Travel demands gadgets. In a perfect world that would be a private jet, a cashmere robe and a Champagne fridge, but while you wait for those, take stock of these travel; accessories that will make your journey just that little bit easier.
We’re not talking water purifiers and a full-on medikit in your carry-on, but gadgets, devices and items of clothing that will cure a long list of first world problems.
It’s all about convenience. We’ve found a set of packing cubes to ensure you can squeeze in more of your dazzling holiday shirts, and keep them wrinkle-free, no less. A memory foam neck pillow to keep aches and pains at bay on long flights.
Noise-cancelling earphones for travelling light amid the sound of silence. There’s an organising wallet to keep your tech untangled, and an RFID-proof product to keep your travel money exactly where it should be.
Add a travel-proof t-shirt and a phone battery for tangle-free travel and you have a capsule carry-on that should get your through some tough trips.
Sixty decibels. That’s how loud the average long-haul aircraft cabin is thanks to both the engines and the air-con. You can lessen that by (a) sitting as far from the wings as possible, and (b) investing in some noise-cancelling earphones. Not headphones. Yes, you can buy much larger over-the-head models from the likes of Bose, Sony and Sennheiser, but the diminutive in-ear QuietComfort QC20 & QC20i (QC20 is for Android phones, QC20i for Apple) are so much easier to travel with.
As well as being small, their comfy StayHear+ tips make it easy to sleep while wearing them without the ‘hot ear’ syndrome bigger models cause. A 16-hour battery is handy, and unlike many of its rivals, they work as standard passive earphones even when the battery is drained. The only downside is that the QuietComfort QC20 & QC20i are not the most musical around, but for noise-cancelling and portability, they’re hard to beat.
People need power, but actually recharging on-the-go is a constant pain. Even if you have a good portable battery pack to give your phone or tablet some extra juice, travelling with cables is not pleasant. Cue the ionbank, a large battery capable of recharging a phone about four or five times over, and a tablet at least once. However, what makes this aluminium and leather battery stand out are built-in Apple Lightning and USB cables, which are pop-out from underneath a magnetic flap.
Typically you’d pop-out one cable to charge your phone (it’s 2.4 amps, so works super-fast), and one to recharge the battery (from any USB socket), but it can also work as a standard Apple Lightning cable; plug it in to a laptop and phone your phone and the ionbank 10K will be recharged. It’s also got a USB slot for recharging two devices simultaneously, though that does require using your own cable.
Talk to any experienced traveller and they will not only know about Icebreaker, but they’ll probably already have gotten through scores of this legendary travel t-shirt. It’s pricey, yes, but its roll-call of features makes it a must-pack. It’s made from 100% merino wool from New Zealand sheep that means it’s great in humidity as well as acting as a great base-layer in the cold.
It wicks away sweat, too, so you don’t look like a sweaty mess. Remarkably, it doesn’t smell even after a good few days of use. Lastly, it’s easy to wash and dries in a couple of hours. For backpackers and those who want to travel light, it’s a no-brainer. The catch? Since it’s made from 175gsm super-fine wool, it does tend to tear easily, so it’s best kept as travel-wear only.
Turning heads at the boarding gate might not be your number one priority, but when a passport cover looks this good, it’s hard to resist the indulgence. And why should you? Treat your travel documents, and yourself, to a little bit of luxury with this real leather passport cover from purveyors of fine gentlemanly things Smythson.
In croc-effect printed calf leather with a standout berry hue, there are few more sumptuous homes out there for your paper bits and bobs, and if you’re feeling particularly decadent, you can even pay a little more on top to have it embossed with your initials.
- Read T3's guide to the best passport covers
If you’ve done the gap year thing or find yourself in far-flung forests more than overseas meeting rooms, you might find an 85-litre behemoth backpack to be a perfectly acceptable travel companion. But, if you’re travelling for work, you’re going to have to kick things up a notch in terms of professionalism, and down a notch in terms of capacity, which is where this Knomo Harpsden Laptop Backpack fits in nicely.
Much more practical than a satchel if you want it to double up as a daytrip bag or need your hands free to navigate an unfamiliar metro, but more formal than an outdoorsy backpack like the North Face Jester below, its sleek design and included laptop wallet make it a good bet for business trips.
- Read T3's guide to the best backpacks
Think you’re already a pretty organised packer? Well think again, because these bag-within-a-bag packing cubes take things to the next level. If you need to keep your clothes as neat and tidy as possible in-transit, this is a great packing solution, allowing you to compartmentalise and corral your travel wardrobe without it just ending up flying around all over the place as soon it’s in the care of the baggage handlers.
The number of different compartments also mean you can separate clean from dirty without having to resort to the sniff test, and are a neat alternative to a bulky washbag or, worse, having loose mini toothpastes rattling around in the bottom of your suitcase.
- Read T3's guide to the best packing cubes
We can’t think of anything less delightful when you’re jet-lagged or delayed than rummaging around in a nest of tangled wires to charge up your phone or laptop.
This tech organiser from Knomo keeps that from happening by offering up a place for everything: elasticated straps for headphones and USBs, a zipped mesh pocket for keeping an eye on your valuables, multiple pockets for phones – a useful solution if you’re travelling with teenagers who can’t be trusted to look after their own stuff – and RFID card slots. By keeping everything you need within easy reach, it makes a great sleeve for popping into a larger carry on as you navigate security and the airport the other side.
This North Face backpack gives the air of the casual day tripper, so only you need know how much secret functionality it packs in. With a FlexVent suspension system combining ergonomic shoulder straps with a mesh back panel, it’s built for comfort even in warm weather, aiming to forego that hideous lower back dampness that less breathable backpacks can impart.
If you’re travelling with tech, you can chuck your laptop or tablet into the integrated padded sleeve for extra shock-proofing, while stashing those all-important snacks and other small bits into the abundance of other pockets. Plus, anything that offers this many colour choices (i.e. more than just grey or black) is a winner in our book.
The best way to keep DVT and other circulation-related beasts at bay is to don a pair of sexy compression socks while you fly. Snug fitting and stretchy, these sports compression socks from masters of the genre 2XU are a perfect example, and reviewers commended them for their comfort, fit and quality. Aside from their subtle sporty branding, they’re also low-key enough to pass as regular black socks – certainly more low-key than doing sockless lunges up and down the aisles, anyway.
It’s no fun getting your card details stolen and having to go through the rigmarole of calling your bank in the most normal of circumstances, so you can just forget about doing it from abroad. The best way to outwit e-thieves is with an RFID-blocking wallet, and this independent lab-certified version from Leopardd is one of the more stylish offerings on the market, as well as being tried and tested for your peace of mind. With a quick-access ID window and a smooth Napa leather construction, it’s both handsome and handy, a great combo to have on side when you’re on the road.
- Read T3's guide to the best wallets
Long-haul travel can really play havoc on your neck, especially if you already suffer with mysterious niggly pains, so to make sure you land comfortable and refreshed (well, as much as possible after eight hours in economy) with a travel pillow.
This memory foam version is engineered to instantly mould to the shape of your neck and shoulders for a tailored snooze, and features patent pending straps to adjust the tension. If you’re a bit of a loller when you sleep sitting up, the rear grip is sure to come in handy too, securing the pillow to any kind of headrest so you don’t end up drooling on a stranger’s shoulder, unless that was your aim all along – smooth.
- Read T3's guide to the best travel pillows