Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, having the right gadget at the right time can save your life, starting with sleeping on the plane.
I’m jealous of people who buckle up and zap. I have never slept well on planes. Even exhausted, out of breath, I want to cry I’m so tired — I’m often lucky enough to get 30 minutes to an hour of sleep. As a result, I made it my mission to try every airline pillow available to travelers.
I have over 10 of these: the ones you blow up and use to lie face down on your food tray. These strange models in the shape of giant ostrich and Handy mittens that make you laugh more than close your eyes.
You name it, I tried it. And I’m happy to report that I finally found one that works. In fact, after more than a decade of testing travel gadgets on planes, trains, and automobiles in some of the most remote places on earth, I’ve discovered a handful that I’ll never leave home without. .
I just flew nonstop from Seattle to Dublin and slept most of the way. No, I wasn’t on drugs, and yes, I was packed like a sardine into the economy seats.
What made the difference was a gadget the size of a sandwich called the Trtl ($45)which is basically a super soft scarf with a built in bendable plastic neck support to keep your head upright while you fall asleep.
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I’ve used it directly under my chin or to one side and haven’t had the typical pains of my drooping head. At one point during the flight, I even used the fleece wraparound part to cover my eyes to create a dark, cozy little cocoon.
I stuffed my ears with my AirPods Pro to quiet the din around me and slept for most of the flight. Trtl – which stands for “travel refreshed, travel light” – scores extra points for weighing less than half a pound and easily packing into my backpack.
If you prefer a more traditional semi donut style, Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow ($30) and the Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow ($40) are finalists here.
Unlike the neck pillows you’ll find in airport stores, these use memory foam to keep your head and neck comfortable. The Cabeau model also has a strap that you can wrap around the back of the seat to help hold your cabeau in place as well.
Also, try wearing your travel pillow with the thickest part under your chin and the snap closure at the back of your neck, basically upside down from how most people use them. It’s a little hack that many people don’t know about.
Connect with EPICKA, Einova and Mophie
I’m a big fan of simplicity when traveling, so I’m always looking for gadgets that can do more than one thing. Bonus points if it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter ($20) is an easy pick because it’s small but sports a versatile power punch.
It is compatible with plugs from USA, Europe, UK and Australia. All the pins are built into the device itself, meaning there’s no messy bag of extra adapters. When plugged into an outlet, it simultaneously charges up to four standard USB devices and one USB Type-C device, while providing an additional power outlet on the front.
Portable chargers are arguably the most essential travel gadget of all. If you’re an Apple stalwart with your iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch, charging all three simultaneously is work to do. Mophie’s 3-in-1 Travel Charger ($150).
It uses Apple’s MagSafe technology to secure your devices when you install them, so there’s no guessing if your gadgets will actually get the fast charge they need. When you’re done, it folds down to a third of its size and stores in a sleek carrying case to hold the charger, cord and plug in this small, organized case.
To charge on the go, the Zendure Powerbank Supermini ($60) is small and light enough to fit in a coat pocket or small purse but can charge multiple smartphone models up to 50% in less than 30 minutes. It can even power most smartphones to 100% three times before it needs to charge itself, and it also works for most laptops, tablets, and cameras on the go.
There are two ports on board, USB-C and USB-A, three little lights that let you know when the charger needs a recharge, and it comes in seven different colors. This Zendure weighs 180 grams, which is about the same as two tennis balls, but has the same shape and circumference as a credit card. Don’t be fooled by marketing that touts it as “credit card sized” as it’s about an inch thick, so don’t expect to slip it into your wallet or back pocket.
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Einova by Eggtronic 63W Super Fast Power Bank ($70) is my other “can’t live without” gadget for charging on the go. Weighing just under a pound and taking up as much space as a postcard – again, very thick – it’s a bit bigger and heavier than Zendure’s Supermini, but it also packs more power. dump.
You can charge up to three devices at once, including a MacBook Pro, Nintendo Switch, tablets, smartphones, and just about anything else you want and need on your adventures. Two of the device’s charging ports are also capable of fast charging.
Find anything with AirTags or Tile
You probably faced a fear of lost luggage if you flew last summer. This mainly happened when people flew out of the country, but apparently US airlines “at least temporarily lost” more than a million pieces of luggage by the end of July, according to the USDOT Air Travel Consumer Report.
As USA Today also pointed out that 1 in 6 people reported their luggage lost or delayed this year. For this problem, it’s hard to beat Apple AirTags ($29) Where Tiles ($25) trackers.
If you’ve never used them before, it’s really simple: put a tag in your luggage, attach one to your keys or slip it into your wallet, and the companion app on your phone will track them, alerting you even if you’ve left something behind. It is a travel essential.
If you are worried about strangers or stalkers using them to track you, be be sure to read the latest about Apple’s updated privacy features. And yes, they can still be used in your luggage, even though Lufthansa recently – and quite briefly – said they weren’t.
Carry everything with Pata
You’ll need an easy way to carry everything, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole 27L Pack ($100). You can use this handy backpack as a tote or backpack, and it’s surprisingly roomy. I carried my MacBook Pro, two smartphones, the two chargers I mentioned above, extra layers of clothes, an umbrella, a water bottle – you name it, it’s all packed!
I like the smaller zippered compartment just inside the top for storing lip balms and phones and the zippered compartment on the outside for sunglasses and other things I want to keep at hand. The best part is that it packs into a small backpack-like carrying case to store it away when you’re not using it.