32 budget travel items you need to have | CNN Underscored

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Travel is more expensive in 2022, but what you bring doesn’t have to be. When it comes to travel, packing the right gear can make travel more comfortable from start to finish, whether you’re traveling on a budget or if you’re splurging on a 5-star trip.

Any and every globetrotter can benefit from picking up some of these affordable travel items that make traveling just a little bit easier, a little bit less stressful and a lot more fun. Ultimately, you don’t have to spend a fortune on luxury travel goods to travel more comfortably. Here are the top budget travel items under $50 you need to have or gift to the budget traveler in your life this holiday shopping season.

Not worried about budget? Click here to check out the 49 best holiday and Christmas gifts for the frequent traveler in your life.

$45 $40 at Amazon

We’ve deemed this wireless transmitter one of the most useful items to have when traveling. The AirFly Duo uses Bluetooth to ensure you can listen to and watch in-flight entertainment using your favorite wireless headphones. With the AirFly, you can skip those cheap airline headphones, pair your own set with the device, plug it into the seat back entertainment and enjoy watching and listening to your favorite shows, music and movies in comfort. Check out our full review of it here.

$23 at Amazon

Epicka Universal Travel Adapter
This universal travel adapter comes complete with four USB ports, one USB-C port and one traditional AC socket to charge up to six devices at once. Best of all, you can use this small but mighty device in just about all international destinations from Europe to the United Kingdom, Australia and more. Although it’s only an adapter and not a voltage converter, it’ll charge up phones, e-readers, smartwatches, laptops and more when traveling abroad with just one small device instead of carrying various plugs and converter options.

$26 Amazon

Amazon Basics 4-Piece Packing Cubes Set
These durable polyester packing cubes come in a four-piece set, with two medium-size cubes and two large-size cubes. Store clothes, shoes, dirty laundry or whatever else to best organize a suitcase. Your favorite traveler can see exactly what they’ve packed in each cube, thanks to the mesh top covers.

$20 $17 at Amazon


Whether your favorite traveler is a budding travel influencer or simply wants to get good photos of themself, this selfie stick tripod combo can be slipped into your suitcase for infinitely better travel photos. The stick is 9 inches when collapsed and weighs just 10.5 ounces, meaning it’s not only affordable, but it’s also lightweight and compact. It connects with most Apple and Android devices as well as smaller DSLR cameras and comes with a detachable remote.

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$40 at Amazon

Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow
Sleeping well while traveling doesn’t have to come at a steep price. In fact, our favorite travel neck pillow is available for just $40 and is pretty much guaranteed to help your favorite traveler sleep better on long flights. In our testing, we dubbed this neck pillow the “Goldilocks of travel pillows,” thanks to its firm support but equal parts softness and portability.

$18 $13 at Amazon

underscored perilogics phone mount


This simple but effective device will make any plane journey easier. It clamps to the tray table of the seat in front of you, allowing you to insert your phone and stream your favorite TV shows and movies hands-free.

$25 at Amazon

Benevolence LA Velvet Travel Jewelry Box Organizer
The ideal gift for moms, wives, girlfriends and friends, this compact pouch makes it easy to travel with jewelry — and it’s one of Oprah’s Favorite Things of 2022. With several storage spots and removable dividers for various types of jewelry, you’ll never end up with tangled necklaces or lose an earring with this case. Even those who don’t travel with a lot of jewelry will appreciate having their wedding ring or stud earrings safely tucked away in this case when on the go.

$26 at Amazon

Alaska Bear Silk Pillowcase
Your favorite traveler can slip this 100% organic mulberry silk pillowcase into their carry-on to use on a plane, at a hotel or anywhere else to make sleeping on planes, trains and buses feel so much more luxurious. The pillowcase keeps hair soft and prevents breakage. When it comes to skin, it can help retain moisture, prevent acne and keep wrinkles at bay. It even comes with a matching scrunchie.

