GoAbroad shares the best gear for traveling abroad in 2018-2019 in hopes that you’ll be prepared and even more excited for that next big trip. Even pro-travelers will find something useful in our guide thanks to ever-changing trends in technology and travel.
Whether you’re looking for some serious packing inspo or need to start checking off items ASAP, be sure to review our must have travel accessories for 2018-2019. Maybe scrolling through this guide will spark some new travel ideas too!
Where to buy your accessories for traveling abroad
Knowing where to start is half the battle. Budget travelers can find most travel necessities and outdoor essentials at retailers like Sierra Trading Post and REI Co-op Brand. We’re talking everything from backpacks to phone cases to functional footwear for ~relatively~ low prices. Pro tip: don’t shun those in-store experts away. They can help customize the perfect haul based on your itinerary and make some solid suggestions.
Looking to splurge a bit? Brands like Patagonia and Columbia have earned their cult following by providing top-quality gear, specifically outerwear, that last longer than most marriages these days. Many of their products have amazing warranties that may justify spending the extra bucks. If you’re more of a hardcore adventurer, check out Mountain Hardware for specialized equipment and apparel perfect for a longer stretch in the great outdoors.
As expected, online shopping is the reigning champ of convenience and variety. Just don’t wait until the last minute! All the aforementioned brands have reputable online stores we swear by. Although it’ll soon be apparent how much we love Amazon, be weary of fake reviews and too-good-to-be-true prices. Make sure you have ample time to return any subpar products too.
The travel gear you’ve already got on lock
Just a friendly reminder that you probably own a lot of primo travel gear already. Suitcases, daypacks, water bottles, light jackets, etc.—a new destination rarely requires brand new accessories for traveling abroad. Go ahead and reuse your favs. In the meantime, let’s review some travel basics:
- Smart phone, laptop, tablet + accompanying chargers
- Travel apps that will help with directions, language, or money
- Electric converters or adapters
- Journal/notebook and Pens
- Toiletries, hand sanitizer, medications, sexy stuff—no, not that stuff (well, maybe?). But definitely condoms and birth control.
- Passport ← E S S E N T I A L
Before you start shoving your clothes into suitcases, take a quick glance at your airline’s website to see your luggage allotment. There’s nothing worse than starting your journey with lofty oversized baggage fees.
Your personal bag or carry-on must be able to fit all of your valuables. Do not check your phone, passport, wallet, or any items that will make for a nightmarish arrival if your luggage gets lost or stolen.
Be smart about the number of clothes you bring—most of us have the tendency to overdo it! Choose garments that go easily with a number of different outfits and layer up! Some lightweight clothing and a few sweaters can keep most backpackers comfortable for months. Try to plan around the forecasted weather at your destination and, generally speaking, the amount of times you’ll dress up is less than you think.
The travel accessories we’re going ape for this year
1. Yoga mat
Not a yogi? Not a problem. The yoga mat is a multi-purpose travel tool even if you can’t touch your toes. It’s great for on-the-go exercise or extra sleep padding. From airport floors to hostel dorms, the yoga mat is added comfort to any space. Check out the Manduka Eko Superlite Travel Mat for a lightweight ( 2lbs.) mat that folds easily into duffels or backpacks. You can pick one up at Sierra Trading Post or online for about $24.99.
- Too bulky for your bag? Try Manduka’s yoga towel instead. It’s lighter, folds smaller, and super absorbent. It can be used in a similarly and makes for a great beach towel too.
2. Passport photos
Passport photos rarely make online listicles yet these simple snapshots may be a total lifesaver. Some countries require a passport photo for entry visas, national park passes, or even purchasing a local sim card. There’s a number of apps and websites that offer cheap DIY photos but your safest bet is to use an in-store service to meet specific photo standards. It’ll save you some time and money if you do it beforehand. If you have the pleasure of being a Costco member, you can pick up four passport photos for $5.34 and two large jars of nutella for $11.99.
- Not a Costco member? Your parents won’t share their membership? Well, Walgreens and CVS are just as efficient but charge $12.99 for two passport photos.
3. Insulated Water Bottle
At the bare minimum, you should always have a water bottle to stay hydrated and prevent unnecessary plastic use. If you’re ready to step up your H2O game, check out Klean Kanteen’s insulated bottles. They’re eco-friendly and keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 6 hours. Just imagine trekking around Southeast Asia with ice-cold water at hand or maybe strolling through your favorite European streets with hours of pipin’ hot coffee. The double-walled, stainless steel bottles may be heavier than your average water bottle, but it’s worth the weight and super easy to clean. The classic 20oz is $30.95 online and you can find them stocked in popular retailers like Target.
- Looking for something a bit lighter? Vapur Eclipse is a popular “anti-bottle” that is both light and space-efficient. Perfect for backpackers, the Eclipse is more of a sack that easily rolls up and clips into the cap’s built-in carabiner.
