Travel essentials you’ll want on your next trip


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Bravo – You’ve booked your next trip!  Now you need all the gear to make your travels as comfortable and efficient as possible. From easy-to-store carry-on suitcases to triple-duty grooming products, I’ve found 19 items to level up your travel experience.


18.21 Carry-On-4-in-1 Travel Foam ($20)

If you’re a guy who likes to keep it simple, this multi-tasking foam will take care of the lion’s share of your grooming needs.  This nourishing formula functions as a shampoo, conditioner, face & body wash, and shave cream, and keeps skin and hair soft. Available in Sweet Tobacco and Spiced Vanilla. I had a chance to try Sweet Tobacco and it’s divine.

AVYA Weekend Set with Cosmetic Bag ($55)

I don’t always like the product mix in skincare travel sets, but AVYA gets it right with a cleanser, serum, eye cream, and night cream. The cruelty-free products are elegantly packaged and are free from phthalates, sulfates, GMOs, and other undesirables, and they are nestled in a cute, portable, reusable zippered bag.


PlaneAire Travel Essentials ($28.00)

These plant-based products make quick work of cleaning your surrounding surfaces as you travel. The set comes in a reusable zip-top bag and includes a Clean Surface & Air Mist, six individually wrapped Clean Surface Wipes, and one moisturizing hand sanitizer scent of your choice – I tried and enjoyed the soothing Cardamom Lavender scent.


Life Elements Travel Shower Bar ($12 for one. 3 for $30)

Travel light with this multipurpose, bar, which gently cleanses the hair and skin.  This gender-neutral product smells lightly of orange and grapefruit and is packed with nourishing ingredients, like honey, Koku butter, and lavender.  The bar is travel-ready, packaged in a resealable bag that is 100% plant-based and compostable.


TravelSana ($24 and up)

This line of nutraceuticals is designed to tackle some of our common difficulties when we are on the go, including disrupted sleep, nausea, stress, and circulation. The pleasantly-flavored, single-serve powders are deposited directly onto the tongue, with no water required. I had a chance to try the Sleep formula, which contains Passionflower, Vitamins B6 & B12, and melatonin. The goal is to help you fall asleep faster, improve the quality of your sleep, and avoid jet lag.  I haven’t tested it for travel, but I do struggle with periodic sleep issues and found it to be helpful when I tried it at home.


Car & Driver AIRX 300 Tire Inflator ($129.99) 

Road tripping? This rechargeable tire inflator is a must! It’s lightweight, portable, and easy to use, automatically shutting off once the tire has reached its ideal PSI. It has five modes designed for use with cars, motorcycles, sporting goods, and more. 


Slice Safety Cutter ($5.99. Save 10% with code TRAE10)

Inevitably, you’ll need to open clamshell packaging (for that charging cord you had to buy at the airport) or cut off clothing tags. Scissors aren’t allowed in a carry-on, but you CAN travel with this handy tool! The TSA-approved Safety Cutter from Slice features a kid-safe finger-friendly micro-blade that is deceivingly effective. It also has a convenient keyring hole so you can carry it anywhere (it also has a built-in magnet, which is handy for the fridge at home).   


​​Mabel’s Labels Travel Label Pack ($27)

Spot your luggage quickly at baggage check and easily differentiate between identical bags, laptops, and water bottles among your travel mates.  This label combo pack contains 19 labels that are designed for use on suitcases, electronics, water bottles, toiletries…you name it! The labels are customizable, durable, and waterproof. 


LeMel Jewelry Travel Case ($56)

Keep your jewelry organized and free of tangles with this sweet vegan leather Travel Case. It’s compact enough to fit in your carry-on bag or luggage, but the brand recommends keeping it in your carry-on just in case there is a mishap with your checked luggage en route. 


Lug Trolley Medium Cosmetic Case ($59)

Lug has a ton of well-designed dopp kits, but I selected this one because it fits plenty of toiletries but isn’t too bulky. The bag has a very roomy central pocket as well as pockets on the front, back, and sides. It also has sturdy, rubber feet, so it stays put on slippery surfaces.  Available in over 15 colors for men, women, or kids! The brand also has really nice packing cubes ($39) that have a handle and a space-saving double zip compression feature. They, too, come in lots of fun colors and patterns. 


