The 15 Best Travel Buys of 2021

published Dec 27, 2021
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This year saw the return of traveling, both big and small. Whether you were hitting the road with friends and family for a fun weekend road trip or one of the many to return to the skies (the TSA reported the number of those traveling by air was back to almost pre-pandemic levels this year), chances are your 2021 saw you partaking in some adventuring. With the return of travel came the return of travelware, which meant taking stock of your travel essentials and picking up some new ones. This year, we made some great travel discoveries. From the hit tote bag editors and readers can’t stop raving about to new suitcases designed to last, to accessories that’ll take (some of) of the stress out of traveling, we rounded up 15 of our favorite travel buys of the year for you, below.

1 / 15

The Travelpro Platinum Elite Expandable Hardside Spinner topped our carry-on luggage best list this year. Why? Let's break it down. The best carry-on has to be reliable, durable, sturdy without being bulky, spacious without being heavy, and something you’d be proud to pluck from the baggage carousel — this pick checks all those boxes and more. It includes portable USB charging, lets you pack more while somehow staying in regulation (it fits more than any other hardside carry-on we tried), and glides smoothly and quietly. The handle and zippers never get stuck (no matter what we put it through), and its appearance is classic — not too youthful, not too antiquated. All in all, it's a 10 out of 10.

2 / 15

If you've been on the fence about trying a set of packing cubes, let us show a set you won't ever travel without again. The Gonex Compression Cubes are both an organizer's and over-packer's dream. Coming with four cubes, each one features a second zipper that you can pull shut once the pouch is filled to help compress soft items like clothing — think of it as a space bag for your suitcase — thus packing easier and giving yourself more room in the process.

3 / 15
Lo & Sons
was $205.00

While I've talked about this bag in the past, allow me to give you a quick refresher as to why the Catalina Tote from Lo & Sons is one of my favorite travel bags. Available in three different sizes, this bag is as spacious as it is stylish. The Catalina features deep side pockets, multiple interior pockets (including a bottom compartment to keep shoes or dirty clothes separate from the rest of your belongings), a key leash, and a luggage sleeve that'll easily slip over most suitcase handles. It also comes in 11 color options and three different fabric styles, making this the ultimate travel companion. If there's one piece you get off this list, make it this one.

4 / 15

It’s understandable why collapsible cups are a travel favorite and the Stojo On-the-Go Coffee Cup is our go-to. With a fun design and tons of colors to choose from, this cup is perfect for anyone looking for a travel cup that won't take up precious space in your luggage. Made of durable and easy-to-clean silicone, this collapsible wonder is lightweight, comes with its own heat-resistant sleeve, and inside the cup, there are measurements that show 8, 10, and 12 ounces for precise measurements of your favorite drinks.

5 / 15

Ever wish you could bring the calming comfort of a weighted blanket with you on a trip? Bearaby heard ya, and that's why they created the Travel Napper. This compact version of the brand's signature weighted blanket comes in at a comfortable 10 pounds, features a 40″ x 64″ chunky knit design, and comes in its own duffel bag that makes it a seamless addition to your travelware.

6 / 15
Lo & Sons
was $378.00

Designed to be used as both an everyday bag and an overnight travel bag, the O.G. 2 is one of Lo & Sons' most popular bags — and it made our best list as the best carry-on tote. This bag features plenty of pockets to house your everyday essentials, a padded laptop sleeve to keep your most important work accessory safe, and a separate shoe compartment to ensure the rest of your belongings stay clean on your travels. Best of all, its chic design and easy carry handles and strap make it a lovely piece you'll love sporting on your next trip.

7 / 15
Lo & Sons
was $188.00

Yep, we've got another one from Lo & Sons. Slim, sleek, and minimal, the Lo & Sons' leather wallet is destined to become the only travel wallet you'll ever need. It's built with 10 card slots, a change purse, multiple slip pockets, and enough space to house your passport, vaccination card, and phone with ease. Enough said!

8 / 15

We love a good innovative product and the Carry-On Closet is just that. Designed to make staying organized while traveling a breeze, this suitcase features a built-in shelving system for smart packing and a compression strap to hold it all in place while traveling. The shelves expand into a closet-like formation upon opening the suitcase, making everything inside accessible, so you don’t have to worry about unpacking to ensure that your clothes are neat and organized — no matter where your adventures take you.

9 / 15

Love the idea of a travel closet, but not in the market for a new suitcase just yet? We've got the perfect solution: the Stow-N-Go travel organizer. This handy travel companion features three open shelves as well as a zippered compartment, perfect for keeping messy items (like shoes, bottles, or dirty clothes) away from the rest of your belongings. The best part? It compresses into a neat cube, saving you up to 30 percent in your carry-on while also keeping things secure while traveling. Simply hang it up on a clothing rack or clothing bar when you get to your destination and enjoy!

10 / 15

For the ultimate travel backpack, the Bobby Hero Regular is an AT and TikTok mainstay. Equipped with an anti-theft design (all pockets and zippers of anti-theft bags are against your back when you wear them so there’s no access from the outside), this bag is designed to hold a ton. With padded device sleeves, mesh pockets galore, tons of roomy zippered compartments, and yes a USB port for a power bank, this is one smart backpack — and one you won't travel without ever again.

11 / 15
was $89.99

The worst part about traveling with a laptop is lugging around its clunky charging cable. But with the Sirius 65W Universal Charger from Einova, you'll never have to sacrifice space for power. Lightweight and compact, this universal charger features a removable 6-foot USB-C to USB-C cable, compatible with all USB-C devices. I personally travel with this charger whenever I bring my laptop somewhere and it never fails to surprise me just how little room this compact guy takes up.

12 / 15
was $14.99

We love introducing you to ingenious products, and the Snackeez travel cup is one of them. A portable cup and a food container in one, this travel mug makes packing a snack for a day out or a trip to the beach that much easier. Great for kids and adults, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

13 / 15
was $65.00

Looking for a great new beach towel? Keep these stunning beach towels from Brooklinen at the top of your list. With cool designs that mimic actual waves, the brand gave their famously soft and absorbent towels a ’70s-inspired revamp that's sure to be a hit at your next beach or pool-side hang.

14 / 15
was $53.99

Getting stranded with a low battery and no power source to revive your phone is a nightmare scenario — that is, if you don't have the FEELLE solar charger on hand. Compact and affordable (for a power bank), this solar-powered charger features panels that you unfold to expose to sunlight in order to recharge the device. Once fully charged, it has enough juice to charge up your phone and other devices with its two USB charging ports. Another bonus is the bright flashlight it's equipped with, making it great for use while camping, hiking, or during any other activities in which you’d be cloaked in darkness.

15 / 15

TikTok travelers love the Perilogics flight phone mount for its size, capabilities, and convenience so when we put it to the test we had high hopes — and we weren't let down. Rotating a complete 360 degrees for a wide variety of viewing angles, this mount clamps easily onto the back of an upright tray table in-flight and on luggage in case you find yourself sitting through a lengthy layover. "After attaching the phone mount to the tray in front of me, I settled into my seat, adjusted the angle of the screen for optimal viewing, and enjoyed my pre-downloaded Netflix movies hands-free," shared assistant shopping editor Britt. "This $13 item was an absolute game-changer for my travel accessories, and I don’t think I’ll go on a trip without it again."