4. To-Go Utensils
For many, the norm of travel is to dine out for most meals. It’s arguable the best part of life abroad—new cuisines and stunning restaurants—but damn does that bill start to add up. Rather than routinely starving and splurging, make cheap eats convenient with unique travel accessories like to-go utensils. Having a set of silverware at the ready opens a whole world of possibility—fruits, yogurts, cereals, spoonfuls of peanut butter—from the comfort of your hotel to snacks on the go. To-Go Ware by ChicoBag are highly reviewed bamboo flatware that comes with a handy carabiner. Trusted by brands like Patagonia and REI, these long-lasting, food-safe utensils run for about $12.95 online.
- The only real alternative for this product is to not have your own utensils and be at the mercy of hostels and couchsurfing hosts to have enough utensils for you. Live your life, I guess.
Less of an essential but one you won’t regret, hammocks are perfect for… wait for it… hanging out 😂. They’re super comfortable and quickly turns any space between two trees into your own personal bedspace. From urban parks to deep wilderness, catch Zzzs for free by carrying along a hammock. With a name like Eagles Nest Outfitters Sub6, you know this hammock is up to specs. It’s incredibly light and highly packable. For $69.95, it’s pricier than what one might expect but it’s durability makes it the best gear for traveling abroad. Can’t say that about your iPhone, can ya?
- Fine. You want something a bit cheaper and we totally get it. The Farland lightweight nylon parachute hammock is the perfect hammock for day trips. It weighs less than 2 lbs. and you can grab it on Amazon for about $20.
6. Packing cubes
There are two types of travelers: Those who swear by packing cubes and those who haven’t tried them yet. Seriously, they are the holy grail of travel packing and can make life on the road easier—especially for backpackers. If you’ve ever had to unpack then pack a backpack or suitcase, over and over, then you’ll understand why we’re all obsessed with packing cubes.
The Gonex Luggage Organizers are one of the most popular brands of packing cubes. The standard set comes with a large, medium, and small packing cube as well as a laundry bag. These come in a variety of sizes, sets, and colors starting at $18.99 on Amazon.
- Smaller sizes of packing cubes work great for backpacks, but larger cubes are more suited for the suitcase. If you’re planning on living out of a pack, check out the Expandable Packing Cube Set from REI Co-op for longer, more narrow cubes. Starts at $29.95.
7. Lonely Planet Guides
As cliche as it is useful, Lonely Planet guidebooks are an accessories for travelling abroad found in the hands of newbie nomads or in the packs of seasoned globetrotters. These guidebooks have become so widely used that many mock their abundance, but you can’t deny how relevant and up-to-date they are. Lonely Planet features far more than accommodation and food— language tips, cultural insights, and authentic experiences can be found cover to cover. They also make for a personal souvenir! Order a hardcopy for around $24.99 online.
- Don’t want to lug around a book? We hear ya! Lonely Planet’s website allows you to purchase entire guides or even the individual chapters as eBooks. Get exactly what you need for $4.95 per chapter or full guides as eBooks around $15-20.
8. Woolite Travel Laundry Liquid Soap
Okay, back to basics. One of the last things we consider when planning a trip is keeping our clothes clean. Laundromats are way less common than you’d like to think and hotels may charge a fortune for a clean wardrobe. These Woolite Travel Laundry Liquid Soap packets are ideal for on-the-go washing and will thoroughly clean your clothes. All you need is a sink or bathtub! Grab a 20-pack from Amazon for $8.99.
Looking for more of an all-in-one product? Something that slices, dices, AND makes julienne fries? Holla at Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. A full bottle is a little pricey (but still worth it) and you can buy travel sized bottles of this miracle soap in every blessed Target near and far. Use it as detergent. Use it as body wash. Use it as emergency shampoo if you need to. It’s truly magical! Cool off with some peppermint. Soothe yo’self with Lavender. Whatever your scent, Dr. Bronner’s got you, boo.
9. Portable Speaker
From lazy beach days to your cozy Airbnb, music enhances the travel experience. Invest in a portable speaker for when earbuds just won’t cut it. The UE Boom 2 is one of the best gear for traveling abroad bluetooth speakers on the market with a large wireless range and long battery life. It’s waterproof and shockproof too so don’t hold back! Grab it on Amazon for $94.95.
- Ready to raise the roof? Check out the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless speaker instead. An elegant design and seamless audio composition delivers a clear, high-quality sound for all to hear. It weighs 14 pounds and costs $699.98 making it the perfect accessory for backpackers on a budget. That was a joke. We’re glad you’re paying attention because it’s important to choose your accessories for travelling abroad wisely!
10. Pack a purse
When packing for a trip abroad, don’t forget to include a purse. We recommend purses for traveling abroad as they are often more stylish than your average daypack and, if chosen correctly, can provide a secure way to keep valuables on hand. There are a number of great purses for travelling abroad, but we’re particularly fond of KAVU’s line of bags and totes. The Payton Pack is an adjustable rope shoulder strap with internal and external zip pockets. It’s a comfy way to showcase some personality and carry all of your friends’ crap when they forget to bring their own bag. Purchase online for $55.
