Here a selection of my personal favorite travel companions while on the road. It doesn't always need to be an expensive travel gadget but there are also little items that literally cost only a few dollars that can make a trip more enjoyable.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones
To make a long international flight more pleasant the next best thing to booking a first class ticket are Noise Cancelling Headphones. I have been using the Bose QuietComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones for the last few years and they make a big difference reducing engine noise as well as passenger noise. Main regret I had after purchasing them was not having bought a pair sooner. I love the around ear design as it is extremely comfortable to continuously wear even on a 11 hour flight. I tried other headphones using a on ear design as well as in-ear headphones though they usually get uncomfortable or even hurt my ears after a few hours. The Bose QC15 came with a robust carrying case to protect your headphones as they are quite expensive. The one issue I do have with the headphones is that vibration from the airplane does transfer to the headphones if it touches chair.
Being able to backup photos on the road or go online bringing a laptop comes in very handy. It's important for me to have something that's small, lightweight, robust and has a long battery life. Currently I am traveling with an Apple MacBook Pro 13 screen. The battery lasts for 10 hours so you are able to keep yourself busy even when you aren't close to a power outlet. I have used a Dell Latitude Ultrabook before which has similar dimensions and was quite happy with that one as well.
Inflatable Neck pillow
I was always hesitant to bring my own neck pillow because of the additional space it takes up in my luggage. This changed when I found a inflatable neck pillow at target a few years back. It was ridiculously cheap costing only $6.99. It came with a nice cover so it is actually more comfortable than the pillows usually provided by the airline on the plane (oh and sometimes they do run out of pillows).
Lonely Planet Guide book
All of your travel information you can nowadays find online. Nevertheless I usually prefer to pick up a copy of a guide book for the country I am visiting to have all the information at hand when exploring a city especially since internet might not always be available. I also tried the electronic version on my smartphone but it was rather cumbersome to use.
Toothbrush and Razor Holder
Did you ever arrive at your destination just to find your toothbrush all smushed up or your razor in pieces? You aren’t alone but there is a simple solution for it. I picked up a toothbrush and a Razor holder at target for a few dollars years ago and have been using them since.
Tumi Travel power adapter
Another must have gadget to make sure you can plug in your phone, camera, laptop chargers while you are on the road is the Tumi Travel Adapter. The Adapter allows you to plugin your devices in 150 countries. Nevertheless make sure check before you leave what power outlets to expect since some plugs (e. g. South Africa) aren’t covered. With Tumi being a bit on the pricey side you might also want to consider a cheaper alternative like the one from Tripshell.
Tamrac Sling Camera Bag
My favorite camera bag is the Tamrac Velocity 7z which I take on almost all my trips unless I have a need to bring more camera gear. This bag provides convenient access, is difficult for pickpockets to to open, comfortable to carry
Ever since getting a terrible sunburn while snorkeling in Hawaii I am packing a rashguard/UV shirt for every beach vacation. Unfortunately sunblock washes off rather quickly in salt water and you’ll not feel the sunburn on your back while snorkeling until it is too late. UV shirts are typically rated SPF 50+.
Mesh Laundry Bag
When you leave for a trip all your cloth is probably neatly packed in your luggage. To avoid that your worn clothing mixes with your clean cloth bringing a mesh laundry bag comes in very handy. You could also just use a plastic bag but if there is any humidity trapped in your cloth you might end up with some really bad smell in your suitcase.
Nylon Travel Shoe Bag
If you are bringing an extra pair of shoes a Nylon shoe bag protect the rest of your luggage from dirt and smell from your shoes. You can find these bags for a couple of dollars in your local outdoors shop or at Amazon.
I actually don’t wear the neck wallet around my neck but it turned out to be a convenient place to keep my passport, other important travel documents, some additional money and a pen (every time you are being handed one of these immigration forms on the airplane to fill out having a pen comes in really handy and you aren’t losing additional time during immigration).
Yes plain old plastic bags. I usually use them to wrap cosmetics again to avoid major spillage in case one of the containers breaks.