove the brush head to fit more easily in bags. A single AA battery lasts me a year or two, so I’m not stressed about finding a rechargeable one.

(12) First Aid Tape

3M Transpore Clear 1-Inch Wide First Aid Tape

I peel off a little 1/2-inch slice every night and put it on my lips. Then I mostly breathe through my nose when I sleep at night, which is supposed to be more healthy.

Mouth tape doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. This 3M medical tape is cheap with free shipping. I’ve used it for years.

(13) Eye Drops

Refresh Tears Lubricant Eye Drops, 2 Count

“Eye care is self-care.” My eyes get dry on flights. Or from looking at too many screens. I should use these more. You can probably find them cheaper locally. I like this 0.5 oz size because it is very small.

(14) Eye Mask

YIVIEW Sleep Mask Pack of 3

Extremely lightweight. Any eye mask which is bumped out so your eyes don’t touch the fabric is fine. I try to get my hotel rooms near blackout. But last week I stayed at my friend Matt’s new house and he didn’t have blinds yet, so this was a lifesaver. Also necessary when you want to sleep on flights.


My favorite section! Here are some of my favorite tech gadgets. My laptop and phone choices are at the end.

(15) Bluetooth Mouse

Logitech MX Master 3S

This is what I use at home. I hate trackpads. I mapped one of the buttons to automatically close a tab in my web browser. I use that shortcut a lot.

(16) Bluetooth Keyboard

Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID or Logitech K380

I only take a keyboard on longer trips where I know I’ll need to do a few hours of focused laptop time. This is what I use at home too.

If you’re on PC, the cheaper Logitech is fine. But if you’re on a Mac and need an external keyboard because you dock your laptop, I highly recommend the Apple one with Touch ID.

I saw the Apple Magic Keyboard mentioned in an Ali Abdaal video and bought it on a whim. Now I can’t believe how much time I spent typing passwords when Touch ID wasn’t available.

(17) USB-C Wall Power Charger (smaller)

Dual USB C Wall Foldable Plug

I carry this in my day pack in case one of my batteries dies. 20W power each to 2x USB-C. I learned about this from Matt Mullenweg’s gear post. I expect to upgrade this to a 30W power when the tech improves.

(18) USB-C Wall Power Charger (larger)

UGREEN 65W USB C Charger

Used for laptop and phone and Apple Watch charging. 2x USB-C ports plus one old USB. I wish I could downgrade to pure USB-C, but I still sometimes need USB power. I like that this has 65W power, too, if I need to quick-charge my laptop. It claims to charge the MacBook Air M2 to 51% in 30 minutes.

(19) Presentation Clicker

Wireless Presenter for PowerPoint, 2-in-1 USB Type C

If you do public speaking, it is nice to have a cheap clicker to advance slides. The buttons aren’t intuitive (down and up, versus left and right) but it works fine. It is so small that it feels like a no-brainer to throw in on business trips.

(20) Laptop Stand

Expensive Roost version // Cheap version

I bring this on longer trips where I know I’ll be using my laptop a lot. This device helps get the screen more at eye level. Must be paired with a wireless keyboard.

(21) Battery (small)

Anker Nano Power Bank 5,000mAh

I carry this to recharge my phone on the go. I love how small this is. And it has the connector built-in. Not enough power for a full charge but great in a pinch. I always carry this in my day bag. It charges my phone fast, too, with USB-C. You can also get one with a Lightning connector.

(22) Battery (large)

Anker Nano Power Bank, 10 ,000mAh Portable Charger

I take this on longer trips when I know I’ll be using my phone a lot. Plenty of power for a full charge and more. Charges my phone fast, too, which is important when selecting a battery pack. The integrated USB-C cable is handy.

Wireless charging battery packs are sort of a scam. They’re too slow and they waste power. I only use wireless charging at home for overnight charges.

(23) USB-C Hub

Anker 6-in-1 USB C Hub with 65W Power Delivery

Sometimes I need HDMI or Ethernet when I travel for presentations or faster upload speeds. This USB-C hub is the most compact and reliable one that I’ve found.

(24) Wireless Headphones

AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) with USB-C Charging

These are great. Small and excellent noice cancelling. I use them at the gym, on the plane, or whenever I want to listen to audio.

But they are not good for making calls. You can hear fine, but I find the microphones – and thus your audio quality while speaking – is not as good as holding the phone naturally.

For the best microphone sound quality to make calls with a wireless headset, see the additional PDF download that I will link below.


I use a MacBook Air M2. I’m not going to talk about laptops because it is such a personal choice. But I’m very happy with this laptop.


I use an iPhone 15 Pro with 1TB of storage.

But why 1TB? After my friend Amit Gupta had leukemia many years ago, he made an offhand comment about why he always gets the largest memory storage phones: “I never again want to worry about not having enough space to save my memories.”

That encouraged me to always get the biggest storage on my phone. I film a lot of video, too, but don’t think I’ve come close to filling up 1TB.

Lately I’ve been wishing I got the Pro Max for a better 5X zoom lens. But I don’t want the bulk and weight in my pocket of the Pro Max.

Camera Gear

I make a lot of videos, vlogs, Reels, and short-form video. You probably don’t need any of these items unless you want to do the same.

(25) Wireless Microphone

DJI Mic 2, 32-bit Float Internal Recording, 250m range

The gold standard. It’s expensive but worth it. I’m glad I got the charging case, even if it is super bulky. Has saved me at least twice when the batteries would otherwise have been drained.

(26) Video Light

Pixel G1s RGB Video Light, Built-in 12W Rechargeable Battery LED

I use this to light photos for my famous friends. It is heavy and powerful. I’d like to use this for better lighting during video calls in hotel rooms or as a party light as described in Matt’s bag post, but haven’t yet.

