Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

As more people around the globe become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, many are eager to return to a semblance of normalcy. And in recent news from the White House, the United States is expected to open travel for all vaccinated foreign nationals in early November.

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Whether you’re planning on traveling domestically or internationally, it’s time to dust off your luggage and refresh your travel arsenal. Whether you’re in need of a new toiletries bag or need an excuse to treat yourself to a new suitcase, here’s a checklist of must-have travel items to buy and pack for your next getaway.

1. A carry-on travel backpack you can explore with

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Whether your international flight is an 8- or 18-hour journey, it’s great to have a travel backpack or similar carry-on bag that can fit all your necessary belongings.

There are plenty of stellar options for backpacks depending on your needs. The large Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 backpack—our best overall choice for a travel backpack—is perfect for the flight cabin, but it also doubles as a carry-all when you’re exploring your destination. It’s durable yet comfortable and can accommodate a solid amount of personal items, such as a few changes of clothing and room for toiletry bags.

If you’re looking for something a little less rugged, Melissa Cooper, Reviewed’s senior director of marketing, recommends this stylish and professional Kenneth Cole backpack. It has plenty of room for your travel necessities, including a padded laptop pocket and a front organizer that holds chargers, tablets and notebooks in place. It even has an extra strap on the back to conveniently attach it to a rolling suitcase.

Get the Osprey Ozone Duplex 65 Backpack from Amazon for $220

Get the Kenneth Cole Quilted Backpack from Amazon for $59.99

2. A travel pillow to snooze on the plane or train

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Don’t let your neck suffer from sleeping without the necessary support. To make resting on a long flight or international train ride more comfortable, a solid neck pillow is nonnegotiable.

After testing several types, we recommend the Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow—which is incredibly supportive, durable and even has an adjustable clasp for a personalized fit.

If you’re generally a side sleeper, the J-Pillow Travel Pillow might be a better choice. As its name suggests, this pillow is shaped like the letter “J,” and is extremely comfortable for those who prefer to rest their heads to the side. Bonus: It’s easier to carry around than a typical neck pillow.

Get the Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow from Amazon for $29.99

Get the J-Pillow Travel Pillow from Amazon for $28.95

3. High-quality luggage that stands the test of time

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

After the past year, it’s safe to say you deserve an upgrade to your old suitcase. At Reviewed, we’ve tested plenty of suitcases, carry-ons and more must-have luggage from tons of brands to judge durability, ease of use, and overall quality at its price point.

The Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 made its debut as a standout checked bag choice considering its rugged, high-quality construction. The suitcase makes organization easy with expandable pockets for last-minute packed items. For a carry-on, we ranked the Samsonite Flexis 21-inch Spinner as the best option for tough rolling wheels and smart organization. While we don’t know when this Samsonite will be back in stock, this similar Samsonite Pro Carry-On Expandable Spinner is a top-rated pick to try.

Get the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 Wheel Luggage from Amazon for $200.28

Get the Samsonite Pro Carry-On Expandable Spinner from Macy’s for $600

4. A passport cover to protect your personal info

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

While a passport cover may not feel essential, we’d argue that it’s a crucial travel accessory, especially if you’re frequently going abroad. A good passport cover can keep your passport looking good as new and protects your personal information if the cover has RFID-blocking technology.

This top-rated RFID-blocking passport holder comes in several colors of synthetic leather and features extra storage for money and credit cards.

Get the Polare Leather Passport Holder from Amazon for $25.99

5. Protective yet comfortable face masks for the plane and beyond

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires travelers to wear a face mask throughout their journey, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.

For a long-haul flight, you’ll want to bring a few sets of masks that you can comfortably wear for consecutive hours—this may include some medical-grade masks like surgical masks or N95 masks, along with fabric masks that can be washed after the flight.

When choosing a fabric mask, we recommend one with adjustable ear loops or one that ties around your head for maximum comfort. Our favorite face masks, the Athleta Non-Medical Face Masks, have adjustable ear loops to help avoid discomfort when wearing them for extended periods of time.

For extra protection during your travels, especially in situations where you’re unable to social distance, you may also want to double-mask. The practice can help reduce transmission of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Get the Everyday Non-Medical Face Masks (Pack of 5) from Athleta for $25

6. Disinfecting wipes to clean your seat on the plane

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

We now know that COVID-19 doesn’t predominantly spread through contact with surfaces, though it’s not impossible. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to give the space you’ll be spending a few hours in a good wipe down with disinfecting wipes.

These wipes are much more readily available than they were at the beginning of the pandemic—you can purchase Clorox Disinfecting Wipes on Amazon. Be sure you’re using them correctly by following the instructions on the label—you may need to ensure a surface stays wet for a certain amount of time to properly disinfect.