$30 $17 at Amazon

Kurdene Wireless Earbuds
If you can’t swing the hefty price tag for the newest Apple AirPods, you’ll be impressed by the price-to-quality factor of Kurdene’s wireless headphones, which come with a portable charging case that you can tuck into your pocket or bag when traveling. The sweatproof earbuds are comfortable for ears and have clear, dynamic 3D surround sound. The headphones can run for about six hours on a single charge, and the case can charge them four times over if your trip is extra long.

$14 at Amazon

Charmking Compression Socks for Women & Men

Compression socks are an important travel accessory. Experts agree that the health benefits of wearing them on long travel days can be significant. This set of three pairs is available in a wide range of colors, offering a good amount of compression made from a breathable fabric.

$25 at Jo Malone

Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt Solid Perfume

This compact, solid perfume has a fresh aroma, and it’s easy to drop into a carry-on even when your baggie of liquids is already full. You can dab it on your wrist, behind your ears or on your neck when you need a scented pick-me-up, the ideal alternative to an expensive liquid perfume formula.

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$20 $10 at Amazon

Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask
Sleep through jet lag, red-eye flights, loud hotel rooms and whatever other noisy and uncomfortable sleep situations travel throws at you with the Mavogel Cotton Sleep Mask. We consider it the best sleep mask out there, as it blocks out all the light around you, allowing for a darker and more peaceful sleep on the road or in the air.

$40 at Amazon

Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone and Android

Whether your favorite traveler is a budding influencer or simply wants to get some memorable travel shots, this Lens Kit from Xenvo snaps onto any Android or Apple phone, as well as many tablets and laptops. The wide lens captures an additional 45%, which means photos — especially ones of travel landscapes and family members — will be comprehensive and sharp. The lens system is easy to attach and use for both amateur photographers and professionals.

From $10 at Amazon

4Monster Super Absorbent Camping Towels

These portable, quick-dry towels are perfect for any travel situation: camping, hiking, beach trip or even visits to destinations where you won’t have access to a dryer. The durable, lightweight towels are made of polyester and polyamide material and are super absorbent, drying fast when you’re on the go. The towels come in various sizes and colors, and each comes with its own portable case for storage.

$20 at Amazon

Mario Badescu Mini Mist Facial Sprays

This four-pack of Mario Badescu facial spray is perfect for all of your different moods during travel. Energize with the sage and orange blossom, relax with the lavender, revitalize and glow with rose and freshen up with the cucumber and green tea. The under-60-milliliter mist bottles are small enough to fit into your zip-lock baggie of liquids during a long-haul flight.

$38 at Amazon

LifeStraw Peak Series Collapsible Squeeze Water Bottle
This collapsible, space-saving water bottle is a must-have for staying hydrated when traveling. In our testing, we found it perfect for travelers because not only does it have a filter that can make just about any water drinkable, but it also collapses so you can easily pack it in your favorite travel backpack and then expand it when you’re ready to fill it up. It’s both sustainable and affordable, saving you money and hassle on buying overpriced water bottles in the airport and elsewhere. Check out our full review of it here.

$16 $7 Amazon

Anbow Reusable Silicone Earplugs

These Anbow reusable earplugs offer a noise level reduction level of NRR 32, meaning they’ll block out pesky noise on planes or anywhere else you need to sleep. Made of high-quality, BPA-free silicone material with an ergonomic shape, they’ll comfortably fit into ears pain-free. Unlike foam earplugs, these are made for long-term use and reuse.

$48 at Amazon

JBL Clip 3

Connect this waterproof, wireless speaker to a phone via Bluetooth and play music whenever, wherever. It’s small enough to accompany travelers on trips but strong enough to play favorite tunes at an impromptu barbecue or beach visit. With 10 hours of playtime, it can be clipped onto a backpack, beach bag or stroller with ease.

