Budget Travel

Stylish Steals for the Polished Traveler

From travel-day wear and packing essentials to creature comforts and splurge items, we've got the gear that'll keep you going.

You've seen them at the airport and at the train station; you may know them personally, or you might even be one of them yourself—those people who practically float through the terminal, not a hair out of place or a bead of sweat in sight. The secret to such serenity? Having the right tools for the job, and our picks will do the trick.

1. A Trusty Sidekick

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Still trying to make it to your gate while lugging a bulky bag and pulling an unwieldy rollaboard? Streamline your approach with Away's trim, handsomely designed tote. Equally appropriate as an under-seat personal item and a weekend-trip carry-all, it has a pocket for everything—laptop, tablet, phone, notebooks, pens, even a wet umbrella—but the external sleeve that slides over your suitcase handle and lets you wheel the two together is the real game-changer. When used on its own, the handles are sturdy and amply padded, and there’s a removable crossbody strap for hands-free shlepping. We like it in the sturdy, water-resistant nylon, but if you’re really looking to splurge, the limited-edition leather versions receive rave reviews too.
The Everywhere Bag, from $195; awaytravel.com.

2. An Optical Illusion

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When you’re on the go, leggings are one of the most comfortable things you can put on your body; the downside, of course, is that they rarely look as good as they feel. This faux-leather pair from Spanx will give your travel-day outfit a stylish upgrade: They’re effortless and form-fitting, as leggings should be, but the matte finish makes them look like the real-leather deal, with a gentle sheen instead of the bright, cheap-looking glare of other synthetic fabrics. And not for nothing, the brand best known for its shapewear has a way with spandex. Here, the natural waistband contours and supports for a smooth silhouette, so you’ll seem pulled together, even on the laziest day.
Faux leather leggings, from $98; spanx.com.

3. A Versatile Cover-up

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Pair your swank new leggings with another travel-day essential: a light, slouchy, easy on-and-off layer that’ll let you breeze through security and keep you cozy in transit. With its loose fit, deep, angled pockets, and stretchy, wrinkle-resistant modal fabric, prAna’s soft, dolman-sleeve cardigan does just that. Stash one in your daypack in case the air-conditioning kicks in or the weather shifts, and you'll be well prepared for frigid temps.
Foundation Wrap, $69; prana.com.

4. A Magic Hat

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Tossing and turning on that overnight flight is bad enough; you shouldn’t have to deal with a wild ‘do on top of a lack of sleep. This trilby-style fedora from Goorin Bros. lets you roll off the plane without giving your hair a second thought: It folds to take up minimal space in your bag and pops back into shape remarkably well, its paper-straw construction and moisture-wicking sweatband combine to keep you from overheating, and its striped-grosgrain ribbon adds a chic touch. And while the straw might lend it a warm-weather vibe, the neutral color palette means it’ll pair with pretty much anything, so it won’t be one of those things you pack and never wear.
Keep It Real hat, $50; goorin.com.

5. A Makeup Must-Have

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If you have an extensive skincare regimen or makeup routine, this Sephora Collection organizer is the solution to your packing needs. With elastic loops for your brushes, two removable, vinyl-lined storage cubes for your products, and a flat zippered pouch (also removable), for your toiletries, it’ll hold everything you need for your journey, and you won’t find yourself rummaging around in a bottomless Dopp kit once you hit the hotel bathroom, either. Pro tip: If you’re flying, use the pouch for your liquids and carry it separately, popping it back into the case after you’ve cleared the scanners.
Pack It All Organizer, $45; sephora.com.

6. A Clean Sweep

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Feeling less than fresh in flight? This travel kit from Recess comes with an assortment of individually packaged, biodegradable wipes that’ll let you leave your toiletry case in the overhead bin. Try the witch hazel–based face wipes, laced with soothing green-tea extract and revitalizing green-apple extract, to knock out bacteria; the anti-inflammatory aloe wipes to moisturize and heal; and the tea-tree-oil deodorant wipes to knock out nasty odors. They’re all non-comedogenic, so they won’t clog pores, and they’re free of sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, and a whole slew of other bad-news ingredients, so you’ll feel safe using them—and won’t offend your fellow passengers in the process.
Kit 301: Travel Kit, $26; myrecess.co.

7. A Reliable Rinse

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Dressing in head-to-toe black is one way of disguising unsightly spills and stains, but to avoid such embarrassments entirely, pack a provisional laundry kit in case of sartorial emergencies. This set from the Laundress includes two-ounce bottles of wrinkle-releasing solution, fabric freshener, and a static-zapping spray, as well as stain packets that work wonders on tannin-heavy substances like coffee and red wine, and a semi-miraculous bar of soap that can be used to pretreat and hand-wash anything that needs it. Why pay to send your delicates out when you can take care of them yourself?
On the Spot kit, $31; thelaundress.com.

8. A Real Eye-Opener

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Sure, you could use Thrive’s cushy, oversized eye mask en route to your destination, though it’s a bit heavier and bulkier than the ones we normally recommend. But we’ve found that it’s most effective as a recovery tool once you’ve touched down, thanks to its massaging gel beads and hot/cold capabilities. Throw it in your hotel-room microwave and heat it up to treat symptoms of travel stress like headaches, sinus pain, and even soreness from tight shoulders or clenched jaws, or stick it in the freezer for cool relief for puffy, bloodshot eyes. Regardless, it's a soothing, non-prescription restorative for what ails you.
Hot/cold eye mask with gel beads, $13; amazon.com.

9. A Tiny Treasury

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Don’t fancy sporting the same neckwear each day you’re away? Pack a variety of ties and keep them wrinkle-free with this tidy cylindrical case from UncommonGoods. The vegan-leather caddy holds three at a time, and it’s a mere four-by-three-by-three inches in size, so you won’t sacrifice space in your bag to do so. Grab one for yourself, and gift one to your favorite fashion plate.
The Necktie Travel Roll, $24; uncommongoods.com.

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