Looking for the best products to gift — and to get — this holiday season? Check out Underscored’s Holiday Guide here.
Travel is more expensive in 2021, but what you bring doesn’t have to be. When it comes to travel, packing the right gear can make travel more comfortable from start to finish, whether you’re traveling on a budget or if you’re splurging on a 5-star trip.
Any and every traveler can benefit from picking up some of these affordable travel items that make traveling just a little bit easier, a little bit less stressful and a lot more fun. Here are the top budget travel items you need to have — or gift to the budget traveler in your life this holiday season.
Whether you’re a budding travel influencer or simply want to get a good shot of yourself and the kids, this selfie stick tripod combo can be slipped into your suitcase for infinitely better travel photos. The stick is 9 inches when collapsed and weighs just 10.5 ounces, meaning it’s not only affordable, but it’s also lightweight and compact. It connects with most Apple and Android devices as well as smaller DSLR cameras and comes with a detachable remote.
This compact pouch makes it easy to travel with jewelry. With several different pouches and storage spots for various types of jewelry, you’ll never end up with tangled necklaces or lose an earring with this case. The jewelry organizer is a great gift for moms, wives, girlfriends and friends. Even those who don’t travel with a lot of jewelry will appreciate having their wedding ring or stud earrings safely tucked away in this case when traveling.
If you can’t swing the hefty price tag for Apple AirPods, you’ll be impressed by the price-to-quality factor of Kurdene’s wireless headphones, which come with a portable charging case that you can tuck into your pocket or bag when traveling. The sweatproof earbuds are comfortable for your ears and have clear, dynamic 3D surround sound. The headphones can run for about six hours on a single charge, and the case can charge them four times over if your trip is extra long.
This compact, solid perfume has a fresh aroma, and it’s easy to drop into your carry-on even when your baggie of liquids is already full. You can dab it on your wrist, behind your ears or on your neck when you need a scented pick-me-up, the ideal alternative to an expensive liquid perfume formula.
Sleep through jet lag, red-eye flights, loud hotel rooms and whatever other noisy and uncomfortable sleep situations travel throws at you with the Mavogel Cotton Sleep Mask. We consider it the best sleep mask out there, as it blocks out all the light around you, allowing for a darker and more peaceful sleep on the road — or in the air.
These portable, quick-dry towels are perfect for any travel situation: camping, hiking, beach trip or even visits to destinations where you won’t have access to a dryer. The durable, lightweight towels are made of polyester and polyamide material and are super absorbent, drying fast when you’re on the go. The towels come in various sizes and colors, and each comes with its own portable case for storage.
This four-pack of Mario Badescu facial spray is perfect for all of your different moods during travel. Energize with the sage and orange blossom, relax with the lavender, revitalize and glow with rose and freshen up with the cucumber and green tea. The under-60-milliliter mist bottles are small enough to fit into your ziplock baggie of liquids during a long-haul flight.
Vapur Foldable Water Bottle ($9.99; amazon.com)
This foldable, space-saving water bottle stands when full and folds up small when empty so you can squeeze it into a backpack or carry-on bag. The BPA-free bottle is dishwasher-safe, and you can also freeze it when half full with water. It’s not only affordable, but it will also save you money on buying overpriced water bottles in the airport and elsewhere.
These leather luggage tags come in a set of four. Each of the durable tags has a stainless buckle, information sheet and privacy cover. Pick your favorite color option and attach them to your checked bag, carry-on bag, backpack, duffel or tote bag. Choosing a bright color can help you quickly identify your bag on a luggage belt or personalize it for more fun.
These Anbow reusable earplugs offer a noise level reduction level of NRR 32, meaning they’ll block out pesky noise on planes or anywhere else you need to sleep. Made of high-quality silicone material with an ergonomic shape, they’ll comfortably fit into your ears pain-free. Unlike foam earplugs, these are made for long-term use and reuse.
Connect this waterproof, wireless speaker to your phone via Bluetooth and play music whenever, wherever. It’s small enough to accompany you on trips but strong enough to play your favorite tunes at an impromptu barbecue or beach visit. With 24 hours of playtime, it can last a full day without needing a battery recharge.
These polyester foldable bags are perfect to use as a beach bag, laundry bag, grocery bag, personal item on a plane, emergency diaper bag or any other situation where you might need a bag. Toss a few of these bright, patterned bags in your suitcase folded up and open them to use whenever needed.
This universal travel adapter comes complete with two USB ports and converts to power outlets in the United States, Europe, United Kingdom and Australia. Although it’s only an adapter and not a voltage converter, it ensures you can charge your phone, e-books, smartwatches, computers and more when traveling abroad with just one small device instead of carrying various plugs and converter options.
Bath and Body Works 5-Pack Antibacterial Hand Sanitizers ($14, originally $29.99; amazon.com)
Keep those hands germ-free and smelling delicious while traveling with these travel-size hand sanitizers, offering a different scent for each day — or each destination you visit.
These durable polyester packing cubes come in a four-piece set, with two medium-size cubes and two large-size cubes. Store clothes, shoes, dirty laundry or whatever you’d like in them to best organize your suitcase. You can see exactly what you’ve packed in each cube, thanks to the mesh top covering.
This fold-up blanket is the perfect fit for a carry-on bag, offering a comfortable sitting option for spontaneous trips to the beach, lounging around a fire pit or when the temperature starts to drop. It can fit up to four people sitting or two people lying down.
Having your vaccine card with you may be required when entering some countries or specific establishments. If you want to keep your card looking new and intact, use this holder to keep it safe. The durable PVC plastic protector has slots in case you’d like to attach it to a lanyard or keychain, and it protects the card from water damage or becoming bent, folded or tattered.
This affordable travel pillow has an ergonomic design and inflates in less than 10 seconds. Adjust for firm, medium or soft to best fit your comfort level. The velvet cover is soft and silky on skin, and the pillow folds up to easily fit in your bag when not inflated.
Traveling is much easier when you know your phone battery won’t die, so bringing along a portable charger is important. This one from Alongza has a 5,000mAh capacity that can charge a cell phone once or twice over, depending on the make and model. The affordable price tag is best for budget travelers looking for a lightweight external battery to quickly and efficiently charge their phones.
Pacifica Stress Rehab & Caffeine Facial Mask ($2.80, originally $3.99; amazon.com)
Things like air travel, jet lag and different climates can wreak havoc on your skin. Give your face a little extra love at a low price with this stress and rehab sheet mask that can be easily added to your suitcase. Ingredients such as green tea purify your skin, while coconut and turmeric rejuvenate and brighten your face. The mask even has caffeine to wake up your skin and make it glow.
This budget scale will save you excess baggage fees, and it’s small enough to pack it in your suitcase to ensure your bags are never overweight. The scale, which comes with a battery, can weigh up to 110 pounds and switches between kilos and pounds.
This ultra-hydrating lip balm is perfect for chapped winter lips. With shea butter, vitamin E and other nourishing ingredients, this balm is long-lasting with a silky and smooth finish. It’s apt for anyone, even kids over the age of 3, and can be toted along in a purse or carry-on. The stick form isn’t considered a liquid, so this won’t take up space in your baggie of liquids for air travel.
Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2021.