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Shop TODAY’s 2024 Travel Gear Awards are here! Save up to 50% off winners, from a multitasking carry-on to in-flight tech

Including tried and true Shop TODAY favorites to innovative products that wowed us.

Summer is almost here! And whether your ideal vacation includes sunny skies and palm trees or snow-capped mountains and a pair of hiking boots, the Shop TODAY team is back with their annual Travel Gear Awards to help you prepare.

Seen on the 3rd hour of TODAY | Seen on TODAY

We traveled as far as Guatemala and as close as our own New York City streets to evaluate a number of travel apparel and shoes in our awards process, rating products on a scale out of 5 and assessing them on quality, value and satisfaction. 

To walk us through some of the winning picks, Shop TODAY editorial director Adrianna Brach stopped by TODAY and the 3rd hour of TODAY with the best of the best — including several picks who earned perfect marks. And that's not all. We also have some TODAY-exclusive codes to make our travel must-haves more affordable, so start browsing!

More Shop TODAY Travel Gear Awards winners | Has your product been featured? | How we chose | Meet the experts

Seen on TODAY

Soma Everstretch Relaxed Travel Bra Dress

Overall score: 5 | Quality: 5 | Value: 4.6 | Overall satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best travel dress | Sizes: XS-2X | Colors: 2

For a one-and-done outfit that will help you look and feel put together at the airport (at least, according to our editors!), this dress from Soma has got you covered — quite literally.

It includes a built-in bra that we tested across sizes 32B through 40D, with each editor noting how flattering and comfortable it was. You can wear it as a swimsuit cover-up, too, thanks to its UPF 30 protection, or as a traveling outfit, thanks to how lightweight and soft it is.

Reef Cushion Vista Hi Sandal

Overall score: 4.8 | Quality: 5 | Value: 4.6 | Overall satisfaction: 4.6 | Award: Best budget sandals | Sizes: 5-12, including half sizes | Colors: 10

These sandals offer more than just a stylish accessory to pair with your favorite linen pants or maxi dress. They offer an ample amount of support, thanks to the deep heel cups in the insole. And, they're lightweight enough to where they won't add much weight to your checked bag.

"As someone with a wider foot, I was worried the double straps would feel too restrictive, but I was pleasantly surprised by their comfy feel," says commerce writer Danielle Murphy.

Plus, TODAY readers can save 30% off all Vista Hi sandals by using the code TODAY at checkout on the brand's site now through April 25.

Lanzom Panama Sun Hat

Overall score: 5 | Award: Best packable hat | Sizes: One size fits all | Colors: 22

This packable, crush-proof hat earned a perfect score. Not just because it’s able to retain its shape no matter how or how long it’s been folded in your suitcase, but because it’s versatile.

Our editors wore it on a cruise, at the beach, while gardening and note that it’s breathable and lightweight, making it the “perfect $25 accessory.”

Halfday The Garment Duffel

Overall score: 4 | Quality: 4 | Value: 5 | Overall satisfaction: 3 | Award: Best innovative carry-on | Sizes: 40- & 45-liter options available | Colors: 10

If there was one product that truly wowed our team, it was this two-in-one garment-turned-duffel bag. It arrives as a garment bag, and when you zip it up, it turns into a spacious 40- or 45-liter duffel, complete with two side pockets for shoes, as well as a carrying strap.

It passed our in-house waterproofing test, revealing no wet spots in the interior after being splashed with water, meaning your nicest outfits are protected against the elements.

TODAY readers can save 25% off this pick by using the code TODAY at checkout, now through April 25.

Twelve South AirFly Pro

Overall score: 4.7 | Quality: 5 | Value: 4.3 | Overall satisfaction: 4.3 | Award: Best in-flight must-have

This product has become a tried and true Shop TODAY favorite, with our editors using it everywhere from airplanes to their local gym. Small and portable, this product allows users to watch movies and stream music without relying on corded headphones.

This gadget is a repeat winner, taking home the award for best in-flight must-have two years in a row. The AirFly Pro has 25 hours of use on a single charge, solidifying it as a must-have, especially for international flights.

TODAY readers can save 25% off the AirFly Pro (black color only) with the code TODAY now through April 25.

