Since Covid restrictions eased up, I’ve been travelling as much as I can and I have been reminded afresh how useful certain travel gadgets can be. In the last 2 years, I’ve taken eight solo trips, road-testing my gear across 15 countries, so I wanted to share the pieces of kit that I have valued the most as a solo traveller in 2023.
If you travel with friends or a partner, you might be able to rely on them if you realise you need something you didn’t bring – you have a potential back-up. But when you’re travelling solo, you don’t have anyone else’s kit to borrow from, so you need to make sure you have everything you need.
I’ve split the list of travel gadgets for solo travellers into categories and I’ve included links to Amazon.com if you want to get some for yourself.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.
Table of Contents
Essential Travel Gadgets For Solo Travellers
These gadgets and gear are not useful only for solo travellers, but I definitely recommend them for solo travellers.
1. Power Banks
These portable devices can act as a source of power for your phone (or other electronics), meaning you won’t be caught out with no battery. I always take at least one power bank with me, if not two. And I make a note the night before I travel to make sure they’re fully charged up before I hit the road.
As well as a full size power bank, I recently bought a mini power bank: it has less charge in it, but isn’t as heavy to carry around and doesn’t require a cable, as it plugs straight into the bottom of my iPhone.
2. USB Ports / Cables
I typically take 2-3 Standard USB ports that fit my Apple phone so that I always have one handy in case I need to connect my phone to the power bank, or into a socket. I tend to keep one in each bag, so they’re always easy to grab when I need them.
I also make sure I have a Micro USB cable, which is the kind that will charge my power bank and some of my other devices. These normally come with the power bank.
3. Plug / Travel Adapter
These are essential! Research in advance what plug sockets are used in the countries you are going to and make sure you have a travel adapter that will work there.
But, be aware some ‘universal’ adapters are not actually universal. For example, I needed a specific one for Namibia, which none of my ‘universal’ adapters fit. Also, one of my old ‘universal’ adapters does not fit the J-type sockets used in Switzerland (where they use both C and J types), which caught me out when I was in Lauterbrunnen in June.
So, since then I bought a new one – this travel adapter is much more versatile (and does work with both C&J!).
4. Re-Usable Water Bottle
You need water with you when you’re exploring, whether you’re on a city break or exploring some wild place. To avoid buying single-use plastics, consider a reusable bottle that you can fill as you need. I like a small-ish one that fits in the bottle pocket of my backpack.
5. Compact Wind-Proof Umbrella
I live in the UK which has very changeable weather, so I take a tiny compact umbrella everywhere I go in my own country. And I often take it with me travelling, as a handy ‘just in case’. I’m very glad I had it when the skies opened up on me in Barcelona – which happened twice on my most recent solo trip there!
6. Compact Rain-Proof Jacket
Similarly, I take a lightweight rain jacket that folds down into a small bag and doesn’t take up much room in my case. I was glad of this in Luxembourg, which was drizzly most of the time I was there last winter.
7. Dry Bags or Packing Cubes
If I’m travelling with a backpack, dry bags are really useful to keep my clothes and stuff organised within the backpack. It’s so much easier to have things separated into bags rather than one big mess all in the main compartment – especially when you’re searching for something. They can also help keep your clothes dry if you are hiking and there’s a risk of rain – like I experienced on the Inca Trail.
If I’m travelling with a suitcase, packing cubes do a similar thing (except they don’t keep anything dry). I like the kind that can be compressed down with a second zip, so they help you maximise the space in your case.
When I was travelling solo for an extended period this year, I was going to some places that had mild temperatures and then some that would be hot, so I used packing cubes to separate the clothes suited to each climate, which helped keep my case organised.
8. Helpful Smart Phone Apps
Think about what you’ll be doing when you travel and download any apps you might need in advance. As well as train and airline apps, when travelling in cities, I heavily use the Citymapper app. It helps me navigate public transport and has been a godsend when travelling solo in Paris, Lisbon, Bologna, Oslo and many, many other places.
I have also started using the Google Translate app, which helps not only with the right words and phrases, but it has an audio option to play them for you, so you can get the pronunciation correct.
9. First Aid Kit
I always take a small first aid kit wherever I travel, and make sure it includes the basics for minor cuts and blisters, plus some tablets for diarrhoea and also rehydration/electrolyte powders.
I haven’t often needed it, but it gives me peace of mind knowing I can handle simple health issues myself.
10. Wet Wipes & Pocket Tissues
I’ve found that I’m always thankful for a mini pack of wet wipes and some pocket tissues. They don’t weigh much, nor take up much room, but they have come in handy very often if I am unable to access soap & water and/or toilet roll, which can happen when travelling.