Ricardo Beverly Hills Essentials 5.0 ($9.99 and up)

Let’s face it, germs are everywhere! Why not travel with accessories that tackle them?  This stylish collection of sturdy travel organizers feature SteriTouch, a silver-based anti-microbial treatment that helps to keep items germ-free. The collection includes packing cubes for clothing and shoes, as well as laundry bags.

Rollink Inc. Flex 360° Carry-On Spinner Suitcase ($219)

Luggage can be a big space hogger at home and the hotel! Once emptied, this innovative suitcase collapses so it’s 75% thinner than an average suitcase. When not in use, it can be easily tucked into a closet or under a bed. When it’s expanded, the side panels and polycarbonate hard shell are durable and resistant to moisture and impact. The luggage is available in a wide range of stylish colors, has 360-degree spinner wheels, and comes with a 3-year warranty.  The brand also has a very comfortable and easy-to-carry neck pillow that’s worth checking out ($45).


Astrea One Premium Filtering Water Bottle ($29.99)  

These leak-free water bottles are refillable and will thoroughly filter water, allowing you to fill up just about anywhere.  According to the brand, they have the highest NSF certification to reduce toxins, pharmaceuticals, lead, and contaminants, like mercury and cadmium. One filter lasts 3 months with regular use, and the filter has a handy date feature, so it’s easy to tell when it needs to be replaced. 


Etekcity EL11 Luggage Scale ($10.99)

One airport “don’t”? Realizing that your suitcase exceeds the checked baggage weight limit! This portable luggage scale should be used before departing and it’s small enough to take with you in case you do some shopping at your destination. It can weigh bags up to 110 pounds and has features like tare, auto-off, and a temperature sensor.


Peak Design Tech Pouch ($59.99)

With all the gadgets we travel with, it’s essential to have a good tech organizer. This chic 200D recycled nylon canvas pouch features origami-style dividers and lots of pockets, allowing you to stow away all those cords, chargers, SD cards, earbuds, and more. The clamshell style opening and exterior hand loops allow for easy one-hand opening, and the external zip pocket has a cable pass-through for device charging. I had a chance to try other items from the brand as well, including a backpack and packing cubes, and everything is so well designed. Available in a variety of colors. 


S’well x New Chapter Vitamin Organizer ($20)

This sturdy pill organizer is roomy enough for longer trips or for lots of meds, vitamins & supplements. The case includes a 3-section divider with a silicone lid that is secure, but easy to open. Plus, it doesn’t look like a typical medication box, so it’s discreet.  Available in two colors. 


Carhartt Rain Defender Loose Fit Lightweight Packable Anorak ($79.99 and up)

Don’t let rain dampen your travel plans! These packable anoraks, which are available in men’s and women’s sizes, feature Rain Defender® durable water repellent, a breathable mesh-lined body, adjustable cuffs, and a drop tail hem and hood. When not in use, it packs into its handy kangaroo pocket!


This is J Lounge Sets (prices vary – kids $47 and up, adults $100 and up)

When I travel, comfort is priority #1. These sets are available in sizes for the whole family, in basic solid colors and fun patterns for the more colorful members of the fam. The blend of bamboo viscose with a touch of spandex guarantees ultimate comfort for long flights or road trips (I pair mine with a hoodie), or to protect the skin from scratchy hotel sheets. Save 25 percent with code TIJTRUE25.


Kane Footwear Revive Slip-On ($75 and up)

Shoes that are easy on/off are essential for air travel! These lightweight shoes are made with washable, waterproof foam and designed in collaboration with a sports podiatrist to offer an incredible amount of structural support, cushioning, airflow, and give. And these might look like Crocs at first glance, but they are much more stylish (sorry, Crocs!). Unisex and available in a variety of colors. 

This article originally appeared on TrueTrae and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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50 slick deals & freebies for travelers

50 slick deals & freebies for travelers

There’s the cost of the travel itself, plus meals, souvenirs and all those hidden expenses that pop up. The price tag amps up even more if you have any disruptions — unless you’re saved by travel insurance

Whether you’re planning a road trip, flying somewhere new or setting sail on a cruise, your wallet will thank you for any savings you can find. Here are some deals and freebies you can take advantage of while you’re out exploring new places.

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This is one of the remaining free things you can get on a flight. Each airline has their own offerings, from granola bars and chips to nuts and pretzels. You may even be able to get one of each, if you ask nicely.

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DoubleTree hotels offer guests a free warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in.

