The Ultimate Tech Essentials for Travel
To assemble the best tech for travelers, we polled staffers, frequent flyers, and gadget junkies to find what stuff they couldn’t imagine traveling without. Then we pulled together a dream team of products in each category and put them all to the test.
The gear you see here was road tested from coast to coast and across a couple continents — by both Apple fans and PC devotees — and after all those test runs, we can’t imagine traveling without ‘em.
Check out the full line-up of 2017’s Ultimate Travel Essentials.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones
You've seen them here before, but the QC 35s are still the best noise-cancelling headphones we've tried. This model's wireless, but comes with a cord so you can keep listening when the Bluetooth battery dies.
To buy: amazon.com, $349
Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Headphones
Eliminate distracting noises while traveling, or don’t. These in-ear noise-cancelling headphones from Bose make it your choice at the touch of a button.
To buy: amazon.com, $249
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom
It’s tougher than it looks: UE’s latest speaker can survive being dropped or drenched, so you can rock out poolside (or as one tester learned, leave it outside in a thunderstorm) without fear of shorting the circuitry. Plus, it weighs less than a pound.
To buy: amazon.com, $100
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Type Cover
This sleek, user-friendly hybrid is thin and light, but with an expansive, high-quality display. The built-in kickstand makes in-flight use a breeze.
To buy: amazon.com, from $625
HP Spectre x360
This is one sleek machine, with coppery trim and a slim half-inch profile. Fast processing and a 4K touch screen make the device shine.
To buy: hp.com, $1,449
iPad Pro & Smart Keyboard
You can finally leave your laptop at home. New iOS 11 functions — like multitasking and file management — make the 10.5-inch iPad Pro a worthy substitute. And with a much larger screen and interactive pencil, it allows for a more productive travel experience than previous models.
Time for an upgrade: the new MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter than the Air, but with faster performance, a crisper display, and up to 16GB of RAM. In other words, it's a no-brainer for travel. And though we were skeptical at first, the Touch Bar won us over — the instant webpage access and fingerprint unlock function are both lifesavers.
To buy: apple.com, from $1,299
iPhone 7 Plus
The supersize Plus won us over with its photo capabilities — the dual-lens, wide-angle camera alone makes it worth the purchase, and we loved the universally flattering portrait mode. Add to that a longer battery life, stereo speakers, and a water-resistant shell, and it's easily the best pick for travelers in Apple's lineup.
To buy: apple.com, from $769
Unmatched battery life, a stellar camera, and Google Assistant make this phone the best Android pick for frequent fliers. It even got rave reviews from our Apple loyalists.
To buy: google.com, from $650
Flight 001 4-in-1
This modular adapter has plugs for 150 countries in one bright, compact package. It's color-coded, so you can check compatibility with a glance at Flight 001's companion map.
To buy: amazon.com, $25
Fancii Cool Mist Personal Mini Humidifier
Packing a humidifier can alleviate the chapped lips and moisture-sapped skin that crop up in dry climates or after flying. This model is small, cordless, and ideal for a hotel room — just supply a water bottle and a few AA batteries.
To buy: amazon.com, $36
These handy cloths provide streak-free disinfecting and come in graphic packaging that’s easy to spot swimming in the bottom of an overstuffed bag.
To buy: sephora.com, $6
Once you own this pay-as-you-go hotspot device (you can rent one, too, if you need it for a shorter trip), pressing start will activate a 24-hour pass for up to five devices to access unlimited data. Day passes cost as little as $8 and cover more than 100 countries.
To buy: amazon.com, $80
Clip or stick this Bluetooth tracker to valuables and never lose your keys again. Or your wallet. Or your kid. (Kidding. Sort of.) The battery is guaranteed to last for a year, and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
To buy: amazon.com, $25
Flux Charger Plus
It's slimmer than a smartphone, but with 10,000 mAh of charging power and built-in micro-USB and lightning connecters, this portable battery has more than enough juice to keep multiple gadgets going strong.
To buy: amazon.com, $60
The Oasis is easily the best e-reader on the market today. It's lightweight and user-friendly, with page turn buttons, a touchscreen, and an adjustable backlight that's glowy, not harsh. And it'll last through even your longest flights: After 14 hours of reading, the Oasis still had a 75 percent charge.
To buy: amazon.com, $290