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Gorodenkoff | Adobe Stock

6 Unexpected Things That Have Made Our Lives SO Much Better This Year

It’s usually the big, fun purchases that get all the glory—but sometimes the little, boring buys wind up having the largest impact on our day-to-day lives. We polled the SmarterTravel staff to find out the best things that they invested in this year. These were their top picks:

Ultenic U10 cordless vacuum

Ultenic U10 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Turns out spending all day at home really makes you notice those dust bunnies. However, nothing makes vacuuming more of a time-suck than having to stop and unplug it and replug it in every time you get far from a wall outlet. The Ultenic U10 Cordless vacuum solves this problem, making vacuuming as fun a task as possible.

This portable vacuum is cordless (you can run it for 40 minutes on one battery charge), and incredibly lightweight, making cleaning a breeze. My favorite feature: the washable dust container, which can be emptied hands-free for minimal mess.  

OXO Aluminum Dish Rack

Good Grips Aluminum Dish Rack

After discovering just how much dishes pile up when you’re suddenly eating every single meal at home, I was surprised at how much of a difference a good dish rack can make. OXO’s Aluminum version transformed my countertop with a clean-looking design (that actually stays clean, because you can put the drain board and utensil cup in the dishwasher). The plate racks keep my dishes organized and upright (and actually able to dry), and the adjustable drain board is great for small spaces.

caraa Masks

Woman wearing a pink caraa face mask

Turns out, wearing a mask doesn’t have to be annoying—as long as you have the right one. Getting these masks from caraa have made all the difference in comfort—they’re breathable, don’t get sucked into your mouth when talking, and have a filter pocket for extra protection. 

Simple Human Trash Can

simplehuman 46 Liter trash bin

When you’re working from home all day, you start to notice even the slightest of smells from an ordinary trash can. Upgrading to this Simple Human trash can has eliminated garbage smells in my kitchen/makeshift office. Plus, the divided trash/recycling sections has turned two ugly plastic bins into one sleek container that takes up less space and looks better. 

GoWISE Air Fryer

GoWISE USA 1700-Watt Digital Air Fryer

Turns out, the air fryer trend is worth the hype. I got this affordable version off of Amazon, and it’s revolutionized my cooking. This air fryer comes in fun colors (the red adds a pop of color to any kitchen), and churns out perfectly crispy french fries, tater tots, pizzas, and more.   

Grow Light

Ankace Full Spectrum Grow Lamp

These grow lights can save plants in even the darkest of apartments. The LED lights mimic natural sunlight, and help plants thrive. This set of lights has a built-in temperature control to prevent your plants from getting singed. 

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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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