Cool Travel Gadgets & Hard To Resist Travel Accessories

Travel gadgets

While they’re not strictly necessary, there’s no doubt that travel gadgets can make your time on the road a lot easier.

Let me be straight with you, it is not worth sacrificing any of the backpacking essentials to cram in some trendy tech. However, if you have the space, this collection of hard to resist travel accessories is sure to pique your interest!

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Travel Gadgets

Action Cam

  • Price Range: $$$$$$
  • Why It’s Great: Captures great footage of your travels
  • What Could Be Improved: The price

Action cams are lightweight cameras that always come in useful! At their most basic they can record video and take photos. High-end models feature powerful AI assistance like face tracking and image stabilisation. Some can also record in full HD! Most models are shockproof and water-resistant to a certain depth.

The main downside of action cams is their price bracket. The high-end models cost upwards of $500USD and even the budget-friendly brands will set you back a couple of hundred. 

Popular models include the ultra-powerful (but pricey) GoPro Hero 10 Black, the DJI Osmo Action and the Insta360 One R.

Top Tip: Opt for an older version of the most popular models. These are often available much cheaper and still perform well! 

GoPro HERO10 Black - Waterproof Action Camera with Front LCD and Touch Rear Screens, 5.3K60 Ultra HD Video, 23MP Photos, 1080p Live Streaming, Webcam, Stabilization

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Collapsible Daypack 

When you travel, daypacks are handy but a collapsible daypack is even more useful. They’re ideal for backpackers because when not in use, they pack down small enough to fit into your pocket, or go unnoticed in your main pack. 

A daypack can be used for carrying important items while you’re out exploring. This allows you to leave your main travel bag and the bulk of your gear at your accommodation! Daypacks are also perfect for keeping your valuables close when travelling on planes, trains and buses! 

They’re available in different capacities and sizes but most are between 10-35-litres. The larger versions weigh slightly more but this usually isn’t too noticeable. 

Popular collapsible daypacks include the Zomake 20-litre, the Gonex 20-litre and the Ultra-Sil Nano Daypack by Sea to Summit.

Gonex Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack Daypack Handy Foldable Camping Outdoor Travel Cycling School Backpacking(Black)

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Water Purifier

Having your own water purifier makes a ton of sense for anyone travelling abroad but even more so for long term travellers. You quickly make back the initial investment because you don’t need to buy bottled water every day! Water purifiers remove viruses, bacteria, protozoa and other contaminants from water, making it safe to drink. 

To be honest, water purifiers are more than just a travel gadget. They make it into our full packing list and are a great way to reduce your plastic footprint while travelling. They’re also a cool gadget in their own right. The amount of research and tech that goes into a water purifier is incredible! 

Our favourite purifier is the Grayl Geopress. It will clean water from any source and make it perfectly safe to drink. Depending on how much water you consume, a good purifier can save you hundreds of dollars a year! 

Grayl Geopress

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Smartphone Camera Lens

  • Price Range: $ – $$$
  • Why It’s Great: Dramatically improves your phone camera
  • What Could Be Improved: The really good ones are a little pricey

Camera lenses provide a powerful way to upgrade your smartphone camera without having to splash out on a new phone. They’re available in a range of types, styles and prices.

At their most basic, smartphone camera lenses are clip-on, costing between $10-50USD. The most popular in this bracket is the Xenvo Pro Lens Kit.

More elaborate telephoto phone lenses cost a little more but you get a lot more bang for your buck. They generally offer 20-40x optical zoom and can be clipped onto almost all smartphones. Opt for a lens that comes with a tripod, or buy one separately — you’ll need the increased stability for zoomed-in shots. Our favourite is the Apexel HD which comes with a tripod.

Finally, top phone lens brand Moment produce a ton of fantastic lenses. The downside is that they need to be used with Moment’s own phone cases. This adds extra expense but means that you can easily swap between any Moment lens as the need arises. 

