Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
We get it—a lot of the travel gear we cover at Outside is expensive. There’s a reason for that: gear that’ll stand up to years of abuse is worth paying for, and it takes a lot of it to, say, pull off a cycling trip through the Italian Dolomites or a trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.
That said, not everything has to cost as much as a plane ticket to New Zealand, and when we find quality gear that costs less than an Uber to the airport, we’re the first to celebrate it. From headphones to a truly stellar camping app, here are some of our favorite travel essentials that will make life on the road that much easier.
JBL Live 100 Headphones ($40)
A set of simple earbuds is an essential travel item for me, mainly as a backup for times when I forget my Bluetooth headphones or they run out of battery. Fifty bucks won’t buy you a set of AirPods, but you can score a pair of JBL Live 100s. They’re reliable and sound as if they cost twice the price.
Therm-a-Rest Trekker Pillow Case ($13)
My wife and I use this pillowcase every time we fly. We simply stuff one of our extra layers inside instead of dragging a cumbersome neck pillow around the airport with us. The brushed-polyester exterior is incredibly soft, and better yet, it packs away to almost nothing in our carry-on when we’re not using it.
Anker PowerCore 20100 ($50)
Anker makes my favorite portable chargers. I use the company’s PowerHouse in lieu of a generator on video and photo shoots to recharge camera batteries and its 12-ounce PowerCore 20100 for travel. The PowerCore lets you charge two devices at once and will fully charge my iPhone 8 nearly seven times before it’s out of juice, making it great for couples that only want to bring one battery pack.
Bellroy Classic Pouch ($49)
I used to think organizers were stupid, but I also spend way too much time hunched over in my airplane seat digging through my bags trying to find cords, headphones, or lip balm. Bellroy, perhaps better known for its streamlined wallets, solves that problem with its Classic pouch. The wide-mouth opening, three internal pockets, and large main storage area mean you’ll have easy access to all your stuff and plenty of room for everything from chargers and cables to toiletries.
AllStays Camp and RV Tents App ($10)
Camp and RV is consistently rated the best camping app around for a reason: you’ll get a database of over 32,000 campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada, plus extras like lists of amenities provided by each site and overnight parking reports for Walmarts and other stores that allow campers, such as REI and Cabela’s. All that translates to a much easier road-trip experience, especially for #vanlifers and anyone who just likes to camp a lot.
Peak Designs Camera Leash ($40)
If you bring a camera with you to document your trips, treat it right with this leash. Peak Designs makes the best camera straps I’ve ever tried, and this one’s versatility makes it perfect for travel. Its Anchor Link connection system allows you to configure it as a sling, neck strap, or safety tether and adjust the length from 33 to 57 inches with one finger. The Leash holds up to 200 pounds, so it’ll work with just about any body and lens combination.
Tanner Goods Minimal Card Wallet ($40)
Ditch the Costanza. There’s no reason you need to carry more than a few cards and some cash when you’re on the road. This minimalist wallet is constructed from just two pieces of Meridian English bridle leather and keeps things simple and classy with just two slots for your plastic and a pocket for cash. It’s meant to be carried in front, too, which brings me a little extra peace of mind while traveling.