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30 Brilliant Buys Travel Pros Never Travel Without

Travel agents and flight attendants share their must-pack items for every trip—what crucial items are missing from your checklist?

Fire HD Tabletvia


There's no reason to feel guilty for binge-watching TV shows while hovering 35,000 feet above the Earth—how else would you make the time pass by quickly? Bryan Herb, chief marketing officer for Zoom Vacations, explains why bringing your own tablet is a must: "Even if your aircraft has a good entertainment system, you are at the mercy of watching whatever they have selected for you. Having your own device allows you to watch programming that you may love, but don't have the time to watch back home." Plus, you can read books and magazines on it, too. Here are 15 short books you can start—and finish—on your next flight.

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TravelWise Packing Cube Systemvia

Packing cubes

If you're heading on a multi-destination trip where you need to keep moving from hotel to hotel, then packing cubes will become your new best friend, says Herb. Not only do they keep all of your clothing and accessories organized and easy to locate in a dark and cramped room, but they also help you use the precious space inside your suitcase more efficiently. Don't miss these 50 other genius packing tips.

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Bose noise cancelling headphonesvia

Noise-canceling headphones

Say goodbye to the sound of squeaky meal carts, screaming children and loud neighbors with the simple click of the noise-canceling feature on a pair of trusted headphones. "Not only do they help keep things quiet, allowing you to relax, but they also enhance your video and audio experience," says Herb. "These are a great investment, especially if you spend a lot of time on the plane." They can also help you avoid jetlag because you'll get some much-needed sleep. Check out these 11 other ways to outsmart jetlag.

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Chin Supporting Travel Pillowvia


If you've ever tried to get cozy on the tiny pillow provided by your airline, you know it's next to impossible. That's why Herb says to bring your own pillow or a special travel pillow for a more comfortable experience. The BCOZZY travel pillow stops your head from falling forward while providing soft support—even if you're stuck in the dreaded middle seat.

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Compression Socksvia

Compression socks

Blood clots can be a very serious risk on long-haul flights, which is why Herb recommends wearing a high-quality pair of compression socks. "Graduated compression from your knees to your ankles increases circulation naturally," he says. "This encourages blood to flow back to your heart, instead of staying in your legs and feet." You might even find yourself wearing them on all-day tours once you reach your destination, as they provide comfort when you're spending extended time on your feet, too. Find out 10 other things flying does to your body.

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Whether you are going on a cycling expedition, camping, hiking or will be driving on dark roads during your trip, Emilie Thyebaut, an independent travel agent based in the Loire Valley, France, who started the self-drive tour company France Just For You, swears by a bright LED headlamp to light your way. "The lamp can be tilted to a 45-degree angle, the head strap is adjustable, and it is water resistant so you can use it in all kinds of weather," she says. "I have used this on cycling tours in Europe on short winter days, when I'm out running on country roads early in the morning or after dark, and during cave explorations in the Dordogne region of France." Thyebaut says it's also hand for nighttime reading and to keep in your car, in case of a breakdown in a tunnel or at night.

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Hand Held Mirrorvia

Handheld mirror

Ever notice how awful the bathroom lighting is in most hotels? Oftentimes, it can be better to groom and apply makeup near a window—but there's almost never another mirror where you need it. That's why Mary Villamana, co-owner of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Brookfield, Connecticut, brings her own Conair handheld mirror. "This two-sided mirror with 1x and 3x magnification can stand up by itself when you fold down the handle, which leaves both hands free to apply makeup." She packs the sturdy mirror in between layers of her clothes. Just be sure to avoid these 12 makeup mistakes that will make you look sloppy.

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Zen Bandsvia

Sound therapy

Between crying babies and chatty seatmates, it can be hard to relax on a plane or train. But have you ever noticed how wearing earbuds for long hauls begins to hurt? That's why Arta Zhuli, a private lifestyle, beauty and travel agent, never leaves town without her lavender-infused ZENBand by Blooming Wellness. The 100 percent cotton headband with flat speakers allows her to listen to soothing music en route and even meditate away headaches after a flight. "It is so comfortable that I can sleep on my side while traveling," she says. "Plus, it's amazing for camouflaging messy travel hair or even forehead blemishes. I also love that I can just toss it in my purse and it folds up nicely and takes up no space."

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Magnet Hooksvia

Magnetic hooks

Did you know that cruise ship staterooms are usually made out of metal? That means they are magnetic. (We know—mind blown!) That's one of the reasons Sarah and Scott Stouder, co-owners of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in McKinney, Texas, recommend that cruisers bring magnetic hooks: "They will keep clothing, towels and other items off the floor, which will help keep your room more organized while on your cruise. Make sure to buy hooks that are strong enough to hold basic items and still stick to the wall." Don't miss these additional dos and don'ts of packing for a cruise.

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Airplane Pocketsvia

Plane pocket protectors

Raise your hand if you're guilty of putting items in the seatback in front of you and forgetting them when you deplane—you're all raising your hands, right? "I have left my phone and laptop in the back of an airplane seat before—both experiences were pretty harrowing, as they have all my information on them," says Mikaela Walker, a travel agent with Dream Vacations in Orlando. "With the Airplane Pocket, you put everything in there like you would in the seat back pocket on a plane, but when the trip is over, you just fold it up and take the entire thing with you, so none of your stuff gets left behind. The Airplane Pocket works great with my kids as well, as it keeps everything organized and within easy reach for them." Simply put the sleeve over your tray table and it hangs down on the back of the seat in front of you. It also prevents you from having to stick your hand in that pocket that almost never gets cleaned. Find out 18 things you should never do on an airplane.

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