Apexel High Power 36X HD Telephoto Lens with Phone Tripod for iPhone Samsung Pixel One Plus Huawei Lens Attachment

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Universal Travel Adaptor

  • Price Range: $
  • Why It’s Great: Allows you to charge your devices anywhere
  • What Could Be Improved: Can be bulky and heavy
  • Read More: Best Universal Travel Adaptor

A universal travel adaptor isn’t just a cool travel gadget, it’s a must-have piece of travel gear!

No matter where you are in the world, a universal travel adaptor allows you to use almost any plug socket to charge electronics. The world is full of different plugs and some countries (we’re looking at you Thailand), will use multiple different kinds. How confusing!  

A universal travel adaptor that includes USB and USB-C sockets is the most useful option because it allows you to charge multiple devices at once.

Our favourite is the iBlockCube Nimble. It features two USB-C ports, three standard USB ports and a normal socket, allowing you to charge up to 6 devices at once — although we wouldn’t recommend charging this many if you’re somewhere with unreliable power! 

Universal Travel Adaptor

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A Multi Cable 

  • Price Range: $
  • Why It’s Great: Allows you to carry just a single cable to charge all your devices
  • What Could Be Improved: Honestly not a lot

Save yourself the hassle of constantly pulling cables from the bottom of your bag with a multi-cable. These devices have changeable ends allowing you to charge a range of electronics with a single cable.

Our favourite is the inCharge 6 and its longer sibling, the inCharge 6 Max. These rugged cables allow you to seamlessly switch between USB, USB-C, Lightning and Micro USB, meaning you can power almost any device imaginable from either a USB or USB-C source. 

inCharge 6 - The Six-in-One Swiss Army Knife of Cables, Portable Keyring Compatible with Apple iPhone/USB/USB-C/Micro USB Cable for All of Your Devices (Mercury Grey)

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Rechargeable Head Torch

  • Price Range: $-$$$
  • Why It’s Great: Allows you to always see where you’re going
  • What Could Be Improved: No one looks cool wearing a head torch…
  • Read More: Rechargeable Head Torches for Travel

Whether it’s crossing a dark dorm room at 4am or making your way up to a mountain peak for sunrise, a rechargeable head torch helps you navigate any dark environment. Your phone torch is enough to get you out of a scrape but you don’t want to be relying on it long term. 

Our favourite head torch is the Petzl Actik Core but it’s an expensive option. There are a ton of more budget-friendly alternatives on Amazon, the most popular of which is the Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp

Head Torch

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Universal Sink Stopper

  • Price Range: $
  • Why It’s Great: Allows you to fill a sink or bath even if there’s no plug
  • What Could Be Improved: They look a bit lame

Universal sink stoppers are the OG travel gadget. For just a few dollars you can have a lightweight plug for use in sinks and baths across the world.

It’s common practice for budget accommodation owners to remove sink and bath plugs from their property. It prevents a few guests from using up all the hot water for the entire building! 

But sometimes you want to wash your pants and socks in the sink, or just soak in the bath for an hour. That’s where a sink stopper comes in. Drop it into place and you’re good to go. Simple, yet effective!

V-TOP Tub Stopper 2 Pack, 6 inches Large Silicone Drain Plug Hair Stopper Flat Suction Cover for Kitchen Bathroom and Laundry

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Travel Shoes

  • Price Range: $$$
  • Why It’s Great: They’re versatile and lightweight
  • What Could Be Improved: Some don’t provide a ton of support
  • Read More: Top Travel Shoes

Knowing which shoes are best for travel can be a headache. You need to balance weight and bulk against the comfort and usability of the footwear. Thankfully, versatile travel shoes are abundant on the market.

Generally designed by travellers, these shoes are lightweight, durable and deliver a high level of traction. They can usually be compressed down into your backpack too.

Our favourite travel shoes are the Tropicfeel Canyons but in our opinion, all Tropicfeel shoes are excellent. As well as having all the above features, they slip on and are comfortable with or without socks. They can also be worn in the water as they feature quick-dry materials and drainage holes. 

