April 22, 2024

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Traveling Around the World

20 Under-$100 Travel Must-haves, According to Our Editors

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Now that spring is in full swing, it’s time to break out your favorite warm-weather clothing and accessories that keep you cool, comfortable, prepared, and stylish on the go. That includes everything from breathable, figure-flattering bike shorts to a cute, adorned padded laptop sleeve. And if you don’t have a trip planned in the near future, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little resort-quality extravagance at home from a luxurious candle or reed diffuser

Whether you’re staying local this spring or jetting off to an exotic destination, you don’t have to break the bank for the best travel essentials. These are the items Travel + Leisure editors have been buying and loving this month for trips and everyday life. The best part? Everything is priced at less than $100 so you can adhere to a budget and still enjoy these curated picks. Keep scrolling for 20 editor-loved, surprisingly affordable items that you can shop online right now.

Beauty By Earth Ice Roller

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

“Lately, whenever I come home from a trip, I go straight to my freezer and take out my ice roller for an instant pick-me-up. If I have puffy eyes, irritated skin, a little headache, or just feel tired, using it over my face and neck tends to do the trick. (Just make sure you’ve washed your face first, and moisturize after.) It’s my new $14 anti-jet lag secret.” — Nina Ruggiero, Digital Editorial Director 

LifeProof FRĒ SERIES Waterproof Case

LifeProof FRĒ SERIES Waterproof Case for iPhone 12

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

“I’ve been using a Lifeproof case to protect my smartphone for years, and it’s offered me so much peace of mind for adventuring outdoors while also saving me from having to splurge on screen and phone replacements. It shields my phone’s ports, mic, and speakers from outside elements, including dust, is waterproof to 6.6 feet for up to an hour, and is shock-proof up to 6.6 feet (for those clumsy individuals, like myself). I’ve dropped my phone in fresh powder while skiing and splashed it during kayak outings, but I didn’t freak out (and run for a bag of rice) or have to worry about it malfunctioning thanks to this case. Unlike other protective cases, the FRE model is perfect for minimalists who prefer a slim, stylish design that will easily fit in your pocket or handbag and also look great in your hand. This level of protection usually comes with a high price tag, but right now, Amazon has discounted my go-to case to nearly 50 percent off, making it the perfect time to invest in one for yourself.”  — Susan Brickell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce Travel

Madewell Maggie Sandals

The Maggie Sandal in Colorblock

Credit: Courtesy of Madewell

“I’ve been looking for comfy yet stylish sandals for spring and summer, and this pair from Madewell checks all the boxes. It has a supportive footbed, secure straps, and a slight platform for just a bit of height. The sandals are already affordable at $68, but sometimes you can catch them on sale for an even better deal if you’re lucky (I’ll certainly be on the lookout).” — Madeline Diamond, Associate Ecommerce Editor

Spanx Booty Boost Active Bike Shorts

Booty Boost® Active Bike Shorts, 5″

Credit: Courtesy of Spanx

The Spanx Booty Boost Leggings are already my go-to travel bottoms, so I can’t wait to make the transition to the brand’s bike shorts from the same line once the weather gets warmer. The flattering shorts are made from the same four-way stretch material as my favorite leggings, and they also have a high-rise waistband that always stays put. But my favorite part is that the shorts have a hidden back pocket, so I can store my phone and keys there while I’m out for a walk or running errands.” — Rebecca Carhart, Senior Ecommerce Writer + Strategist

America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass

2022 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass

“Eight months into the pandemic, I began to feel super restless and wanted to start making moves in the world again, so I bought a national park annual pass and took my first solo trip: an 8-day hiking trip in Arizona and Utah, visiting the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon. The pass acts as your entrance to 2,000+ federal recreation sites, national parks, wildlife refuges and forests; it not only covers entrance, but also vehicle and day use fees (for up to four adults at sites that charge per person), which was helpful when I traveled with friends to Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, and Mount Rainier the following summer. I found it so cost-effective over the course of a year that I’ve gotten another annual pass for 2022. And consider this: Many national parks require a $20-$35 entrance fee (that gives you entry for a week with a car), so I would have spent up to $210 in entrance fees without this $80 pass.”  — Susan Brickell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce Travel

Offline By Aerie Sidewalk Seamless Cropped T-Shirt

OFFLINE By Aerie Sidewalk Seamless Cropped T-Shirt

Credit: Courtesy of Aerie

“I’ve been looking to venture into cropped and more fitted workout tops and couldn’t find anything that was equal parts cute, supportive, and flexible that doesn’t ride up. However, I stumbled across the Offline By Aerie Sidewalk Seamless Cropped T-Shirt and now have one in three colors (and counting)! It’s perfect for working out and lounging, plus it can be worn as a casual top — I’ve even worn it to brunch with a skirt!” — Emily Belfiore, Ecommerce Writer 

To buy: ae.com, $27 (originally $35)

