If your go-to travel gear is the same duffel bag you’ve had since high school track and some bubble wrap for your laptop, it’s time to upgrade. Whether you fly frequently or once a year, certain accessories can make the trip go that much smoother, and can be reused on other trips and travels. You don’t have to scour SkyMall for the perfect accessories, either. We asked frequent fliers — people who travel, three, four, five, six times a month — what they use to make traveling as convenient as possible. Here’s what we found:
“I travel with carry-on and rarely check a bag,” says Andria Mitsakos, president and CEO of Andria Mitsakos Public Relations, who frequently travels between Manhattan, Milan, and Miami. “Even now, spending two months in Europe this summer, I only brought a Tumi rolly bag and a large purse from my collection, Dea Rosa.”
Tumi specializes in making travel and business luggage, as well as handbags and wallets, that are both durable and lightweight. Wheeled briefcases come in a variety of sizes, though all are small enough to fit in an overheard compartment. Many also come with a laptop case. Prices range from $325-$995.
Syed Balkhi, founder of WPBeginner, a WordPress resource site, likes to get through security as smoothly as possible, so he uses a TSA-friendly bag to store his laptops. His bag of choice is Manfrotto’s Veloce V Backpack, the “essential shooting backpack” that’s designed to hold your camera gear, as well as laptop and accessories.
“This is probably the best investment I made because now I don’t have to take my laptop out of my bag,” says Balkhi. “And I keep my gadgets organized in one place.”
Malcolm O. Munro, president and CEO of the corporate training company Total Career Mastery, likes to use a hard-case carry-on when he travels, much like Brookstone’s wheeled suitcases, which have a hard-sided exterior that’s tough but light, and is padded on the inside. They cost anywhere from $99-$149.99, depending on the size.
To help fit as much in as he can, Munro also uses space bags for his clothes.
“I can pack for one week using just a carry-on rollerboard, carry a CPAP breathing machine, course materials, and workout gear, and fit it all in!” says Munro.
Laura Pestronk, a spokesmodel for tradeshows and conventions, and a blogger at You Somewhere Else, always likes to have her iPad (starting at $499) with her for entertainment.
“What’s going to keep you entertained on the flight? Don’t rely on the airplane TVs only. Sometimes they don’t work, don’t exist at all, or don’t have anything very entertaining,” says Pestronk.
Jeff Bedford, an account coordinator for Anvil Media, also could not live without his iPad. So when he travels, he likes to keep it safe and protected. He recommends the leather iPad cases from Maroo ($44.99-$99.99).
“Having a nice case like [that] has really been beneficial to me as a traveler as well, and I would recommend an accessory like this to anybody,” says Bedford. “Not only does the case act as functional protection for my device, but the aesthetic of the product gives me the mental comfort to use the technology in any setting, including business meetings with clients I may have previously never met.”
When you’re traveling with laptops, cellphones, iPads, cameras, and other electronics, things can get a bit messy.
“Make sure all electronics are charged and you have all the cords,” says Munro, who has a solution to keeping everything organized. “I carry those in a ‘cocoon’ case that has straps to keep all that together.”
Munro got his through trusty SkyMall, where a cocoon tablet organizer case costs $24.99.
Vests are cool again, especially for traveling, thanks to Scottevest. The designer makes a full line of clothes for men and women, from vests to coats, which feature specialized pockets and compartments to hold all your electronic gear.
“My traveling attire almost always includes my Scottevest,” says Balkhi. “This allows me to easily have my gadgets with me at all times without being cold or uncomfortable.”
Munro also travels with a Scottevest, a coat which has a whopping 33 pockets.
“It acts like a third carry-on and I can fit my Dr. Dre Beats in there, plus anything else I need,” says Munro. “With the Scottevest, I can put my phone, wallet, keys, watch, and change in the pockets and dump it in the bin.”
Scottevest makes travel vests, windbreakers, jackets, and coats that can run you anywhere from $70 to $225.
To help keep all your travel information in one place, frequent fliers recommend smartphone apps like TripIt, which can combine all your airline, hotel, and car rental details and confirmations into one easy-to-follow itinerary.
“I always use TripIt mobile app to track all my flight information,” says Balkhi. “It sends me reminders and is a great app for everyone who is traveling.”
The app is free, though Jake Redman, founder of travel review website modhop.com, also likes the paid “Pro” version, which costs $49 a year after a free 30-day trial.
“It keeps you informed of changes to your flight, shows you alternate flights on all airlines, and keeps track of your frequent flyer miles,” says Redman.
What are some of your must-have travel accessories? Share with us in the comments section!