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The 9 Best Things We Bought in 2021


As frequent travelers, the SmarterTravel staff is always shopping for the best travel gear out there, along with the best items to make our life at home easier when we’re not on the road. But what items actually live up to the hype? We polled our team to find out what everyone’s number one purchase was for 2021.

Lululemon City Sleek Pant

Lululemon City Sleek 5 Pocket Wide Leg Pants

The lululemon City Sleek Pant is the perfect pant for transitioning from WFH to being in the office. They look professional, but feel like the athleisure-wear some of us have grown perhaps too comfortable with wearing 24/7. – Sarah Tobin

The Ordinary Balance Set

The Ordinary Balance Set facial cleansers

The Ordinary Balance Set is 100% the best thing I’ve bought (multiple times) this year. As far as the travel angle goes, the tubes are all super small and I’ve actually noticed them taking up significantly less space in my toiletry kit when I go to visit family than my old products. – Carol McPherson

The Aerogarden

AeroGarden White Harvest Indoor Hydroponic Garden

I never knew how much having fresh herbs on hand all the time could enhance meals (even the ones where I’m really phoning it in). The Aerogarden makes it incredibly easy to grow and care for plants with lights to tell you when you’re low on water or your plants need food. The seed pods are very easy to plant, and the variety of seeds is huge. I went with all herbs, but my sister started tomato and pepper plants in hers that are now the size of small trees. A must have for any green or not-so-green thumb! – Torie Davids

Hydromate Gallon Motivational Water Bottle

HydroMate water bottle

I have been obsessed with my Hydromate all year—it keeps me hydrated, and made me realize how I needed to drink way more water than I was. When I finish the bottle at the end of the day, I feel so satisfied—it’s the perfect way to feel like you have accomplished at least one thing each day! – Megan Johnson

Apple Watch

Black Apple Watch

2021 was the year that I got really into running longer distances, and also the year that I realized carrying my phone on an armband was not at all comfortable after a few miles (hello chafing). I decided to treat myself to an Apple Watch so I could leave my phone behind on runs and still listen to music, make emergency phone calls, or check maps, and it has been a game-changer for making runs enjoyable. It’s also packed with lots of travel-friendly features, like the ability to pull up your boarding pass on your watch. I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on a full-priced watch, so I bought an open-box Apple Watch Series 6 from Best Buy, which saved me around $150 and arrived looking brand-new.  – Caroline Teel

OXO Lazy Susans

OXO Lazy Susan with various condiments and food products on display on kitchen counter

OXO Lazy Susans! Julia Turshen mentions them all the time in her podcast so when I moved into my new apartment I ordered a few. I am obsessed. I use them in my kitchen cabinets, in my bathroom cabinets, and in my fridge. Things no longer get lost in the back of the fridge! Plus these ones are sturdy, grippy, and turn so smoothly. Every time I spin them I feel a rush of dopamine. They are definitely worth the extra few bucks. – Rosie Steinberg

Breville Milk Cafe Frother

Breville Milk Cafe Frother

This milk steamer has changed our hot beverage life! Perfect for making hot chocolate or chai tea lattes (which are the two things we use it for the most), you can choose your frothiness preference as well as temperature. You can add the hot cocoa mix or chai mix directly in with the milk for perfect mixing, too. Great all year round, but especially for the colder months. – Megan Johnson.

Laneige Lip Sleep Mask

Laneige Lip Sleep Mask on a bed of gummy bears

Laneige’s Lip Sleep Mask is the only thing helping my lips not get too chapped as the weather transitions! – Sarah Tobin

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control and Smart Hub

Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control and Smart Hub
Best Buy

You won’t worry about losing your remote with this set, because you can control every device connected to your TV right from your phone. Living with a toddler means things go missing often, and the remote is always missing. Easily turn your tv on and off using your phone, or even through your favorite Alexa device! – Megan Johnson

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We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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