Our Favorite Accessories From SmarterTravel’s Editors’ Choice Awards
We're on a constant hunt for the very best gear and accessories to make travel better, easier, and more efficient—luggage scales, ear plugs, compression socks, you name it!—so of course we keep an eye on the Smarter Travel Editors’ Choice Awards. We totally trust their picks, and they back them up by running their favorite travel accessories through serious on-the-road tests. (And we’re not just saying that because they’re our sister company.) Here are the 2019 travel accessory winners we’re eyeing to add to our own cart.
Best Carry-On Luggage 2019
Smarter Travel's editorial team took a good hard look at 2019's new carry-on bags that are 22 inches or shorter and cost less than $500—and tested them for durability and performance. They chose their top three favorites, and we couldn't agree more with their second place winner: Away's Daily Carry-On with Pocket. ST says, "Though it's a hardside bag, it also has abundant exterior pockets. A large, zippered exterior pocket reveals additional organizational pockets, including a padded laptop sleeve, an additional zippered pocket, and a quick-stash pocket." This is the bag that will get us through 2020 and beyond.
Check out WTP's Away Carry-On review, here.
Best Travel Pillow 2019
Smart travelers know that the right travel pillow can make even a coach seat comfortable. The ST editors sourced several cutting-edge travel pillows of varying types from more than a dozen different start-ups and established companies—and then they went to sleep. After a little flight shuteye, they shared their award-winning travel pillows. The Trtl Travel Pillow Plus is our favorite dream inducer. ST's review says, "A total reinvention of the travel pillow that’s long overdue for cranky plane sleepers, the Trtl Pillow Plus is an incredibly adaptable neck-support accessory that’s both secured and hidden by an attached scarf." Sweet dreams!
Best Travel Shoes for Women 2019
Shoes are arguably the most necessary and most confusing travel item to pack. You want something comfortable, and also cute and hopefully lightweight. Versatility is important too. Overwhelmed yet? Us, too. That's why we're thrilled the ST editors handpicked and road tested the most innovative new women's shoe releases for 2019. Their silver medal pick, Cole Haan Generation ZEROGRAND, is our favorite pair for looks and performance. "The Stitchlite knit upper makes these shoes unbelievably lightweight—when our testers received the box containing the Generation ZEROGRAND, they thought it was empty. Despite the light weight, these sneakers have a sturdy yet springy sole that absorbs shock, plus plenty of arch support." They're very stylish in pink, but we'd pick the more versatile white (and spray them with stain repellent).
Best Travel Shoes for Men 2019
The ST editors didn't forget about men's shoe needs. Each best shoe candidate underwent hours of pavement pounding and was evaluated on the all-important factors of style, versatility, arch support, technology, weight, packability, comfort, and number of miles you could wear the shoes. It makes us tired just thinking of all that travel walking. It's hard to find a better men's shoe than their gold choice, the Nisolo Travel Derby. ST says, "These ultra-packable shoes weigh under 0.5 pounds each and are completely collapsible so they pack flat. The sole is shock-absorbing and supportive, and our tester walked for miles in these without complaints of tiredness or foot pain." We like how easily they dress up or down. Sold.
Best Personal Item 2019
What makes for the best personal item? According to ST editors, "This year’s best personal items stand out with innovative fabrics, outstanding organizational features, and comfortable-yet-stylish straps and handles." They selected and tested the best carryalls, backpacks, tote bags, and hybrid bags, before deciding on their three favorites—oh, and they had to cost under $350. We like all of their personal item choices, but we'd travel with the L.L. Bean Wayside Tote, for its bottom compartment for shoes or clothes storage and enough space to pack three full outfits. Tuck a water bottle in the exterior pocket, and you're good to go.
Best Travel Tech 2019
Travel technology is intimidating, and since it can be expensive, you don't want to buy something that doesn't work out. Never fear, the Smarter Travel Editors are on it. They chose 2019's best travel technology by road testing 11 new gadgets that enhance the travel experience with both their innovation and their value. This year, we'd love to shoot better videos with our iPhones, so the Sandmarc Anamorphic Lens is an easy sell. According to ST editors, " It takes video production to the next level by squeezing more horizontal information into the shot at a 2.41:1 wide-aspect ratio; the lens-flare effect captures light more vividly, especially at night; and the anamorphic, anti-reflective lens is encased in aluminum for a light yet durable exterior." Sounds like our Instagram stories are about to get a whole lot better.