Travel Comfortably

Take the pain out of travel 😌

8 categories, updated 1 year ago

Travel Pillow

A worldwide cuddle buddy 🐻. Travel pillows can't remove 100% of your discomfort while on planes or busses, but they do help and are worth it even if they can only increase the amount of sleep you get by a little. The last thing you want is to feel like a hot mess on arrival.

What we look for
  • Inflatable or compresses down for easy packing
  • Enough support for your neck/head to reduce discomfort
  • Soft material that won't irritate your skin
  • Washable since the surfaces of planes/buses are dirty
  • An easy set up process so you can get straight to sleeping
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AirComfy Daydreamer Neck Pillow

Best overall travel pillow

This option has the best balance of features among U shaped neck pillows: a large neck support area, inflatable, lightweight, easy to wash, and easy to set up.

  • Easy 60 second push button inflation, no need to blow into any valve
  • Soft velvet cover is easily removed for washing
  • Packs down easily into a carabiner carrying case
  • Raised arch neck supports your head and neck more than typical neck pillows

Cabeau Evolution

If you prefer memory foam

Memory foam pillows are much heavier and less packable than inflatable options, but for many people they're more comfortable. The Cabeau Evolution is a time tested option with a patented back shape that won't push your head forward compared to typical U shaped neck pillows.

  • Cover made of a comfortable velour that's easily removed for washing
  • Has a media pouch for your mobile device and adjustable toggles

AirComfy Multi-Purpose Travel Pillow

Best multipurpose travel pillow

This is a great option if you want a pillow for purposes in addition neck/head support like lumbar support or when laying down where a U shaped pillow won't work as well.

  • Self inflatable: Just twist the valve and it's ready to use in seconds
  • Inner foam material provides support even if there’s no air
  • Made of an easy to clean fabric that just wipes down
  • Elastic band for securely strapping the pillow to headrests

Trtl Pillow

If pillows don't work well for you

For people who can't get comfortable with typical neck pillows, the Trtl is worth a try. It technically isn't a pillow but more of a structured neck supporting scarf made for sleeping while seated. Instead of leaning on a window, you lean into the scarf.

Noise Canceling Earbuds

What'd you say? Huh? Yeah, I can't hear you because I'm literally canceling your voice.

You might not make many friends this way, but it's still funny to think that's what you're doing when using active noise canceling earbuds. They do have a legitimate use case though: drowning out the droning noises of planes and buses, reducing the shrieking cry of a baby, or any other time you need to minimize distracting noises to sleep or focus. Many people, including us, swear by them.


Active noise canceling is great for low frequency sounds like the drone of an airplane. For constantly changing sounds, like someone talking to you, it helps but it isn't as effective as just a pair of ear plugs that prevent sound from entering your ear.

What we look for
  • Active noise canceling which does a better job than passive for travel scenarios
  • Long battery life since active noise canceling requires power
  • Earbuds form factor over bulky headphones for better packability
  • Good sound quality so your unce unce sounds crisp 🎶
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Bose QuietComfort 20

Best overall noise canceling earbuds

Nothing today touches the fantastic quality of Bose’s noise cancelation. They’re expensive, but if noise canceling and auditory peace is what you value most they’re worth it.

  • The sound quality isn't the absolute best, but it's good enough considering the noise canceling quality
  • Make sure to get the right model for your device (Apple vs. Android/Samsung)
  • 16 hour battery life

TaoTronics TT-EP01

Best value: adequate noise canceling for 1/6 the price

While its noise canceling isn’t as good as Bose, it’s adequately close (estimated at about 60% to 70% as good) and only 1/6 the cost.

  • To improve the noise cancelling and comfort of these, replace the included ear tips with SpinFit ear tips
  • 15 hour battery life

Bose QuietControl 30

If wireless ability is important to you

If you need both noise canceling and wireless ability, these are the best. Compared to the QC20, the noise cancelation of these is extremely close and the sound quality is slightly better.