(27) Selfie Light

NEEWER LED Selfie Light with Front & Back Phone Clip

A few weeks ago I was in New York City at the Met Museum. I saw a bunch of Gen Z girls taking selfies using this. I’ve been trying it for a few weeks and it has helped me a few times. Unsure if this will make the cut next year, but let’s see.

(28) Lavalier Microphone

RØDE Lavalier II

This plugs in to the DJI Mic 2 for a nice easy lav. But it doesn’t work with the iPhone, so I have to find a replacement. I’m still testing replacements.

Cables and Adapters

Here’s what I carry in my day bag:

  • 2x USB-C cables, generic for phone and laptop
  • 1X USB-C to Lightning cable
  • 1x USB to Apple Watch for charging

But I also have these small adapters that you might not have:

(29) USB Flash Drive

SanDisk Ultra Fit 16GB USB 3.0

Good for transferring large files. My most common use is for speaking gigs where I have slides to give to the A/V team. Pairs nicely with the USB-C adapter (below) so I can use it with my MacBook Air.

(30) USB-C to USB Adapter

Syntech USB C to USB Adapter Pack of 2

For use with the USB flash drive, above, or other instances when you need to plug in USB to newer laptops without an old USB port.

(31) USB to USB-C Adapter

JXMOX USB C Female to USB Male Adapter 4-Pack

Converts an old USB port to USB-C. Surprisingly tiny. I typically use this in hotels and on airplanes to charge my phone or other devices. These adapters are so small and cheap that they’re nice to throw in your little electronics bag. I use these a lot and you should probably buy one.


(32) Travel Buckwheat Pillow

Sachi Organics Buckwheat Small Pillow

I once heard that “Strange pillows make strange dreams.” I carry my own pillow now when I travel overnight. It is one sleep variable I can control when I stay in different hotels.

I love buckwheat pillows but couldn’t find a small enough one that I liked. My mother made mine with her sewing machine. The one I’ve linked might work. I removed a bunch of the buckwheat from the pillow to make it smaller and lighter.

Note that buckwheat pillows are sort of a love-hate situation. Personally I love them and don’t sleep with any other kind of pillow. But some people find them too noisy.

(33) Foldable / Collapsible Water Bottle

Vapur Flexible, Collapsible Wide Mouth Anti-Bottle with Detachable Carabiner

Helpful to fill up in airports and stay hydrated on flights. I love how lightweight it is and how little space it takes up. You can also purchase it in 1L and other sizes. I use the 700 mL and have carried one for years.

(34) Power Extension Cable

BESHON Flat Plug Power Strip, 3 Outlets with 3 USB Ports

This is the most boomer thing on my list. I use it at older hotels where I presume they won’t have power plugs near the bed or in a convenient location.

It is a bit bulky and I only pack it occasionally. But it’s a lifesaver when I need it. I like this one because it has some USB and USB-C ports, but they’re a bit slow and only useful for overnight charges.

Matt Mullenweg suggested this alternative which might be much better:

Baseus Charging Station 65W, 7 in 1 Power Strip USB C

(35) Large Harmonica

Fender Blues Harmonica

I travel with a harmonica for work but I don’t know how to play music on it. Instead, I use this to get people’s attention in workshops, seminars, and speeches. I call it my party harmonica. See a video demonstration of how I use it.

One problem is that America’s airport security assumes on the X-ray that this is an unloaded gun clip. Which it is not. I’ve gotten pulled out of the security line several times for this.

(36) Mini Harmonica

Harmo Mini-Mo Harmonica

Approximately the size of a quarter. This is my emergency party harmonica. I use it when I forget my large harmonica and need to get people’s attention at an event. Seriously it is so small. The sound is not good.

(37) Foldable Umbrella

STROMBERGBRAND Light Weight Travel Folding Umbrella

This is one item that I don’t always pack. But I feel like a genius when I have it and I need it.

(38) Car Phone Mount

Lamicall Car Vent Phone Mount

Easy car air vent mount for a smartphone. One of my pet peeves is driving with someone who puts their phone on their lap for map navigation. Handy for rental cars or lazy friends.

Perhaps the least-used device of all my gear. But feels like a lifesaver when I get to use it.

(39) Notebook and Pen

Field Notes – Plain Paper Memo Book

I almost always have a small notebook and cheap pen in my back left pocket. I prefer the 3.5″ x 5.5″ size as it fits in one hand and easily in my pocket. If this isn’t in my pocket then it is in the top of my backpack.

Bonus Items

I have five more items that I always travel with. Two of them I’d say are must-have.

To see that list, please sign up for my free Friends Newsletter. Then it will auto-email you the list, along with photos, links, and why I like each item.

Final Thoughts

I like to have the right tools at the right time. All this stuff helps make travel easier and my trips more productive.

These items are solid. Many I’ve used for years.

I’d say that my top items are:

What would you add to this list? Shoot me an email. I’m always looking for new ideas.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read:

Thanks to Martin Roth, Carl Vellotti, Vijar Kohli, and Erin Cafferty for reading drafts of this post.

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These are my battle-tested travel items. From electronics, batteries, and adapters to toiletries, organizers, my favorite backpack, and more.

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4 thoughts on “39 Best Travel Items: Gear, Gadgets, Toiletries, and Tech (2024)”

  1. This was a great post. Lots of great tech. Love the little dongles USB to USB C is a great one. Also happy to see you have an ergonomic mouse.

    The “emergency harmonica” made me LOL.

  2. For your rode lav mic to work with your iphone you might just need a dongle and a SC3 3.5m TRRS to TRS Adaptor for it to work


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