Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


Traveling this summer? Here's everything you need

If you're traveling over the next few months, check out ZDNET's tried-and-true summer travel essentials, from Bluetooth trackers to power banks.
Anker's Nano 22.5W Power Bank | A compact power bank
Anker "lipstick" charger
Anker's Nano 22.5W Power Bank
A compact power bank
View now View at Amazon
Apple AirTag | A coin-sized Bluetooth tracker
Hand holding an Apple AirTag
Apple AirTag
A coin-sized Bluetooth tracker
View now View at Amazon
Sony WF 1000XM5 | A pair of noise-canceling earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM5 resting on a MacBook
Sony WF 1000XM5
A pair of noise-canceling earbuds
View now View at Walmart
NordVPN | A reliable travel VPN
Nord VPN Mobile
A reliable travel VPN
View now View at NordVPN
Freetoo Portable Luggage Scale | A portable luggage scale
Freetoo Portable Luggage Scale against white background
Freetoo Portable Luggage Scale
A portable luggage scale
View now View at Amazon
Epicka Universal Travel Adapter | A universal travel plug adapter
Epicka Universal Travel Adapter
Epicka Universal Travel Adapter
A universal travel plug adapter
View now View at Amazon
Show more (1 item)

While incredibly exciting, traveling can also be extremely stressful and overwhelming--especially if you're hitting the road over the busy summer travel season. Not only are there extremely long lines everywhere you turn, but surprise weather, larger crowds, and unexpected situations are more likely to take place because of the holiday rush. 

The right gear diminishes travel anxiety and makes your trip as smooth and comfortable as possible. ZDNET's tried and true tech gadgets ensure your luggage is not overweight when checking in at the airport, avoid losing your wallet during your trip, or run out of your smartphone battery when you are about to show your boarding pass. 

Also: How to use ChatGPT to plan a vacation

These products also easily fit in any weekend bag, carry-on, or checked luggage – meaning you can improve any upcoming trip you may have, no matter your mode of transportation or destination.

A power bank

Power banks are one of those things everyone should have, especially when traveling. They take up little to no space, are often lightweight, and can quickly give your phone the extra juice it needs to survive for just a few more hours. Whether it is a $15 or a $200 power bank, these tiny but mighty devices can and will save your device's life when you need it most – plus, you can always use it after your trip. Here are some of our top tested and recommended power banks. 

Anker recently released its latest addition to its Anker Nano line, the Nano 22.5W Power Bank. This battery-powered device packs a foldable USB-C port, a 5,000mAh capacity, and weighs just a bit more than 3 ounces. The charger itself is tiny and "puts the portable in a portable charger," says ZDNET's Sabrina Ortiz, who tested the latest power bank, and happened to be the same size as her go-to lipstick. 

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

A Bluetooth tracker 

What would my life be without a Bluetooth tracker? I rely on these tiny devices as much as my morning coffee. They track my checked luggage at the airport, they tell me when I leave my ID, passport, or wallet behind and they help me locate my keys when they are nowhere in sight. But, beyond saving my life countless times the best part of Bluetooth trackers is their versatility. Here are some of the best Bluetooth trackers we recommend.  

Apple AirTags are my favorite Apple product. The coin-sized tracker uses a built-in U1 ultra wideband chip for precision finding and is powered by Apple's Find My Network. You can use them with your other Apple devices like a MacBook or AirPods, or you can secure one to your backpack

Review: Apple AirTag

View at WalmartView at AmazonView at Amazon

A pair of headphones 

Headphones have become as essential in my bag, especially when I am traveling. Whether you are traveling by car, plane, or train, the best headphones can help you tune out loud conversations, play smooth melodies while you nap, or even provide you with entertainment as you partake in your journey. Whether you prefer headphones or earbuds while traveling, here are some of our expert-tested and recommended picks. 