Downsides are the neckband design looks weird when worn and once it's out of battery it's done vs. wired options you can continue to use.

  • 10 hour battery life

Sleep Better

Here are a few other key items to improve your sleep while on the go.

Other tips
  • Enable "night mode" on your iPhone or Android to ensure your body knows it's time to sleep
  • Avoid eating and especially alcohol on the plane before sleeping as it ruins your quality of sleep (even if you think it makes you fall asleep easier)
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Nidra Sleep Mask

Best sleep mask for blocking out light 👀

If you're serious about arriving feeling refreshed, sleep masks are a must. We've used the Nidra extensively on flights and think it's the best sleep mask for travel because of its deep eye cups that let your eyes freely move when you're in deep sleep (aka REM sleep). The material is also super soft against the skin and the nose area is contoured in a way to be more comfortable than other cheaper masks.

SoundBarren Ear Plugs

Best ear plugs for blocking out noise 👂

The drone of airplanes and other noise pollution can disturb even the deepest sleepers. Although there are disposable style ear plugs that can block out more noise, in practice they're not as easy to use (squishing them the proper way takes some practice) and we're not fans of perpetuating throw away culture.

We recommend these from SoundBarren because they're non-disposable, easily washed, easy to put in, and stay in better, making it a better choice for most travelers.

Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets

To help jumpstart your sleepiness 💤

If you have to resort to ingesting things (we aren't judging), the most effective solution that's easily bought over-the-counter is melatonin. It's what your body produces at night to tell you it's sleepy time 😴. To get help creating that signal, try these fast dissolve 3mg tablets. You can get higher dosages like 10mg but keep in mind your body naturally produces < 1g every night, so eating 10x more may not be the smartest idea.

If you travel enough though and actually need it, it's not unusual to ask a doctor for a prescription to real sleep medicine like Xanax. Just don't overdo it, k? 🤝

Don't Get Sick

Traveling puts you in contact with a lot of bacteria and germs, such as fecal matter everywhere on plane tray tables, blankets, and suitcases. Even if you're relatively healthy, the prospect of getting sick at some point while traveling is never appealing. Just to be safe (and for those mildly OCD... which we totes get) here are a few things to help minimize the chances of 🤒.

A few other things to consider
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Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes

Wipe away surface bacteria and germs

These wipes come in handy everywhere for killing bacteria: on the plane, on buses, in hotels, etc. A few of the key areas to wipe down:

  • Tray tables
  • Elbow rests
  • Door handles
  • Cell phone

Germ-x Natural Hand Sanitizer Spray

Convenient way to sanitize your hands

When you don't have access to a sink to wash your hands, use this hand sanitizer spray. The spray nozzle makes it easier to dispense than more typical antibacterial gels.

Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Bug Repellent

Best natural way to deter bugs

Mosquito bites don't just itch, they can spread extremely unpleasant (and potentially fatal) diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Tick bites can even turn you into a vegetarian. If you're heading to an area with potential for a lot of bugs like the jungle, you definitely should bring bug repellent.

While DEET is usually mentioned as an effective way to ward off bugs, they melt plastic which is a bit uh... disconcerting to apply to our skin 🤔 (and does irritate people with sensitive skin). We recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus solutions instead because a comprehensive study proved that it's just as effective as DEET while being all natural.

If the Cutter version is sold out, the Repel version is basically identical.

Emergen-C Immune+ Drink Mix

Fortify your immune system for a stressful travel day

If your body is healthy and well rested, it means your immune system is capable of fending off all the bad bacteria you encounter throughout the day to ensure you don't get sick. Travel days can be stressful though, leaving your immune system compromised. While Emergen-C isn't 100% effective (what is?), it's better than nothing if not just for the placebo effect (which shouldn't be doubted!).

Verilux CleanWave Sanitizing Travel Wand

Kill surface bacteria with UV light

UV light is very effective at killing bacteria by basically disrupting its cellular processes. Make your bacteria free dreams real when on the go with this proven UV travel wand, but you do have to hold it for a few seconds and we admit you might look a bit ridiculous. But hey, only the paranoid survive right?