- For travelers who enjoy the anonymity of blending into a destination check out Fossil’s line of handbags and bags. Chances are you have a friend or two that raves about these purses and their durability and makes it great for on-the-go travellers. The Bailey EW Crossbody is stylish and professional yet perfect for long days in new cities. The only thing the locals will point out is how great your purse (unless you’re wearing gym sneakers and jeans in Europe, then they’ll point that out too). Grab it online for $78.00.
For the airplane / best air travel accessories
Air travel should be easy, yet we dread of long days tucked away in terminals or cramped in middle seats. Look, we’re not going to tell you to get an eye mask, ear plugs, or what snacks to bring (though, we’d say trail mix), but we will tell you about the best air travel accessories that many overlook. These products prove just as beneficial on-the-ground as they do in the sky which make them must have travel accessories for any elevation.
11. Portable Charger
Commonly referred to as power banks, these handheld devices hold a giant battery that charge your phone and other electronics on the go. Think of all the frustrations you can avoid without having to tether yourself to an airport wall every few hours! We cannot overstate that these are the best gear for traveling abroad. When choosing a portable charger, look at multiple ports, battery size (mAh), and if they have high-speed charging. We recommend the Anker PowerCore which can charge an iPhone 7 6.5 times before recharge. That’s a lot of Tinder swipes! It runs for about $39.99 on Amazon.
- Okay, that one may be a bit excessive especially if you’re looking forward to staying off your electronics. Anker’s PowerCore II Slim perfect for convenient quick-charges or emergencies. Compact and small enough to carry along, grab the PowerCore II Slim for $27.99.
12. Inflatable Travel Hoodie Pillow
It’s EXACTLY what it sounds like and EXACTLY what you need for your next long flight. The HoodiePillow is made from premium sweatshirt material and will fold flat in your bag making it more practical than most neck pillows. Simply inflate the inner pillow, throw on the hood, and pull the drawstrings to zone out for an hour or seven. It’s one of the best air travel accessories yet equally handy for trains and buses too. Grab it Amazon for $24.95 then rest easy knowing you’ll rest easy!
- If you would rather save some money, just take your mom’s neck pillow. I’m sure she’ll understand.
13. Universal Travel Adapter
Long layovers and an inexplicable lack of outlets make most airports a travellers purgatory. There is nothing worse than wading through airport stalls in every destination to buy overpriced adapters that don’t protect your electronics. We’ve been there and we refuse to go back. Invest in a universal travel adapter, specifically one that converts voltages and lets you charge multiple devices. We recommend BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter, a worldwide plug adapter that safely charges up to 7 devices. Don’t worry, it’s about the same size as an iPhone! $39.99 is a small price to pay for universal connectivity a.k.a making your friends jealous via snapchat.
A bit of a minimalist, are we? The Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Travel Adapter is an ultra-compact adapter set that sit flatter than anything else on the market. It’s sleek and gets the job done for under $10.
14. Headphone Splitter
From in-flight movies to the perfect travel playlist, dynamic duos no longer need to share one set of headphones. The Belkin Speaker and Headset Splitter is an inexpensive way to connect two headsets into one device ensuring optimal audio. Starting at $3.95 on Amazon, it’s the cheapest travel accessory on this list. Even a solo traveller may find themselves wanting to share some screentime with a new friend.
- Okay, so you’re more popular than we thought. The AmazonBasics Headphone Splitter delivers sound with up to 5 sets of headphones. Perfect for larger groups or family travel, the device is $6.99 (cheaper than airport water). Besides, you never know how many people in your hostel want to rewatch Stranger Things.
15. Amazon Kindle
Remember when Amazon Kindle e-readers were a Grandma thingy a few years back? Now, they’re as hip and equipped as the average smartphone. Environmentally friendly and travel-savvy, the Kindle e-reader is one of the best air travel accessories and a traveller’s perfect companion. Amazon’s e-reader family of products starts at $79.99 and you can compare features and pricing easily here. (Psst, the Paperwhite has an 8-week battery).
- Check out the Amazon Fire tablet if you want a little extra oomph for less cost. This fully-fledged tablet may have a bit more bells and whistles than the average e-reader, but it may just replace the need for bringing along a laptop entirely. We won’t tell anyone if you just use it for Netflix.
Disclaimer: This article is in no way sponsored by Amazon or their affiliate program, although we’re regretting not asking about it now. Dang!
Shop. Travel. Save…yourself from stiff plane neck and dehydration and stuff
Whew—that’s a lot! We guarantee these unique travel accessories will make your day-to-days abroad a little easier. From on-to-go to in-the-air, it’s best to be prepared with these creative solutions or bargain buys. Now, go forth & shop for useful travel accessories with purpose!