We tried it out, so you know what to buy for the world traveler on your holiday shopping list. Here are four pieces of travel gear that proved to be essential additions during the past year. We're always looking to refine our packing list and for ways to travel more efficiently and comfortably. These items made the cut.
Note: These items were among several provided by brands for review by the In The Loop Travel team. All opinions are our own, and no additional compensation is offered to feature them here.
I'm a proud member of team Carry-On Only, so Rollink's collapsible suitcase is exactly what I've been seeking for years. This sleek and flexible piece of luggage is especially ideal because I cruise often and store my luggage underneath my bed in my stateroom on the ships.
This is an airline cabin-size suitcase, so it meets carry-on standards. I chose the Flex Aura Cabin Plus style, which measures 21.6 inches by 15.7 inches by 9 inches, making it ideal for international flights.
When the shell is fully expanded, there is no wasted space. Rollink claims it can fit up to 35 liters of packing volume, and the case collapses to its shell down to about 2 inches of thickness, making it easy to stow away when you're not using it. Rollink says it is 75 percent thinner than the typical suitcase. This is important for its mail-order business, making Rollink much more environmentally friendly when the company ships suitcases to homes from its warehouse.
I found the design to be elegant and efficient. The luggage is made from durable polycarbonate and water-resistant materials. The wheels are coated and roll smoothly, pulled along by a retractable handle. A magnetic buckle holds the case in place when collapsed.
There is a nice pocket on the front of the Flex Aura in which you can slide in laptop, documents or other items that require quick and easy access. This suitcase is offered in a range of colors. Mine is Dusty Blue, but you also can choose from gray, black, red, purple, green and rose colors.
The HEX Evolve Logic backpack offers a simple design that looks good and makes sense. This sporty travel backpack can easily be used as your main travel pack or to take on hiking trips or weekenders. The HEX backpack touts anti-microbial tech to resist germs, and the sleek design includes a handy carrying loop at the top, easy-to-adjust shoulder straps, water-resistant zippers and a non-skid protected bottom to increase the life and durability of the pack.
You can slide the pack sideways over the handle of a roller suitcase, too, which makes transporting it through airports a breeze. We're happy to find a product that uses recycled materials for both the exterior of the backpack, as well as the soft interior. HEX uses a recycled ECO Cordura for the outer material. The inside space and the front tablet pocket are both lined with faux fur, giving the backpack a surprisingly elegant and luxe feel.
There are two water bottle holders, one on each side, and the backpack has a sturdy, compact and durable profile once packed with all your essential items.
We love it!
It's always a trick trying to get a bit of rest on long flights, especially when you head overseas and face a time change and impending jet lag. Conditions often are not ideal for your sleep schedule, with sunlight streaming in through open windows or cabin lighting fluctuating based on the service timing during the flights.
The Manta Sleep Mask Pro was an intriguing option, as it has a design that puts careful thought into what travelers really want out of a sleep mask. It's not a simple piece of fabric and rubber band that you slip over your eyes and hope for the best.
Instead, the Manta Sleep Mask promises 100 percent blackout with a stylish headband and attached adjustable C-shaped eye cups. And it delivered. We tried this one out on a recent plane trip from Denver to Croatia, and it blocked out sunlight, the seat neighbor's laptop glow and the lights being adjusted as we got closer to our destination. A big bonus: This mask is super comfortable. The cups and overall design are fantastic because you feel no pressure on your eyelids or eyelashes, especially if you sleep on your side. A strap allows you to adjust for all head sizes, and the mask won't sit on your ears. This one will become a permanent part of our travel essentials.
The mask comes with a hefty price at $89, but it is machine washable and built to be long-lasting. It comes with a carrying case/wash bag.
We grabbed an EZQuest charger before our busy summer of travel, and this handy device has proved to be invaluable in places like Egypt, where power outlets can be hard to find. We are using the EZQuest Ultimate Power 90-Watt Wall Charger, and it showed its value right off the bat when we returned from our Nile River cruise and were waiting for a couple hours for our flight at the airport in Cairo.
The lounge had only one outlet, so we had to make optimal use of it among a group of friends traveling back to the States.
The EZQuest offers a U.S.-style plug and international two-pin style plug, so you can easily connect in most places around the world. The EU International Converter easily snaps onto the built-in U.S. plug on the small block, so we could plug right in at the airport to share power. The EZQuest charger proves versatile because it offers two USB-C connections and one USB outlet in the block, so you can get three devices hooked up and charging.
The kit also comes with a two-meter-long cable to extend the reach. EZQuest charges as quickly as other chargers we've used, but it is compact and flexible, easily packing away. We like that it opens up a couple more ports to charge multiple devices at once while also reducing the load in our backpack because of its small size.
Thanks for reading and happy shopping,