Merit Signature Lip Lipstick

Credit: Courtesy of Merit

“I’ve had the chance to try several products from Merit’s beauty line, and when they offered to let me test their latest launch, a collection of hydrating lipsticks, I was quite excited. The Signature Lip Lightweight Lipstick is made with plant-derived squalane and sunflower seed oil for a hydrating feel, as well as papain enzyme and vitamin C to soothe lips and reduce the appearance of fine lines. I’ve been loving the shade Baby for a natural look that pairs with any outfit, day or night. Plus, with their moisturizing formula, the lipsticks are easy to apply, even without a mirror when you’re on the go.” — Madeline Diamond, Associate Ecommerce Editor

Fjällräven Kånken Water Resistant Backpack

Fjallraven Kånken Water Resistant Backpack

Credit: Courtesy of Nordstrom

“Despite having a large collection of backpacks, this Swedish-influenced pick is the one I reach for when I need more packing space, a water-resistant option, a pop of color to my outfit, or a bag I can take on an outdoorsy trip or for any type of travel. The lightweight fabric maintains its shape and is surprisingly durable — standing up to light rain, dirt, and wear and tear — and the adjustable canvas straps don’t dig into my shoulders when commuting, maneuvering through an airport, or toting the backpack on a low-key hike. It has a spacious main compartment that fits my 13-inch laptop (the backpack is nearly 15 inches tall), gym clothes, and a water bottle, and an exterior zippered pocket, which helps keep my wallet, keys, and cell phone close at hand. I’ve had mine for years, and there’s hardly a vacation in which it doesn’t make my packing list, so I’m in the market for a new colorway. Luckily, it comes in dozens of bright, bold shades and neutral hues that will seamlessly transition into your wardrobe and look great in travel ‘grams.”  — Susan Brickell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce Travel

about-face Light Lock Stick

Credit: Courtesy of About Face

“This highlighter is one of the best I’ve tried. It is super pigmented and glowy, but achieves its shine without making your skin look glittery or sparkly. The formula is blendable and melts into your skin for a lit-from-within sheen that can easily be built up to a strobing gleam. Compared to similar products, I’ve found that it’s more long-wearing and it helps make my skin look more illuminated and radiant.” — Emily Belfiore, Ecommerce Writer 

Nest New York Gray Malin Sicilian Tangerine Reed Diffuser

NEST New York Gray Malin Sicilian Tangerine Reed Diffuser

Credit: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

“A friend picked this up for me at one of my favorite beachy home decor shops in L.A. — a thoughtful gift not only because I love Gray Malin’s travel photography, but also because the bright bottle and citrusy scent instantly transport me to my happy place: Sicily in the summer.” — Nina Ruggiero, Digital Editorial Director 

UST Gear TekFire Charge Fuel-Free Lighter 

UST Gear TekFire Charge Lighter & Power Bank Fuel-Free Fire Starter Survival

Credit: Courtesy of Walmart

“I recently went on a multi-day camping trip and found this nifty gadget to be one of the most useful tools while road tripping and living away from modernity — especially considering I’d always left campfire-building to my dad growing up. The lighter is quick and easy to use and requires no butane fuel since it’s electronic and flameless (plus, the design is also windproof, so it can help you create a cozy campfire no matter the weather). But, my favorite feature of the lighter has to be the built-in power bank (FYI, it recharges fully in just three hours) that allows me to charge my smartphone so that I can continue using my hiking apps, texting with my family, and snapping photos to capture memories from my trip without fear of my battery dying.”  — Susan Brickell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce Travel

Alo Varsity Tennis Skirt

“Daylight savings has inspired me to do more outdoor activities —  one of my favorites being tennis. But with the recent heatwave in L.A., I found that I needed something breezy to wear on the courts to survive the scolding sun. This skort is perfect. Aside from being super cute, it has a flowy construction that made me feel instantly more comfortable in the heat, and its spandex shorts keep everything in place while minimizing chafing. There’s even a hidden pocket for tennis balls!” — Emily Belfiore, Ecommerce Writer 

Mighty Patch Original and Rescue Balm

Mighty Patch Original 36ct and Rescue Balm Bundle

Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

“Just like its name says, Hero Cosmetics has been a literal lifesaver for my skin. I’ve quickly become obsessed with the brand after trying the life-changing Mighty Patch. Who would’ve thought that my life would have come full circle being an adult talking about collecting stickers? But, here I am confessing that I hoard boxes of these just to make sure I’m ready for the next sequel of the attack of the zits to pop off. As soon as I feel one of those horrid inward pimples forming, I stick one of these bad boys on. Not only does it prevent me from trying to touch it, but it does all of the dirty work for me. I use the stickers sparingly, but the post-blemish cream I rub all over my face every night! I saw the difference instantly. It minimizes my pores to make them almost invisible while also knocking out any discoloration from past breakouts. I’ve looked the best I ever did without robbing the bank.” — Jaclyn Mastropasqua, Production Manager

