Traveling can be expensive. But, there are plenty of ways to keep costs in check. In addition to purchasing airfare and accommodations with points and miles, you can also invest in clever travel accessories that will save you money down the road. Sure, you’ll initially have to fork over some cash to get these products, but you’ll quickly recoup your costs when you don’t have to spend more later. Here are nine travel accessories that will start saving you money the next time you hit the road.
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Power bank If your phone isn’t alive to take a photo of your vacation, are you even really on vacation? (Photo via Shutterstock)
While carrying around a power bank is pretty much the norm these days, it can save you a lot of hassle and money to have a reliable one with hefty charging capabilities. Having to buy a coffee to sit somewhere and charge your phone — or pay to charge it at a pay port — will cost you both time and money. I suggest using an Anker PowerCore (a TPG staff favorite), such as the 20,000 mAh-capacity bank (from $50) which is especially helpful if you need to recharge more than device at once. Despite being able to charge your iPhone 11 more than four times and being able to simultaneously charge two devices, it’s still small and lightweight enough (less than a pound) to stash in your carry-on.
You can use Google Fi at home, or simply swap out your regular SIM card for a Google Fi card when traveling. This allows you to avoid huge roaming charges when traveling internationally. Additionally, you’ll have coverage as soon as you land without the hassle of having to buy a local SIM card or trying to get in touch with your regular carrier. Your Google Fi data plan works in approximately 200 countries without any added charges (though you’ll want to read the fine print about voice calls). Just make sure before you leave that the country you’re visiting is included in Google Fi’s coverage. Data plans start at $10 per gigabyte (and after six, it’s free).
Reusable water bottle Photo by @kocreate/Vapur
One of the easiest ways to avoid extra costs when traveling is to bring your own reusable water bottle. You can also rejoice in knowing that you’re saving the planet one refill at a time instead of buying a plastic bottle. My personal favorite reusable water bottle is by Vapur. These lightweight bottles are collapsible, making them easy to roll up into your luggage, purse or even coat pocket when empty, as they expand only when filled with water. An added bonus: They’re dishwasher safe and BPA-free. Get a standard 17-ounce Vapur bottle with a leak-proof flip cap from $8.99, or watch for limited-edition patterns on sale from just $3.49.
I still have nightmares about a Sunday evening years ago, in a village outside of Rome, where nothing was open and I couldn’t print my Ryanair boarding pass. (I was staying in an Airbnb rental, so there wasn’t even a reception desk with a printer.) The stress of knowing I’d have to pay roughly $25 print it at the airport before my 6 a.m. flight, coupled with the annoyance of having spent my Sunday asking locals in broken Italian where I could find an internet cafe, could have been avoided if the Ryanair app existed back then!
Travel apps can help you save money and time — especially ones that are available offline. Specifically, apps like TripIt, airline and hotel apps, ride-sharing apps, maps/directions, even entertainment apps like Netflix, Spotify or Amazon Kindle apps can help you save money: You won’t need to buy magazines at the airport to stay entertained on a flight or paper maps. Flight and hotel search engine apps like Hopper or Hotel Tonight can also help you save money on purchasing travel, especially last minute.
Related: 30 essential travel apps every traveler needs
Multi-pocket travel clothing
Wearing multipocket clothing specifically designed for travel can help you make sure you never leave home without your travel necessities, and could even potentially save you excess baggage fees by freeing up space in your suitcase. This Baubax jacket, for example, comes with a built-in eye mask, bottle opener, safety whistle and neck pillow, among other clever accessories, meaning you won’t have to purchase those as extras. (We even reviewed all of the jacket’s 20-plus features.)
There’s also the ScotteVest — a chic, modern version of a fisherman’s vest, complete with pockets for everything from sunglasses and a camera to your phone, passport and more. Business travelers can also get in on the fun with a Bluffworks blazer that features 10 hidden pockets. Money belts can also be a good idea if you need to stash some cash away, and Speakeasy scarves have hidden passport pockets. Scarves can be a cash saver in many ways. You won’t need to buy a travel blanket, and they can double as skirts, shawls or sarongs if you need to cover up to visit a temple (sometimes these spots charge to rent or buy clothing to cover knees and shoulders).
Longer trips usually mean you’ll need to pack more (and pay for more luggage), unless you can do laundry on the road. While it’s cheap and easy to send your laundry out in spots like Southeast Asia, it may not be as easy or affordable in the U.S. or Europe. Travel laundry kits are the perfect money-saving alternative to overpacking or spending a lot on a laundry service. This kit comes with a rubber sink stopper, a mini clothesline and small detergent packs, meaning you can wash your own clothes in the sink or tub, and the kit can easily be packed into your suitcase.
Waterproof phone case Make sure your phone stays dry while abroad – better safe than sorry. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Breaking your phone is always an annoying expense, but it can be an even bigger, more costly mess if you’re on traveling, especially if you’re abroad somewhere you may not speak the local language or have access to a Best Buy or Apple Store. While protecting your phone with any waterproof case will help, I recommend a LifeProof case (available for both Apple and Android products), which is waterproof, dirt proof, snow proof and even drop proof up to almost seven feet. An iPhone 11 case starts at $40.99.
Small luggage scale
If you’re a serial overpacker or just flying a low-cost carrier with extremely strict baggage rules, traveling with a small luggage scale can be a lifesaver. I particularly like the Camry Luggage Scale, which can be easily be stowed in a carry-on or checked bag to weigh luggage while on the road. With a strong strap to attach to luggage, the digital scale will tell you the weight of your bag in either kilos or pounds, up to 110 pounds.
Elite status The ultimate travel accessory: perks. (Photo via Shutterstock)
This is more of a virtual accessory, right? But while elite status may not be something you can pack in your carry-on, it certainly translates to some very visible perks: free checked bags, complimentary upgrades, priority boarding and more. While it may take some hard work to earn elite status, like mileage runs or lots of credit card spend, it could save you some serious cash in the long run.
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