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Traveling solo can be expensive — but traveling with a family is even more so (obviously). You can negate some of those expenses by making smart travel decisions, like staying at a Holiday Inn, where kids always eat free, or visiting restaurants like Denny’s, Chick-fil-A or Applebees, which all offer kids-eat-free days and hours.

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Although more hotels are starting to charge for this amenity, you can still find hotels with free breakfast. 

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In addition to free packets or pods of Joe in your room, many hotels provide free coffee and tea in the lobby.

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Instead of just the cup, some flight attendants will give you the whole can if you ask.

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Instead of paying for a new water bottle at the airport, bring an empty reusable bottle and fill it at a fountain or filling station. Some cruise lines provide complimentary water bottles to guests. For example, frequent Carnival cruisers (VIFP status of Red or higher) get a one liter bottle delivered directly to their stateroom. 

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Kimpton Hotels host a nightly happy hour where guests can enjoy a nice glass of local wine at the end of their day. Check to see if your hotel offers something like this.

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Want to get a (literal) taste of wherever you’re visiting? Check out a farmers market and try out the locally grown or made items. In fact, we have a guide on the must visit farmers market in each state. Sure, you’ll have to spend some money to buy any fresh produce or bread, but there could be free samples involved.

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Not sure which places are worth visiting at your destination? Confused by the public transportation? Ask your hotel concierge for free insider tips.

Want money tips? We have ’em in our weekly newsletter.

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Consider this a freebie and a travel hack: Furnished in case you need dry-cleaning on site, the oft-free laundry bags in many rooms are a perfect thing to use to repack dirty clothes.

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When you get in your hotel room, check the desk and you’re bound to find a hotel-branded pen. Now you can write a postcard to those who aren’t traveling with you. In fact…

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At that same desk, you may find a hotel-branded postcard. Now all you need is a stamp, but that part doesn’t come free.

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It won’t be your fancy, soft-bristle toothbrush with deep-cleaning action, but many hotels offer free toothbrushes if you forgot to pack your own.

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Think the sample size you get at your six-month dental visits.

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Leave your TSA-friendly bottles at home, as most hotels provide sample size versions of shampoo, conditioner, soap and sometimes even mouthwash. There may even be vanity kits or shower caps waiting for you in your room, too. 

Buying miniature bottles for all your toiletries can get pricey — here are some travel-saving hacks to mitigate the cost. 

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Hair dryers are standard equipment in hotel rooms and cruise cabins, so save yourself the luggage space and use the free one in your room.

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Most hotels won’t let you take the robe home without incurring a fee, but it’s free to use during your stay. Check with the front desk to see if the slippers are meant for you to keep. 

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Unexpected downpour? Many hotels provide umbrellas for you to use in case this happens. Check the closet in your room or with the front desk to get one.

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Reading the morning paper over coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures, and at many hotels, you can have your pick of the day’s papers for free.

Prefer digital copies? They don’t have to be pricey. Check out this list of newspaper subscription deals.

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Skip the expensive airport bookstores and borrow a library book ahead of your trip to read on the flight or in your lounger. More of a Kindle reader? Most library cards can get you free ebook and audiobook downloads, too. Amazon Prime members also get a free digital book every month.

Want more perks from Amazon? Check out these 39 Amazon freebies, discounts and deals

Finish your books and need to download another? Free internet is an increasingly popular travel perk. Most airports let you log on free of charge as do many hotel chains, at least in the lobby. JetBlue, for example, offers free Wi-Fi to all passengers, while other carriers let their branded credit card holders skip the charge.

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Need to check in back home? You can make voice calls, even international ones, for free as long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi using apps like Skype or WhatsApp. As long as your phone is connected to the internet and you’re both using the same app, calls are free. 

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Some airlines offer free headphones for longer flights, which can be a lifesaver if you forgot yours. This usually varies by airline and, often, which section of the plane you’re on.

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Most hotels now lend spare phone chargers to guests. You can’t take the device home, but you can avoid having to buy a new one to stay connected while away.

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At more exclusive properties, you may be able to borrow electronics like iPads and GoPros at no extra cost. Check your hotel’s list of amenities to see what’s available.

Check community listings at your destination for any free outdoor movies at the park. Some airports, like Portland International Airport, show free movies for stranded passengers. Delta offers free in-flight flicks on newer planes, too. 

This is a great perk while traveling, especially because a traditional theater experience doesn’t come cheap. Here’s why going to the movies is so expensive.  

