The 14 Best Travel Products in My Carry-On
I travel a ton for work and for pleasure. Here are the 14 items I have with me at all times.
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Travel products can enhance the overall experience of traveling, as they help increase efficiency and organization. But having too many, or the wrong ones, can cause problems. I consider my own assortment of travel accessories some of my most prized possessions. I swear by this stuff. They’re the things I’ve found most functional, enduring and worthy of my dime. You’ll find a $475 carry-on, sure, but you’ll find a $3 passport protector, too, and both have served me equally well. Below, the best travel products that I actually carry with me, every single time I travel.
Zero Halliburton Edge Lightweight Brilliant International Carry-On Case
I’ve tested many a luggage brands (you can find evidence of that here) during my time as a travel writer but few have had the same lasting impression on me as Zero Halliburton. That is to say, my personal carry-on is a ZH and, more specifically, it is the Edge Lightweight Brilliant International Carry-On Case.
What is effectively a spin on the bestselling Edge Lightweight Collection, the Brilliant Collection is comprised of a line of hard-sided travel cases in a handsome, shiny, mirror-like finish. Almost entirely customized, all of the cases feature Zero Halliburton’s signature double rib design, a pull handle designed for an ergonomic palm fit, patented ZH Concave Edging, performance-enhancing ball bearing wheels and matte details. Available in black, navy and gray, this carry-on is the very epitome of durable, functional and good looking luggage.
The only thing I will caution is that, similar to aluminum cases, the Edge Lightweight Brilliant International Carry-On Case does show evidence of wear over time, mostly in the form of scuff marks to the exterior. That said, they also serve as small reminders of all the places you’ve been together…wholesome.
Zero Haliburton Packing System
What were we all doing before packing cubes came around? When I was 20 years-old, without rhyme or reason, I shoved my life into one giant check-in and a second carry-on for a few month-stint in London. I think about that time now and wonder how different things might have been had I had a decent set of packing cubes.
Fast forward little more than a decade and all of the bigger luggage brands have packing cube sets designed to fit their luggage. I like these ones from Zero Halliburton, especially for trips where I only plan to bring a carry-on, being that my carry-on is also Zero Halliburton. Each cube is constructed of tear-resistant nylon and features a mesh top panel so that I can see inside without having to unpack. But, desire for brand continuity aside, most packing cubes are compatible with any other standard sized carry-ons or check-ins anyway (these ones from Monos are also good). Are you, like me, prone to chaotic packing tendencies? For the love of everything that is good: Buy yourself some packing cubes.
Canon EOS R7 RF-S18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Kit
I’ve always loved taking photos, but once I started really traveling — particularly for work — one thing became abundantly clear: my iPhone wasn’t going to cut it anymore. The EOS R7 has been a total game changer in that regard. I’m hardly an expert, but this camera is so user-friendly — so intuitive — that you truly don’t need to be to enjoy it. I also shoot with the Canon RF 50MM, which has a pretty sweet price point and isn’t as intimidating as some of the more prosumer lenses. It’s the best gift I’ve been given (albeit to myself) in a very long time, and it’s a now-staple in my carry-on.
Rumpl NanoLoft Travel Blanket
Airplanes are kept cold in an effort to combat air sickness and minimize dryness, which is why you always receive one of those complimentary, paper-thin faux-fleece blankets on international flights (or, at the very least, they’re available to purchase). Just in case, however, I prefer to travel with one of my own. Ultra-warm and just the size of a standard-sized Nalgene bottle when packed away, you’ll always find this one from Rumpl blanket in my carry-on — on international and domestic flights alike.
Transparent Passport Protector
I love the idea of a nice leather, potentially personalized, passport protector but the fact is, every time you go through immigration, they’re going to make you take it off. It winds up being such a hassle — particularly as you’re likely to be juggling your customs forms and boarding passes and whatever else you happen to have in your hands. It’s why, when I received my renewed passport earlier this month, instead of splurging on a more extravagant protector, I opted instead for this two-pack of clear covers for $6. They even have little slip pockets in the back where I keep my Global Entry card.
