It’s 2019: What do you bring with you to make a trip better? Darpa is making robots that can jog up stairs, Google’s Deep Mind is so smart they had to turn it off, and there are sunglasses that can record your entire vacation and upload it to social media. So in honor of mankind’s accomplishments, we’ve given our inaugural Fodor’s Travel Tech & Gear award to the travel tech that does the best job of pulling its weight when you’re on the road and making you feel like you’re in 2029. From shirts that air-condition themselves to viral luggage to inclusive sizing, here’s the best in what to wear, what to bring, and what to pack it all in, according to us.


The Best Suitcase



If you’ve spent one minute in an airport over the last year, you’ve no doubt spotted those hard-shelled, wheeled suitcases with the horizontal grooves in a riot of different colors. That’s the Away bag. The female-owned online brand has a cult following that includes millennials and celebs. Away has managed to disrupt the snoozy luggage market by finding the sweet spot between cheap suitcases that fall apart and expensive bags that function perfectly but are perfectly unaffordable. The mid-priced Away suitcase is durable enough to come with a lifetime guarantee, looks sharp, and solves multiple travel problems: TSA-approved combination lock? Check. 360-degree spinner wheels? Check. Built-in charger with an ejectable battery? Check. Hidden laundry bag? Check. With all that functionality packed into a streamlined minimal design, Away is far and away the winner of Fodor’s Best Suitcase award.
Courtesy of Arlo Skye


Arlo Skye

If you still have PTSD from that time your unmentionables got scattered across the luggage conveyor belt because your bag’s zipper broke, we recommend the zipperless Arlo Skye suitcase. No temperamental zippers on this model; instead, the bag clamps completely shut with an aluminum frame and two TSA-friendly locks. The founders of the direct-to-consumer luggage brand are alumni of Louis Vuitton and Tumi, so it’s no coincidence their product is the perfect combo of luxury and functionality. The wheels are stunningly silent, and if you’ve been known to leave your damp bathing suit in your suitcase much longer than is hygienic, the antimicrobial interior lining is a godsend.

The Best Carry-On



Everyone you know with an Away loves their suitcase and there’s a reason why: It’s simply the best bag on the market in its price range. Sleek, stylish, and so smooth that doormen, taxi drivers, and luggage handlers will all comment on how nicely it rolls, this bag is batting way out of its league. If you don’t already own an Away Bigger Carry-On, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon with the bag that’s big enough to let you overpack and small enough to make it into most overhead compartments. Just don’t let them weigh your bag, or else they’ll find out just how much you’ve been able to cram inside.
Herschel Supply Co./Facebook



This cheap and chic carry-on fits enough for a short trip but still fits into even the tiniest of overhead compartments. In a playful range of colors and patterns like Ash Rose, Woodland Camo, Royal Hoffman (a blue background with a colorful spray of tulips) and even a Fodor’s Orange (actually called “Vermillion”), this case is a stylish statement. Interior zips and bungees keep everything together, and paired with Herschel’s organizers, this bag will turn you into somebody who loves the art of packing a suitcase.

The Best Personal Item



The sole personal item you get to take on the plane with you is your most important travel buddy. That one little bag that has to fit under the seat in front of you has to pull a lot of weight while not weighing you down. Like that one friend you can take anywhere, Everlane’s Modern Snap Backpack is as comfortable in the office as it is on a hike or anywhere in between. The generously padded interior compartment shields your laptop from shocks, and the pair of open slot side pockets make it easy to find those grab-and-go items you need constant access to. This tailored-looking bag looks better than most backpacks because the straps–rather than the usual dorky padded black ones–match the twill exterior, giving it a sophistication that ensures you won’t be mistaken for an eighth-grader when you wear it.
Courtesy of Paravel



It’s hard to argue with a backpack that folds up into basically, nothing. This full-size bag somehow fits everything you need and then stores flat into a teeny-tiny pouch when you don’t need it anymore. Use the Fold-Up Backpack by Paravel as your personal item on the plane, or pack it in your luggage to use on day-trips once you’re on the ground. It’s also handy as a back-up bag to lug home your dirty laundry or the extra booty you bought on that shopping expedition. Ultra lightweight and roomy, it’s even got a trolley sleeve so you can slide it over your wheelie bag handle.

The Best Travel App



At Fodor’s Travel, we get most excited about traveling far off the beaten path where there are no Starbucks, few influencers, and nowhere to buy an extra pair of hiking shoes in case you leave yours behind. That’s why we awarded PackPoint our Best Travel App award. Because it can predict what you’ll need based not only on your destination but the weather report; whether you’re headed for business, pleasure, or adventure; popular local activities; and other smart information, it can save your packing bacon before you leave the house.
Courtesy of App in the Air


App in the Air

“Do the Most” is one of our favorite travel mottos. And one of our favorite apps for doing the most when you finally hit the road is App in the Air. Whether you’re traveling once a month over a gap year, or traveling all over Europe on a two-week vacation, this app keeps track of all of your itineraries, boarding passes, frequent-flier miles, and even check-in and security waits to help lower the chance that you’ll miss a flight. While other apps (and even some phones) can keep some of your travel data together, we like App in the Air best because it gathers data from other travelers to let you know insider info like where to charge your phone at a small airport and where you can grab a bite when your flight gets in during the wee hours.

