Carry On: Travel tips and accessories for the holiday season

What to pack and where to go over the holidays

The business traveller on your holiday list doesn’t need another luggage tag, thanks. What they really want (even if they don’t know it yet) are these six modern essentials.


Away is the colourful, practical luggage brand winning over world travellers with design that’s both hardy and ingenious (think: compression straps and dividers; lots of compartments and pockets). Only available online, the hard-shell four-wheel suitcases (from $325) come in five sizes, including one for kids, with a canvas Everywhere Bag (from $295) that slips over the handle. Look for a special holiday Luminous collection.


Quality ear buds are vital on almost any voyage, but wireless Google Pixel Buds (pre-order from the Google online store) change the travel game by offering real-time translation—and all kinds of other everyday assistance—through one-touch Google Assistant connectivity (via your Android device).


The transit-commuting tech worker on your list will appreciate an ingenious USB charger and handwarmer from Eddie Bauer ($65). With three hours of charging time and three temperature settings, it keeps mobile devices powered and your fingers winter-limber enough to operate them.


Plastic zip bags work great for wet swimsuits or potentially leaky cosmetics, but they don’t typically score style points. Water-resistant wet bags from Wander (starting at US$36) come in dozens of patterns and are perfect for keeping your smartphone sand-free and dry at the beach or pool, too.


Who among us isn’t guilty of a wallet bulging with receipts, cards and more during peak shopping season? The Ridge (from US$75) is tiny but expandable, blocks radio frequency identification (RFID) and holds up to a dozen cards. The polycarbonate or aluminum gadget even has an optional money clip or strap, so you can make this travel wallet an everyday convenience.


Travellers regularly misplace their smartphones in cabs and rental cars, drop them in bars and toilets, or inadvertently fry them with unfamiliar chargers and electrical systems. The MEEM cable for Android or iOS (from US$89.99) does double duty by backing up your personal data, photos and videos, contacts, calendar entries and more every time you charge.


If your family has winter wanderlust, consult the woman called one of the world’s best travel advisers by Forbes and Condé Nast Traveler on what’s hot this season. Mary Jean Tully, Toronto-based CEO of Tully Luxury Travel, has plenty of executive (and celebrity) clients whose wish lists for the holiday season include “reconnecting with loved ones and family on multi-generational family trips.” Villa rentals, safaris and cruises, and other destination-based experiences can help families disconnect from technology and “get back to a time when sitting around a campfire, having a singalong or playing a board game was all the entertainment needed,” Tully says.

Her clients crave destinations that value conservation and sustainability. “They may care about where their food comes from–is it local, or was it shipped a long distance?” she explains. “They avoid activities that are harmful to wildlife or not respectful of cultures. They want to learn about Indigenous cultures and meet the locals through first-hand interactions with different cultures, nature and history.” If that sounds like you, consider South Pacific or Asian destinations this winter–both popular with Tully’s clients.

Tully also has pro tips for combining some family time with business trips. Look for urban hotels offering weekend family or romance rates (always pick a hotel with an indoor pool for kids, she says): “Adding two or three nights onto a business trip can make it feel like a real mini-vacation.”

Once you’ve nailed down dates, buy online tickets or get concierge help with booking local entertainment, events, reservations and spa appointments. “Don’t wait to do this until the last minute as they always book up,” Tully says. Or find a weekend spot within two hours of your business destination, meet up with your family and hire a driver to guide you there. “You’ll be more relaxed when you arrive and will learn things on the way from your driver and guide,” Tully notes.