Prana Railay Jumpsuit

Credit: Courtesy of Prana

“Ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you: I’m a jumpsuit queen. I have one for practically every occasion and season, and ever since we all started working remotely during the pandemic, I’ve been on the hunt for picks that strike a balance between being appropriate for an office setting — or at least Zoom meetings — and comfortable yet fashionable enough for travel and home wear. I currently have my eye on Prana’s Railay, a breathable and lightweight option made with four-way stretch fabric and moisture-wicking properties that will keep me cool and comfy for the impending warmer weather. I love that it can be easily dressed up with a blazer and stylish sneakers or worn casually with my favorite sandals and denim jacket. I tend to gravitate towards sweatpants or joggers for flights and road trips, but this soft jumpsuit is an elevated take that will make me feel much more put together when on the go.”  — Susan Brickell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce Travel

Hotel Lobby Candle

HOTEL LOBBY CANDLE 9.75 oz. Core Collection Linen Scented Candle

Credit: Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

“I had my doubts these candles would live up to the Instagram hype, but oh, they so do. I haven’t stopped burning my Miami candle since I bought it. I light it for a few hours a day and then a couple more at night! The scent is so light, clean, and luxe. I also love the Linen and Paris scents, and I’m dying to sniff the just-released Spa candle next. And I never forget to trim the wick with their golden wick trimmers — it’s a total moment. I keep meaning to give one away as a gift but I’m too tempted to keep them every time!” — Skye Sherman, Assistant Editor at Large

Society6 Lorien Stern Print Laptop Sleeve

Lawn Party Laptop Sleeve by Lorien Stern

Credit: Courtesy of Society6

“I’m in transit with a laptop in tow more and more often lately, so I’ve finally broken down and picked up a laptop sleeve to keep it safe. I don’t love fussy tech cases, so I was looking for something super basic but also fun to look at. This simple padded sleeve with a cheerful print by artist Lorien Stern is delivering on both accounts.” — Skye Senterfeit, Deputy Photo Editor

Vegamour GRO Hair Serum

Credit: Courtesy of Vegamour

“Blame it on old age, stress, covid or years of drugstore shampoo use,but my hair has been in desperate need of help. I’ve only used Vegamour’s GRO Hair Serum for a week and have seen a major difference. Usually, serums make my hair look greasy and gross, but Vegamour’s serum is the opposite! As soon as I put it on, it gives my hair new life and makes it look thicker and healthier. Not only does it help replenish and rejuvenate my scalp, but it also has this lovely smell that is an extra bonus feature.” — Jaclyn Mastropasqua, Production Manager

Béaba Clip Containers + Spoons

BEABA Clip Containers (Pack of 12) + Spoons

Credit: Courtesy of Babylist

“We’re prepping for our first trip with our little one, who is just starting solids, and I’m loving the feeding gear from Béaba. Their silicone-tip spoons are lightweight and have a narrow handle, which makes them easy to grip. The food containers are also super versatile. They have interlocking, spill-proof lids, so I feel good about tossing them in the insulated compartment of our diaper bag, and they can also go in the microwave if I need to warm something up.” — Sarah Bruning, Senior Editor

Smartwool Women’s Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks

Credit: Courtesy of Smartwool

“Smartwool makes my all-time favorite hiking socks — that I also use as everyday options with boots during the winter and even as slippers in my air conditioned-home in summer. I have accumulated countless pairs over the years and have found that the merino wool blend perfectly regulates my body temperature and prevents my feet from freezing on chilly nights or sweating and overheating on desert hikes. They are truly all-weather socks. I love the comfort, breathability, durability (even after years and heavy usage, my Smartwool socks still don’t have holes), light cushioning at the bottom of the foot, and the women-specific fit that ensures I have no excess sock fabric causing rubbing or blisters inside my boots. While some people might prefer solid or more neutral socks, I go for the cute printed styles with scenes of camping, starry nights, forests, and mountains. I find the patterns add a bit of flair to my hiking outfits, and I always get so many compliments on them.”  — Susan Brickell, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce Travel

Summer Hours, The Sample Set

Credit: Courtesy of Summer Hours

“There are few things I love more than perfume. I love the physical aesthetics of the bottles, as well as being able to line them all up on my shelf as decor. Mostly, I love changing scents with the shifting of the seasons: a spicier, warmer fragrance for the colder months and something fresh and light for the bright sunny days to come. I came across Summer Hours’ Instagram account and its ‘sipping spritzes on the Amalfi’ vibes immediately drew me in. The brand offers four different fragrances, all with the same motif that is the perfect perfume to wear while lying on a beach or on a sailboat somewhere. Each fragrance pulls on your olfactory memory with notes of cut grass, coconut, orange blossoms, fresh figs, lemon and sea salt to pick you up and drop you back in the middle of your favorite summer memory. Summer Hours offers a sample set for $40 to be able to try them all, and then if you want something a little larger, but still perfect for travel or throwing in your bag, the mini bottle is $60. I know I’ll be wearing Le Week End and 80° starting now.” — Alessandra Amodio, Digital Photo Editor