The Best Headphones



These headphones win for one supreme reason: comfort. On-ear headphones have a tendency to fatigue a listener’s ears or head, but the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC is made for long listening sessions. Featuring ergonomic(!) ear pads, you won’t feel the pressure of traditional headphones closing in on your brain. And if your long listening sessions just happens to be a transcontinental flight, these headphones have you covered with an active noise cancellation feature to ensure your sound is Sennheiser quality. The battery is outstanding, lasting up to 25 hours for a full day’s listen without a charge. The downside of most on-ear headphones for travelers--the bulk and size--is eliminated as well since these babies are foldable.
Courtesy of Jabra



These two styles of Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones from Jabra offer everything a traveler needs in listening capabilities in two different styles: the Elite 65t as in-ear buds and the Move Style Edition as on-ear. The in-ear Elite 65t battery life lasts around five hours; the docking case is half the size of your phone and also serves as a charger with two additional charges for a total of 15 hours served. The buds fit comfortably inside your ear due to three sizes of silicon EarGels, and operate flawlessly with voice command and fingertip controls. If you prefer a more traditional style of headset (and in our opinion, more comfortable) Move’s on-ear headset is super light and comfortable, with 14 hours of battery time and 12 days of standby time--perfect for any international flight. The best part of Jabra headphones? The price. The earbuds come in under $150 and the on-ear set comes in under $100. Now that is something we can get behind.

The Best Travel Camera


Pixel 3

This year, our favorite travel camera isn’t a DSLR or pricey mirrorless model. It’s the onboard camera on Google’s new Pixel 3 phone. We love this phone for most travelers because it’s one of the best camera phones on the market. Not only does it have a ton of megapixels (12.2 Megapixels with Image Stabilization, just slightly more than the latest iPhone) for startlingly-crisp photos, it has a host of other bells and whistles that help you nab gorgeous photos on the go without lugging around another piece of equipment. One of our favorite features? The camera auto-opens in about 1 second by pressing the volume button on the side of the phone, perfect for whipping it out to capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment before it’s gone. It has a night mode setting that captures club and night scenes better than most stand-alone point and shoots. And if you’re looking to add something extra to your Instagram stories, you’ll love the augmented reality settings which let you do things like make Childish Gambino and Iron Man pose for a photo on the Great Wall of China, which is pretty cool.
Meagan Bourne/Light Labs Inc



The Light L16 is a smartphone-sized, 16-lens, very cool camera straight out of the future. Designed for photo enthusiasts who don’t want to lug a camera around, Light uses its many lenses to capture very high resolution (52 megapixels) images and to offer a lot of zoom (28mm to 150mm) that are all customizable through a touch screen (that’s also great for on-camera editing) in the back. This camera is one of the most fascinating machines that you can get your hands on in 2019, and the perfect tool for better-than-smartphone photography in smartphone size. This camera probably would have won. But, not only is it $2,000 per unit but it's currently sold out. You can still find this tech on the Nokia 9 phone, but Light, if you're listening please bring this camera back.

The Best Travel Gadget


Spectacles V2

In our humble opinion, the best travel gadgets do more than make your vacation easier: they add a little fun to it. And Spectacles do a great job of giving you something more to look forward to on your next vacation. Right out of the future, Snapchat’s Spectacles V2 are a pair of sunglasses for uploading vacation moments. They take 360 video (meaning no matter where you move your phone, the uploaded image always looks fullscreen) and photos with a click of a button. You can even wear them underwater to do a little recording under the sea. Whether you already communicate with the world exclusively via Snapchat or are looking for a good reason to use it, Spectacles are a fun way to upgrade your vacation.
Courtesy of DJI


DJI Mavic Pro 2

Can you even imagine one billion colors? Even though our brains may have trouble discerning a color profile including that many colors, DJI Mavic Pro 2 has no problem at all. On top of that, this version tops the original Mavic Pro by enhancing image resolution from 12 to 20 Megapixels and widening the maximum ISO from 3200 to 12800. This gadget isn’t just impressive in terms of tech talk; the drone really delivers in practice. The Mavic Pro 2 makes it simple to create crystal clear, target-zoom videos during day or night, both time-lapse and real time. This means that videographers aren’t limited by lighting or moving targets, and can create vivid, high-resolution travel documentaries with ease.

The Most Inclusive Travel Wear



At Fodor’s we’ve always been proponents of the democratization of not only travel, but travel wear. And Uniqlo has become our favorite travel brand for inclusive outfitting. Their partnership with Hana Tajima’s gorgeous line of modest wear and hijabs, EXTRA SIZES up to XXL, and sizing for the statistically short and tall make this a one-stop shop for a wider range of travelers looking for something comfortable when they hit the road. They even feature cooling, quick-drying garments for hot weather travel, and clothing that turns sweat into heat when you’re visiting colder climes. One of our favorite Uniqlo features? Their steps toward sustainability, which includes a program that takes back used items and gives them to people around the world who are in need.
Universal Standard/Facebook


Universal Standard

In the grand tradition of getting in a little online shopping before heading out on a trip, Universal Standard stands head and shoulders above most retailers. Not only do they feature great basics that are versatile enough for going day to night virtually anywhere in the world, but they are available in inclusive sizes (up to size 32), and models on the site show you what each of those sizes look like on a human for fewer surprises (especially if you’re pre-trip shopping at what could be considered the last minute).

The Best Travel Pot


Lord Jones CBD

CBD-infused products are everywhere recently, and for good reason. This compound in marijuana helps you relax, get shut-eye even when you’re jet-lagged, and even relieve sore feet when you do too much sightseeing on your first day of vacation--so you can do too much tomorrow too. Our favorite CBD product? Lord Jones’ delightful gummy bears. They’re delicious, all natural, and contain the perfect amount of CBD in each gumdrop (20 mg) to provide a very chill sense of well being that makes airport chaos, coach seating, or even beautiful beach evenings that much better. And, best of all, pure CBD is legal if you’re traveling in the United States, and because it’s derived from select hemp cultivated in the USA, it’s even approved by the TSA.
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