Your bag is packed. Your carry-on is arranged. But is your keychain ready? With so many travel-friendly items that can ride along with your keys, customizing your ring for each trip can be the highlight of your travel-prep routine.
Bauble-sized items spanning the spectrum from speakers to sunscreen mean it's easy to grab and go when you're on vacation. Here are 10 of our favorites.
Key-Shaped USB Drive
Talk about going paperless. Add this key to your keychain and you'll always have the information you need. A flash drive shaped as a key discretely holds four to eight gigabytes of confirmation documents, scans, presentations, and whatever else you might need on your travels. Look for one that's water- and scratch-resistant, so your data will remain safe even if you drop your keys or leave them in a soggy pocket.
Try: The LaCie Key Flash Drive, from $23.49 on Amazon.
The party is always within arm's reach when you've got a tiny speaker to plug in to your smartphone. Turn a trip to the beach into a dance party, or an airport layover into a dance party, or a short wait at the bus stop into a dance party. You'll either make a lot of friends or many enemies with this kind of power harnessed to your keychain.
Try: X-mini's line of tiny speakers starts at $12.99 on Amazon.
A night out. A day at the beach. Anytime you want a bit of money, a credit card, and a spot to stash a small item or two without lugging an entire bag along on your adventure, look to the humble change purse. Long a fixture of bus-riding grandmothers and elementary schoolers, this keychain pocket has gotten a style update in recent years.
Try: Choose your fabric and let handmadeclassics turn it into a sturdy, lined change purse with an attached O-shaped key ring, from $9 on Etsy.
Mini flashlights might just be the best thing to ever happen to keychains. They take up almost no space and come in handy all the time. Say you've arrived at a vacation rental after dark and you're trying to unlock the door without the help of a porch light. Or you're trying to get to the bathroom in an unfamiliar hotel room but you don't want to turn on the light and wake anyone else up. Or you need a little extra help navigating a poorly lit sidewalk on a dark night. Tiny flashlight to the rescue!
Try: The Energizer LED Keychain Light, from $4.88 on Amazon.
You can't fly with it on your keychain, but once you arrive, wherever you arrive, you'll be prepared for picnics and fix-its with a keychain-sized multiuse tool. Scissors, tweezers, bottle openers, files, and more are built into the folds of these tiny tool kits. When they're not needed, they fold up small and stay out of the way.
When you need a pen, nothing else will substitute. It's a lesson learned by travelers thousands of times every day, in customs lines at airports and on rail-pass trains rattling through faraway countries. A small keychain pen won't run out of batteries and will be there whenever you need to jot down a vital piece of information in a hurry.
Try: The Trekker Fisher Space Pen, from $22.47 on Amazon. We're big fans of the Space Pen, and this one is meant to be a trusty keychain companion, there for you even in zero gravity (should that situation arise).
When it comes to eliminating germs, nothing beats soap and water, but hand sanitizer can be a good on-the-go substitute. The CDC recommends an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Carry a small bottle on your keychain and you'll be ready the next time you're in a place where running water is scarce but, say, delicious street food is plentiful.
Try: Purell's Hand Sanitizers in Jelly Wrap Carriers are one-ounce bottles cradled in stretchy webbing that you can attach to a keychain. For these, you're likely to find better prices in drugstores than online.
GPS Locator Device
Find your way back to your hotel in an unfamiliar city, a campsite or fishing hole in the great outdoors, or your car in a vast theme park lot using a keychain-sized GPS position locator device. A reverse-navigation system, it allows you to mark the location you want to return to and then wander away with confidence, knowing you'll be able to find your way back.
Try: The Navin miniHomer, from $74.95 on Amazon.
There are few things more chronically distracting than dry lips. But when you've got lip balm attached to your keychain, the only time you'll find yourself without a quick fix is if you forget your keys. And if you've forgotten your keys, dry lips will likely seem like a minor issue in comparison.
Try: Adapt your existing lip balm by using a holder with a keychain attachment, such as the Zip Stick Retractable Lip Balm Holder, from $6.80 on Amazon.
Never sunburn again. With just enough sunscreen to protect you from a fierce midday sun, you'll be toting the backup skin care you need when you find yourself without a larger bottle. Surprisingly, there are only a few companies making small-sized sunscreens for your key ring. But simply refill one of these keychain-ready bottles with your preferred brand, and you'll be ready for any sunscreen reapplication eventuality. Your dermatologist will be so proud.
Try: Rocky Mountain Sunscreen's one-ounce tube with a carabiner, from $4.45 on Amazon.