Travel Safety Items
These items are especially useful for solo travellers, given the extra precautions we want to take when exploring the world. And, in particular, I found some of these really useful when visiting a beach alone – because I was in a dilemma about what to do with my things when I went into the sea.
11. Mini Carabiner
I recently discovered mini carabiners, and they served a perfect purpose for me when I was on the beach alone in Albania, making them one of my favourite travel gadgets for solo travellers.
I wanted to go in the sea, but I didn’t want to leave all my stuff on the beach, in case anything got stolen. So, I used the mini carabiner to attach my room key to my swimming costume strap. This way I could go into the gorgeous Adriatic sea without worrying that someone could let themselves into my hotel room.
I also used the same mini carabiner to attach a mini coin purse containing my money to my swimming costume. This is a bit bulkier than the keys, but it wasn’t a problem to swim with it (it’s a very small purse, and I was able to tuck it into my costume without it feeling uncomfortable).
Anyway, in the end, I found something even better than the purse, which is the next item…
12. Waterproof Phone Case
These waterproof phone cases are designed to do just that: protect your phone from water. And that’s how I used mine when I was kayaking in a fjord in Flam in Norway (that was amazing, by the way…). Tip: put the camera end of the phone furthest from the strap – it’s easier to take photos that way.
But, after a tip from someone I follow on Twitter, I realised I could also tuck my money into the case alongside the phone so that I could go swimming in the ocean with my phone and money safe around my neck – and that’s what I did when I went in the see in Albania!
So as well as being useful in water, they’re also very helpful travel gadgets for solo travellers!
13. Antitheft Bag
In general, having a cross-body bag is safer than one that sits on one shoulder, because it can’t be grabbed from you as easily.
However, following another travel blogger’s tip, I recently bought a theft-proof bag from Travelon. Mine is a small cross-body bag with a slash-proof strap and fabric. It also has clippable zippers, meaning it is hard for anyone to surreptitiously open the zips. The inside compartment is also RFID blocking, to keep your bank cards from being read.
Travel Gadgets For Flying
If you’re travelling solo by plane, there are some specific gadgets that can help make the experience easier.
14. Noise-Cancelling Earbuds
When flying, the noise from the plane and other passengers can be distracting, so having some compact noise-cancelling earbuds can really help. I splashed out on Apple AirPods, but there are other brands available for less.
15. Streaming Apps – For Downloaded TV Shows / Movies
Even if there will be entertainment on the plane, I always try to remember to download something to watch on my phone. I normally have a choice of TV shows and movies, so I have a choice depending on my mood.
16. Foldable Phone Stand
As a stocking filler at Chritsmas, I was given this handy little folding phone stand. It’s great for watching things on your phone when you’re travelling because it is light-weight and folds down almost flat, so it can be slotted into pockets easily.
17. Blow-Up Pillow Combo, Eye Mask & Ear Plugs
If it’s going to be a long flight, I might try to sleep. I’m not often very successful at sleeping on planes, but I like to be prepared to at least try. There are some more comfortable pillow options, but because I try to travel light, I tend to take a simple inflatable pillow that can be folded down into a small case. I usually slip a small eye mask and a couple of earplugs into the case as well.
18. Re-Usable Toiletries Tubes
If you’re taking a bag in the cabin of a plane, you know you need your liquids to be in bottles under x oz or 100ml. For this, I use reusable and squeezable silicone tubes. They’re easy to squeeze every last drop out of and also easy to clean afterwards.
I also use them even if I’m checking a bag, which I do sometimes, because, in those instances, I prefer to have basic overnight items in my carry-on, just in case my checked bag doesn’t arrive.
19. Luggage Scale
If you are checking a bag, and even if you’re not (some airlines have weight restrictions on cabin bags), you will most likely need to keep your baggage within a weight limit. You could use your bathroom scales, but they’re not that easy to use for backpacks, which may not balance on the scale. This is where a portable luggage scale comes in handy. You can use the strap to attach it to any bag or suitcase, lift the bag up using the scale as a handle, and you’ll see the weight on the digital screen.
Travel Gadgets For Solo Travellers – Location-Specific Gear
Some locations have specific conditions that can be made easier to experience with certain location-specific travel gadgets.
20. Mini Handheld Fan – For Hot Locations
This is probably my favourite gadget that I discovered this year and it served me well travelling around the Balkans in June and July when the temperatures were hot, hot, hot (especially Tirana in June – phew!)! There aren’t many trains in that region, so I was on a lot of buses. Plus at the end of the trip, I was delayed in Tirana airport for hours – and I was glad of this mini hand-held fan (even if I did get some strange looks!)!
