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Best Travel Accessories

The flight attendant on a regional jet declares your luggage won’t fit overhead. But you know better—and promptly disassemble it into three pieces. One slides neatly into the overhead bin while the laptop case and toiletry bag stow under your seat. Just like that, the right accessory has improved your flight.

There are plenty of hassles on the road, from airline fees and delays to gas prices, but people worldwide are exploring more than ever: 270 million-plus travelers are hitting the road this year, according to the Airports Council International. And companies are responding with innovative accessories that ease the travel experience—and can even be bought on the go.

Consider the emergence of Best Buy Express kiosks at airports and even Disneyland. Since 2008, they’ve sprung up at 150 sites, with nearly a hundred more planned for 2012. Each stocks about 50 products, including headphones, cameras and camcorders, chargers, mobile phones, and portable gaming devices, sold at the same prices found in-store.

There’s such a satisfaction in reaching for an ingenious accessory that works when you need it, whether bought at the spur of the moment or well in advance. If it downpours, you’re not only protected, but equipped with all your essentials thanks to the stylish SeV trench and its tons of pockets. Once inside, you lift the earbuds from their convenient shoulder-side loops, peel back the lapel just enough to see the screen on your mp3 player through the inner pocket’s clear touch fabric, and hit play.

Sometimes run-of-the-mill earbuds won’t cut it—like when noise outside your hotel room door keeps you up. Next time, strap on a set of soft, cozy SleepPhones (a lavender-scented fleece headband) that plugs into your music player. Unlike regular earphones or headphones, these sleep-savers have flat speakers that allow you to roll your head into a natural position on the pillow. They’re a great way to make any area more conducive to much-needed Zs.

Nifty accessories like these will make you the envy of fellow travelers. And isn’t half the fun being able to do what other travelers can’t? Check out these dozen dynamic products that can consistently help you achieve that goal.

Scott Tharler is a gadget, gambling, and travel expert based in Wayland, MA.

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