July 20, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

The Best Travel Gear of 2021, According to Our Readers

The Best Travel Gear of 2021, According to Our Readers

2021 was an up and down year to say the least. Many of us returned to travel, albeit still closer to home than we might have otherwise planned. Still, though, getting back on planes and checking into hotels again was a welcome change from the year prior—and with that came a refresh in our travel gear. We took a look back on what products resonated most with Condé Nast Traveler readers last year. Below, you’ll find the 15 most-purchased Traveler-recommended items in 2021, from face shields for added protection on the go to a cover for your vaccination card to comfortable clothing to wear in transit and at home. Consider these our best travel gear recommendations of 2021, available to shop now in case you missed any the first time around.

Face shields

ZShield Wrap face shield

A favorite of former Traveler editor Stephanie Wu, who brought it on a 16-hour flight, this face shield extends from the neck up, rather than the forehead down. Wear it over a mask for extra protection in crowded spaces.

Polaroid face shield

Another popular face shield: this Polaroid style, which you can find at Nordstrom. It has an adjustable strap to secure it around your forehead, decorated with Polaroid’s signature rainbow logo on either side, and a curved design to reduce fogging and up the comfort level.

Face masks

Jaanuu Antimicrobial Finished Face Mask (5-pack)

Face masks were unsurprisingly a much-purchased item last year, with Jaanuu’s leading the pack. Made out of the same antimicrobial-treated fabric as the brand’s scrubs, these fabric masks come in a set of five, and have soft, stretchy ear loops.


Away The Bigger Carry-On

There’s no doubt Traveler readers love Away—in fact, it was ranked number one in the 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards’ luggage category. The brand’s larger carry-on was the crowd favorite; it’s a great size for long weekend trips, and fits into most any overhead bin, even on smaller planes.

Béis The Weekender Bag

A personal favorite of mine, this Béis bag is the ideal weekender with plenty of thoughtful details: There’s a separate bottom compartment to store shoes, toiletries, or dirty clothes, a padded laptop sleeve in the main compartment, and a trolley sleeve that zips closed to use as a pocket when you need it.

Anti-fog spray

Gamer Advantage FogAway

To avoid mask fog, Traveler readers turned to this $15 Amazon buy. A few spritzes every couple days will keep your glasses or sunglasses clear.

A snow shoe accessory

Yaktrax Pro traction cleats

Traveler contributor Ashlea Halpern turned us on to these affordable cleats, which wrap around any kind of shoe to give you more traction in snowy, slushy, or otherwise slippery conditions. She’s worn them everywhere from Alaska to Niagara Falls and Norway.

Vaccination card holders

Vida vegan leather vaccination card holder

Another very 2021 buy: a vax card holder. This vegan leather Vida case was a popular pick; its metal clip allows you to loop it onto a backpack, purse, or keychain for easy access. For the minimalists out there, this clear sleeve was a hit, too.

A pouch to hold all your tech accessories

Bellroy Tech Kit

As part-working, part-leisure vacations become much more common, we all needed to keep our cords organized as we moved our work-from-home set-up to a hotel or vacation rental. Bellroy’s tech kit does so beautifully, with a mix of slip pockets and elastic loops that give each item its own place.

Packable jackets

32 Degrees ultra-light down long jacket

One of our top picks when it comes to lightweight jackets that will keep you warm, this 32 Degrees jacket hits mid-thigh, giving you more range of mobility than a full-length parka, but still that extra bit of coverage you want on chilly days. Lucky for you, it’s also majorly on sale right now.

Comfortable pants from Zella

Zella Live In Pocket Joggers

Zella Live In High Waist Leggings

When it comes to comfortable clothing, Zella does it right. The brand, a perennial favorite during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, accounted for several of our top-sold products last year, from the Live In Pocket Joggers (available in men’s and women’s sizes) to the ever-popular high waist leggings and the pocket 7/8 leggings.

Amazon leggings

Quuenieke leggings

A basic black legging will always be a travel essential, and while some of our favorites come from well-known athleisure brands (Lululemon, Outdoor Voices), this $20 pair from Amazon—well-suited for lounging, flying, or sitting in the car—stacks up against the best of ‘em.

True & Co. bras

True & Co. True Body triangle bralette

True & Co. True Body lift V-neck bralette

Another travel wardrobe essential: comfortable bras. True and Co. styles were particularly popular this year, with the triangle bralette and V-neck bralette among the most-purchased. Both are sans underwire and seamless, for smooth lines under a T-shirt and maximum comfort, whether you’re sitting for hours in the backseat or curled up in a lie-flat.

Ear plugs

Fishstar three-layer ear plugs

Recommended by Traveler contributor Emily Price for side sleepers that need more secure earplugs, this pair is made of a soft silicone that she says is super comfortable to wear overnight.

A super soft T-shirt

Caslon rounded V-neck T-shirt

One more popular style pick last year: this Caslon V-neck from Nordstrom, a loose-fitting shirt that comes in all the classic neutral colors—black, white, grey, and navy—plus a few patterned options.