Water Bottle

A refillable water bottle to help you hit those hydration goals on the road is important. What's also important is they help combat the insane amounts of plastic we produce every year, the vast majority of which ends up in our oceans. Sashimi with a side of plastic: yummy yummy in my poisoned tummy 😋.

What we look for
  • Collapsible for easy packing
  • Easy to clean to prevent bacteria build up
  • Durable material to hold up to wear and tear
  • BPA free so it's toxin free and safe to use
  • Secure cap to prevent leaking
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Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle

Best overall water bottle for travel

The Nomader water bottle is the most well thought through collapsible water bottle right now with a solution to every problem you could run into while traveling. It also mimics most closely the experience of drinking from a normal bottle compared to other collapsible bottles with its structured silicon body.

  • Twist cap is leak proof and doubles as a hygienic shield
  • Made of durable, BPA free, and dishwasher safe materials
  • Lifetime Warranty

Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle

Great option if you want smaller/lighter or more sizes

The Vapur Eclipse is one of our all time favorites and compares very closely with the Nomader (which came out after we started using the Vapur). It's slightly less durable and the bladder form factor can feel more flimsy. However, it's easier to collapse, smaller when collapsed, 5x lighter, and comes in more sizes and patterns.

Contigo Thermalock Matterhorn Water Bottle

If you don't care about the bottle collapsing

If you don't care for having the bottle collapse, you might as well go all the way and get a bottle made out of metal so it's more durable and with thermal insulation so your drinks stay cool or warm for longer. Contigo's Matterhorn bottle does these both with aplomb. It also has a big mouth for easy cleaning and adding ice cubes, is shaped normally so it'll fit in cup holders, and has a leak proof lid that's attached so you don't have to worry about losing the cap.

Prefer sizes other than 20 oz? There's 32 oz and 12 oz sizes too.

Water Filter

Letting your stomach "test" the tap water in a foreign country is often a quick one way ticket to Toilet Land, the dystopian alternative to Candy Land. It's not always because the local tap water is "bad" per se, but because it has bacteria that's different from where you're from and your stomach isn't used to it. To the locals though, it's completely fine.

  • Never let your water filter freeze as that usually ruins its filtering ability.
  • Don't have access to a filter? At least boil tap water for 5 minutes first to ensure all bacteria are killed.
What we look for
  • A long lifespan aka filters a lot of water before you need to replace it
  • Removes harmful bacteria down to 0.1 microns at least
  • A fast enough flow rate so it's easy to drink from and fills bottles quickly
  • Small and packable so it's easy to travel with
  • Focuses on water from the tap instead of outdoor sources like rivers
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Sawyer Squeeze

Best overall water filter for travel

The Sawyer Squeeze stands tall above other water filters suited for travel. Let's compare it to the two other popular options: its smaller sibling the Sawyer Mini and the Lifestraw.

The Squeeze may be a bit heavier and heavier than the Mini (3 oz vs. 2 oz), but in exchange for that 1 oz you get a lot: 10x longer lifespan (1 million gallons vs. 100K gallons), a 3x faster flow rate, and less clogging. The faster flow rate is a big deal: it's the difference between sucking a thick milkshake vs. sucking water through a straw. Doing that dozens of times a day gets tiring.

Compared to the Lifestraw, the Squeeze's lifespan is comically longer: 14,388x. Yes, that's the right number (1 million gallons vs. 264 gallons). The Squeeze also filters out more gunk (0.1 microns vs. 0.2).

However, you do have to regularly backflush and clean the Squeeze, but it's not hard with the included syringe.

  • 3 oz (0.19 lbs)
  • Filters down to 0.1 microns
  • Lifespan: 1 million gallons if backflushed and kept clear regularly


An umbrella is an orchestra of over 200 components working together in unison. A wonder of engineering that deserves a better look at than the weak drug store umbrellas many buy and dispose of. We think they should be investment pieces that make any rainy day, especially while traveling, more tolerable. Just don't lose them 😉.