From $14 at Cadence

underscored cadence capsules

Courtney Thompson

This travel system of refillable, leakproof and magnetic containers helps organize personal care products. The customizable capsules come in various sizes and colors that can be mixed and matched to fit anyone’s needs. We tested them out and found the sustainable products to be leakproof, airtight and waterproof — and extremely convenient for shorter trips. Although an entire system of six costs more than $70, budget travelers can use just a few single Capsules that will magnetically cling to each other for less than $50. Check out our full review of them here.

$23 at Amazon

Ursa Major Face Wipes
With so much concern about wiping down plane seats and tray tables, it seems we’ve almost forgotten about our skin, which can be greasy, dry or tired after a long day of travel. These natural, biodegradable face wipes from Ursa Major are individually wrapped to easily tuck into a purse, carry-on bag or pocket. Complete with ingredients like aloe, willow bark and birch sap and a light, lavender and citrus scent, skin will feel refreshed and clean after using one of these wipes after a plane nap or hike.

$22 at Amazon

Anker PowerCore Slim 10000 Portable Charger
A TSA-approved power bank is essential for any kind of traveler. And, when you can secure a great one for just over $20, it’s the perfect gift. This slim power bank is ideal for travelers as it’s small enough to tuck in a crossbody bag, backpack or pocket but it holds enough power to charge an iPhone 12 more than two times. Whether your favorite traveler likes to keep the music going, use their phone for maps or posting photos on social media, help make sure their device always stays charged on the road.

$10 at Amazon

6-Pack Reusable Foldable Bags

These polyester foldable bags are perfect to use as a beach bag, laundry bag, grocery bag, personal item on a plane, emergency diaper bag or any other situation where you might need some storage. Toss a few of these bright, patterned bags in a suitcase folded up and open them to use whenever needed.

$30 at Amazon

Magellan's Jersey Travel Blanket
This fold-up travel blanket has a carrying case with a strap that slides over your trolley handle, making it easy to take along on plane trips or train journeys. The cotton-poly blend blanket will keep you warm, can double as a comfortable sitting option for spontaneous trips to the beach or can even be used as a pillow when folded up in its carry bag.

$4 at Amazon

underscored budgettravel Pacifica facial mask


Things like air travel, jet lag and different climates can wreak havoc on skin. Give your face a little extra love at a low price with this stress and rehab sheet mask that can be easily added to your suitcase. Ingredients such as green tea purify your skin, while coconut and turmeric rejuvenate and brighten your face. The mask even has caffeine to wake up skin and make it glow.

$17 at Amazon

Gonex Fold-Up Backpack

This 20-liter foldable backpack is incredibly easy to take along during any kind of travel. It folds up to pocket size so it can be packed away and then opens up to use for hiking, shopping, a beach day or anything else once at a new destination. Although the nylon fabric is thin in order to fold up better, it’s tear-resistant, it’s water-resistant and it has a sturdy metal zipper.

$16 $13 at Amazon

Freetoo Portable Digital Luggage Scale
This digital luggage scale will save your favorite budget traveler on excess baggage fees, and it’s small enough to pack in a suitcase to ensure bags are never overweight. The scale, which comes with a battery, can weigh bags up to 110 pounds.

$16 at Amazon

Touchland Rosewater Hand Sanitizer

Keep hands germ-free and smelling delicious while traveling with this travel-size rosewater sanitizer mist. Not only will this rid hands of germs, but the mist also contains Detoskin, which provides blue-light protection, and Vitasource, which can help firm skin by boosting collagen.

$7 $6 at Amazon

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder
You may be required to show not only a passport but also a vaccination card when entering some countries. Protect both documents with this passport and vaccine card holder, made from water-resistant faux leather. The holder comes in various colors, so you can select just the right one to match your favorite traveler’s luggage or personal style.

$10 at Amazon

Sun Bum SPF 30 Lip Balm, 3 Pack

This Vitamin E-infused, SPF 30 lip balm keeps lips moisturized regardless of the season. With three different summery scents (they’ll have you daydreaming of sun and sand even in the wintry cold) and a silky and smooth finish, this balm protects lips from dry plane air and keeps them hydrated throughout a trip.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.

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