The best basic gadgets for frequent travelers

No one actually likes flying. Make it a little more comfortable for the ones you love.

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Whether it’s for work or pleasure, not many people like the traveling part of travel. If we could magically transport to our destination we’d all be a lot happier. Alas, planes are a fact of life (for now), but that doesn’t make them enjoyable. These gifts will help make frequent flyers’ endless journeys a little easier—and make your loved ones think of you every time they use them.

Travel pillow

Travelrest Patented Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

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Unless you’ve got the cash to travel business class, it’s a well-known fact that no one really sleeps on planes. This pillow won’t make it easy, but then again nothing will. What it will do is support your neck on all sides, front included, without pushing your whole head off the seat cushion thanks to its flat back. Plus it’ll squish down to a surprisingly compact size once you’re done dozing in and out for five hours. Fitting headphones on at the same time is definitely possible, though not super comfortable, but the flip side is that this is the one of the very few options that will actually cradle your head. Sometimes in life you have to make trade-offs, and travel pillows are one of them.

Portable charger

Jackery Portable Charger Giant+ 12000mAh Battery Pack

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Airports have gotten better about installing charging areas, but the desperation that plagues all airports means those convenient spots will all either be occupied or broken. Give the gift of freedom with this powerful little portable charger. Your loved one will be able to look smugly on as passengers frantically scramble for any available USB port while charging their devices multiple times over. It’s under the FFA regulations for battery size, so it can go in carry-on bags and weighs less than a pound.

Packing cubes

TravelWise Packing Cube System

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Listen, packing cubes have a bad name. They’re like the nerd solution to suitcases, but we should pay attention. Is your suitcase essentially one giant packing cube? Yeah. But these nifty organizers aren’t meant for your two-week vacay to Aruba where you stay in one hotel the whole time. They shine when you’re heading to multiple locations, packing and unpacking a few times, or traveling in tight quarters. Having your items in tidy packages enables you to move things around without completely unraveling the rest of your bag.

Luggage scale

Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale

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In keeping with the nerd theme, enter the luggage scale. Maybe your giftee is a super-light packer—if so, skip this one. But if they’re 99 percent of the population, this little gizmo will be a huge stress reliever. It essentially means you get to show up to the airport without stressing that you’ll go to check your bag and end up having to repack your underwear on the floor in front of a bunch of strangers. Plus, it’s super light, and you can carry it in your bag for your way back from vacation when you’ve added a bunch of souvenirs to your luggage.


Sara Chodosh Avatar

Sara Chodosh


Sara Chodosh was an editor at Popular Science for more than 5 years, where she worked her way up from editorial assistant to associate science editor. In that time she slowly took over running the Charted section of the now-defunct print magazine. Her love of graphics eventually led to her current job as a graphics editor at the New York Times.