Get Clorox Disinfecting Wipes (75 Wipes, Pack of 3) from Amazon for $11.97

7. A new travel camera to capture the new memories

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Now more than ever, you may want to capture special moments on your travels to nostalgically look back on. While your smartphone can snap decent quality photos (especially with the help of a few camera add-ons), you can really capture the beauty of wide-angle landscapes and detailed close-ups.

If you’re ready to upgrade your digital camera or try your skills at photography for the first time, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III proved to be a top choice from our rigorous testing. It’s small yet mighty, being compact enough to fit in a pocket or purse but still boasting advanced features like an exposure compensation control that allows you to control the exposure of photos with a flick of your thumb.

Get the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III from Amazon for $749.98

8. A large (or travel) size of hand sanitizer

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

As a staple in all of our to-go bags, travel-size hand sanitizer will be necessary for your trip. Make sure the formula contains at least 60% alcohol, as recommended by the CDC.

TSA is currently allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container—up to 12 ounces per passenger—in carry-on bags. The agency does warn that this may slow down your checkpoint screening process.

If you want to ensure you never run out of sanitizer on your trip, we recommend bringing that 12-ounce hand sanitizer. If you want to cut down on space and prefer to purchase more abroad, stick with a travel-size sanitizer.

Get the Purell Advanced Refreshing Gel Hand Sanitizer (12 fl oz.) from Staples for $5.29

Get the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Sanitizer (2 fl oz.) from Target for $3.49

9. A pair of noise-canceling headphones to drown out planes and trains

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

If you’re really seeking peace and quiet during your travels, noise-canceling headphones are just about a necessity. There’s plenty to consider with this technology before buying—Do you prefer an in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear fit? What type of noise cancellation does this model use: active or passive? After testing over a dozen noise-canceling headphones, we recommend a pair like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds. They provide excellent audio quality, are comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and perhaps most importantly, offer top-notch active noise canceling.

If you’re a firmly entrenched in the Apple product universe, then you may prefer the Apple AirPods Pro for convenience and compatibility. While they aren’t the best earbuds in terms of sound quality, they’re easy to use, have great battery life and offer an incredible noise cancellation experience.

Get the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds at Amazon for $278

Get the Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon for $199

10. A face shield for extra protection and peace of mind

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, tells Reviewed that “many viruses infect by entering mucus membranes,” which includes the eyes. “Therefore, the combination of a mask and eye protection are best to avoid getting the [coronavirus].”

For extra protection in airport terminals or mid-flight, you can wear a face shield along with your mask. This shield with built-in glasses may be a more comfortable option than the typical face shield with an elastic headband. You may also want to apply an anti-fog spray on your shield to avoid any steam from accumulating on the inside.

Get the Salipt Face Shields (Set of 6) at Amazon for $9.79

11. A power converter for foreign electrical outlets

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Depending on your destination, the wall sockets may be different than what we’re familiar with in the U.S. To charge your phone, laptop and other devices, you’ll most likely need a power converter for your electronics’ chargers.

This helpful guide gives you an idea of the different types of plugs used in each country—see which ones are common where you’re headed and be sure to buy the proper adapter in advance. You can also purchase an all-in-one adapter, which takes out the guessing while shopping.

Get the Epicka Universal Travel Adapter from Amazon for $22.99

12. A power bank for charging your electronics on the go

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

Don’t take a chance in letting your phone die while you’re out and about. Always keep a portable power bank on you—and remember to charge it up before leaving the hotel or for the airport.

We recommend the ZMI USB PD Backup Battery, as it includes two USB-A ports and holds enough power to charge a Chromebook three times and then some.

Get the ZMI USB PD Backup Battery from Amazon for $59.99

13. Compression socks for the long flight

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

If you’re susceptible to swelling legs on long-haul flights, don’t forget to pack a pair of compression socks. Even if your legs don’t swell during flights, you may find comfort in the stretchy, snug material regardless.

Reviewed’s kitchen and cooking writer Valerie Li Stack always packs a pair of compression socks in her carry-on to increase circulation on flights. Out of all the compression socks Reviewed has tested, we recommend a pair from Figs, a direct-to-consumer brand targeted at medical professionals. Their socks are ultra-comfortable and easy to pull on.

Get the Compression Socks from Figs for $28

14. A Kindle to skip on packing any heavy books

Vaccinated and ready to travel? These 14 on-the-go essentials are worth packing

What is a vacation to the beach without the perfect beach read? If you’ve been looking forward to diving into a novel on your next vacation, bring along an E-reader like the reviewer-loved Kindle Paperwhite. With a battery charge that can last weeks and no screen glare in bright sunlight, you can enjoy a relaxing read without adding extra weight. Let’s face it, paying extra for an overweight checked bag is never fun.

Get the Kindle Paperwhite E-reader at Amazon for $129.99

Looking for hard-to-find essentials? Sign up for our Resources by Reviewed newsletter.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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