Traveling for work can be brutal. It's definitely not all exotic locations and first-class upgrades. To make life easier on the road when you travel, you're probably pretty particular about what goes with you. You have your go-to gadgets and you don't leave home without them. While I certainly have my picks, I decided to ask a few of my frequent-traveling friends what their must-have items were when they hit the road.

Here are nine things you should never travel without: 

1. Noise-canceling headphones

These are easily the most mentioned gadget that everyone travels with, and for good reason. When you're traveling, the last thing you want is to have to listen to the person next to you on a plane snore their way through a five-hour flight. By far the most popular option is the Bose  QuietComfort 35 II. Personally, I'm a fan of the Apple AirPods, even though they aren't noise-canceling.

2. Tablet or e-reader

There is no shortage of available options for tablets, though for travel the Kindle remains more popular than you might think. I  take my iPad Pro everywhere because not only do I use it for work, but it's also great for reading or watching movies. Just because you're traveling for work, you still need something to do to let your brain unwind. If tablets aren't your thing, you could always pack an actual book. 

3. Portable power

I'm still carrying around a Mophie Powerstation from like six years ago, but I won't travel without it. It fits in the pocket of my laptop bag, and I can charge up my phone even when I can't find an outlet. There are plenty of newer products that pack even more charge and features, including wireless charging. 

4. ENO hammock

Why would anyone take a hammock on a work trip? It's a reasonable question, but if you want to unwind, it's nice to have your own place to do it. Besides, who doesn't like taking a nap in a hammock? All you need are two trees and a little space. 

5. Travel coffee mug

Even if you can't take it through airport security full of coffee, there are a lot of advantages to bringing your own travel mug. Starbucks charges you a lot less to fill up your own mug, and travel mugs are a lot more spill-proof, which is a definite bonus. 

Finally, a good travel mug will keep your coffee hot a lot longer. I have a stainless steel model from Starbucks, and there have been times when I fill it up in the morning, and my coffee is still hot 4 or 5 hours later.

6. Cocoon travel sheet

If you're afraid of hotel sheets, this is basically a warm-weather sleeping bag that keeps you warm while providing a little separation from, well, let's not think about it. It's light and small enough to throw in a carry on, and in addition to being functional, gives you a little extra peace of mind.

7. Camera.

In reality, if you have a smartphone, you probably have a camera capable of capturing amazing memories wherever you go. In fact, I totally agree with commercial photographer Chase Jarvis, who says that "the best camera is the one you have with you." 

If you want a little more oomph than the native camera app, the Lightroom CC app lets you not only control ISO, WB, aperture, and shutter but lets you capture in RAW. Or, for an actual camera that is easy to take with you, I love the Fujifilm X100F. It's small enough to throw in a carry-on and takes great photos. Plus, the retro styling looks cool.

8. Chromecast

While we use an Apple TV at home, it doesn't really fit in a carry on that well. On the road, there's really no easier way to stream Netflix in a hotel room than with a Chromecast. It's smaller than an Apple TV so it easily fits in your bag, and requires almost no set up. Just plug it into the HDMI port on the hotel TV, use the Google Home app to connect it to the WiFi network, and start streaming. 

9. Notebook and pen

Sometimes the best gadget is low-tech and simple. I always travel with a notebook and pen everywhere I go. Actually, for a guy who writes a tech column, my brain thinks surprisingly in analog, and pen on paper helps me organize my thoughts. The best part is, notebooks never run out of batteries. I'm a big fan of Moleskin, but my current day-to-day is a Leuchtturm1917 grid.

Published on: May 15, 2019
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