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Traveling this holiday season? Here’s what you need to pack

The holidays can be filled with stress. There is often so much to do in such a short amount of time that it's hard to take a minute to slow down and just breathe. This is especially true for people who are traveling for the holidays. 

To have the best holiday travel experience, make sure you prepare for the journey as well as the destination.

In this video

BestReviews' Meredith Gallo joins Gary Gelfand to share important travel tips that will make your holidays more enjoyable.

How to travel in comfort

Airplanes may be the fastest way to travel long distances, but they aren't typically the most comfortable. One way to make the best of your journey is to bring something that engages you, such as a book on a Kindle, or something that isolates you from the environment, such as a pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you are looking for a high-end option, our testers recommend the AirPods Max or the Bose 700 over-ear wireless headphones. If a less expensive option is more suitable, we recommend the Soundcore by Anker headphones.

Another way to make travel time more desirable is to bring something that increases your comfort level. Our favorite flight accessory, especially if you have an early flight or a red eye, is a neck pillow.

Tips for staying organized

Things are going to get agitated inside your suitcase when you travel. There's no way to avoid that inevitability. However, there are a few things you can do to stay organized.

Using packing cubes, for instance, is an excellent way to keep everything in its place, no matter how much turbulence and tossing you encounter. Another excellent option is a toiletry bag. “When you're packing your carry-on it's always a good idea to make sure you have your medication in there and any kind of simple toiletries you might need,” Gallo said. A toiletry bag or Dopp kit can keep your personal care items accessible during travel and prevent them from accidentally spilling into your clothing. It also helps you keep all your grooming essentials in one convenient location once you arrive at your destination.

An often-overlooked area of organization is cables. To easily solve that problem, we recommend using brightly colored cable organizers to color-code your cables. This way you can easily find the right cable in a full carry-on or personal item. 

How to streamline your travel

If at all possible, we highly recommend bringing only a carry-on with you when you are traveling for the holidays. A good quality carry-on is worth the investment, especially if you travel frequently. Our favorite is the 22-inch carry-on by Briggs and Riley. While this carry-on has a number of notable design features including a flat packing surface and an expansion option to increase carrying capacity, Gallo noted the suitcase’s best-in-class wheels. “It has some of the best wheels on the market right now,” said Gallo. “They’re smooth and also super durable.”  

How to reduce checked-luggage stress

If you will be staying at your destination for an extended period or traveling with lots of gifts, it may not be possible to fit everything you need into one small carry-on. In this instance, you will have to check at least one piece of luggage. To help diminish anxiety around losing your luggage, we recommend packing an AirTag inside your luggage. This clever device from Apple lets you tag and track your suitcases using the company's Find My network. If your luggage doesn't show up where you expect it to be, simply check your phone to learn where it is at a glance.

Shop this segment

Apple AirTag

The Apple AirTag is a small, disk-shaped tracking device you can slip into your luggage so you always know where it is, even if the airline doesn't.

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Apple AirTag Leather Key Ring

The one downside of an Apple AirTag is that it is just a small disk, so it can be difficult to carry. This leather key ring gives you a secure way to ensure your AirTag is always easy to access.

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Apple AirPods Max

This top-of-the-line set of over-ear headphones can block out distracting environmental noise when traveling. It also offers an immersive listening experience using the company's spatial audio technology.

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Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones

If you prefer Bose, these headphones are a great option to take on a flight. Besides their superb audio quality, they offer 11 levels of active noise canceling to let you enjoy whatever you are doing without distractions.

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Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise-Canceling Headphones

These noise-canceling headphones from Anker are a budget-friendly option. While the immersive audio isn't quite as impressive as higher-end models, these headphones still perform exceptionally well.

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TravelMate Memory Foam Neck Pillow

Turn your airplane seat into a bed. This memory foam pillow lets you multitask with ease or catch up on your sleep while traveling. 

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Kindle Paperwhite

If you want something to help pass the time while traveling, a good book can help. The Kindle Paperwhite gives you faster page turns, longer battery life and room for more books.

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Reusable Cable Ties

This assortment of reusable cable ties comes in a variety of sizes and colors to handle your every organizational need.

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Vorspack Toiletry Bag

With this highly rated Dopp kit, you'll be able to safely store and carry all your toiletry items in one convenient location. It is made with durable polyester and sized to be compact, yet large enough for your needs.

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Briggs and Riley 22-Inch Baseline Essential Carry-On

You want your carry-on to be stylish, rugged, easy to transport and sized to meet airline guidelines. This model will satisfy all of those requirements and more. 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.