KCM editors have compiled a list of their must-have travel essentials

We open our suitcases to reveal our best kept vacation secrets.

Free time is quite a necessary balm for life. If you’re feeling burnt out, struggling to draw boundaries in the workplace, or craving some family time (or some alone time), it makes sense to carve out some space in daily life. There is also some scientific support for this sense of clarity after the holidays: 2009 study found that vacations relieved daily stress and provided a boost of well-being for a short time after a trip. While you may not experience permanent well-being after a quick trip, who wouldn’t appreciate temporary peace of mind?

If you’re lucky enough to be embarking on a trip soon, you’ve probably already consulted expert advice for enduring uncertain travel conditions, you’ve been gifted some cute new luggage after a decade of lugging a battered suitcase, or you are carefully procured cute holiday outfits. But have you considered bulking up your packing list beyond your phone charger and extra socks?

We have carefully outsourced the KCM team to collect tools and accessories that can turn your free time into a completely seamless experience. These editor-approved articles will reduce stress and, in some cases, eliminate the likelihood of a worst-case scenario travel disaster. Hit the road with our list of game-changing vacations below.

Bagail Packing Cubes

To be honest, this recommendation comes from many of us. The team consensus is that we to like Packing Cubes: Keep your clothes neat and wrinkle-free and allow you to fit more stuff in a cramped carry-on. You can also get cubes for different occasions and types of clothing, but we really like this basic set as a starting point.

Buy here: $25

Go-To High Waist Leggings

“Invest in leggings that are comfortable enough to wear at the airport, but can also be dressed up or down with your vacation outfits.” — Meredith Struewing, Social Media Manager.

Buy here: $25

Wired and wireless headphones

“I’m pretty good at sleeping on airplanes – I have a very strategically curated Plane playlist that puts me to sleep. But you know what wakes me up? The music suddenly stopped because my phone was dropped or I got tangled in my headphone cord and the plug came out of my phone, which is why I can’t travel without wireless headphones, I prefer Airpods (and Wake-Up Call players seem to feel the same) But I also recommend traveling with an old pair of wired headphones, as airplane TV systems still use them and not all flights give them out for free. So if you’re excited about your movie in flight, make sure you have a compatible helmet, such as these.” — Maggie Parker, Chief Digital Editor.

buy here: $120

Welly Human repair kit

“When you tend to walk a lot while traveling, you can get blisters. This compact kit contains plasters, sachets of hydrocortisone cream, ointment and hand sanitizer…and it looks really nice! — Bianca Austrheim, marketing coordinator.

Buy here: $10

Addalock portable door lock

“When you rent an Airbnb room or a hotel room, you never know who might be hiding. A portable padlock won’t take up much room in your luggage, and it can prevent a spontaneous break-in (which no one wants when they try to take a relaxing vacation.) — Diana Valenzuela, editorial assistant.

Buy here: $18

Apple AirTag 4-Pack

“If you’re flying, use Apple AirTags in your bag. This way, you can track your luggage if the airline loses it… which these days seems very likely. — Mary Agnant, Senior Producer.

Buy here: $100

Bmnmsl travel wallet

Here’s a safety tip: a few KCM team members recommended bringing printed and scanned copies of passports and IDs. To avoid crushing and creasing loose sheets of paper, get a document organizer to store all those important copies. which you hopefully won’t need.

Buy here: $12

Lewis N Clark Triple Security Padlock

“Bring padlocks for your backpacks, purses and suitcases if you are traveling to an area where pickpocketing is common. I had my whole bag stolen in Barcelona. But I joke with them because I only had gum, candy and a broken iPhone 4 in my bag at the time. — Bianca Austrheim, Marketing Coordinator

Buy here: $13


“Essential for taxis, Ubers, trains and tour buses.” — Sara Sajadi, Director of Strategy and Operations. (Pro tip: Stock up on non-drowsy formula so you don’t get too tired for sightseeing.)

Buy here: $6

Wild Essentials Escape Plush 3D Sleep Mask Set

“Get an eye mask and earplugs. They are great if you have an overly bright hotel clock or a room near the ice maker. — Sara Sajadi, Director of Strategy and Operations. (Note: This kit comes with earplugs and a handy travel pouch.)

Buy here: $20

MalsiPree Dog Water Bottle

“If you’re traveling with a dog, this pet water bottle is a lifesaver. It’ll save you from lugging around a bowl of water (or trying to find an impromptu one) and water getting distributes easily. — Diana Valenzuela, Editorial Assistant (This article is on our favorites list TikTok trending poststoo!)

Buy here: $23

Longchamp Le Pliage Expandable Travel Bag

“Longchamp’s expandable tote is my favorite travel bag. It fits easily under the seat in front of you on airplanes when zipped on the smallest setting. It also fits into the cabin space above when you need more room to store all those keepsakes and gifts you picked up along the way. — Alaina Raftis, editor-in-chief.

Buy here: $265

Pitusa Summer Mini Dress

“Pitusa blankets are essential for the beach or the pool. They’re cute and they barely take up space in your suitcase when you roll them. — Sara Sajadi, Director of Strategy and Operations.

Buy here: $95

Portable steamer for travel clothes

“If you’re traveling for a big occasion, do yourself a favor and bring a portable steamer. I’m particularly bad at irons, and the last thing I want to do is scorch a brand new dress with a hotel iron just hours before I’m supposed to attend a wedding. — Diana Valenzuela, editorial assistant.

Buy here: $40

Wayre Cruiser Pants

“There’s nothing wrong with wearing leggings at the airport, but I’m here to declare that these are the best travel pants ever. They’re made from a super light and stretchy material, have four (yes, four!) pockets (two of which are hidden to prevent pickpocketing), are made from recycled plastic bottles, and are antimicrobial, so you can wear them multiple times without all the funky smells left behind — Katie Pittman, business writer.

Buy here: $150

Baboon Moon Go-Bag

“Honestly, I travel more often than not. My partner and I travel long distances, my family lives nearly 1,000 miles away, and I love to adventure to new places whenever I can. Whether I’m on a train, plane or car, I usually store my things in this backpack/duffle/briefcase. The straps are infinitely convertible, they hold tons of internal packs, they fit in both the overhead compartment and under the airplane seat, and they’re made from a waterproof material – and yes, I got stuck in a downpour while wearing this, so I can guarantee your stuff inside will stay dry. I, on the other hand, should have worn a rain jacket. — Katie Pittman, business writer.

Buy here: $190

Wild One Everyday Baby Carrier

“I swore that I would never be the person who carried his dog in a bag, and yet here I am. Whether I have to carry my pup on the subway or on the bus to visit my partner (a nice journey from three hours), she refuses to be in any carrier other than this one. It has a padded floor inside for her, a leash clip to keep her secure in the bag, and a cutout so she can easily see where we’re going. For me, it has three external pockets (including one designed specifically for your phone), a ring to hang your trash bag holder, and shoulder and hand straps. Perhaps the best part It’s machine washable.—Katie Pittman, Business Writer.

Buy here: $150

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