Family watching a plane in the airport.

When you embark on a travel journey, whether for business or pleasure, it can be an exciting experience. But it can also be an arduous one. There might be travel to and from the airport. You have to wait for the flight and even sometimes deal with travel delays and layovers. But there’s no need to fret. Technology and travel essentials can make the travel day much more pleasurable.

As someone who travels at least a few times a year, I have some experience finding ways to make the journeys seamless. On a recent flight home to Toronto from New York, for example, I dealt with a five-hour delay. This is after already arriving at the airport two hours early for my flight. I grabbed dinner, a glass of wine, and my travel essentials kept me busy and entertained both while waiting for take-off and once I was finally in the air and on route home.

So, what are these magical travel essentials? Here are a few items you should not leave home without when you’re traveling.

Noise cancelling headphones

Man wearing Jabra Elite 85h noise cancelling headphones.

Noise cancelling headphones are a must for travel, whether I’m only going a few hours away to New York or 5+ hours to Las Vegas. Especially on a plane, I can pop them over my ears, turn on noise cancelling, listen to a TV show, movie, or music, and block out the distracting plane engine hum. Even if I’m just trying to take a nap and not actively listening to anything, the noise cancelling feature alone is valuable.

If you are using a wireless pair, make sure to fully charge them before departing, or bring along an extra set of batteries if they use those. Don’t forget an adapter if you’re using them with a device like a new iPhone that only has a Lightning port.

Downloaded videos on a mobile device

Netflix UI on a tablet

The night before I travel anywhere, I go through my favourite TV streaming services and choose TV shows and movies to download for watching offline. I download a few options so I can pick whatever I’m in the mood to watch if the options on the plane seatback entertainment system don’t appeal to me (or the plane doesn’t have seatback entertainment systems at all!)

During my last aforementioned flight, I was able to keep myself busy with a show I had downloaded to my smartphone (you can do this on a larger tablet as well). I did this while relaxing at an airport restaurant, once at my gate waiting for the flight, and on the plane. It was a lifesaver.

Note that you need sufficient storage space on your mobile device to do this. But once you are done watching or arrive home, you can delete the downloads and free up the space once again.

Portable power bank

Energizer portable power bank

I never go on a trip without not one but two portable power banks. With multiple ports and built-in cables (or wireless charging capability), I can charge everything from my smartphone to my true wireless earbuds, and fitness tracker. Should an unexpected delay occur, or the plane not have a USB outlet, you can charge up so you don’t arrive to your destination with a dead phone, or be tethered to a corner of the airport to recharge from an outlet.

Make sure you get one with ample battery capacity that can offer at least a few charges of your phone. I end up using these in my hotel room sometimes as well if the charging port is not close enough to the bedside table.

An eReader

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader in hand.

If you love books, you can pack an eReader versus paperback novels. Then read to your heart’s content without adding a lot of extra weight or bulk to your carry on. These can fit thousands of book titles and keep your place so you can pick up where you left off.

The added benefit is that you can use these at your destination as well, whether it’s to read a chapter before going to bed or while you’re kicking back at the pool on vacation.

Nintendo SwitchPortable gaming device

Especially if you are traveling with kids, a portable gaming device like the Nintendo Switch can keep them occupied and entertained while you deal with a long flight delay or an extended flight. Plenty of games can be played offline, which can help kids get over things like a fear of flying or boredom while sitting in an airport. And a unit like this one is small enough to pop into a kid-sized backpack.

Inflatable travel pillowInflatable travel pillow

Don’t underestimate the value of an inflatable travel pillow, especially if you end up in a middle seat. If you want to avoid accidentally dozing off and resting your head on the shoulder of a stranger, grab one of these and wrap it around your neck. This can also come in handy if your flight is delayed for a long time and you want to catch some ZZZs in the airport.

Inflatable pillows are easy to travel with because you can deflate to pack and inflate right before the flight. Deflate again to pack it away until you need it again. But even if you get one that’s not inflatable, it’s easy to walk about with it around your neck.

Travel bottle kitTravel bottle kit

Whether I’m checking luggage or not, I always include my most important toiletries in my carry-on backpack. To be able to do this and successfully get through customs by adhering to the rules, they need to be stored in clear, travel-friendly bottles that don’t exceed the maximum volume requirements. I have a set that I keep in my toiletries bag and refill any time I’m traveling.

This is a great trick in the event that your luggage gets lost or you end up delayed and want to touch up make-up or brush your teeth at the airport or on the plane. Things like shampoo, body wash, and deodorant can be purchased at the destination. But your prescriptions, expensive make-up, favorite cologne, and other items are much more difficult (and expensive) to have to buy new.

Larq water bottle.Refillable water bottle or thermos

You can’t get through security with liquids but you can bring an empty water bottle. Once you arrive at your gate, most airports have refillable water stations. Or you can purchase bottled water or other drinks and transfer them to your personal water bottle.

This will keep drinks cold (or hot with a thermos) for extended periods in case you are dealing with a delay or you have a long flight. The great thing about refillable water bottles is that you can continue to use them at your destination as well as every day at home. Plus, they encourage you to stay hydrated through the trip and beyond.

Have a safe trip!

As you embark on your next vacation, work trip, or even a road trip (many of these gadgets and tips apply to travel by means beyond airplane as well), you’ll find things run much more smoothly when you take control of what you can control. You can’t do anything about a flight delay or traffic. Even without those roadblocks, if you get through customs and security quickly and have hours to kill before boarding time, you don’t need to twiddle your thumbs either. There’s plenty of ways to make the most of your time with the right travel essentials so you feel refreshed and excited to arrive to your destination.

Check out lots of great travel essentials at Best Buy Online.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.