Everywhere you turn there are dozens of recommendations for new travel gear and gadgets – a lot of them seem like great, innovative ideas – others, not so much and it’s getting harder and harder to know what’s useful and what’s junk. And with everyone wanting to pack as minimally and lightly as possible these days, do you really want to buy any new gear at all?

Well, probably, yes, you do. Here’s a list of a dozen items that go with us on every trip. Note that most of them have more than one use, making them smart options to lighten your load.

First up is the Peak Design Packable Tote with a zipper closure, a well-made, lightweight carry-all for groceries, souvenirs, beach gear, and even works as a personal item in a pinch if you get stopped at check-in for a carry-on that’s too big or heavy. It folds up into itself into a snapped pouch that fits in the palm of your hand.
Next, a new favorite and no-brainer, is this two-in-one Insulated Water Bottle/Coffee Mug by CamelBak. It’s now available in two sizes and is the best new gear item we purchased last year. If you drink coffee, and if you have a few early departures on your upcoming itinerary, check this out! You can fill up your water at the hotel’s water station for your morning excursions AND grab a coffee-to-go and use your 2-in-1 water bottle/coffee cup for both! Why did this invention take so long to happen?!?

We recently tried out this iPhone and Apple Watch Portable Charger and it was a winner. It’s great for on-the-go quick charging for both devices. While it may not be the fastest charge out there, we like it because it doesn’t overheat like others do and you can charge both devises at the same time.

Our favorite way to store our credit cards, dive card, foreign currency, and passport is in this Osprey Passport and Travel Document Holder. We’ve tried dozens, and this one is just the right size to slip into any 2.5 Liter and above Travel Sling but not too big and bulky like the full sized standard Document Holders. Use it during travel on flight days then at the hotel, you can store it in the safe and travel around with a small wallet or coin purse (we like the Kavu ones linked here).

Bellroy is our favorite brand for Slings, small Backpacks, and Travel Totes. Try this Bellroy Lite Sling in this vibrant orange or several other colors (the white is not recommended as it is hard to clean). You will love the internal organization and lightweight design. The functionality with smooth zippers and water repellant material are favorite aesthetics to everyone who gets their hands on one. You’ll probably end up buying the other sizes too for different types of trips or use at home. (Note this stores away into your personal item bag with your inflight necessities packed inside to be taken out on the plane for use during your long-haul flight.)

MINIX 66W Turbo 3-Port GaN Wall Charger with International Plug Adaptors come with us on every international trip. Many variations from other Brands exist but we love Minix for its price point and inclusion of the adaptors. You won’t need to purchase extra ones and you will love the fast charge capabilities of this charger.

Everyone needs somewhere to store electronics. Recently we found this efficient Tomtoc Electonics Pouch which is very similar to our go-to Evergoods Civic 2.0 Pouch, but at a substantial savings. We are now recommending this one. Check it out – what a handy item – it even comes with SD Card slots!

With our previous favorite Packable Backpack by Osprey no longer being made, we found a new favorite in this G4Free 10L/15L Lightweight Packable Travel Backpack. It checks the boxes we love: mesh water bottle pockets, packability, lightweight fabric, and this one even has an external pocket that the Osprey didn’t have. This is great to have if you carry in your luggage if a hike on your itinerary or need to be hands free.

A must for us is this Gonex Packable Duffel (60L) for those souvenirs that won’t fit in the check-in bag you embarked on your journey with or to spread out your gear so you don’t have to pack as efficiently on the way back home. We’ve traveled with the same 60L for six years (that’s SIX Serenity in Siam trips and many domestic vacations as well). This item is durable, lightweight and packs up to an 9×9 inch cube.

A 5-in-1 65W USB C Power Strip with 5-foot cord is a necessity for those hotel rooms where the only outlet is on the other side of the room. Use it as a power hub for all of your charging needs, especially if you are traveling to Asia or a developing country where power outlets are never where you need them to be!

Our favorite smaller sized Hanging Toiletry Bag will surprise you with how much it can hold. We like it because you can use it two ways: open, accordion style to sit on the counter, or on its hook, hanging on a towel bar to free up the clutter of the bathroom counter. The internal organization is well thought out and will fit everything you need.

Or, for longer trips, we find this BAGSMART Travel Toiletry Bag with Jewelry and Makeup Organizers to be super practical if space permits. This puffy style is so cute and helps in padding blush and other fragile items. We store undergarments in this as well, taking away the need for packing them in a separate cube. We usually still have room for coffee and creamer packets, electrolytes, supplements, and whatever tiny items you might want to store with your toiletries. The jewelry compartment is a brilliant organizational tool, making this a great all-in-one bag for trips where you move around a lot.

Sometimes, like in Thailand, you just need a bottle opener. Many countries package sparkling water in glass containers and our travelers are always searching for bottle openers. We found this dual use, Multi-Tool with Bottle Opener that acts as a carabiner for your backpack or a bottle opener. We travel with a version of this on every trip.