Sadly, not every item we covered in last year's gift guide made it to the list this year. Some just broke along the way and ending up being sad disappointments. This, unfortunately, includes our beloved Muji suitcase and Bellroy Travel Wallet.
The good news is that there are a bunch of newcomers mixed in with some old faces that are standing the test of time. Skip the travel socks this year, here's stuff that will actually delight most hardcore travelers.
There are no winners in the bag category this year. This includes brands we're currently testing like the Minaal, Tom Bihn and others. There was no standout.
Satechi Travel Router
There’s power adapters and there’s power adapters. This power adapter lets you convert to all the major plugs out there, has two slots for USB charging and GET THIS, even turns into a router. Because when you get into the hotel, chances are you’ll have more than one doodad that needs a little bit of Internet juice. This is singlehandedly the best travel gadget I own.
Cost: $32.99 on Amazon
Books are really, really heavy. Send everything—from light reading to guidebooks—to a Kindle Paperwhite instead. I only need to charge it about once a month to get me going for the whole time. Added bonus: It's possible to buy any English-language book from the Amazon store at any time, whether you’re in Brazil or Japan. (That's sometimes the hardest part.)
Cost: $99.00 on Amazon
Vapur Eclipse Collapsible Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is, like, so great and such an underrated activity until you hit your 30s. Cut down on space with the Vapur Eclipse, which can be rolled up and stowed away until you need to fill it up. Great for yoga, the bus ride or the Andes. I’ve brought it to all three.
Cost: $8.54on Amazon
LifeStraw Go Water Bottle
LifeStraw is best known for its advanced filtering technology, which will get rid of 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites and bacteria. These filters are regularly sent to third-world countries for aid. In the water bottle, Lifestraw implements the same technology into a portable container, making it a great option for places and countries where water quality may be questionable. This isn't just filtering, it's advanced filtering.
Cost: $29.95 on Amazon or $24.50 on Eartheasy
PackTowl Ultralite Travel Towel (Extra Large)
Douglas Adams said it best that a towel is the best tool in your arsenal to have. Step it up a notch with travel towels that dry effortlessly in hours and take up less space than your T-shirt. Do I need to remind you of the fact there’s a whole day devoted to it?
Cost: $21.30 on Amazon
True Utility CashStash
I didn't realize these pillbox keyrings existed until several months ago. This basically allows travelers a safe place to store some backup cash in an inconspicuous spot. There are some other inventive uses without having to buy a CashStash, per se, but for something that fits the smallest budget without being too cheap, this fits the bill.
Cost: $9.95 on Amazon
Mobile Foodie Survival Kit
Personally, I don’t like eating out all the time. The Mobile Foodie Survival Kit is for the serious gourmand and is perfect for vacation rentals, extended trips or even just cooking at another friend’s house. Need some oregano and cumin on the fly? No problem.
Cost: $26.00 on UncommonGoods
AeroPress Travel Kit
Coffee snob? A great travel gadget for the caffeine-addicted (and for those who can't deal without their Blue Bottle). The only downside is that there are more moving parts than preferable but the upside is some truly spectacular coffee. And that's something even I can't argue with.
Cost: $52.45 on Amazon
Bodum Stainless Steel Travel French Press
This is the better two-piece option for less discerning coffee drinkers for $20 less.
Cost: $24.99 on Amazon
Luckies of London Scratch Map
Maps are a dime a dozen but the Luckies of London is a scratch-off map is something you can truly make your own. Scratch off where you’ve been—either by country or region—like a lotto ticket to reveal a burst of color underneath. Mine hangs on my wall, taunting me about the places I haven’t been yet and reminds me that the world is a big, big place. (Really big.)
Cost: $18.12 on Amazon
Carry On Cocktail Kit
Drink snobs should drink up. This cocktail kit describes exactly what it does: it's a toolkit for boozing it up. It's actually not the greatest gadget on the planet but it is definitely the perfect gadget for adding a little bit of spice to the holidays... and your plane flight.
Cost: $19.58 on Amazon