Do you remember the days when your long-haul airplane journey didn’t have screens showing films on the back of the seat in front? Or when there were a few screens that dropped down the central aisle? Or you didn’t have any screens at all? Ok, we could be going back in time a little, but it’s amazing to think that so many things we take for granted on our travels simply didn’t exist that long ago.
The ingenuity of technology and the vast range of the online retail market has made a major transformation in the way we travel. You can still watch films on a long plane journey – in many cases, films that have recently been released and that have not come onto the market for downloading to a computer. You can still plug into the audio for someone else’s selection of pop, rock, or classical music. However, that’s not where travel’s at now.
You’re probably used to working on the move, and the ubiquity of laptops and tablets means you can keep in touch with work wherever you have a Wi-Fi signal. However, sometimes you just want to switch off and take some time out.
Here is a selection of gadgets to help you through your travels, and you can find many more ideas at As Seen On TV, which sells a wide range of useful travel gadgets.
Tablets and laptops
In the end, it depends on what size of screen you want, how much weight you’re prepared to carry, and what you want your device to do. Tablets have become the go-to device for many because they are light, easy to stow in luggage, and give you powerful connectivity when you are traveling. You can store a wide range of films, favorite TV shows and music, and on a long journey, maybe a Greyhound across America or a trip from Chicago to Australia, you can access exactly what you want, when you want. You’ll need to be fully charged to start with, and make sure you take your charger and any adaptors for switching to power sockets of other countries. Make sure you have good earphones because there is nothing more annoying to fellow passengers than a constant leakage of drums and bass!
Laptops used to be heavy – some still are – but the new generation are much lighter, and if you prefer a larger screen size and you have the space, it’s worth taking one. Prepare what you want to see and listen to or just download some books to read. You can also have a range of games that can be accessed offline, as with a tablet, or online when you have a Wi-Fi connection.
You may feel that you have all the gaming requirements you want with a tablet or laptop, but if you’re used to and enjoy the capability of specialist gaming machines such as PS4, then it’s certainly worth considering including them. If you love to play MMORPGs and don’t want to miss out for a while, then you should probably add your gaming machine as an essential gadget.
You can read books on other devices (or even take a real one with you). However, an eReader, such as a Kindle, is a preferred choice for many who enjoy reading because it’s designed to give a better quality of light. Eyes can easily get strained when reading from devices, so you can prevent eyestrain and tiredness by looking at this option. An eReader is also very light, so if the weight of your luggage is an issue, especially if you are backpacking, it could be very useful.
Where would you be without a cellphone? With the right package, you can make calls, message, surf the web, as well as download a huge range of travel apps to make your traveling that much easier. Need a hotel or hostel quickly? Get an app that will find you options in the area you want to be. Need road conditions and travel updates? Yes, there are apps for that. In fact, apps for cellphones have opened up the world of travel, so you can plug right into weather conditions anywhere in the world, find restaurants and reviews, and get translation programs for an enormous number of languages. Unless you love paper-based maps (and to be fair, many people do), you can discard them in favor of an online map that will give you distances, alternative routes, any problems on the way, and the option to search for accommodations and eating places where you’re headed.
When traveling abroad and using electronic devices, you need to be able to charge them wherever you are. Check that you have the appropriate adaptor for your devices (if there are two of you traveling with several devices, take three or four). You may be able to buy them when you arrive, but better to be safe than sorry. They don’t take much space and you’ll be pleased you took them.
Security checkpoints are getting more stringent in their operations, so consider getting an airline-friendly carry-on bag so that security staff can see what electrical items you are carrying and may not need to remove them and check them individually.
These may not appear to be particularly glamorous gadgets, but they are a staple for travel, particularly for long-distance travel. Taking a battery-operated toothbrush and razor can help you clean up both during and after a long journey. Feeling refreshed, whether or not you are traveling for business or pleasure, can make a real difference to how you feel when you get to where you’re going. It’s as important to look after the body with these types of gadgets as the mind with the electronic entertainment machines.
Plan your travel, decide what gadgets are essential, check what you are comfortable with in terms of packing and weight, and enjoy what the online world can bring you.