Seen on the 3rd hour of TODAY

Uniqlo Ultra Stretch AIRism Joggers

Overall Score: 4.4 | Quality: 4.6 | Value: 4.6 | Overall Satisfaction: 4.6 | Award: Best jogger/travel pant | Material: 100% polyester | Sizes: XXS-2XL | Colors: 5

Looking for pants you can seamlessly move around in while traveling? These flattering joggers will set you up for success while at the airport, hiking or even just lounging at your resort.

Made with tall travelers in mind, associate editor Kamari Stewart appreciates their length, saying “they’re actually long enough for my legs.” That said, our editors recommend sizing up for a perfect fit, otherwise they run a bit small.

Uniqlo Stretch DRY-EX Jogger Pants

Overall Score: 4.4 | Quality: 4.6 | Value: 4.6 | Overall Satisfaction: 4.6 | Award: Best jogger/travel pant | Material: 100% polyester | Sizes: XXS-3XL | Colors: 5

Similar to the women’s version, these pants provide a quick-drying, ultra soft, stretchy feel, with one of our testers noting this is the “stretchiest pair” he owns.

Wrangler 20” Spinner Carry-On

Overall Score: 4.3 | Quality: 4 | Value: 5 | Overall Satisfaction: 4 | Award: Best budget carry-on | Dimensions: 21.5 x 9.5 x 14.5 inches | Weight: 6.4 pounds | Colors: 8

At less than $50, this hard shell carry-on impressed our team of testers who noted that its 360-degree wheels help it travel well over different types of terrain, from carpeted floors to paved concrete.

It’s also easy and lightweight when lifting overhead due to its size. While it’s small, it proves to be mighty by fitting several packing cubes and a toiletry bag inside, making it perfect for long weekend trips.

Etekcity Luggage Scale

Are you a chronic overpacker? We feel your pain. There’s nothing worse than having to rearrange your bag at the check-in desk because it’s overweight. So, we’ve deemed this petite accessory as the best flight essential to help you avoid overweight baggage fees.

Simply clip it to your suitcase, turn it on and lift your bag off the floor with the scale. Then, it will display the weight of your bag in either pounds or kilograms (depending on your preference), making it ideal for international travel as well.

“It can be hundreds of dollars for an overweight bag and this small device can prevent you from ever having an issue again,” says Jonathan Alder, luxury travel planner and adviser.

Bagsmart Toiletry Bag

Overall Score: 4.6 | Quality: 4 | Value: 5 | Overall Satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best budget toiletry bag | Sizes: Medium and large | Colors: 12

The most notable finding our testers reported while reviewing this pick: It’s super spacious. Our team was thoroughly impressed with how much they were able to fit inside this toiletry bag, and with how it compressed to fit inside the carry-ons and backpacks we tested as well (with room to spare, no less!).

It unzips to reveal five compartments, each one featuring a plastic cover to keep liquids from spilling out. And, two of the compartments have carrying straps to keep makeup brushes and bottles secure.

Plus, Shop TODAY readers can save 30% off by using the code TODAY at checkout on the brand’s site, now through April 22.

Veger Portable Phone Charger

Overall Score: 5 | Quality: 5 | Value: 5 | Overall Satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best portable charger | Connector type: USB-C compatible | Colors: 7

A perfectly-scored item, this phone charger took home high remarks due to its ability to charge multiple devices at once, its quick-charging capabilities and its easy-to-see battery percentage, which shows you how much juice it has left.

In just one hour, our phone went from a 0% charge to 73%, a number that exceeded the seven other portable chargers we tested by 20%.

Travelrest Ultimate Travel, Neck and Body Pillow

Overall Score: 4 | Quality: 3 | Value: 5 | Overall Satisfaction: 4 | Award: Best travel pillow | Colors: 4

It looks odd, but take our word for it, this travel pillow was the easiest and most comfortable to use compared to the six others we tested.

You inflate it to use, meaning it can deflate and fit into a personal item or carry-on bag with ease. It sits across your body similar to a seatbelt or a crossbody bag, and will help to better support your neck when leaning on the window seat.

More Shop TODAY 2024 travel gear award winners

Samsonite Atrium Medium Spinner

Overall score: 4.5 | Award: Best suitcase | Colors: 2

Although this item is a splurge, it is well worth the investment — just look at its nearly perfect score for proof.

