Grid It CPG36 travel case
Thanks to a pattern of snug elastic bands, plus a wide pocket for your iPad, Macbook or other slim laptop, this smart little case makes easy work of your gear and gadgetry, and all its requisite cords, plus those niggly extras like lip balm and gum. Items stay firmly and safely in place. In fact, NASA used products by founding company Cocoon Innovation to hold raw eggs in a no-gravity experiment – while a stretchy Neoprene sleeve folds perfectly into place over your stuff. The case sells from $24.99 on the company’s website, depending on its size.
Zip It Gear Passport Socks
Perfect for minimalist travelers (and popular with soldiers, too), these calf-high, zipper-infused socks let you store your passport, plus other essentials like cash or keys,where pickpockets aren’t likely to look. The socks, which sell for $14.95, also feature sweat-wicking fabric and a snug fit to keep them firmly in place.
(All we ask is that you wear them as they’re intended: with long pants. Zippered or not, mid-calf socks are only acceptable in public if they’re part of a school-mandated uniform or paired with lederhosen and a pint of German beer.)
Whanganui Cases by Aquapac
We can’t quite pronounce the name of the product line either, but these fully submergible, lightweight cases are a must-have for travelers who love the water as much as their gadgets. When it’s equally essential to keep your wallet or passport on your person – as in, you’re beach-bound but the in-room safe in your Rio de Janeiro hotel room looks a little sketchy – they’re just the ticket. The smaller size, which retails for $32 on the website, slips easily over your wrist or neck via a nylon cord and, like most Aquapac products, will float (depending on how much you stuff inside).
Micci Micci Snapback Bags
With retractable cords, these machine washable mini-organizers easily clip onto (or inside) your purse or carry-on bag, while dividers organize boarding passes, passports or currencies for one or more travelers. The bright colors and patterns are a nice contrast to the beige-and-black utilitarian styles so common in travel gear (and the retractable cord can, a pinch, serve as several minutes of entertainment for restless kids in tow). They’re available in three sizes and lots of chipper patterns, starting at $14.95.
Armpocket Xtreme i-30 arm band
The brainchild of a team of South Florida-based runners who kept losing iPods to sweat and humidity, this armband holds 30 cubic inches of gear snugly and dryly, thanks to its makeup of water-resistant recycled plastic. Targeted primarily to athletes, the Armpocket also serves frequent travelers well, with nifty “touch-thru” technology so you can use your smartphone without removing it (though please don’t be that guy frantically texting before passing through the scanner). It also appeals to eco-enthusiasts, with 100 percent recycled content.
Magellan RFID Travel Wallet
More passports and credit cards these days are embedded with radio frequency (RF) chips containing personal information. Add savvy cyber thieves to the mix, and that can spell disaster for travelers. Avoid it with this versatile nylon wallet by Magellan, which has a built-in shield that prevents personal data from being accessed unless the wallet is opened at approved locations. Its main compartment holds U.S. and foreign currency, and it can be carried four ways.
This handy across-the-body strap, which comfortably sits from hip to shoulder, features multi-functionality and can’t-beat-it convenience, yet scores way more fashion points than any fanny pack. It has eight pockets, including a hidden inside compartment (perfect for a passport) to hold the essentials (though, depending on what you put in, some pockets have a pretty tight fit). It’s small enough to tuck into a larger carry-on bag but also a great option for exploring your destination on foot or wheels. Runnur sells for $35 at travel shows and festivals around the country (which makes it eligible for our list; you can also order it online for $39).
Transportation Security Administration pat-downs, jet lag, the eternal scramble for overhead space: Travel is stressful enough without the hassle of keeping up with essentials like passports, wallets and cell phones. Thankfully, the market has come a long way since money belts and fanny packs, with an ever-evolving range of products and price points to keep your stuff stashed safely and affordably. Here are some handy solutions, all for under $35.