Tropicfeel Canyons On Rocks

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A Journal 

  • Price Range: $ – $$$
  • Why It’s Great: Lots of uses
  • What Could Be Improved: Not a lot

Even in the era of blogging and smartphones, you’ll spy hostel goers eagerly scribbling away in their journals. Whether it’s travel memories, personal musings or the next great novel, backpackers love a good journal. Plus, it’s always useful to have paper knocking around as you never know when you’ll need to jot down your scrabble score! 

A good journal is more than a notebook. At the bare minimum, it’s a nice moleskin but you could splash out and go for a more durable leather-bound version. If leather’s not your thing, you’ll still be able to find a rugged journal to suit your needs! Some high-end models include wireless phone chargers built into the case but beware, you may not be allowed to take these on a plane.

Tree of Life Journal (Vegan Leather Notebook)

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  • Price Range: $$$
  • Why It’s Great: Allows you to read as many books as you want
  • What Could Be Improved: Initially expensive compared to buying books

An e-reader allows you to carry as many books as you can imagine. Even the most basic versions can store close to two thousand books!

Some people don’t like reading using a kindle or e-reader but for travel, they’re much more practical than an old fashioned book. They weigh about the same as a single hardback and the high-end versions are even waterproof! 

Finally, books are cheaper to buy in their electronic form! The Kindle Store and other e-book marketplaces are flooded with high-quality books for just a few dollars. Even books from your favourite traditional authors are cheaper in their digital format. 

Personally, I love the Kindle Paperwhite but that only performs as an e-reader. Others such as the Kindle Fire or the Nook Color also work as tablets. Sure, they don’t hold a candle to an iPad but they can still be used to book accommodation, flights or buses with ease. Plus, it’s nice to have Netflix on a screen bigger than your phone! 

All-new Kindle Paperwhite (8 GB) – Now with a 6.8" display and adjustable warm light – Ad-Supported

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Smartphone Gimbal

  • Price Range: $$-$$$$
  • Why It’s Great: Allows you to take smooth professional looking video
  • What Could Be Improved: Not always the easiest things to pack

If you film a lot while travelling, a smartphone gimbal is an easy way to upgrade your video quality.

Even with the inbuilt image stabilisation, it’s hard to record smooth footage while holding your smartphone in your hands. Small shakes or movements can have a big effect on video quality. 

A smartphone gimbal helps keep your footage smooth by absorbing any shakes, jumps or movements that you make while filming. They’re also great for long, complicated shots that involve a lot of moving! 

Our favourite gimbals are the DJI Om 5 and the Zhiyun Smooth X.

YouTube video

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Outdoor Blanket

  • Price Range: $
  • Why It’s Great: Light and versatile
  • What Could Be Improved: A bit loud and scratchy 

Outdoor blankets come in all shapes, sizes and materials but the ones we love act like small pocket tarps. They’re waterproof, pack down super small and weigh very little. 

They’re not designed to keep you warm but to keep you dry. An outdoor blanket can be used on the beach or to keep you off the wet floor, as protection from the rain or as a groundsheet for your tent. 

Our favourite is the BEARZ OUTDOOR Pocket Blanket. It has pockets on the underside that can be filled with sand or rocks to prevent the blanket blowing away. Plus, when compressed down, it’s only a touch bigger than a can of coke so is easy to pack! 

BEARZ Outdoor Pocket Blanket Picnic Mat, Waterproof Picnic Blanket, Travel Blanket, Waterproof Blanket, Beach Blanket Waterproof Sandproof, Outdoor Blanket, Festival Accessories, Hiking, Park (Green)

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Collapsible Water Bottle

  • Price Range: $-$$
  • Why It’s Great: Saves on space and reduces your plastic usage
  • What Could Be Improved: Some cheaper models aren’t very durable
  • Read more: Best Collapsible Water Bottles

A collapsible water bottle reduces your plastic footprint by allowing you to carry water rather than buy some whenever you get thirsty. This works especially well when paired with a water purifier so you can drink tap water, no matter where you are. 

