Travel + Leisure Trusted Seal of Approval

Product recommendations to elevate every trip you take

laptop backpacks

Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph

A lot goes into planning a trip from the time you select your destination and book your travel to the moment you arrive. The most important step, if you ask us? Selecting and packing the right gear.

Elevate a red-eye flight with the best travel pillow for your sleep style, an eye mask, and noise-canceling headphones to arrive at your destination rested and ready to explore. Stay comfortable during a full day of sightseeing with the right shoes, layers, and accessories so you can skip the spontaneous souvenir sweatshirt or umbrella purchase when conditions change unexpectedly. And pack your belongings in a lightweight yet durable bag, so you can fly confidently knowing your valuables are safe while also avoiding any overweight baggage fees.

In other words, having the right gear on hand contributes to a smooth and enjoyable travel experience so you can focus all your attention on your vacation — as it should be.

We know that when it comes to shopping for these travel essentials, there is a lot of noise and information out there. With so many brands, options, and price points to sift through — whether you’re shopping for luggage, apparel, or outdoor gear — finding the right products for your trip can be overwhelming.

At Travel + Leisure, our editors and experts take on that challenge for you by researching and testing thousands of products every year to recommend the best for your vacations and value — and only those top choices receive our seal of approval. 

Briggs & Riley Baseline Spinner

Travel + Leisure / Conor Ralph

Our Testing Process

The first step to all of our tests is extensive research. We interview experts in the industry — everyone from flight attendants to walking tour guides to outdoor experts and product designers — to find out what to look for in every product category we test. With that information on hand, we take those experts' product suggestions and also scour the web to find top-rated products beloved by customers and travelers to narrow down the finalists for our tests. Finally, we purchase the products we want to test and send them to our New York City testing lab or out to our network of travel editors and experts to use on their trips.


Travel + Leisure / Tamara Staples

Next, we craft a rigorous methodology that targets key attributes of that product type — in other words, the things you would care about most in a product. For luggage, we test for capacity, maneuverability, and durability. For shoes and apparel, we test for comfort, fit, design, and more.

Every product is then tested according to the same methodology and treated equally regardless of brand and price point — we test a $100 suitcase the same way we test a $1,000 suitcase, and that includes hitting them with a baseball bat to test durability. (Yes, it's really fun.)

During every test, we collect both qualitative responses (like how easy it is to wheel a suitcase over cobblestone versus carpet) and quantitative data (how many minutes it takes to manually inflate a standup paddleboard or set up a tent). We capture photos throughout our testing to spotlight the most important features of each product and give you a behind-the-scenes look into our process.

Decathlon Itiwitt 10-foot

Travel + Leisure / Nathaniel Allen

Our Recommendations

After a test, we spend hours sifting through the notes and scores each product received, along with other key specs and price points, to determine which ones deserve our seal of approval. Within our set of winners, we also call out which products serve a particular purpose — the best overall (our favorite from the test), the best lightweight, the most durable, the most affordable, the most comfortable, and more — so that you can find the best option for your specific needs. 

However, just because we love a product and it makes our list, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. In our reviews, we’re honest about what we like and what we don’t like, so you know exactly what you’re buying. A product might check all the boxes from the test, but maybe it's less size-inclusive than other brands, has unclear setup instructions, or uses a lot more unnecessary packaging. We call that out for you.

Once we publish content with our recommendations, that’s not the end. Since we test products over long periods of time (up to a year) and also test new releases and models as they become available, we update our lists regularly with new information.  

Our top priority is making sure that you are happy with the products you purchase based on our recommendations. We're picky about the products we travel with, and we think you should be, too. Having the right gear can make a world of difference in comfort and convenience when you travel, and our mission is to provide you with product recommendations that will elevate every trip you take.

Best Camping Air Mattresses

Travel + Leisure / Margot Cavin

Affiliate Disclosure

If you choose to purchase a product through one of our links, we may receive an affiliate commission. However, our recommendations are editorial and independent, purely based on rigorous testing and researching processes by our editors. We only recommend products that meet our high standards. We purchase almost all of the products we test; if we do receive an editorial sample for consideration, we never promise coverage, and we test that item alongside similar products.

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