The Sony WF 1000XM5 are top-of-the-line earbuds that cut out noise as if they were a pair of over-ear headphones without the over-ear bulkiness. When traveling, you can use these earbuds to tune out unnecessary noises, thanks to their impressive noise-canceling capability, or you can wear them during long walks and workouts since they have an IPX4 rating (meaning they are water-resistant) and perform well even on the sweatiest of listeners.    

Review: Sony's new WF-1000XM5 may just be the best premium earbuds right now

View at Best BuyView at Best BuyView at Amazon

A travel VPN

In the same way that you probably wouldn't leave your passport lying open in a public place, you shouldn't leave your personal online data up for grabs when traveling abroad. Online privacy should be your utmost concern during your trip, and connecting to Wi-Fi in an airport, hotel, or cafe just puts your financial information or login credentials at risk of exposure or theft. We recommend keeping your connection safe and secure at all times by using one of the top Travel VPNs

NordVPN id the best travel VPN due to its 30-day money-back guarantee, fast connection speeds, and high reliability. ZDNET's VPN expert, Charlie Osborne, ran several tests on the service, in addition to testing it herself during her travels, and found NordVPN to be one of the most reliable connections out there. 

Review: NordVPN

Currently, NordVPN offers three plans available: Complete, Plus, and Standard, and is running a promotion where you can get three months of access for free when you choose a one or two-year plan. 

View at ExpressvpnView at Surfshark

A luggage scale 

I can't tell you the amount of times I have fearfully arrived at the airport, unsure whether or not my luggage will pass the weight check. To avoid the constant dread, a couple of months ago, I decided to get a portable weight scale, and I can't deny that it has probably been one of the most game-changing travel gadgets I have ever used. My weight scale gives me peace of mind before I arrive at the airport and often keeps me accountable when packing. Here are some of our recommendations. 

The Freetoo Portable Luggage Scale can give you peace of mind before you even begin your trip. This scale holds up to 110 lbs or 50 kg and comes in three colors: red, grey, and black. It has a green backlight display, making it incredibly easy to read no matter the lighting conditions, and it can easily be stored within your belongings due to its sleek and lightweight design.  

View at AmazonView at Amazon

A travel adapter

If you are traveling to another country, there is a high possibility you will need a travel adapter for your chargers and devices. So you are not caught by surprise when you arrive at your destination and realize you don't have a way to plug in your phone, my recommendation is to always carry a universal travel adapter during every trip. These top travel adapters are all-in-one devices that constantly keeps you prepared for whatever charging or electrical needs you may encounter. 

Stay plugged in no matter where you go with Eplicka's Universal travel adapter. This all-in-one adapter will give you power in over 150 countries due to its four different plugs and can charge your phone, laptop, and headphones all from the same spot. Just pick which of the USB-A, USB-C, and AC options you'd like to use and plug up to six devices to simultaneously charge from the adapter. 

Keep in mind this adapter is not a voltage converter and only holds up to 240 volts. This means you should not use this adapter with items such as your hair dryer, straightener, or others.  

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

You might also need...

What is a must-have travel item?

Of all the items on this list, I'd say a power bank is the most important item to have on any trip (besides your phone, wallet, and personal identification, of course). The truth is the longer you have your phone, the shorter the battery will last you throughout the day. And especially when you are traveling, your phone just always seems to die quicker, since you are constantly using it to take photos, follow directions, or search the most recommended food spots in the area. 

What should I pack when traveling internationally?

When traveling internationally, you should always pack a universal travel adapter. Different countries have different electrical receptacles and while you can get an adapter for the specific country you are visiting, you are most likely to get a better bang for your buck if you can just get one adapter that works in all countries, rather than individual ones for each location. 

Plus this also prevents you from forgetting to bring the adapter, losing it, or bringing the wrong one. 

What are the busiest travel days this summer?

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the busiest days to travel this summer are over Memorial Day weekend, June 30, and the days before and after July 4. TSA recommends all travelers arrive early and prepared for every step of the air travel experience.

Editorial standards