25 Must-Pack Summer Travel Essentials Under $25
Don't take a trip without these must-haves.
Whether you want to galavant through Greece or relax on the beach on Rose Island, there’s no time quite like the summer to make those wanderlust dreams a reality. With Summer Fridays and the kids out of school for the season, this is probably the only time of year when you can actually get the whole gang together for that family vacation you keep meaning to take. (Or, if you’re one of the lucky parents whose kids go to sleepaway camp, it might just be the only time when you and your spouse can take that romantic getaway you’ve been dreaming of.)
Before you hop on the plane or pack up the car and go, make sure you familiarize yourself with these summer travel essentials—from gadgets to pint-sized beauty products—that take the hassle out of traveling. And for more great vacation buys, check out these 30 Stylish Summer Hats Under $30.
Best Life’s editors have scoured the internet to bring you the best products out there, and we’re hoping you’ll love them as much as we do. Full disclosure: we may earn a commission for anything you purchase through links on this page, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay more for them (we’d never do that to you!). Pricing and availability are accurate as of the piece’s initial publication date, but it’s the internet and we can’t guarantee that these sweet, sweet deals will last forever, so scoop them up before someone else does!
This Inflatable Travel Pillow
$23; buy now at Amazon
Sleeping on an airplane is no easy feat. However, if you have a long trip ahead of you, then you should do everything in your power to make the most of your down time. Thankfully, this affordable inflatable travel pillow easily transforms any airplane seat into a bona fide bed. With a 72 percent approval rating from Amazon customers, rest assured—pun intended—that you’ll be able to sleep soundly with this bad boy supporting your neck.
This All-in-One Passport Holder and Wallet
$15; buy now at Etsy
Why juggle a bulky wallet and passport holder when you can combine them into one sleek and chic unit? And not only does this all-in-one accessory hold your credit cards and your passport, but it also has a slot for your checkbook and a pen. Genius!
This Mini Set of Makeup Brushes
$15; buy now at BH Cosmetics
Though makeup is a must on any glamorous getaway, the last thing you want to do is waste precious suitcase space on bulky products. The solution? This mini brush set from BH Cosmetics. For only $15, it provides six different face and eye brushes, plus a pale pink bag that you can use to store your products.
This Pocket-Size Sunscreen Spray
$10; buy now at Target
Sunscreen is expensive, so if you’re traveling anywhere where you plan on being outside for a majority of the day, you should always pack some SPF. And if you don’t plan on checking a bag, we recommend picking up something small like this Sun Bum 1.8 oz. spray. It has the same sunburn-preventing qualities as its larger brethren, but it falls well within the TSA’s liquid guidelines.
This On-the-Go Pack of Sleep-Promoting Gummies
$7; buy now at Sephora
Between time changes and the awkwardness of being in a new place, sleeping soundly on vacation is no easy feat. Luckily, these gummies from Sephora can help you fall asleep faster on those nights when you struggle to drift off. With ingredients like melatonin, L-theanine, and chamomile, they’re specifically formulated to banish any thoughts keeping you up and promote a restful night of slumber.
This Travel-Friendly Coffee Maker
$20; buy now at Bloomingdale’s
Even on vacation, nothing beats a fresh, homemade cup of coffee. And if you’re the type of person who needs their home-brewed pour-over every a.m., then you won’t want to go anywhere without this awesome travel accessory. All you have to do is add ground beans, pour hot water over it, and voila: coffee! Even when you return home from your travels, you can keep using this cup to brew coffee before work every morning.
These Travel-Proof Folding Sunglasses
$12; buy now at Zappos
You need stylish sunglasses for your summer vacation, but you don’t want to risk your designer shades getting crushed in transit. The solution? These foldable sunnies from Vans. Not only are they entirely affordable, but their design makes it so that they’re nearly indestructible. They’re the perfect pair of travel shades!
This Leaf-Shaped Travel Laundry Bag
$15; buy now at Urban Outfitters
This on-the-go laundry bag is designed to be as functional as it is fierce. The leaf design for the bag was chosen not just because it’s cute, but also because it allows the bag to take up just a sliver of vertical space in your suitcase rather than a lot of horizontal room.
This Gold Pineapple Beach Bag
$24; buy now at Francesca’s
Look your best at the beach on vacation this summer with this golden pineapple-emblazoned tote from Francesca’s. It’s got plenty of room for a towel, a frisbee, a water bottle, some snacks—all of the beach accessories you can think of and more! And for more arm candy, snag one of these 27 Gorgeous Luxury Beach Bags You Can Use All Year.
This Portable Pocket Charger
$30$15; buy now at Amazon
On vacation, your cell phone is your everything. It’s your navigator, your camera, your means of communication—seriously, what can’t it do? However, using your phone so frequently takes a toll on your battery, which is why you need a portable charger. This one from Belkin will power up your phone up to 1.5 times per charge, and it’s slim enough to carry around in any pocketbook or pair of pants.
