Skip to main content

The best travel accessories for designers

The best travel accessories
From backpacks to travel adapters, we've got you covered

Having the best travel accessories to hand can make the world of difference when it comes to comfort on your trip. And whether you're on the way to a creative conference, flying out to meet a client, or simply off to enjoy some of the world's most famous buildings, travelling is something that's best done light. 

You want to minimise the amount of clutter in your case, both to make it easier to physically move around and to lighten your mental load. Think small, think simple, and you'll be able to unwind faster and more effectively. That said, you still want to be comfortable while living on the road. 

As well as kitting yourself out with the essentials (see our guide to the best travel laptops, for example), there are a few accessories that can substantially improve the quality of your time away. If you're looking for Apple-specific items, check out our pick of the best iPad accessories. Meanwhile, if you're planning a trip to London, see our selection of the best hotels in London. The trick overall is to pick those items that offer maximum benefit at minimum size.

In this post we've picked the best travel accessories for designers that fit this bill exactly. From organising your devices to making you great coffee, these top travel accessories will all make your life easy without exceeding your weight limit.

Hyleton Worldwide Travel Adapter

The Hyleton Worldwide Travel Adapter comes with five USB charging ports

01. Hyleton Worldwide Travel Adapter

The best universal travel adapter

Ports: 4 USB Large 5.6A and 1 Type C 3.0A Fast Charging
Compatible with: US/EU/UK/AU/ plugs
Safety protection: Import PC 94vo fireproof plastic material
Product size: 73 x 54 x53mm
Working voltage: AC100240V
Reasons to buy
+Fits more than 150 countries+Includes multiple USB slots
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't work in every country

Wherever you're going and whatever you're doing, you're going to want power. So you have two choices. Every time you visit a new country, you could laboriously research and buy a new travel adapter. Or you could save yourself time and money over the years by getting a universal travel adapter.

Our favourite is the Hyleton Worldwide Travel Adapter. Okay, it's not truly universal (no plug really is). But by working in UK, US and Australian style sockets, it will be able to power your devices in more than 150 countries, which if you don't know your geography is most of them.

The adapter comes with four normal USB ports, and one USB C port, which supports fast charging for iPhone, Macbook, tablet and other devices. And yes, this means you can charge multiple items at one time. So for example, you could power up your hair straighteners, phone and tablet simultaneously, which is likely to save you a lot of time and hassle on a trip when time is tight. 

It's nicely compact and portable, comes with a hard travel case too, and the bright red stripe makes it easy to find if your case is full of similar-looking black devices. All in all, this adapter offers everything you could want, although it's always worth checking in advance that it will be compatible with the country you're visiting.

Jabra Elite Active 65t headphones

These wireless headphones deliver incredible audio quality

02. Jabra Elite Active 65t headphones

The best headphones for travelling

Dimensions: 3 x 2.5 x 2 cm
Weight: 63.5g
Batteries: 1 Lithium ion batteries (included)
Warranty: 2-year warranty against sweat and dust
Battery life: 5 hrs, 15 with charge case
Reasons to buy
+Great sound+Wire-free
Reasons to avoid
-Needs charging-In-ear style may not suit

Whether you listen to music, a podcast or an audiobook, it's nice to be able switch off while travelling. So it's worth investing in some decent headphones, and our favourites right now are these beauties from Jabra.

Compatible with Bluetooth enabled devices, these in-ear phones provide a pure blast of beautiful sound, with a rich, deep bass and clear, balanced trebles, that quite simply knock rival brands out of the park. 

That alone would be enough to earn our recommendation, but that's not all. 

We also love the sleek and cool design, the comfort and ease of use, and the excellent connectivity from third-generation wireless technology, reducing audio dropouts to give you a reliable connection for both calls and music. If you're travelling to hardy climes, you'll also be attracted to the two-year warranty against damage caused by sweat and dust. 

Like all high-end headphones, the main downside is the need to charge them up before use. But you do get five hours of battery on a single charge, and up to 15 hours in total with the included charging case. With both case and headphones being compact and pocket-friendly, this is our top recommendation for travellers looking for high-quality headphones.

If the Jabra Elite's not quite the right fit? We've got more of the best wireless headphones and noise-cancelling headphones to suit every need and all budgets. 

Wonderboom speaker

This rugged portable speaker will work pretty much anywhere

03. Wonderboom speaker

The best portable speaker for travellers

Compatibility: Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: H102 x W140 mm
Inputs: Micro USB
Reasons to buy
+Great sound+Super-rugged
Reasons to avoid
-Not the smallest or lightest on the market-Instructions hard to follow

Want to blast out your music when out and about with friends? Then you need a decent speaker, and we'd highly recommend the Wonderboom.

This Bluetooth speaker delivers an audio experience that's crisp and clear, with deep bass and bright treble. It keeps going for 10 hours on a single charge. 

It's also shockproof, and has been drop-proof tested from up to five feet. And perhaps more importantly, it's waterproof, making it perfect for showers, pools, beaches or anywhere on a rainy day. It even floats, and if it gets muddy, you can easily clean it later with a damp cloth. 

