Best Travel Tech Gifts: Gadgets for the Journey and the Destination
Whether you're buying for an international jetsetter or an occasional traveler, there's a good gift idea on this list.
John FalconeSenior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
ExpertiseOver 20 years experience in electronics and gadget reviews and analysis, and consumer shopping adviceCredentials
Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
Air travel in 2023 has edged past 2019 levels which means vacationers are back to doing what they love. That said, many passengers are still relying on years-old luggage and accessories. So with that in mind, new travel gear can make a wonderful gift idea.
We understand the struggle of finding the right travel tools for every type of trip and have put together this handy guide to help. Below is our collection of the best travel tech gifts for this year, including the latest power accessories, action cameras, noise-canceling headphones and more. If you're shopping for the jet-setter in your life, or wish to upgrade your travel essentials, you'll discover lots of great options below.
Battery Life Rated up to 32 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating
If you're looking for the best of the best when it comes to noise-canceling headphones, the current full-size Sony models are the king of the hill. Sony has made some dramatic improvements with voice-calling performance as well as even better noise canceling and more refined sound.
The addition of USB and USB-C ports to travel adapters has been one of the nicer upgrades in recent years. We've personally tested and used this model, which will work pretty much everywhere in the world, and includes a passthrough plug for you to plug in a laptop or other standard device too. (Note that this won't convert voltage, but that means it will still work with virtually any gadget except for things like hair dryers and curling irons.)
The new AirPods Pro 2 with MagSafe (USB-C) are nearly identical to their Lightning predecessor, delivering the same excellent sound and voice-calling performance. And that also means they are among the best headphones to fly with, thanks to their superior noise-canceling abilities. Pop these in during a flight and let the cabin noise melt away. Read our Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.
You can get plenty of snap-on magnetic battery packs for iPhones (and Android phones) these days, but the Anker MagGo 622 rises above the pack thanks to a nice combination of features. In addition to being light, it's got a fold-down stand which perfectly nestles on a plane or train tray table, so you can watch a video on your phone while it juices up (it supports passthrough charging via USB-C). Seek out the $40 sale price on this one (it's sometimes closer to $50 on Amazon).
You can't ask for a better travel companion than the JBL Go 3. It sounds great for its (tiny) size, it's waterproof and it recharges via USB-C. The Go 3 is available in a variety of fun colors, too. It's a great way to enjoy music in your hotel room, on a picnic or anywhere in between. Pro tip: It's worth waiting for this model to drop to $30, which it does during frequent online sales.
I have two of these chargers: one by my desk, and one permanently nestled in my travel bag. With two USB-C ports and a single USB-A port and a max output of 65 watts, it can charge everything I own, from my laptop to my headphones and all devices in between. Yes, the output and charging time varies when you plug in multiple devices, but it's still a single mini power adapter rather than the two to three I used to travel with.
A good backpack with lots of pockets is a must. Among other things, pockets keep your tech stuff organized. At CNET we're fans of the Solgaard Lifepack. It comes with the standard things you'd expect -- a padded compartment for your laptop, nifty pockets for your phone and sunglasses -- but it's also got a few secret pockets for valuables and an anti-theft lock on the inside. One of the most handy features is the built-in power bank with a Bluetooth speaker. You can charge it in a regular wall outlet and there's also a solar panel on the front so it can slowly recharge when you're out and about. Skip the speaker for a thinner powerbank and you'll save a bit.
This 2022 GoPro includes a novel image sensor that captures video in a square-ish 8:7 native aspect ratio, allowing it to be cropped down to standard widescreen or vertical-friendly versions -- perfect for anyone who's capturing video to do double duty on YouTube and TikTok, for instance. Better image stabilization and color depth is also on board. You can shave down the price by $100 if you opt for the subscription option via GoPro.com (which includes automatic cloud uploading). And while the GoPro Hero 12 is now available, the 11 gives a large slice of the same features at a slightly more affordable price.
Whether you're watching a movie on a flight, trying to distract the kids on a long road trip or just curling up on the couch, the iPad is a great travel-friendly gadget. This 2021 model is compatible with the first-gen Apple Pencil and the Apple Smart Keyboard, so it can even double as a decent makeshift laptop in a pinch. (If you want USB-C compatibility to match your new iPhone 15, you'll need to spend up for a 10th-gen iPad or an iPad Mini.)
For something a bit different from the standard action cam, try the Insta360 One X2. This nifty little camera lets you shoot cool 360-degree video and edit it easily on your phone. It has an "invisible selfie stick" and great image stabilization so you can get dronelike shots without the drone. There's also a cool bullet-time mode that lets you swing it around your head for awesome aerial panning videos. Adults and kids alike will have a lot of fun with this.