It doesn’t matter if it’s a vacation – these days, there’s no escaping the world. For many people, an email must be returned within the day, sometimes the hour, on pain of business or personal reprisals, or both. As a result, it’s handy to have pack some gadgets that streamline the process of staying online and connected, so you can spend the maximum amount of time on what you’re there to do: travelling.
Battery Packs and Chargers
We all know we should pack a spare battery for our most essential devices, right? Laptops, particularly, drain power at a rate of precisely twice your most pessimistic estimates, and too often travellers are left out in the cold. Don’t just bring an extra battery, though, and be sure to invest in a charger if you truly can’t live without a device. The charger will let you replenish one battery at home while using the other in your travels. Combined with a good adaptor, like the one found further into this list, you’ll be all but impervious to battery problems.
Here’s an absolute lifesaver. There are a number of affordable Bluetooth-enabled keyrings with a duo of functions: First, they interface with a simple smartphone app which pinpoints your keys and causes the keyring to emit a sound. Never lose your keys again, or any hotel cards you’ve attached to it. Second, many of these devices also feature a proximity sensor which will alarm if the attached smartphone gets too far away. Walking out of a restaurant with your phone left on the table? The keyring with let you know beforehand. Especially in disorienting new environments where it’s easy to get forgetful, this gadget could very well save your bacon.
SpareOne is a revolutionary new emergency contact product debuted just this year. Taking just a single AA battery, the SpareOne can stay operational for 15 years, if left unused. It can take local SIM cards and connect to both major frequency standards, meaning it is usable in virtually 100 per cent of the world. Most importantly, however, is its built-in emergency call functionality which requires so SIM card at all. Just make sure the SpareOne is on your person, and help will never be more than a phone call away – no matter where you are. At just US $100, more travellers are throwing them in their bags (or those of their children) for some serious peace of mind.
AirPort Express/Trip Butler
In this globalized world, there’s something basically insulting about having to pay an extra rate for data, simply because you’re in another country. Even worse is if you travel in a group, as the combined rates of all these roaming, or wifi access fees can be prohibitive, or at the very least annoying! Now, though, there are a number of solutions for splitting a single wifi signal into an open or protected local network. Apple’s Airport Express, the new Trip Butler, or a number of other solutions will connect and re-broadcast a wireless signal. In a hotel, this can mean a single subscription can connect a whole work-group; just put the splitter on the paid connection, and everybody else connects through the new splitter Network. It’s as easy as that.
GPS gadgets are common these days. There’s a tracker in every smartphone, and one in most mid-range cars, too. However, there is still utility in a few more tracked contraptions in your life, particularly when you’re on the move. Small, unobtrusive GPS devices can localize a lost or stolen bag, or track a fellow traveller for easy meet-ups. Tracking the signal is as easy as checking your smartphone, or one of several proprietary websites. Companies like TomTom offer easy solutions for GPS tracking, and since fewer and fewer need their own dedicated screens, they’re cheaper than they’ve ever been before. Now, global positioning and tracking information is an affordable option for your most valuable travel items.
Multi headphone splitter
This might not be the most work-focused item on the list, but let’s face it: you don’t want to have to huddle together like teenagers on the bus, each with a single earbud in place, just to listen to the same song. A headphone splitter can turn even a quiet train car or airplane cabin into a shared musical experience, and combined with a portable DVD player it can even make personal video an unobtrusive option for groups. It’s also useful for public teleconferencing, so multiple callers can use a single phone line for group discussions.
Magic cable trio
Power cables are becoming more and more standardized, thankfully, but data cables are taking much longer to come around. Though USB is a universal standard for computers, phones and other portable devices tend to you proprietary technology; Android is on microUSB while Apple uses its own standard, and older technology uses an increasingly arcane list of failed or defunct connection standards. A number of space-saving solutions exist, but perhaps the most comprehensive for phones is the Magic Cable Trio, a compact data cable that lets both Android and Apple devices connect to any USB port. It also includes a miniUSB port for older devices or more arcane gadgets like digital phones.
While notebook touchpads have come a long way in the past decade, they are still nowhere near the speed or accuracy of a real, movable laser mouse. There are plenty of small and easily packed mice available, many with retractable ribbon cords for extra convenience, but they are still flat-bottomed lozenges that prove ill-suited to anything but a flat table surface. While on the go, however, such a surface is not always available. Now, a new crop of ergonomic travel mice are available with curved bottom for use on a leg or chair arm. It still works well on a table, of course, but offers a new level of comfort and usability with a simple, travel-friendly design.
Magsafe Airline adaptor
Though this solution will currently only work with Apple products, it’s still an essential enough innovation to make this list. The EmPower standard, which has reached ubiquity in most modern airliners, was designed specifically to limit access to the plane’s limited power supple. The MagSafe Airline Adaptor is an compromise, a power adaptor for airline outlets that will run apple products like the iPad, Macbook Pro, or iPod Touch, but which won’t charge the device. This gives users access to the ample power surrounding them without letting laptop users use up the only reservoir available to all passengers. In a pinch, there is literally nothing else on the market that will get you out of it.
The 150-Country Travel Adapter And Converter
This is arguable the most important item on the list, though it is small and fairly simple. A connection means nothing if the device you want to connect to it is without power, and a spare battery and charger only delay the inevitable. Eventually, you will need to draw power from the wall. Unfortunately, power standards vary both physically and electrically. The literally-named 150-Country Travel Adapter And Converter from Hammacher Schlemmer provides both AC and USB power out with an auto-voltage detector that converts 150 European, American, Asian and African standards to a 120V stream. Just throw it in your bag and choose never to worry again.