For smart travelers, it’s not just about packing lightly –– it’s about having the right travel essentials in your suitcase. Traveling is already stressful enough, so you can make your life a whole lot easier by having a strong packing list.
Some of the best travel accessories are items that serve as ways to reduce your stress and make your trip seamless from start to finish. These 16 travel essentials aren’t exorbitantly priced and can help you actually unwind on your next vacation.
1. TSA Precheck
- Cost: $85 for a five-year membership
Avoid the headache of standing in long security lines by signing up for TSA Precheck. With this expedited screening program, you can zip right through security checkpoints without the hassle of removing your shoes, laptop, liquids, belt and jacket.
That’s because the security check happens before you arrive at the airport. As part of the TSA Precheck application process, you meet with Transportation Security Administration officials for an in-person background check. Once approved, you’re given a traveler number that airports use to identify you as a “Known Traveler,” so you can head straight to your boarding terminal without wasting much time.
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2. Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Cost: $59.99
A good way to manage your stress — and annoyance — during a flight is to get some noise-canceling headphones. For example, the Cowin E7 Active Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones can help you block out any unwanted sounds, whether it’s a crying toddler or the snoring of a fellow passenger. The right pair of headphones can allow you to carve out a quiet place for yourself while traveling and keep stress-inducing noises at bay.
3. Pack of Gum
- Cost: Varies
If you know you’ll be flying at high altitudes, be sure to pack some gum. This simple carry-on item can be a lifesaver if you start to experience pain or discomfort in your ears due to changes in air pressure during your flight — otherwise known as ear barotrauma. An estimated 10% of adults and 22% of children experience this inner ear pain during a flight.
To help you relieve the physical stress on your eardrums and enjoy the rest of your flight, try chewing a piece of gum. You can pick up a pack of Orbit gum from Target for $1.09.
4. Portable Battery Pack
- Cost: $49.99
Cellphones can feel like your lifeline to the world. In fact, 90% of people fear losing their cellphone battery, according to a 2016 LG Electronics survey. The survey also found that 41% of people fear missed calls the most when they have a dead cellphone battery.
To help curb some of that fear, get a portable battery like the Anker PowerCore 20100. It has the capacity to charge the iPhone 8 nearly seven times or the Galaxy S8 five times, so you can stay connected to your phone all day.
5. RFID-Blocking Wallet
- Cost: $9.99
If you get stressed over keeping your personal information safe while traveling, consider getting a wallet that blocks radio-frequency identification (RFID). This technology protects your credit card information from being stolen by electronic pickpockets. The Travelambo RFID-Blocking Passport Holder Wallet & Travel Wallet Envelope fits up to three passports and has multiple slots to house your credit cards.
Credit reporting agency Experian also recommends alerting your bank when you plan to travel to help track any fraudulent and suspicious financial activity.
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6. Bluetooth Tracking Device
- Cost: $18.95
There’s nothing worse than losing something valuable when you’re on vacation. If you’re the type of person who panics when this happens — or someone who’s prone to misplacing things — Bluetooth tracking devices like Tile Mate can save you from a potential breakdown. Attach one of the tracking tiles to an item that you suspect you might misplace. In the event that you lose it, you can easily locate it using the Tile Mate app on your phone.
7. Travel Luggage Scale
- Cost: $11.99
If you’re worried that you bought too many souvenirs and might have to pay an overweight baggage fee, get a portable luggage scale like the Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale for ease of mind. It allows you to weigh your luggage prior to arriving at the airport. Most airlines have strict size limits for your luggage and charge hundreds of dollars to accommodate an overweight bag. For example, American Airlines charges $100-$200 for bags that weigh between 51 to 71 pounds.
8. Compression Socks
- Cost: $9.50
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or not, sitting on a plane for long periods of time can be taxing on your body. To help keep the circulation in your legs going during that 15-hour flight to Australia, get compression socks. The Physix Gear Compression Socks are available for as low as $9.50 on Amazon.
9. Home Security Camera App
- Cost: $185.21
Don’t let “what ifs” get to you when you’re on vacation. If you’re worried that something will happen to your home while you’re away, invest in something like the Nest Security Camera that will allow you to check up on your home whenever you want. You can take a look from any location via the Nest app on your smartphone, so you don’t have to wonder if a burglar has made off with your valuables.
10. Luggage Lock
- Cost: $5.97
It’s best to get a luggage security lock if you’re fearful that someone might rummage through your suitcase while en route to your travel destination or hotel. The Master Lock is TSA-approved and can be placed on your luggage or backpack.
11. Stress Therapy Ball
- Cost: $8.08
Perhaps you’re a nervous flyer and the feeling of turbulence causes your stress levels to skyrocket. When you feel yourself becoming uneasy, try using a stress therapy ball, as recommended by travel blogger Rachel Elizabeth of the Blond Wayfarer. For example, the Handstands Cyber Gel Stress Ball has a memory foam design that’s supposed to reduce stress and provide therapeutic relief.
12. Meditation App
- Cost: Free
Enjoying yourself in the present moment during your exotic getaway can be harder than expected if you have trouble calming your nerves. Consider downloading a meditation app like Headspace. You can navigate through the app’s guided meditations to help clear your mind the next time you get caught in a hectic travel itinerary.
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- Cost: $89.99
Keep your mind off the long travel time by diving into your favorite book on a Kindle. It’s a good way to stay relaxed, even during downtime at your travel destination. It’s guaranteed there will be more reading material available than you can finish on your trip — and you might even be able to find a few books for free.
14. Peppermint Oil
- Cost: Varies
Peppermint oil can serve as an aromatherapy treatment when you’re feeling stressed and anxious. Just inhale directly from a bottle of peppermint oil or apply it topically. According to Medical News Today, peppermint oil is also known to have health benefits for nausea, various skin conditions, the cold and the flu.
15. Jet Lag Prevention
- Cost: $12.99
Adjusting to the intense time difference in foreign countries can cause serious jet lag, which is — needless to say — no fun. Over 90% of travelers will experience jet lag symptoms at some point when they travel, according to the American Sleep Association. Jet lag might seem unavoidable, but that’s not the case. Products like the No-Jet-Lag Homeopathic Jet Lag Prevention pills can help you adjust time zones more seamlessly on your next trip.
16. Fitness Tracker
- Cost: $89.99
Carving out time for exercise might fall by the wayside when you’re traveling — which can affect your mental health. With a fitness tracker, such as the Fitbit Alta HR, you can see how active you are every day and keep track of your health during your vacation.
Click through for tips to make coach seats feel like first class.
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Prices are accurate as of April 9, 2019, and are subject to change.