8 Travel Accessories That Failed Me, and What I'm Buying Instead

Best and worst travel accessories


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I think that I may be more passionate about travel accessories than the average person, so that makes me an authority on the subject, right? I'm running with it. After all, here, here, and here are a few stories I've written about travel accessories, and I'm pretty sure this isn't even all of them. Traveling can be a beast, but it's also necessary, and I do it a lot, so I've had plenty of opportunities to land on the best travel accessories (with some trial and error, that is).

As you know, luggage space is precious, and we shouldn't go through life wasting it on items that aren't making our lives easier. I've made my share of travel accessory mistakes in my 30-something years, and it's my fashion-editor duty to share them with you so that you too can only travel with the best of the best accessories. Scroll to find which eight are banished from my suitcase, and which ones I won't get on a plane without.

Failed: Non-Converting Travel Adapters

I learned the hard way during my first trip to Europe that you need to convert the voltage of your electronics or you'll blow out the power in your room and break the outlets (yep, did that within an hour of arriving at my hotel). So an adapter just won't suffice. You need one that will also convert your voltage down.

Failed: Bulky Toiletry Bottles

Travel-sized toiletries that come in 2–3 oz. bottles are bulkier than you'd think, especially when you're trying to pack several of them. The sweet spot is 1 oz., but even better is packets, which take up minimal room and won't leak.

Failed: Travel Blankets

On overnight and long flights, a blanket is a small luxury that can make a big difference in how much sleep you get. I'd rather not use the ones the airline provides, and they take up too much room in my carryon to bring my own. The solution is a cashmere travel wrap, which I can wear as a scarf instead of stuffing into my bag.

Failed: Jewelry Zip Cases

I've learned that those travel jewelry cases with just one compartment won't do you much good (unless you like untangling necklaces). A jewelry roll offers separation and organization. This Tumi one is the best.

Failed: Old-School Neck Pillows

I definitely don't have space for a bulky neck pillow in my carry-on, and I'll never be carefree enough to walk through the terminal wearing it. But if it's essential for you, I recommend this genius Amazon find, which can be worn in a variety of ways and rolled up into a compact little bundle.

Instead: Infinity Neck Wrap
Huzi Infinity Pillow

Failed: Drawstring Laundry Bags

I think it's very smart to pack something to store your dirty laundry in for your trip home, but laundry bags that have a lot of fabric and don't compress will be hard to stuff into your suitcase. The solution is these large compression bags, which shrink your dirty laundry done and create a barrier between your clean clothes.

Failed: Cord Wraps

I'm always throwing my cords in my bag at the last minute before deboarding, so wrapping them around a little plastic organizer requires extra time that I never save. That said, I don't want them just floating around in my duffle. The solution is a little pouch that at least keeps them contained but doesn't waste time.

Failed: Zip-Top Cosmetics Bags

If you've ever dug around in a seeming bottomless cosmetics bag in search of that one lipstick you have to wear that day, then you know what I'm talking about. I discovered Lay-n-Go years ago and I've never looked back. I just open it up on the bed or bathroom counter and can have eyes on all of my products at once. Plus, it fits so much more than a regular pouch.

Instead: Lay-n-Go Cosmetics Bag
Lay-n-Go Cosmetic Bag

Shop More of My Go-To Travel Accessories

It's always said when a hotel doesn't provide slippers, so I bring my own slim pair just in case.

I've always been a watch girl, but I stopped wearing one for a while for some reason. I never regretted it more than when I traveled.

I can't stress enough how much these will change your packing experience. And even the ones without compression still save so much space.

I always cringe when I see people put their uncovered shoes next to their clothes. Do your precious clothes a favor and buy these.

These compression socks reduce swelling, increase energy, and look cool. I never leave for a long flight wihout them.

If you have a black suitcase (or any other color suitcase, for that matter), a unique luggage tag that makes it stand out is imperative.

Hotel mirror situations can be bleak, and obviously planes are a mirror-less zone. Word on the street is that this is the best handheld mirror on the market.

I like to pack my own snacks for the plane. These are cute and much better for the environment than disposal bags.

Walkable flats that are stylish and don't take up a lot of space are essential in my book. This is the pair I currently have my eye on.

If you're an overpacker like me, you know the power of an expandable suitcase. This style from Away is so chic.

So many hotel bathrooms have minimal counter space, but there's always a hook on the door or wall. Space-saving indeed.

This tiny umbrella is a godsend if you're going anywhere that isn't the desert.

If you're a plane sleeper, you need one of these to block out the light and distractions.

I've been traveling with this bag for years and it still looks brand-new (plus, it holds a ton of items).

There's nothing worse than arriving at the airport only to discover that your bag is overweight. Avoid that mayhem with this handy scale.

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