Are you a gadget freak? I am, and I’m always looking for cool new gadgets to make my life easier (or, let’s be honest, to play with). And travel gadgets are the best, because they are small and portable, and make my life on the road easier. I am often traveling, and keeping things smooth is important – whether it is scheduling/calendars, recharging electronics, or even finding your way around. While you might have some of these (I hope!), there are some others that might be new to you. Take a look…
- Smartphone. While this isn’t a travel gadget per se, it is an important component of everyday life, wherever you are in the world. It can be an alarm clock, a flashlight, a language translator, a map navigator/GPS, a travel planner, a visa guide, a search engine, ways to find food or bathrooms (love that app, sit or squat), keep away mosquitoes, or even provide you with games to play while your flight was delayed. As everyone says, “there’s an app for that!”
- A money belt. This can do so much more than hold money – it can also hold your passport, important travel documents, or even snacks that don’t melt (for those times when you need all hands on deck for climbing, or something). Get a waterproof one, for rainy days in Southeast Asia (or Seattle). The best part of a money belt is that it looks like a regular item of clothing, and does NOT scream “tourist!”
- Adaptors and chargers. You’ll need plug adaptors to plug in your electronic items. You’ll also need chargers, to charge said electronic items. Make sure you have both, so you don’t blow out your ipad or smartphone (thus negating all the awesome benefits of #1, above).
- Lights. Shine a light on that! You’ll need illumination, somewhere along the journey. Whether you use your flashlight app on your smartphone, a book light, a small travel flashlight, or a head lamp for hands-free lighting, you WILL find this one of the most useful items you carry. The uses are seemingly endless – from picking your way back to the guesthouse on a dirt path to reading late at night while your family is sleeping (darn that jet lag!). Be sure to know the power requirements – batteries, chargers, or cords, and pack accordingly.
- Music! Load up the music on your smartphone or laptop, and bring it along. You might need mood music for a quiet evening on your deck, or party music to keep the kids dancing on a rainy afternoon. Bring portable travel speakers and you bring the party with you. Please remember to keep the noise down for your neighbors, and play culturally appropriate choices. Speakers and your smartphone can also give you plenty of audiobooks to listen to, on long road trips in the car.
- Noise canceling headphones. This is the best investment you can make, of any travel gadgets. Do your research and buy the best ones you can afford. They will help you in a variety of situations, from noisy airplanes to snoring spouses, from loud partiers at your hotel to times when you need to focus on work.
- Luggage scale. Cheap and portable, these can save you a fortune on overweight luggage fees while flying. Need I say any more?
- Ziploc bags. While not necessarily a travel gadget, they are one of the most important travel items you can carry. It can help keep things dry (wet clothes, liquid items), help pack things smaller (pack it in, let the air out), sort dirty and clean laundry, and even be used to store sandwiches for a picnic.
- Something to read on. Your smartphone can do it, but it’s pretty small. Whether it is a kindle, ipad, ipad mini, nook, or tablet, you’ll be happy that you loaded up on ebooks when you have a 20 hour bus ride (and several waits in between). You can access free books from your library, through free book websites, or look on amazon for free (and paid) ebooks.
- Underwater camera. You might be bringing your DSLR, and a point-and-shoot, and your phone can take photos (as can your ipad), but if you’ll be anywhere near water, bring an underwater camera. The point and shoot ones cost less than $100, and provide hours and hours of fun – and great photos! If you’re not heading somewhere tropical, it’s still worth it to play in the hotel pool, doing mermaid poses and making bubbles.