Apple AirTag (and this keychain)
Ever deboarded a plane, got to baggage claim and realized that your phone — thanks to Find My — was still on the plane? Well, same. And that very same night it happened to me, for that exact reason, I got home and ordered an Apple AirTag, which is now permanently affixed to my carry-on. For the uninitiated, AirTags are Bluetooth trackers, which can find items much further away with the help from the hundreds of millions of Apple devices in the Find My network. I’ve never once lost luggage, yet it still provides me peace of mind, which in and of itself is worth the $27 price tag.
July Personalized Leather Luggage Tag
Technically this isn’t something I carry in my carry-on so much as another thing I have on it, but nevertheless. July is a luggage brand that, like many other luggage brands, offers customization. Mine is emblazoned with my mini dachshund’s face, but they’re equally aesthetically pleasing even without. The best part about these ones is that it’s virtually impossible for them to fall off in transit, should you be forced to check your bag at the gate.
Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow
A thing about me: I’m going to sleep on the flight. Red eye flight to Europe? Lights out. Three hour flight to Tampa in the middle of the afternoon? Also lights out. I’ve even been known to fall asleep before takeoff — not unlike a baby in a car. It’s why I wouldn’t dream (no pun intended) of stepping foot onto an aircraft without a neck pillow in tow.
For the past year or so, I’ve been using a neck pillow that I bought out of desperation at the airport. Unfortunately, it isn’t available for purchase online, but if you happen to find yourself in Terminal C at Newark airport anytime in the near future, I’m positive you’ll find it at any of the kiosks, just to the left of the “I [heart] NY” apparel (“I [heart] NJ” apparel doesn’t exist).
Then I came into possession of an Ostrich Neck Pillow, which I’d been coveting for quite some time prior. With a 360-degree ergonomic design and a supportive memory foam core (that compresses down to 60% of its size when stored in its pouch), this neck pillow puts my Newark airport iteration to shame.
Ostrichpillow Hot & Cold Eye Mask
If you, unlike me, do have a hard time falling asleep on flights, allow me to introduce you to Ostrich’s Hot & Cold Eye Mask. Not only does it provide thermal therapy and gentle pressure for natural, instant relief from eye strain and muscle tension, it signals to everyone around you that you’d kindly like to be left alone now, please. Couple this with the neck pillow and a good pair of noise-canceling headphones (keep scrolling for those)? Now you’re cookin’ with gas.
I need to have quick access to my toothbrush on long travel days and — no shade to Oral-B or Philips — but I love my Quip toothbrush the best. With sensitive sonic vibrations, a 2-minute timer with 30-second pulses, a flexible brush head, soft nylon bristles, tongue scrub on back and no wires or charger, Quip’s Smart Electric Toothbrush, in particular, understands the assignment, without all the fuss — an especially important detail where travel is involved.
Customizable, leakproof and magnetic, Cadence’s capsules are the perfect little vessels to help you maintain your routines — home and away. Available in sets of six or 12, seven different colorways and capable of being labeled in any way imaginable, they are, undoubtedly, the sleekest reusable travel containers I’ve come across yet.
Anker Power Bank
Thanks to the Anker Power Bank, I’ve officially bid adieu to mid-trip dead devices and not a second too soon, considering how many important travel documents — boarding passes among them — are now digital. With three USB ports and the ability to charge most phones more than six times, tablets twice and any other USB device multiple times, this power bank helps me get me from point A to B with a full battery.
Apple AirPods Pro
An undisputed fact: noise-canceling headphones, no matter the brand, are imperative when it comes to flying. Why listen to screaming children when you can listen to nothing at all? Call me unoriginal, but AirPods are my favorite. They also fit beautifully into my — you guessed it! — Zero Halliburton AirPod case.
Monos Metro Folio Kit
Effectively a wallet/passport folio, Monos’ Metro Folio Kit can also hold an e-reader or tablet, making it the perfect way to stay organized on the go. It’s got elastic loops for things like pens and cords, a removable key ring and a small zippered pocket to house all other small essentials. Crafted with water-resistant ultra-microfibre vegan leather, it’s available in seven colorways.
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