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All the small items that will make a big difference in your summer trip

Take your vacation to the next level with these tech essentials.
Written by Min Shin, Associate Editor on
Reviewed by Christina Darby

As your long-anticipated summer travel plans get closer and start coming to fruition, so does the daunting task of packing. So that you can have more room in your mind to think about the details of your trip than what's in your suitcase, we compiled a list of gadgets and devices you'll need -- all of which are fit for a carry-on or even a backpack. 

Also: Everything you need to host a summer party 

While portable, our selections still come stacked with helpful features like waterproof ratings and long battery lives, ready to withstand any summer adventure. Read on for our essentials, from portable speakers to make travel feel like a party to portable chargers that pack a lot of power, and even a smart water bottle to keep you hydrated. 

A portable speaker  

Whether you're going on a weekend camping trip, to the beach, or to Europe for a backpacking excursion, music makes everything more fun. Thanks to the best portable speakers, you don't have to sacrifice full sound while you're on the go.  

With a built-in carabiner for your bag, the JBL Clip 4 is great to play music for your whole group of friends or family on a hike. Its IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating also means you can also bring it with you to the pool, lake, or beach. 

At only 0.53 pounds, it's especially impressive that the lightweight speaker packs a 5W output power and ten hours of battery life, which is likely to last for your whole day trip. You can even personalize your own design on JBL's website and choose from different colors to avoid any speaker mix-ups. 

Touting an IP67 rating, the Sonos Roam is another speaker that promises full sound alongside your favorite waterfront summer activities. Weighing less than a pound, its lightweight design makes for an easy carry on the road and makes room in your bag for other summer essentials. 

Also: The best Sonos speakers

With amplifiers, a tweeter, and a midwoofer, you get clear sound, which you can also adjust in the Sonos app if you want to switch up the bass, treble, and volume. 

With a rugged yet sleek design and powerful bass, the Marshall Emberton II has more than 30 hours of play time, so you and your travel companions can listen in style all day before you -- or the speaker -- needs to recharge. 

It also comes with an IP67 water and dustproof rating, which is especially impressive considering it's also a sustainable option - 50% of the build was made from post-consumer recycled plastic, and it's 100% PVC-free. 

An e-reader 

If you're like me, nothing makes a long travel day go by quicker than getting lost in a good book, but not at the expense of lugging around multiple books. E-readers offer a more compact solution for an on-the-go library. With waterproof ratings, these top e-readers make for a perfect beach read. 

If you're looking for an e-reader to last you all trip long without having to plug it in, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition will last up to 10 weeks on a single charge. With on-device storage of 32 GB, the Paperwhite can house thousands of books. 

Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021)

Because the Paperwhite is so thin and lightweight, it relieves the need to rummage and repack your bag every time you want to get some reading in.

If your next trip is to the beach or on a boat, the Kobo Clara 2E is waterproof for up to an hour in as deep as 2 meters of water. This e-reader is also a sustainable option, as its exterior was made with over 85% recycled plastic. 

Also: Protect your eyes with the best blue light screen protectors

This e-reader also offers a glare-free touchscreen with ComfortLight Pro, so you can change the brightness and color temperature to lessen blue light reduction while you read your favorite book. 

If you're more of an audiobook listener while cooling by the pool or lake, this e-reader has both Bluetooth connectivity and an IPX8 waterproof rating. 

Review: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019, long-term test

Additionally, its battery life lasts up to six weeks, so you can get about 30 minutes a day of reading. Customize the screen with different light shades depending on the lighting conditions you are in.

A portable charger

Between taking photos, navigating a new place, or streaming your favorite content, traveling can quickly drains your phone battery. The best portable chargers can offer a quick fix to keep your phone powered on the go. 

Thanks to its lipstick-sized, cylindrical shape, the best part about this cable-free portable charger is that it makes for an easy carry. 

Also: The best iPhone power banks

The iWalk Mini Portable Charger eliminates the frustration of some bulkier portable chargers, which makes it feel like I'm holding two phones. Plus, it's affordable, costing only $26 at the time of writing. 

Equipped with foldable prongs, as well as USB-C and USB-A ports, this cable charger can charger two phones at once. 

It is capable as both a wall charger and a portable power bank, so this is an easy two-for-one option if you just want to pack one charger to go with you for your excursion, rather than risking leaving multiple chargers behind. Plus, the charger gives a quick charge, which is ideal when you're on the move.

Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack attaches to the back of your iPhone via a magnet. You can get an additional charger of anywhere between 40% and 70%, depending on the model of your iPhone 12, 13, or 14. 

Review: Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Power on the go

It's thin and lightweight, so you won't have to bother with sorting through cables or holding onto an extra power bank. With a simple design, this portable charger gets the job done with no fuss. 

A smart water bottle 

Between hot weather, high altitudes, and low humidity from air travel, it's important to stay hydrated. A smart water bottle is a good way to stay accountable, track your daily water intake, and send reminders to take sip from your bottle. Just be sure you empty it out before going through airport security to avoid confiscation. 

This award-winning smart water bottle uses Purvis technology to rid your bottle and water of up to 99% of bio-contaminants, including E.Coli. 

You can buy an insulated or non-insulated option and with a double-wall vacuum stainless steel design, you can keep water cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. The Larq water bottle also cleans itself automatically every two hours. 

If you need some water-intake accountability, the Hidrate Spark Tap has glowing reminders that light up hourly for a duration of 12 hours. 

Also: The self-care desk accessory you didn't know you needed

The user-friendly HidrateSpark app interface allows for easy tracking simply by tapping your phone on the "Tap to Track" tag at the bottom of the water bottle. 

Looking to save even more space in your bag? This water bottle can hold up to 17 ounces of water and weighs less than a pound. It also doubles as a charger for your phone and the 5700mAh battery can be removed when you need to clean the bottle. 

With USB-C connection, you can use up to two full phone charges, which will be more than handy if you're going on a day trip. Liquids stay cold for 36 hours or stay hot for 14 hours. 

You might also need: 

Speakers, e-readers, portable chargers, and smart water bottles are some of ZDNET's essential on-the-go tech items, but there are other gadgets to check out that could make travel easier and more comfortable. Check out options like a portable neck fan, waterproof and sandproof blankets, and more. 

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