This Quick Dry Beach Towel
$20; buy now at Dock & Bay
Bulky beach towels have a tendency to take up the majority of your suitcase space. Thankfully, you can save some precious room the next time you go on a beach getaway with this quick dry towel from Dock & Bay. It’s so compact that it even fits inside its own tiny matching drawstring bag.
These Handy Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
$10 for 12; buy now at Amazon
If you’re traveling to a place that’s swarming with mosquitos, then these bracelets will keep the bugs at bay while you swim, hike, explore, eat, and do all of the things that make a vacation riveting and relaxing. Since carrying around a citronella candle is less than practical, these bug repellent bracelets are the next best option.
This Light Sweater For the Plane
From $20; buy now at Old Navy
Whether it’s a sweltering summer day in August or a frigid Friday in December, you can pretty much guarantee that any plane you get on is going to be freezing cold. That’s why you need to show up prepared with a light sweater—something like this fashion-forward open-front number from Old Navy. It’s cheap, it’s casual, and it gets the job done. Perfect!
This Handy Kit That Will Keep Your Face Looking Fresh in the Air
$20; buy now at Free People
One of the worst things about flying is what it does to your skin. Luckily, Patchology makes a special set of FlashPatches specifically designed for on-the-go use. This $20 set comes with gel patches that awaken tired eyes, hydrating lip patches that heal chapped lips, and two sheet masks for instantly rejuvenated and revitalized skin.
These Colorful Packing Cubes
$16; buy now at Target
The reason you’re always running out of space in your suitcase isn’t because your bag is too small—it’s because you aren’t packing as efficiently as possible. If you really want to maximize your minimal space, then you need to invest in packing cubes like these colorful ones from Target. Not only do they ensure that you’re fitting as much as you physically can into each of your bags, but they also keep all of your belongings organized and neat.
This Mini Detangling Brush
$12; buy now at Barney’s
Don’t compromise the quality of your hair brush while on the road. Instead of investing in a tiny compact brush that causes tangling and knots, spend a few extra dollars on a miniature version of one of the best brushes on the market: Harry Josh Pro Tools’ Detangling Brush. Its flexible bristles can break through even the most unruly of tresses, so your hair can remain the mane attraction.
This Aloe-Infused Lotion
$21; buy now at The Body Shop
You’ll regret going on a summer vacation without aloe vera in tow. But if you don’t feel like bringing a big bottle of the stuff on top of all your other beauty products, then consider investing in this aloe-infused lotion from The Body Shop instead. Between the aloe vera in it and its SPF properties, this lotion is ideal for both pre- and post-sunburn use.
This Compact Umbrella For Rainy Days
$10; buy now at Target
This compact umbrella is the perfect “just in case” accessory to bring on vacation for those rainy days. At just 8 inches when folded up, it’s compact enough that it’ll fit in most backpacks, purses, and briefcases, but still big enough to shield you when it’s raining cats and dogs.
This Jewelry Organizer
$16; buy now at Amazon
Every woman can attest to the fact that traveling with loose jewelry is a recipe for disaster. By the time you unpack your bag, half of your rings are MIA, and your necklaces have tangled into one giant ball.
Thankfully, though, this jewelry organizer prevents all of the jewelry-related problems that traveling can cause. And not only that, it’s also perfectly designed to display every last bracelet and brooch for when it comes time to pick outfits.
This Collapsible Water Bottle
$25; buy now at Uncommon Goods
Save plastic and space with this collapsible water bottle from Uncommon Goods. When you’re ready to fill it up, it converts into your run-of-the-mill water bottle—but until then, it sits idly in your backpack fully flat, taking up no more room than a chocolate chip cookie or miniature frisbee would.
This Fashionable Fanny Pack
$25; buy now at ASOS
In case you haven’t heard, fanny packs are back in fashion. And that’s great news for anyone who’s about to take a trip, because these nostalgia-inducing bags are just as functional as they are funky. With a fanny pack as your travel accessory, you’ll have both hands free for eating, texting, and shopping, plus you’ll never have to worry about a pickpocket grabbing your wallet.
This Portable Bluetooth Speaker
$35$25; buy now at Best Buy
No beach bash or camping extravaganza is complete without some tasteful tunes. With this compact portable speaker from Sony, you can provide the soundtrack to all your summer vacations without ever missing a beat—literally.
This Underwater Camera
$13; buy now at Forever 21
They might be slightly childish, but silly underwater pool and ocean pics are tons of fun to take nonetheless. And with this waterproof camera costing just $13, it’s hard to turn down the opportunity to make a few silly faces and snap a few photos below the water’s surface.
This Wrinkle-Eliminating Spray
$15 for 3; buy now at Nordstrom Rack
As much as you’d love to bring them along on vacation with you, packing your ironing board or steamer is hardly practical. What is practical, however, is bringing along a bottle of this wrinkle-be-gone spray from Lewis N Clark. It’s designed not just to rid your clothing of wrinkles, but also to make clothes smell like they’re fresh out of the laundry.
These Fuzzy Socks
$5 for 2 pairs; buy now at Nordstrom Rack
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