There are thousands of travel products out there. From checked luggage to carry-on bags, travel backpacks, neck pillows, toiletry bags, headphones, portable chargers and much more, there’s a lot to choose from. At CNN Underscored, our goal is to make the decision of what to get easier in order to help you travel better, smarter and more comfortably.
As the year comes to a close, we’re looking at the travel products that our readers can’t hit the road without. If you’re looking to boost your travel wardrobe before heading off on your first vacation of 2023, consider one of these Underscored reader favorites.
$20 $10 at Amazon
Our pick for the best sleep mask overall is a favorite among our readers, too — and for good reason. It’s got a nose wire and side covers that help to block out any and all light so you can catch some sleep on any long-haul flight.
$18 $13 at Amazon
There’s nothing worse than streaming your favorite TV shows or movies from a plane only for your hand to go numb from holding your phone. Not to mention a sore neck from looking down at your phone! This ingenious phone mount clips onto the tray table on the seat in front of you to provide hands-free viewing.
$175 at July
The July Carry-All Backpack is a showstopper. Not only does it have space to store everything you’ll need to carry with you — including space to store a 16-inch laptop — but it doesn’t sacrifice on style. Available in four colors, we love this backpack, too.
$275 at Away
The Away Carry-On has a cult following for good reason. It’s an expertly crafted, durable piece of luggage that we dubbed the best overall hard-shell carry-on luggage in our testing. Not only are there plenty of colors available for every style, but it’s available at a reasonable price point.
$40 at Amazon
This is our pick for the best travel pillow overall; in fact, we’ve dubbed it the “Goldilocks of travel pillows.” Readers love it, too, for its firm support and portability. The memory foam interior collapses to half its size, making it a great pick for easy transport.
$99 at Amazon
Technology can make travel so much less stressful, including Apple AirTags. Our readers loved adding these small devices to their checked baggage when traveling to keep track of where their belongings were at every stage of the journey. Ultimately, the peace of mind provided by the AirTags can make any travel experience that much better.
$42 $30 at Amazon
This travel backpack is not only available at a reasonable price point, but it’s got all of the storage you’ll need for a trip, whether you’re traveling for business or leisure. It can hold everything from laptops to tablets, and offers compartments for small accessories like passports and charging devices you’ll take with you on the go.
$76 at Cadence
We love these modular, magnetic and leak-proof containers, and our readers do, too! The TSA-compliant, 100% leak-proof, customizable Cadence Capsules are a perfect option for transporting your liquids, gels, creams and more.
$21 From $20 at Amazon
Packing cubes are a must-have for travelers. Our readers loved this set of six bags from Veken. The set is reasonably priced at around $20, and you’ll get an extra-large cube, large cube, medium cube, small cube, laundry bag and a travel shoe bag to keep your dirty shoes away from your clean clothes.
$35 $33 at Amazon
This simple accessory is a game changer for travelers. The Bluetooth transmitter plugs into the in-flight entertainment system, allowing you to get the sound directly to your wireless headphones. At just $35 — or less, when on sale — this is something you won’t travel without again.
$14 From $11 at Amazon
This dual-purpose passport and vaccine card holder will keep some of your most important travel documents safe while you’re in transit. Not only will it keep your things in one place, but it will protect your personal information with its RFID-blocking technology.
$230 $93 at Amazon
Our pick for the best budget checked suitcase offers loads of storage in a stylish frame and 15 color options. We love this suitcase for its smooth-rolling wheels, high capacity and light weight when empty, meaning you can pack more inside without nearing your airline’s weight limit.
$98 at Beis
Weekender bags are a staple in any traveler’s wardrobe. This one from Beis is a favorite, as it’s priced at less than $100 and offers a great amount of storage, including a zippered bottom compartment for storing your shoes and other travel essentials away from your clothes.
$295 at July
This bag holds a lot for a carry-on bag. In fact, its 42-liter volume is among the the maximum that’s allowed inside the cabin. Readers love, too, that it’s got an ejectable battery that will keep your devices charged on the go.
From $26 at Amazon
Looking for more packing cubes than the standard set of six? This eight-pack means you’ll get more space to store all of your travel essentials on every trip. At a price that won’t break the bank, this is a quality set to boost your organization.
$295 at Away
If you’re seeking more space in your carry-on bag, the Away The Bigger Carry-On is a solid option. Featuring all of the best components of the classic Away Carry-On, this version can hold more while still fitting in most airline overhead bins.
$14 at Amazon
Leak-proof bottles are essential when you travel. After all, who wants to end up at their destination with a mess of shampoo and moisturizer all over their clothes? CNN Underscored readers loved this four-pack of silicone leak-proof bottles, which are available in fun color sets to match your luggage.
$26 $21 at Amazon
Planning to travel abroad? An international travel adapter is essential for keeping your devices charged up while you’re on the road. Our readers loved this reasonably priced option, which works in more than 150 countries.
$78 at Beis
This travel backpack is perfect for both overnight trips and for carrying on a plane with all of your must-have essentials in reach. We love its simple design and useful features, such as room to store a laptop, water bottle pockets, padded shoulder straps and much more.
From $15 at Amazon
Whether you’re traveling solo or with your family in tow, this drink caddy is perfect for keeping your hands free. It can fit both drinks and phones, as well as any other travel essentials, right on the handle of your suitcase.
$16 From $11 at Amazon
Traveling with a digital luggage scale is essential. They’re small and take up little space, but they can save you a lot of money — and stress — when it comes to avoiding overweight baggage fees. Our readers loved this option from Freetoo, which is available for just $11 when on sale.
$50 $40 at eBags
Underscored readers loved this set of six packing cubes from eBags. Included, you’ll get one large cube, one medium cube, one small cube and three slim cubes. Available in three different color options, each of the cubes features a mesh top for easy viewing.
$50 $42 at Amazon
$19 at Amazon
Keep your luggage protected all while remaining TSA-compliant with these travel luggage locks. The set of four means you’ll have enough for each of your bags, or for each member of the family. For just under $20, the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing your belongings are protected with these locks is worth it.
$27 From $23 at Amazon
This travel duffel bag doubles as a weekender bag, offering space to store clothes and other essentials for a quick getaway. At just over $20, it won’t break the bank, and you don’t have to sacrifice style, either — it’s available in 35 colors and designs.
$16 at Amazon
Trust us, travel shoe bags are essential. They’re a simple packing tool, as they’ll keep the dirt and grime on your shoes away from your clothes. This set of 12 is transparent, so you’ll be able to see which pair of shoes is in each bag when you get to your destination.
Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards currently available.