Some of the high-performing features in this suitcase are a spacious interior, a multi-stop handle, dual spinner wheels, a removable pocket for liquids, amongst many other noteworthy features. And according to reviews, it can hold a decent amount of weight and two weeks worth of clothing, which comes in handy if you want to pack all of your essentials.

Cotopaxi Nido Accessory Bag

Overall Score: 4.9 | Quality: 5 | Value: 4.8 | Overall Satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best overall toiletry bag | Colors: 5

If you're like us, you most likely have more beauty products than you can count. So when it comes to purchasing a toiletry bag, it has to meet multiple requirements outside of space.

At first glance, the Cotopaxi's Nido Accessory Bag might look small, but it packs — literally — a powerful punch when it comes to function and practicality. Whether it be toiletries or chargers, the bag has three organizational compartments, an interior zipper and a side carry handle to successfully hold it all. It does all of this with little bulk and without taking up too much space in your bag.

Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag

Overall score: 5 | Quality: 5 | Value: 5 | Overall satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best travel purse | Colors: 11

Keep your personal items secure with this anti-theft bag from Travelon. Based on the high remarks from our reviewers (look at that perfect score!), we can promise that this bag lives up to its claims.

Our reviewers acknowledged that the bag is stiff, hosts a number of compartments and can even fit a water bottle without an awkward bulge. If that's not impressive enough, the brand highlights that there's a RFID blocking card and passport slots, plus a cut-proof shoulder strap for extra security.

Dr. Scholls Jetset Loafer

Overall score: 5 | Quality: 5 | Value: 5 | Overall satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best dressy walking shoe | Sizes: 6-11, including half sizes | Colors: 5

Dr. Scholl's has truly reinvented themselves recently. From stylish, supportive sandals to walking shoes that don't look like your father's, they're stepping up their game — literally.

These flats are easy to slip on and off, and have a little bit of a platform, adding some height to the wearer. Plus, it features their brand-specific Bloom insole, that the brand says provides a comfortable fit, as well as ample arch support.

Old Navy Side-Tie Swim Dress

Overall score: 4.8 | Quality: 4.6 | Value: 4.6 | Overall satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best swim dress | Sizes: XS-4X | Colors: 15

Our editors love how this swim dress pairs style with comfort to create a unique silhouette that forces them to step outside of their comfort zone.

"To be completely honest, I haven’t loved a bathing suit this much in... years," says commerce editor Amanda Fama. "It’s snug without being too tight, and the built-in cups provide just enough support." Plus, our editors appreciated the cinched sides, and variety of colors and patterns it's available in.

Birkenstock Arizona Sandals

Overall score: 4.9 | Quality: 5 | Value: 4.6 | Overall satisfaction: 5 | Award: Best splurge sandals | Sizes: Women's 4-12.5, including half sizes; Men's 6-17.5, including half sizes | Colors: 2

We're living in the era of the ugly shoe, and Birkenstocks are at the top of that list. While they're not as stylish or aesthetic as some others on the market, they're durable, comfortable and have lasted years and years for multiple of our editors.

"The contoured footbeds are extremely supportive, and the construction is noticeably durable," says Fama. "I really like the fact these can be dressed up or down, too.

Has your product been featured?

Shop TODAY is editorially independent and our team of editors and writers work hard to pick the best products to share with our readers and viewers. We may license our logo to brands or products that have been featured on Shop TODAY. Click here if you’re interested in licensing your inclusion in Shop TODAY content or to learn more from our licensing partner, Wrights Media.

How we chose

We sorted through hundreds of new launches, editor recommendations, trending products flooding our social media pages and tried and true products to curate a list of must-have travel items worth reviewing for our awards. We then tried the products in our studios, putting them through practical experiments to see if they meet requirements when it comes to durability, function and quality for travel gear. Then, our team of editors and writers signed up to try out apparel and shoes, putting them to the test in New York City — and as far as Guatemala — to see how they held up. Finally, our panel of experts reviewed some of our winners and gave feedback based on their expertise.

Meet the experts

  • Brady Schrock is a flight attendant for a commercial airline.
  • Katie Jackson is a travel writer and expert, who also served on our panel of experts in 2023.
  • Jonathan Alder is a luxury travel planner and adviser, and CEO of Jonathan’s Travels, a travel management company.