28 Nov Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Travel Accessories for your European Vacation
Traveling to Europe in 2020? Need help filling out your Wish List? If so, this Holiday Gift Guide was made for you! I’m sharing my favorite travel accessories that I know you’ll love. Or, use this list to shop for your friends and family! Dazzle them with your ability to pick the perfect travel accessories they never knew they couldn’t live without.
Or, you know, let’s be honest – the Black Friday sales and Holiday Deals are as much for buying for ourselves as much as they are for buying for others!
Without further ado: Some of my favorite travel accessories, why I love them, and why travelers like you will love them too! Listed by category. Find great luggage, packing essentials, day bags, camera accessories, and more!
FOR THE PLANE
iPad / Tablet Mount I’ve gotten more thumbs up from flight attendants and inquiries from fellow passengers from one travel accessory more than any other: The Airhook 2.0 Watching content on your tablet is great – except for the literal pain in the neck that it causes from looking down for several hours. The Airhook solves this problem by mounting your tablet (or phone) to the back of the seat in front of you so you can look straight ahead.
Travel Pillow It’s hard to find a travel pillow that will truly support your head. I’ve tried several of them and the Cabeau Evolution Pillow is the best. Front strings sinch together to create a snug fit that will keep your head from falling forward or straining to either side. The memory foam helps reduce the amount of space the pillow takes up in your bag. For even more space-saving, there’s an inflatable version.
Noise-Canceling Headphones Plane engines are loud. Very loud. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones will decrease engine noise, increase the sound clarity of your entertainment, and still allow you to hear the flight attendant ask you “cookies or pretzels?” There are many brands, but most tech reviewers tend to agree that Bose offers the best in sound quality, comfort, and noise-canceling proficiency. Consider these variations:
Bose QuietComfort 25 Wired Over-Ear Noise-Cancelling Headphones (a great value these days as new models have been released)
I have the QuietComfort 20 and 25. While I’m not a tech reviewer, I can offer my opinion: I find the over-ear 25’s more comfortable (and moderately better at noise-canceling) but the in-ear 20’s so much more pack-friendly. I tend to use the 20’s.
If you’ve traveled in the summer (as most people do!), you know it can be grueling to walk all day in the heat. To help make the heat more tolerable, there are two accessories that I like to bring with me:
Collapsible Water Bottle With airports now offering cold filtered water and Europe having plenty of readily available public water fountains (ie. Rome’s nasoni), travelers no longer have to keep buying bottled water. I like these two refillable BPA-free bottles:
Portable Charger If you use your phone often for Google Maps and taking photos and video, your phone battery will drain quickly. A portable charger saves the day! It will charge any USB device (tablet, GoPro, etc). My favorite is the Anker Astro E1 Portable Charger (6700 mAh). It is small and light and the 6700 mAh size will charge most phones twice. If you need more power, there’s also a 10,000 mAh and a 20,000 mAh version (caution: the larger the capacity, the larger the charger).
USB Wall Charger If your experience has been anything like mine, there never seem to be enough power outlets in hotels or apartments to charge all of my devices. Luckily, with a multiple port USB charger, this problem is easily solved! I never go anywhere without the Anker 5-Port USB Charger. There is a version without the cord going from the charger to the wall, but I find the cord version helpful – both for reaching behind furniture and for acting as an extension cord.
Power Adapters You’ll definitely want to bring power adapters that will allow you to plug your US plugs into the European outlets. I recommend bringing at least two adapters per person – more if you’re not using the Anker USB Charger. There are a few different outlet types in Europe, here are links by country: Europe (most countries), Italy, and UK & Ireland.
Most electronics will not require a power converter (to convert Europe’s 220 V to our 110 V). But if you’re bringing a hairdryer, curling iron, or similar appliances from home, this is a good converter (it has multiple plugs and works throughout Europe).
Shampoo Bottles One of my most recent travel discoveries is this Fullplus Silicone Bottles Set with Lanyard and honestly, I’ll never go back to my old shampoo bottles! There never seems to be enough shower shelf space for travel-sized bottles (shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body scrub), right? This set solves that problem. Just attach the bottles to the lanyard and hang them from the curtain rod or showerhead. Now there’s finally enough space for everyone’s shampoo!
Compression Bags Space is at a premium in our suitcases – one way to maximize space is with roll-up compression bags (no vacuum required). I find these particularly useful when traveling during the winter (without it, I think only 4 sweaters would make it into my suitcase!). Roomier Life Travel Space Saver Compression Bags
Europe is a safe place to travel in. Unfortunately, pickpockets are common in major cities and smart travelers will do well to take a few precautions.