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You can get things like jewelry, candy or alcohol tax-free simply by visiting duty free shops at the airport or when you’re on international waters on a cruise.

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Take part in the fun activities onboard and you could win free stuff. On past cruises, I’ve scored everything from free, full-size bottles of champagne to ship-specific trophies, which make for a nice, free souvenir. 

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This isn’t exactly a free item, but it is a savings. Check for hidden fees — think hotel, airline, cruise or resort fees — as these can make a significant difference in the total cost of your stay.  Here’s what you need to know about resort fees and how to avoid them.

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Sure you can use a map on your phone, but what if you’re in a dead zone? Most hotels offer maps, and you can also find them at tourist boards. Plus, a lot of tourist-friendly maps note where the must-see destinations in town are. While we’re talking about things to do…

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There are plenty of public (ahem, free) beaches to check out at just about any vacation destination, even in landlocked states. Refer to this guide of the must visit beaches in every state for ideas.


If your vacation coincides with one of the National Park Service’s four fee-free days each year, you can get into a participating national park gratis. In 2020, fee-free days include National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 and Veterans Day on Nov. 11

Many famous museums, like the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art, often have free or pay what you wish days. Here are some museums that offer free admission


Same goes for zoos, like the Bronx Zoo, which has free general admission on Wednesdays.

All that new food is delicious, but it can take a toll on your health. Getting in a workout doesn’t have to cost anything. If you plan accordingly, some hotels (like Kimpton) offer complimentary fitness classes for their guests. If yours doesn’t offer a class, most hotels and cruise ships offer free access to on-site or partnering gyms.

Apps like Google’s Field Trip, Roadtrippers and Rick Steves Audio Europe all offer audio tours that you can download for free, so you can get insider tips and history without paying for an expensive tour.

Sometimes it pays to not be a local. Stores, like the Macy’s in Herald Square in New York City, give discounts to anyone with an out of town driver’s license.

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You don’t have to spend money on an app or other tool to help you budget for an upcoming vacation — just download this free vacation budgeting spreadsheet and personalize it to fit your trip. 

It never hurts to ask for an upgrade, whether it’s on a flight, a car rental, a cruise or at your hotel.

You can earn these miles when you fly, but you could earn even more with a travel rewards credit card. These cards often multiply the points you earn per dollar spent on travel-related purchases, like flights, hotels and transportation. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to book your next vacation with miles alone. 

Here are more tips for getting the most out of your rewards points.

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You’ve got a few options here — there are airlines, like Southwest, that don’t charge for bags. If you frequent a different airline, aiming for elite status can come with perks like free checked bags, or you can get an airline-branded credit card. Often times, cardholders score free checked bags, which, if you fly on a regular basis, could be worth any annual fees that come with the card.

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Dozens of airports now make therapy dogs available to help passengers de-stress. Check your airport’s website for details.

You may not need to shell out cash for insurance if you rent a car. Check the fine print that comes with your credit card to see if this is one of the free perks you get for being a cardholder.

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If you’re renting a car or driving to your destination, try to find a hotel that offers free parking. After all, who wants to blow their travel budget on a spot to leave their car?

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Not driving? You don’t necessarily have to pay for an Uber or Lyft. Many hotels — even ones that aren’t a hop, skip and a jump away — have shuttles to bring their guests to and from the airport. Luxury hotels sometimes offer a comped car service.

Not staying at a hotel with a shuttle service? Here are six ways you could save on your ride-share service


There are a lot of free public transportation options in bigger cities, especially when you travel abroad. Check online before you head to your destination (or ask the concierge when you’re there) to see if you can hop aboard a bus, light rail or other public transit at no cost.

Rather get some exercise while you’re out exploring? Many hotels and resorts have their own bike-sharing programs so guests can take in local sites and scenery. Ask at check-in if you have access to free rent-a-wheels.

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Look for travel deals related to the season or upcoming holidays. Check out these 50 free things you can get this spring.


Stay with a friend or relative to save some travel costs. Don’t know anyone where you’re going? Consider house or pet sitting in exchange for a place to stay.

This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and Flexjobs. She is a contributor at Millie Magazine and CNN Underscored, and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Newsweek, Woman's Day, Forbes,, Kiplinger, Marketwatch,, Yahoo Finance and numerous others. She has also appeared on TV hundreds of times; including Good Morning America's GMA3: What You Need to Know, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Inside Edition, CNBC and local network affiliates nationwide.