These days, there are a lot of ways to get burned. It’s not just the threat of a pickpocket or some other criminal activity, since there are now any number of ways travellers can be tripped up by an honest mistake, or a run of sheer bad luck. Thankfully, as with so many things, technology is here to save the day, and these ten gadgets could save you from hours of needless stress. In other words, these gadgets can ensure your vacation will stay right on course.
There are a number of services that help keep track of your bags, from independents like Okovan Global Baggage Tracking to airline solutions such as the Star Alliance luggage locating tool. Some are simply machines, some services with recurring fees. What they all have in common, however, is peace of mind. Airline bag tracking is sometimes difficult to trust too heavily (they are the ones who lost your bags in the first place, after all), and outside solutions offer advantages ranging from response speed to accuracy to simple reliability. These systems tend to be good enough that a traveller waiting to receive a bag can see when it has arrived at their location, and be there to pick it up before the official notice even comes in. Now that’s convenience.
In the world of petty thievery, there are few objects more sought-after than a laptop computer. Phones may be smaller, but they are also more difficult to strip and sell illegally. The risk-reward ratio for laptop thieves is very forgiving, so travellers need constantly be on the lookout for would-be pilferers. If that seems like too much work, a simple laptop lock will do. This makes bathroom breaks less of a hassle, as the laptop need not be carted off every time, and removes the need for compulsive checking – is it still there? Is it still there, now? But of course, you bought a notebook lock, so yes, it is.
Wine is one of the most common gifts from abroad; it’s classy, everybody likes it, and each region produces wines with specific characteristics that make them authentic mementos from exotic locales. They are also, unfortunately, one of the most destructive items found in the average travel case. Not only does their number and storage often rankle security personnel, they are notorious for shattering and soaking clothes and other items permanently red. Get a Wine Skin, or similar off-brand alternative, to take care of both the breakability and security issues. This airport-ready container keeps bottles padded, and if one does break, contained. Just make sure you know how many bottles you can bring with you – wine skins can’t help with volume restrictions.
Steripen Ultraviolet Water Sterilizer
Water sterilizers like the Steripen Ultraviolet Water Sterilizer can be a godsend. Though many will choose to zap away at resort or restaurant water, these places have gotten much better at assuring water quality for tourists, especially in the last decade. Rather, water sterilizers are a portable assurance that every venue will remain viable and, above all, potable. Nothing ruins a trip more than a bout of sickness, especially when the microbes that got you are so harmless to the local population. Avoid this indignity and make the most of your trip with a water sterilizer. No more will your only safe choice for liquids be tequila and lime juice (though you can hide the pen and pretend, if you really want to).
We all know that it’s a cliché to hide our wallets in the toes of our shoes, and so over the past decades we have devised more and more elaborate ways to cleverly stash our valuables. An ingenious take on this classic problem is the StashCard, which turns one of your laptop’s unused card ports into a storage unit for small objects. Those looking to grab cards, cash, and identification will look right over a large and heavy laptop, and the rest will look past it too, once they see your highly visible laptop lock – right? Consolidate your valuables in as few focal points as possible, and you’re less likely to forget one in a crucial moment.
There are a number of options out there, including the Walkabout Door Lock, but they’re all essentially identical. Whatever their mechanism of action, these gadgets keep just about any door closed and locked to unwanted visitors. These need not always be thieves, and a good door lock can save you a good deal of money shopping around for places where you feel more comfortable leaving your items unattended. Unwanted maids are now a thing of the past, as well, and the peace of mind granted by a truly locked door can help many get the vacation sleep they need.
TSA Luggage Lock
Everybody needs a luggage lock – that’s obvious. However, what many people don’t know is that most major world airports have rules about what sort of lock they will allow on a bag. Now, most of the time you’ll slide by without an inspection, but bags with unapproved locks are often returned without the lock – security cut it off to get inside. In America, any TSA-approved lock will do, and their standards are accepted throughout most of the world. If you’re going to invest in a luggage lock (and you’d better) make sure you get something that will last, and which has no chance of holding you up.
Okay, so this one approaches being too nerdy for most travellers, but it’s no less essential for that. A moneybelt is to a wallet as a derringer is to a rifle: it’s more portable and harder to spot, but ultimately designed for the exact same purpose. These little security gems sit underneath your clothes, so go for something small. Too many travellers try to stuff it with every item they can think of, and end up with a huge bulge that defeats the gadget’s whole purpose. Restrain yourself: Cash, travellers cheques, a few cards, a passport, and your most important tickets. Anything more than that, and you might as well just get a purse.
Speaking of wallets, make sure yours is immune to the latest in advances in identity theft. It might seem paranoid, but these days it is not at all impossible for a diligent thief to read your cards while they are still in your wallet. Keep yourself safe by investing in a wallet laced with a built-in mesh of wave-breaking wire. These wallets are completely safe for magnetized cards, but will keep your information on lockdown. RF-blocking slips also exist, but are less convenient than a wallet with such functionality built right in.
This might not seem like much of a security measure, but if you’re ever lost in a foreign country with no battery life and a foreign outlet standard, you’ll understand why it most definitely is. With a solar charger, even an overcast day can provide enough juice for a quick, necessary text (or to check your phone for vital information). Most phones include a power reservoir for emergency calls, but not every emergency requires a call to the police. Especially in sunnier climes, a solar charger can ensure you’re never more than a quick lay out away from all the communication you need.