Money Belt A money belt can (and should) be discreetly worn underneath your clothes to protect your cash, cards, and passport. This one from Eagle Creek includes RFID blocking lining and is so comfortable you won’t even remember it’s there. There is also this option if you prefer a neck wallet to a money belt.
Luggage Locks I’ve never had anyone break into my luggage, but I’ve heard stories. For peace of mind, I like to use these Master Cable Luggage Locks. I think it is good practice to lock your bags when leaving your hotel room or using a Luggage Storage facility.
Mobile Data In recent years, travelers have been able to bring their mobile phones with them to Europe and access mobile networks for a fraction of what it used to cost. There are multiple ways to connect; with your mobile carrier (usually for $10/day), using a Wifi device (like Travel Wifi), or with a local SIM card. Getting a European SIM card is easier than ever – you can now purchase one online and receive it ahead of your trip! I recommend this Orange Holiday SIM. It is valid for 14 days from first use, includes 20 GB of mobile data, and 120 minutes. Orange is a French mobile carrier but the SIM works throughout Europe (there’s no need to worry about roaming).
Wide-Angle Phone Camera Lens Photographers will appreciate a wide-angle lens to capture more of the scene that they traveled so far to see. While some phone cameras are starting to come with a wide-angle lens built-in (ie. iPhone 11) there are still plenty of phones without it. If your phone is one of them, I highly recommend the Moment Wide Lens. I took this everywhere I went until I upgraded to the iPhone 11 Pro Max! I equally recommend either one!
Video recording and stabilization technology has advanced tremendously. There are so many great ways to record your memories now…the following are among my favorites! They each serve a different purpose and one could argue that having one of each would be ideal!
GoPro HERO8 Black Great for activities, mounting on a car hood, and for taking underwater
DJI Pocket A super small high-quality camera with gimbal
DJI Osmo Mobile 3 A compact stabilizing gimbal for your mobile phone
Roll Aboard: Choosing the perfect luggage has a lot to do with personal preference. For me, I’ve tried a few brands and I have come to prefer TravelPro. I recommend the following models:
What I love about all of these is that they are lightweight, sturdy, expandable, have plenty of pockets, and they roll quietly and effortlessly. I’m listing only carry-on sizes because I find it much easier to travel Europe without a big heavy bag (think getting on/off trains and buses). Plus, it saves time (and money) by not having to check your bag and then wait for it to arrive at Baggage Claim. As an itinerary planner, I’m always looking for ways to be efficient and optimize time!
Backpack: If you’re an efficient packer or looking to travel light, consider a large backpack with many of the same compartments and features found in larger suitcases. My favorite is this one:
The soft sides and many straps and zippers allow the ultimate in packing flexibility.
Anti-Theft Day Bag In general, I think it’s a good idea to travel with an anti-theft bag. They feature locking zippers, RFID blocking compartments, and slash-proof straps and fabric. Travelon makes a wide variety of functional and attractive bags for both women and men.
For women: I have been using the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag for years. In addition to the security features, I find each of the expandable side pockets useful for my sunglasses case and a water bottle. I also use – either with or instead of the Messenger Bag – the Travelon Classic Convertible Backpack. It can be worn as a crossbody bag or a small backpack.
For men: Travelon’s Urban Backpack and Urban Sling make great options. As does Pacsafe’s Metrosafe LS-series anti-theft sling bags and backpacks that range is size and volume. Ideal sizes to consider are the 7 liter Classic Sling and the 25 Liter Backpack.
Waist Pack “Fanny packs” are back, everyone! In the last couple of years, I’ve seen many more travelers throughout Europe sporting a waist pack (either at their waist or as a cross-body sling). Try the Travelon Anti-Theft Waist Pack to take advantage of the security features not found in the typical pack.
Give the gift of a custom Door-To-Door Itinerary from Montage Travel! Do you know someone who deserves a vacation? A travel itinerary makes a great gift for the busy professional. It’s also perfect for the first-time traveler to Europe who would benefit from the professional advice and planning experience of a European Destination Specialist.
Gift Certificates are available in $100 increments and can be applied toward any of my services. Simply email me to order!
Disclosure: The products that I link to are products that I recommend from personal experience and research (none were provided to me for free or for marketing purposes). Please note that as an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases made through the provided affiliate links – and at no additional cost to you.