Best travel gadgets 2020: The tech you need for the perfect trip

Matt Breen
9 Jan 2020

Make the most of your holiday with these essential gadgets – from ebook readers and plug adapters to cameras and miniature drones

No matter how carefully you pack your bag before you embark on your travels, you’ll always forget something. But it’s not items like sun cream or mosquito repellent that you should lose sleep over, as you can easily pick those up when you get to your destination. Instead, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed the gadgets which can help you make the most of every minute of your holiday – and remember it for years to come.

The items you’ll find here are perfect for all sorts of holidays, from family camping trips to intrepid treks to the back of beyond. Whether you’re sleeping under the stars or in a five-star hotel, it’s great to have your favourite music, movies or books at your fingertips. If you pack the right gadgets, you’ll be able to capture unforgettable moments and share them with friends – and all without worrying about your battery running low.

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The best travel gadgets to buy in 2020

1. Ricoh WG-50: Take holiday snaps in any condition

Price: £195 | Buy now from Amazon

The first gadget on our list is a bit of a no-brainer: you’ll be wanting to take a few pictures on your travels, right? Of course, most leading smartphones these days come with high-megapixel cameras that can capture incredibly impressive images. But whether you’re whitewater rafting or chilling on a lilo in the pool, a waterproof camera like the Ricoh WF-50 will give you extra peace of mind. Or if you really want to take your holiday pics up a notch, it can withstand depths of up to 14 metres, and has a front-mounted LED ringflash to illuminate any underwater scenes you’re snapping. For options both cheaper and pricier, take a look at our Best waterproof camera list.

2. Kindle Paperwhite: The best ebook reader for travel

Price: £120 | Buy now from Amazon

The Kindle Paperwhite is a godsend for voracious holiday readers: you no longer have to half-fill your suitcase with a supply of holiday books. It’s not just compact and convenient, however, as it’s also waterproof and has a backlit screen. That means you can read by the pool or on the beach without worrying about it getting wet, and you can also read comfortably at night without having to keep a light on. For tougher trips, the Paperwhite is unbeatable: it’s IPX8 rated which means it will survive in water up to two meters deep for up to 60 minutes, and the screen is glare-free so it’s readable in pretty much any lighting conditions. It’s also paired with Audible, if you want to take a break from reading with an audiobook. For other options, take a look at our Best ebook reader list, where prices start at £70.

3. Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones: Portable peace and quiet 

Price: £330 | Buy now from Amazon

Ah, the joys of flying. Soaring thousands of feet up in the sky in a cramped, airtight tube with dozens of other terse travellers rarely guarantees a joyful experience – but noise-cancelling headphones can make all the difference. These quieten the intrusive roar of the jet engines to a dull hum, and this class-leading pair by Sony combine potent noise-cancellation with superbly refined sound. This particular set might cost the same as a plane ticket to somewhere nice, but if you take a look at our Best noise-cancelling headphones list, you can find cheaper alternatives that cost as little as £50. If you fly regularly, though, this is one gadget worth splashing out on.

4. Guard Worldwide Travel Adapter: The most essential travel gadget

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

A plug adaptor is definitely not the flashiest of items on this list, and it’s probably something you’ve purchased before. But if you’ve already got a drawer full of different plugs for each of the worldwide plug types, it’s still well worth spending a little more for this universal travel adaptor. As the name suggests, it will fit into every single mains socket on the planet, so you know you’re covered no matter where you go – and that’s perfect if you’re planning to take in more than one destination on your travels. Also, since this adapter has four USB ports, you can power or charge five different devices at once - more than enough for the average traveller.

5. Anker PowerCore 15000 Redux: Recharge your batteries, literally

Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

There’s little more irksome than a dead phone or gadget when you’re far from a mains socket – and that’s why it’s essential to carry a power bank on your travels. This power bank from Anker has a 15,000mAh capacity, which is enough to fully recharge most phones around three times from empty. That means you can pass hours (or even days) on a train or plane journey without worrying about your phone or other devices running dry. If you’re spending even longer away from the security of a mains socket, though, then it’s worth buying a more capacious model: our Best power bank round-up is your go-to for a complete list of options.

6. Black Diamond Storm head torch: Let there be light

Price: £45-£77 | Buy now from Amazon

Whether you’re going on a camping holiday or just want to be prepared for every eventuality, a head torch is a gadget you won’t want to do without. This powerful LED head torch from outdoors company Black Diamond has eight different lighting modes, and is IP67-rated which means it will survive being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. It also has red, green and blue light modes which are less blinding at night. Too expensive? Then take a look at our Best head torch list for some cheaper options.

7. Crocs Crocband Flip-Flops: Keep your feet dry 

Price: £25 | Buy now from Crocs

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of camping, here’s another must-have: a pair of flip-flops. You might not think that footwear constitutes a gadget, but you certainly won’t quibble the point when you need to nip to the campsite toilets in the middle of the night. And needless to say, flip-flops are pretty helpful at the beach or pool, too. This pair from Crocs are a sound, affordable choice, and they’re waterproof to boot - but if you’ve got the cash to spend on a glitzier pair, take a look at our complete list of the best flip-flops.

Buy now from Crocs

8. Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker: A wonderful, waterproof Bluetooth speaker

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

It doesn’t matter whether you’re renting a property with friends or travelling solo, a Bluetooth speaker is a real boon. The 425-gram Wonderboom isn’t just light and supremely portable, at just over 10cm high it will take up next to no space in your luggage. Despite its size, it packs a remarkable punch for such a small speaker and also has an impressive 10-hour battery life. Better still, it’s waterproof, so you can set it up by the pool or at the beach with no worries of getting it wet. For more affordable options, check out our Best bluetooth speaker list which features products that start at just £18.

9. ExpressVPN: Stay connected wherever you are

Price: From £5 per month | Buy now from ExpressVPN

A VPN isn’t something you can actually forget to pack, but it’s something so indubitably handy we felt we couldn’t leave it off the list. If you’re travelling to a country where social media platforms are blocked, accessing the internet via a VPN app on your phone or laptop can let you keep in touch with your friends and family at home. Or maybe you’re working remotely, and you simply want to make sure that your connection is secure. Or maybe you just really, really need your BBC iPlayer fix while you’re abroad. Either way, a VPN allows you to pretend that you’re accessing the internet from anywhere on the planet. We’ve picked Express VPN because it’s the best overall VPN on our Best VPN services list.

Buy now from ExpressVPN

10. DJI Mavic Mini Drone: The ultimate gadget for travel vloggers

Price: £369 | Buy now from DJI

Phone cameras be damned: if you really want to capture some amazing footage of your travels, you need to pack a drone. And if you’re worried about your baggage allowance, don’t be: the Mavic Mini is a featherweight 250-gram drone with a built-in 2.7K camera. If you’re blogging, vlogging or producing any travel-related content, then the panoramic and birds-eye views this tiny device produces will be a stunning addition. Make sure to read our review of this ‘tiny but mighty’ drone for a detailed breakdown of its impressive flight capabilities and gorgeous video footage. Looking for something a little more high-end? Then take a look at our Best drone for photography list.

Buy now from DJI

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