The best versions of these collapsible bottles, such as the Vapur Eclipse and Platypus 1-litre can be rolled, folded or squashed down almost flat. When not in use they take up very little space and weigh well below 100g each. 

When in use, each can hold a litre of water, although both Vapur and Platypus produce a range of different size bottles. Both are durable enough to handle being knocked about while travelling but they’re slightly different shapes and have a different cap so you’ll need to decide which you prefer the look of! 

Vapur Element Flexible Water Bottle - with Carabiner, .70 Liter (23 oz) - Water

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Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Price Range: $$-$$$$$
  • Why It’s Great: Helps block out loud noises 
  • What Could Be Improved: Price

Noise-cancelling headphones can be a godsend on long flights or noisy bus journeys. They work by detecting ambient noise and creating sound waves to effectively cancel it out. 

At the same time, they create the sound for the film, podcast or music that you’re listening to — allowing you to enjoy your entertainment without being interrupted. 

Noise-cancelling headphones are a great choice for anyone travelling but can be especially useful for digital nomads or those who work in loud, busy places like bars and cafes. 

Our favourite noise-cancelling headphones are the Sony WH-1000XM4 but they’re also pricey! A cheaper alternative is the JBL Tune 750

Or if big over-ear headphones aren’t you for, Apple’s AirPods and the Quiet Comfort Earbuds from Bose are an excellent compromise. 

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones with Mic for Phone-Call and Alexa Voice Control, Black

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Phone Case

  • Price Range: $
  • Why It’s Great: Protects your expensive phone
  • What Could Be Improved: Some models fail to protect the screen

A good quality phone case might sound like a boring travel gadget but bear with me. No one wants their $1000 phone to get smashed while abroad. Not only will this be costly, but it could also leave you without access to maps, tickets or accommodation confirmation emails. 

A good phone case will protect your device from drops and falls. They should be waterproof and dustproof too. Plenty of cheap phone cases don’t fully cover the screen so make sure yours does!

Our favourite phone cases for travel are made by Otterbox, Mous and Griffin.

OtterBox Commuter Series Case for iPhone 12 & iPhone 12 Pro - 6.1inches - Black

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Luggage Tracker

  • Price Range: $$
  • Why It’s Great: It means you never have to worry about lost items while travelling
  • What Could Be Improved: Replaceable batteries would save on waste

While some backpackers consider luggage trackers overkill, those of you travelling with computers or other valuables will be well served by one of these devices. 

The usability of your tracker will depend on the type you opt for. Some are powered by GPS and can send a signal to your smartphone from anywhere in the world. Others run on Bluetooth and only work if your phone is within a few hundred meters. It’s worth noting GPS trackers often require a subscription to keep them operating. Bluetooth trackers tend to just be a one-off purchase. 

Whichever you opt for, the trackers simply slip inside or attach to your backpack, suitcase or any other item you want to be tracked. They reduce the chance of lost luggage and you can even set up reminders in case you leave the house without your laptop or journal! 

The most popular luggage trackers are made by Tile and LugLoc.

Tile Mate (2020) 1-pack - Bluetooth Tracker, Keys Finder and Item Locator for Keys, Bags and More; Water Resistant with 1 Year Replaceable Battery

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Our favourite of all these gadgets, and the one I won’t travel without, is the Grayl Geopress water purifier. No matter where I am, it allows me to filter tap water so I don’t need to buy bottled water every day. This saves me time, money and most importantly reduces my plastic consumption! 

However, you should remember that travel gadgets won’t make or break your trip. Sure, they can make it a bit easier but you can comfortably go travelling without them. Most backpackers won’t carry more than a couple of these gadgets in their backpacks! 

The best thing you can do is decide which items you’ll actually use and which ones just look cool. If it looks cool but you won’t use it, there’s no point wasting your hard-earned travel money!

Enjoy your trip!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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