What we look for
  • Auto open and close so no need to futz around when it starts raining
  • Short when closed and lightweight so it fits easily in bags
  • Holds up well in moderate wind, a more common case than strong storm wind
  • A good warranty since we've all lost umbrellas
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Lewis N. Clark Travel Umbrella

Best value umbrella

Considering its price, the Lewis N. Clark has a great balance of features. It's small enough at 11" closed and durable enough with 8 ribs to withstand most wind for most travelers. Best of all though it's light lightweight at 10 oz, which is 2 oz less than most other travel sized umbrellas with auto open/close. It's not the smallest nor the more durable but for the price it's a good value.

  • 11" closed
  • 10 oz (0.63 lbs)
  • 1 year warranty

Euroschirm Dainty Automatic

Most travel friendly umbrella

Euroschirm is known for quality lightweight umbrellas, especially for treking. Their Dainty Automatic is our favorite for travelers due to its packability: it closes down to a really small 8.5" long (most are 10"+), folds into a flat shape for easier packing, and is only 11.8 oz. You'd be hard pressed to find anything this small and lightweight with auto open/close that's still good quality.

Its "daintiness" means it won't stand up to strong sustained storm winds but it'll work just fine for general rainy days. It also comes with neat details like reflective elements and blunt tips.

  • 8.5" closed
  • 11.8 oz (0.74 lbs)
  • 2 year warranty

Blunt XS Metro

Best for withstanding strong winds

If you're traveling somewhere with stronger winds, the Blunt XS Metro is your best bet. It's the most durable and is still lightweight at 12 oz. However, it's not as packable compared to other travel umbrellas at 14" when closed compared to a more typical 11". The blunt tips are a nice touch, and Blunt understands sh*t happens so they've included a pocket for a Tile in case you lose it along with a 5 year global warranty which is always a plus.

  • 14" closed
  • 12.3 oz (0.77 lbs)
  • 5 year global warranty

Davek Traveler

A luxurious yet practical travel umbrella

Applying the idea of luxury to a utilitarian product like an umbrella might sound odd at first, but Davek shows that umbrellas are worthy of the attention and can be brought into the "buy less, but better" category. For a travel umbrella, it hits all the right notes: its a short 9" when closed, 12 oz, and stands up to wind fairly well with its steel shaft and 7 ribs. Its the small details like the leather handle and strap, attached clip, and an unheard of (for umbrellas) unconditional lifetime guarantee that make this worth checking out for those with the money.

Protect Your Bag

Schlepping around a backpack or handbag with your valuables around the world will eventually lead to inconvenient situations: caught in a storm, in a dirty or dusty place, or just at a crowded restaurant with nowhere to place your bag. Keep your peace of mind with these accessories.

Other Tips
  • Before hanging your bag off anything high, test it out first to ensure it's stable (our dented laptop is the reason we list this 😩)
  • Wear your backpack in the front if you're in an area known for pickpockets
  • Watch our for thieves slashing the bottom of a bag so all your valuables fall out
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Lulabop Heroclip

May your bag never touch the ground again

Don't mistake this for any ol' carabiner: the Heroclip is a carabiner on steroids. The attached 360 swivel on top means you can basically hang a bag off anything, like attaching a backpack to your luggage so you're not stressing out your back. Or maybe a bathroom door when you gotta go but there's no hook to put your bag leaving only the germ filled floor. Yes, we've used it many times for that actually.

It can also easily hang other objects like wireless speakers and lanterns. Made out of solid aluminum, you can tell when handling it that it'll last a long, long time.

  • 50 lb weight limit (so please don't use this like a real climbing carabiner)
  • 1 year warranty

Mountainsmith Backpack Cover

Shield your bag from the elements

Although this packable backpack cover is mainly meant for rain, it can be used in a lot of other places: preventing pocket access in crowded areas with pickpockets, on boats, or in dusty areas.

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