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The best passport holders, wallets and other travel accessories

Having the right travel accessories can make a big difference when you're on the road. (iStock)

Little things can make a big difference when you’re traveling. So let’s talk about clips, passport holders, laundry bags and other items that generally go unmentioned. Who even contemplates something like a wallet before they go on vacation?

Karin Kemp does, because a pickpocket swiped her wallet during a trip to Italy last summer. She was on an escalator to a platform at a train station in Milan, and the thief scored her IDs, credit cards and cash.

Kemp, a retired graphic designer from Matthews, N.C., learned the hard way never to put all of her travel documents, credit cards and money in the same place.

Now she carries her credit cards, cash and change in a slim wallet, which she keeps in a secure pocket that she can zip. As an extra precaution, she keeps her credit card in an envelope that blocks radio-frequency identification, or RFID, to prevent it from being scanned. The rest of her valuables go into fabric pockets in her belt.

She hasn’t had a problem with pickpockets since then.

There are several wallets that can help travelers avoid scenarios like Kemp’s. The Snapback Slim Air ($55) is an ultra-sleek leather wallet designed for Apple’s AirTags. You can slide the tracker into a pouch without making the wallet look overstuffed, and quickly find your wallet if you misplace it. The wallet can hold up to six cards and some cash. I like the Slim Air, because the pouch also fits some key fobs, so you never have to worry about losing those, either.

Another slimline wallet, the ZH Slim Card Case ($115), also offers a sleek alternative for carrying your money and cards. It’s made with a reinforced leather binding, which improves structure and durability. It only has room for four cards and a sleeve for cash, so you have to choose what you bring.

The wallet I’ve been using lately is the Corkor vegan Cards Sleeve ($27.60). Instead of leather, the wallet is made of durable cork. There’s room for up to 10 cards and some cash, plus a separate quick-access slot that fits up to three additional cards.

What if you need more space? I’ve always liked solutions such as the Travelpro Essentials Leather Passport Cover ($39.99), which holds up to four cards in addition to your passport. I have an older Travelpro passport holder that comfortably holds my family’s passports, vaccine cards and World Health Organization Yellow Cards, with information about all of our vaccinations.

Sherry Morgan likes the Victorinox Passport Holder ($30), which is made of fabric instead of leather and has an elastic band to keep everything safely enclosed. “I love that it features a handful of slots that can be dedicated to the storage of my cards and IDs,” says Morgan, a frequent traveler from Beckley, W.Va., who runs a website about pets.

And that brings us to the smallest essential items: clips. No one should leave home without one of these useful accessories. When I started traveling, I would just head over to REI and buy a couple of carabiners, which are carbon steel coupling links with a safety closure. They were great for keeping luggage items connected. Today, there are clips especially for travelers, such as the Heroclip Mini ($17.95). The Mini can hold up to 40 pounds and weighs just under one ounce.

While researching this story, I heard about a new type of clip called theKlipTrip, which is expected to be available this year. It attaches to rolling luggage handles and holds handbags or outerwear. Kiu Ghadjar, one of the company’s founders, said theKlipTrip was supposed to launch last year, but it was delayed by the pandemic. “We plan to license the patent to existing suitcase manufacturers,” he told me.

Finally, there are items you would just never consider, such as laundry bags. Most people pile their clothes back into their carry-on, but that’s a mistake, because doing so can lead to overstuffed luggage, and you might lose a sock or two in the mayhem. (I have.) I like Paravel’s Compression Cubes ($55 for two), because they allow you to jam a lot of clothes into a small space. I’ve gone from bulging baggage to svelte carry-on, thanks to the cubes.

No matter where you’re headed in 2022, this may be a good time to focus on the little things. The wallet you’re carrying may attract unwanted attention. If you have a new passport and are ready to break it in on an international trip, you’ll want a passport holder that fits your lifestyle. Throw in a few clips and a compression cube, and you’ll travel like a pro.