10 Essential Travel Gadgets & 10 Not To Waste Your Money On

While many travel gadgets will do nothing but drain your wallet and take up valuable space in your luggage, there are a few highly practical items that will give you a lot of bang for your buck. No item on this list costs more than $20, and you can purchase every item here for about $115 before tax and shipping.

Handle Scale. This is a small device that you can use to weigh your luggage without a scale. You attach one end of the scale to your luggage handle and you pull up on the other end to get a weight measurement for your bag. If you are a chronic overpacker, with today’s decreased weight and baggage allowances, the $10 or less you’ll spend on one of these scales will pay

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11 Responses to 10 Essential Travel Gadgets & 10 Not To Waste Your Money On

  1. Kelley M. says:

    Amen to the top ten “must haves”–I’m going to have to get a compass before the next trip (although, wandering aimlessly and stumbling through “how do I get to…” in the local language is not without its own sort of fun).

    But, regarding the top ten waste of money items, I’ve a few comments to make.

    1) noise canceling headphones. My $60 pair (bought 2 years ago from Koss.com) is outstanding! What these do that white noise mp3s don’t is actually cancel out the lower frequency sounds made my plane engines, etc. I take them on EVERY trip I make now, domestic or international, and when I don’t I’m kicking myself the entire time. It also allows you to listen to music or an airplane movie at a much lower volume than you would otherwise if you had to raise the volume over the level of the plane engine (see NYT’s David Pogue’s video on noise canceling headphones for a great intro to them).

    2) Slashproof bags–true, probably not worth the money, but perhaps a nice insurance if you were going to buy a new bag anyway. What is great I’ve found are messenger bags. These allow you to put the whole bag across your body, preventing someone from pulling it off your shoulder, and also allow you to quickly whip the bag in front of you if you ever hit a crowd (aka pick pocket haven). Plus, it makes you look a little less like a tourist than a backpack.

    3) Phrase books–if you are really unfamiliar with the language, get one. I was in France last October and, although I know the very basics in French, relied on my little phrasebook (pocket-sized) for an unplanned stop at a French post office. The woman behind the counter didn’t speak any english at all, and how does one go on to describe “insure this box” with body language?

    Other items I’m happy to have brought once upon a time: an ace bandage, safety pins, very small umbrella, small notebook and pen, small pocket maps of the large cities, and that little roll of duct tape Amy mentioned! (I did make my own by rolling up from a larger roll–it worked wonders!).

  2. Fitness guy says:

    This is a great list, but i will have to add another travel bag just to carry the new “essentials”.

  3. Alex says:

    Maybe, its just me, but I don’t really need any of the must haves either.

    The noise cancelling headphones, if they worked well, could be something of a godsend given the problem of the couple that thinks it will be fun to bring their baby on board the flight.

  4. baselle says:

    I have weigh-in for the noise canceling headphones, if you find them comfortable. They were useful for canceling the noise a bit, I used them to listen to the movie instead of paying $2 for the crappy ear clips, used them to listen to my MP3 player (I had MP3 walking guides).

    One other must have I would add if you use a PDA like a Palm or a Treo, is the freeware program Metro. Having the entire public transit system of each city you visit is fantastic.

  5. Canadian says:

    As for shoe bags, I make my own bags with drawstrings using inexpensive fabric (or even an old shirt). If you have a sewing machine and know the basics of sewing, it’s very easy. Unlike a plastic bag, it won’t tear.

  6. plonkee says:

    A big yes to the silk sleepsheet and microfibre towel if you are ever travelling using hostels. I cannot stress enough how much better they are than the alternatives.

    I wouldn’t bother with the rest of the must-haves for various reasons, but I’ll also add my no vote to the slashproof bags, just beacause they’re so much heavier.

  7. Karen says:

    RE: Airport slippers.. Walking thru with your own socks doesn”t make sense either. Lets see, take your shoes off, walk on the disgusting ground in your socks, then put your feet back into your shoes with all of the germs and bacteria on your socks, sweating in your shoes. I think I would rather spend a buck and buy some slippers, throw them away when I’m thru the checkpoint. Also the disposable slippers are great on the plane and also in your hotel room instead of walking around and carpets and bathroom floors after heaven knows who have been on the same floors. Again just throw them away after each use. I think they are great idea!! I just purchased a package of 50 at the beauty supply in town for $6.99.

  8. diana says:

    Instead of noise canceling anything I buy ear plugs.
    Cost$ 2 or 3 dollars light and easy to pack in brillitant color.

  9. simon says:

    Noise-cancelling headphones only work well with engine noise, and can have the effect of making transient sounds like speech much more intrusive. Helpful when the attendant asks what you’d like to drink, but they may actually make noisy children more annoying.

    If you want to listen to something while blocking out all kinds of background noise then it’s canalphones that you’re looking for (earplugs with speakers in). They’re not as effective as proper earplugs, though.

  10. Amanda says:

    would duct tape set off the wand going through security??

  11. jan says:

    Alex, do you expect parents to put their babies/children in the cargo hold? REALLY babies are people to if you don’t care for them try driving.

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