This heady combination of portability, durability and high-end audio means this portable speaker is a must-have for music fans, wherever you're travelling to, and whatever the weather.

If you're looking for something with a bit more size and power, be sure to check out our full pick of the best Bluetooth speakers and best wireless speakers currently on the market. 

Duo Tote Bag

This bag is cleverer than you might think

04. Bellroy Duo Tote Bag

The best laptop bag for travellers

Capacity: 15L when expanded; holds laptops up to 15 inches
Size: 450 x 350 x 60–120mm
Protection: Central padded laptop compartment, water-resistant fabric
Made from: Venture-weave polyester, environmentally certified leather
Warranty: 3 years
Reasons to buy
+Multi-functional+Multiple pockets for different devices
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Not good for larger laptops

We all have different bags that perform different functions in our lives. But you don't necessarily want to take them all on a trip with you. Which is why we'd heartily recommend this clever multi-functional bag from Bellroy.

On the face of it, it's a tote bag. But it can also be folded up to be compact, like a briefcase. Or you can pull out the straps and wear it like a backpack. 

It's like a magic trick, or something out of James Bond: what was a slimline laptop bag becomes a 15-litre backpack in one swift motion. Perfect for a trip in which you might, say, be having a client meeting one day, then going for a hike in the woods the next.

There are seven compartments to store all of your devices, including two zippered pockets to keep small items tidy, and a central padded compartment that holds laptops up to 15 inches. The material is lightweight, durable and water-resistant; a pretty neat balance to pull off. Plus it's all backed by a three-year warranty.

This bag is certainly not cheap; but given the number of potential uses you can put it to, we'd consider this excellent value overall.

Huion H640P tablet

A super-cheap tablet that's small and perfect; perfect for travelling

05. Huion H640P graphics tablet

The best graphics tablet for travellers

Active drawing area: 6.3 x 3.9in
Resolution: 5080 LPI
Pen pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
Connections: Micro USB
OS: Windows or macOS
Reasons to buy
+Super-cheap+Works with Adobe software
Reasons to avoid
-Low-end tablet-Small drawing area

Travelling can be pretty exhausting, and it's usually not healthy to spend the whole time working while on the road. But maybe you just want to do some drawing for fun, or work on a personal project. If that sounds like, we'd recommend the Huion H640P, which our favourite graphics tablet for travellers. 

Let's be clear, this is a low-end device and although it does work with Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Painter and Corel Draw, it's unlikely to be powerful enough for your professional work. But at the same time, it's thinner and lighter than your average smartphone, and perhaps most importantly, it's incredibly cheap.

The drawing area is small (just 6.3 x 3.9in) but the battery-free pen is sensitive and works well, and there are four customisable shortcut keys to speed up your workflow. In short, this may not be the best graphics tablet on the market, but it is certainly the best value, and if you don't want to do anything that complicated, it's the perfect gadget for doing so on the move.

If you're looking for something with a little more power, there's plenty to choose from in our list of the best graphics tablets

Field Notes notebook

 Notebooks like they made in the old days - and for good reason

06. Field Notes

The best notebook for travellers

Size: 3.5x5.5in
Weight: 113g
Number of pages: 48
Page types: Available with plain, lined or graph paper pages
Paper finish: Matte
Reasons to buy
+Classic design+Beautiful functional
Reasons to avoid
-Lined paper no good for sketching-Not the cheapest

Yes, everyone's got note-taking apps on their phones these days. And you may call us old-fashioned. But to our mind, there's something much nicer about taking real, physical notes with a real, physical pencil, whether you're in a meeting with clients or jotting down insightful takeaways at a creative conference.

If you agree, then we'd recommend the Field Notes range of notebooks. There's nothing flashy about them, but that's kind of the point. These pocket notebooks have all the simple feel, look and yes, smell, that older designers will remember from their childhood, and younger ones will admire for their vintage chic. 

Small and light enough to fit in any pocket, these notebooks aren't just stylish but beautifully functional. The Memo Book collection provides you with three saddle-stiched notebooks, each containing 48 pages of ruled paper, ready to suit any task. All you need now is to pair it with some of the best pencils and you're good to go!

ESPRO Travel Coffee Press

This press makes excellent coffee - and tea, too!

07. ESPRO Travel Coffee Press

The best coffee press for travellers

Size: 7.2 x 7.2 x 20.5 cm
Weight: 345g
Capacity: 350ml
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black
Reasons to buy
+Brews both tea and coffee+Great portability
Reasons to avoid
-Limited capacity

Travelling can be exhausting, and so if you want to make sure of getting that all-important caffeine or tannin hit, we'd recommend the ESPRO Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Press (yes, despite the name, you can also brew loose-leaf tea with it).

At just 12.2oz (345g), it's certainly light enough to cart around with you, but despite that it still works brilliantly, delivering a high-quality brew, thanks to a double filtration system, in just three or four minutes. 

The tea or coffee is free from grit, stays warm in the device for four to six hours, and the lid fits perfectly, so leaks are not a problem. 

If you like drinking large volumes of liquid, you might find it a bit small; it can only hold about 350ml at any one time. But of course, that is the payoff for portability, which when it comes to travelling will be most people's priority. 

Read more: 

Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.