It is small (smaller than the length of my hand), quiet and its rechargeable battery lasts 6 hours – so I highly recommend this little gadget to anyone who hates being hot & stuffy.
It even helped me out in Norway, when one of my hotel rooms had no aircon – as tiny as it is, it did pretty well to cool the room down! It really is one of the best travel gadgets I’ve tried. I have the pink one.
21. Beach Shoes – For Single Or Coral Beaches
I was in Albania a few months ago and the beach I chose to stay on was shingle. I had learned my lesson from hobbling over pebbles on the beaches of Croatia and Montenegro, so I brought a pair of beach shoes.
These are not attractive – I will start by saying that! They look like they should be paired with a wet suit, not a bikini. But their rubber sole protects your feet from sharp or rocky textures, making it much easier to get in and out of the ocean on a single beach. So while you won’t look as stylish, you’re less likely to stagger and stumble!
These are great for both shingle and coral beaches (these can also be sharp underfoot, as I found out on Mauritius and the Maldives).
22. Down Jacket – For Cold Climates
For cold temperatures, a down jacket is a great item to have. Not only are they very good at keeping you warm, but they are lightweight and compress down into a small pouch that doesn’t take up much space in your bag.
You can get different weights depending on how cold the climate you’ll be in. I caught mine for Iceland in the summer, so it is a light one, from Mountain Warehouse. It also came in handy when going up into the Swiss alps this summer.
23. Travel Towel – For Camping
Travel towels can be a useful item if you’re staying in hostels or camping. They’re typically flat, so they take up little space. They’re also super absorbent, so they work as well as a normal towel, just less luxurious-feeling.
Solo Traveller Camera Gear
Most people like to take photographs when they travel, so you might be thinking about what camera gear to bring.
24. Smart Phone
Smart phones have great cameras these days, so it is possible to get amazing photos with just your phone. The photo below of the Norwegian fjords was taken with my iPhone 11 Pro Max.
However, I have found that my phone does still struggle in poor light and its zoom still has limits, so there is still an advantage to having a ‘proper’ camera. I have been taking one with me on solo trips this year.
If you have a choice of a camera body to bring, it makes sense to bring one that is as lightweight as possible. That said, I recently upgraded my camera body to a Canon 5D Mark iv, so I’m not really following that advice!
26. Versatile Lens & Cloth
I have a big 70-200mm lens which is great for zooming in and capturing the detail of things you’re not close to. But it is very heavy and I’ve learned that I can make do with a versatile 24-105mm lens pretty well. It’s so much lighter than the big one!
Oh, and I take at least one microfibre cloth to keep the lens glass clean.
27. Spare Batteries & Battery Charger
Unless you’re going on a v short trip, it’s a smart idea to have a spare battery and/or your battery charger with you.
28. SD Cards & USB SD Reader
29. Comfortable Strap
I disliked the strap that came with my camera, so I requested a leather camera strap as a Christmas present – and I love it! It is so much more comfortable to wear.
If you think you’ll be using a slow shutter speed or dealing with dark lighting when you’re photographing, you might need a tripod. You might also want one if you take pictures of yourself when travelling alone – this is not something I do, but I know I’m the odd one out on that point.
I have one which was recommended to me by several other photographers and is fairly lightweight and super-easy to put up and down – by Peak Design.
31. Portable Hard Drive
If you are taking a lot of photos and need somewhere with more storage than your laptop, you might consider bringing a portable hard drive with you. Lacie does some that have a protective case which makes them suitable for travel.
Solo Female Travel Accessories
When I was thinking about this blog post, I realised I don’t recommend any gadgets especially for female travellers, let alone female solo travellers (apart from period products, if you use them).
There are some female-specific gadgets I have tried, but I didn’t value them very much and don’t intend to use them again. If you’re curious, there are…
Travel Gadgets For Solo Travellers – that I DON’T recommend
A She-Wee / Female Urination Device
I tried this device to enable women to pee standing up when on the Inca Trail, but I didn’t find it very easy to use and didn’t use it more than once.
A Door Stop
This was recommended by another solo female traveller and I bought it to use as a precaution in hotel rooms, in addition to the locking mechanism on the door. I read it works with all kinds of floor coverings and doors, but I tried it in 16 hotels in my travels in 2022 and it only successfully worked in 2-3 of them, so I won’t be bringing it again.
I think a chair or your luggage wedged in front of the door would work just as well to deter anyone trying to get in / make a noise so you wake up.
The Last Word
I hope you’ve found this list of travel gadgets for solo travellers useful. If you have any other gadget tips, let me know in the comments – I’m definitely open to new ideas!
And if you need any encouragement to try solo travel, check out my post on all the reasons to travel solo.