Guidemaster: The most useful gadgets to have in your bag while traveling

Traveling can be a fun, illuminating experience, but packing for your travels is often stressful. Everything you choose to bring with you on your excursions must have a purpose, because unnecessary items do not belong in anyone’s cramped suitcase. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it can be difficult to decide which pieces of tech deserve to come with you and which you only would be useful.

It can also be hard to find gadgets that are suitable for travel—devices that work even more efficiently when you’re not in your normal environment. To combat this, Ars has picked out some of the best travel tech gifts that will be solid additions to anyone’s travel bag. All of the items below we’ve personally tested or reviewed, so we’re confident saying that none of these devices will end up languishing, abandoned, at the bottom of your suitcase.

Dell XPS 13

Dell has crafted and re-crafted the XPS 13 to be one of the most travel-friendly laptops you can get. Weighing 2.7 pounds and measuring 11.6mm thick, it’s impressively thin considering how much power it has built inside the chassis. The 2019 model with 9th-gen Intel processors is our current favorite Windows ultrabook, and Dell recently updated the machine to include 10th-gen Intel processors. Regardless of the model you get, you’re getting a Windows laptop that doesn’t compromise performance while being slim and attractive.

That said, the newest XPS 13 does offer a lot of improvements over last year’s model. First and foremost, the webcam has been moved to the top of the screen rather than sitting on the bottom like it has for so many years. This makes the webcam much more functional, and Dell didn’t sacrifice screen space in order to make it happen. You can get the display in a 1080p panel, but there’s a 4K panel option as well now. In terms of ports, you get three USB-C ports (two of which are Thunderbolt 3) in addition to a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, and a lock slot.

While we wish the XPS 13 had an IR camera for facial recognition, it does have a fingerprint reader embedded into the power button, so you’ll get speedy biometric login from that. We also appreciate that the 4K model can last 13 hours on a single charge (according to our testing), and you could configure the XPS 13 to get up to 21 hours of battery life.

Dell gives you a lot of configuration options on the XPS 13, making it a good choice for anyone who wants to truly customize their laptop. The only bad part is that the base model starts with 4GB of RAM (the next step up has 8GB of RAM, and we would recommend most people have that amount of memory in their primary machine). Regardless of how you configure it, the XPS 13 is a solid laptop that will be a workhorse no matter where you find yourself working.

For those that want a machine that’s a bit more flexible (plus a tad thinner and lighter), consider the Microsoft Surface Pro. Last year’s Surface Pro 6 is our current favorite Windows detachable and you can still find powerful configurations of this device at a good price. Those that want the latest and greatest (plus a newly added USB-C port) should consider the Surface Pro 7.

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Logitech MX Master Anywhere 2s

Travel-friendly mice are a dime a dozen, but Logitech’s MX Master Anywhere 2s puts some of the best features found in a stationary mouse into a travel-sized device. This mouse is noticeably smaller than other Logitech mice, and while it may take some getting used to, it’s the perfect sized mouse to live in your backpack, work, or travel bag.

Its 4000 dpi Darkfield sensor helps it track on nearly any surface, even glass, so you can use it no matter where you find yourself working. It has a rechargeable battery that should last up to 70 days on a single charge, and it recharges using a microUSB port. It works with macOS and Windows devices, as well as iPadOS and Linux, and you can pair this mouse with up to three devices at once and switch between them with just the press of a button. Like most Logitech accessories, the MX Master Anywhere 2s connects to a PC via Bluetooth or a USB receiver.

In addition to customizable pointer and scroll speeds, you can also customize the five buttons on the MX Master Anywhere 2s. This is one of the features I love in Logitech’s main mice, and I’m glad the company made a travel mouse that works almost exactly like the one you may use every day at your main desk. The MX Master Anywhere 2s could end up being your main mouse if you prefer smaller mice, but it’s truly hard to beat as a travel mouse—especially at the good price of $54.99.

Logitech MX Master Anywhere 2s

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Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux

There are countless power banks that can effectively keep devices charged on the go, but for an explicitly portable option, we like Anker’s PowerCore 10000 PD Redux. The main reason for that is size: at seven ounces and 106×52.3×25.5mm, the PowerCore is particularly small and light enough to fit into many pants pockets, let alone a handbag or suitcase, without being too obtrusive. The whole thing is sturdily put together, with rounded edges that subtly make the battery more comfortable to hold and stash on your person.

Besides that, it includes a USB-C Power Delivery (PD) port that charges at 18W, which is powerful enough to refill most new smartphones at maximum speeds. (It’s not quite fast enough to recharge higher-end tablets like the iPad Pro at maximum speeds, but it’ll still speed up the process to an extent.) There’s a 12W USB-A port as well, which is handy if you have multiple devices low on power. Because the battery maxes out at 18W of output, it’s best suited for smartphone charging above all else, though.

The PowerCore has a capacity of 10,000mAh (36Wh), which is enough to get roughly two full charges out of an iPhone 11. A quartet of LED lights let you know how much of that capacity is left at any given time, and the battery itself can recharge at 18W with a USB-C PD wall charger, so it doesn’t take long to fully restore. We’ve had no hints of reliability issues after months of use, and Anker generally has a strong reputation in this market, but the device is covered by an 18-month warranty if something goes wrong. At $46, it’s not the cheapest power bank in its class, but it does come with a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, and we think its blend of good-enough power and genuine portability is worth it.

Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux product image

Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux

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