The 10 best travel tech gadgets for your next adventure in 2022

Tech 8-6-2022 Mashable 203
Image of two women waiting at a station looking at a phone

Travel is back on the rise.

This summer, tourism is expected to be at almost pre-pandemic numbers. In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicted that 39.2 million vacationers would travel during Memorial Day weekend, and that would be just the beginning. But with the pandemic still very much around, not to mention persistent supply chain issues leading to product shortages, traveling might be a little more stressful than usual.

Whether you're traveling for vacation or for work, these are our favorite travel tech recommendations to make navigating that next journey a little easier.

1. Cord organizer

Image of open cable organizer next a laptop.
We like this compact option from Bellroy. Credit: Bellroy/Amazon

If you've ever tried to pull a charger cable from the depths of your bag on a cramped plane, this one's for you. It'll let you keep all of your cables and adaptors neatly tucked away so you don't accidentally elbow a stranger. And it makes packing and unpacking a breeze. Reviewers praise this Belroy Tech Kit Compact for being compressed yet functional, and it comes in different colors, too.

2. Wired headphones

Image of black wired headphones with black silicone caps
Cover your bases and bring a pair of wired headphones. Credit: Sennheiser/Amazon

Can you use wireless headphones on a plane? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says yes, but each individual airline can also choose whether to allow or prohibit them. Why not bring a pair of wired headphones just in case? You won't have to worry about charging the battery — plus, didn't you know wired headphones are cool again?

If you want a fancier pair that promises to deliver excellent audio quality, try the Sennheiser CX 300S In Ear Headphones. If you want a more affordable pair that you wouldn't mind accidentally losing during your travels, we suggest scavenging through your belongings for an old pair of free-with-iPhone Apple headphones — just make sure you have a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter, too. You can also scoop up this multicolored 5-pack or, for an over-the-ear option, the Sony ZX Series.

3. Smartwatch

Rose gold Apple Watch SE with wrist band. Watch face shows an analog clock.
The SE gives you many of the same travel conveniences as its older sibling for a much lower price. Credit: Apple/Amazon

With the convenience of mobile wallets these days, things like boarding passes and credit cards often live in our phones. But juggling your phone amongst your passport, luggage, and airport coffee is a recipe for disaster — so may we suggest investing in a smartwatch to make your travel a tad more hands-free?

For iPhone users, nothing can beat the convenience of an Apple Watch, which will grant you Apple Wallet access from your wrist plus fitness tracking, iMessage, maps, and more. If you want the latest tech, go for the Apple Watch Series 7 or if you want to save some cash, look into the Apple Watch SE. For Android users, try out the Samsung Galaxy Watch, or keep an eye out for the upcoming Google Pixel Watch later this fall.

4. E-reader

Black Kindle tablet showing half a page of text, The tablet lays next to an iPhone on a blue blanket on top of green grass.
The Kindle Paperwhite is glare-free and waterproof. Credit: Amazon

Any experienced traveler knows that a good e-reader is critical. The latest from Amazon's Kindle line, the Paperwhite, has been getting rave reviews for its big display, thin build, and 10 weeks of battery life. In fact, Mashable's own Alex Perry loved the new Paperwhite so much, it made him enjoy reading again.

5. International adapter with high-speed charging and USB ports

Black, rectangle shaped adapter plugged into the wall, with two white cords plugged into the bottom of it.
Not just an adapter but also a high-speed charger. Credit: Native Union/Amazon

This top-rated gadget from Native Union comes with power adapters for North America, EU, and UK outlets, has two USB ports (USB-A and USB-C), and its lone USB-C port features high-speed charging technology. That way, you don't have to hang around your hotel room waiting for your phone to charge.

6. Portable charger

Black, rectangular portable charger with four lights to indicate battery level at the bottom edge.
This charger has a 10,000 mAh battery. Credit: Belkin/Amazon

Ironically, the things you need the most when you travel — GPS, translation apps, podcasts, etc. — are the biggest drains on your battery. In normal life, a dead battery is an inconvenience, but if you're traveling, it's a disaster. Arm yourself with a portable charger just in case. We like Belkin's USB-C PD Power Bank 10K.

7. Non-bulky hair stylers

Via Giphy

Now, this isn't a necessity, per se, since some people may like to let their hair run wild and free while on vacation. But others might be going for a full-glam moment, which will require some styling tools.

Bringing along all of your bulkiest curlers, straighteners, hair dryers, and more is going to take up your precious packing space, so we suggest condensing with the iconic Dyson Airwrap. Since it comes with so many attachments, you can choose to only bring along what you need. The device itself and each attachment are super light, so it won't weigh you down, especially compared to traditional hair stylers. Trust us, we reviewed it ourselves.

8. VPN

Image of NordVPN graphic
NordVPN is included in Mashable's roundup of best VPNs. Credit: NordVPN

Maybe you want to protect yourself from sketchy public WiFi. Or maybe you just miss the Netflix offerings in your home country. Either way, a VPN is a great investment. One of the most highly recommended comes from NordVPN, which has subscription options that range from $3.29 to $11.99/month.

9. Instant camera

Blue-gray instant camera sits on a table amongst prints and a phone. The image is overlaid with a red tint.
An instant photo just hits differently on a trip. Credit: Polaroid

While our smartphones are capable of jaw-dropping photos, sometimes you just want a hit of nostalgia, or an extra artsy image. Enter: An instant camera which can help produce that grainier, spur-of-the-moment look. Plus, you get a physical souvenir from your trip immediately.

One of our favorite instant cameras is an update to a cult classic. The Polaroid Now+ gives you all the 90's vibes and some extra goodies with lens filters and app-controlled creative modes. When we tried it, we particularly loved the Double Exposure mode. Make sure to pack some extra film!

10. Bluetooth tracker

Black, square tracker with a darker circle in the middle, which reads "tile".
Small but mighty. Credit: Tile/Amazon
SEE ALSO: Avoid bad hair days on vacation: These are the best travel curling irons

No one wants to lose anything while traveling, but sometimes it just happens. Stick an Apple AirTag or a Tile tracker onto your most beloved belongings to make sure that, even if you're temporarily separated, you'll be reunited again.

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