Grace Lower | Dec 21, 2020
The future is here, folks. We can video-chat our loved ones from the other side of the world, use our watches to keep tabs on our health, and access the world’s knowledge with the tap of a phone screen. Although so many facets of life are facilitated by technology, there’s still plenty of room for innovation in the world of travel. Teleportation and hassle-free public transportation aren’t quite here yet, but fortunately, there are gadgets available to make travel a little more joyful. Whether you’re taking a cross-state road trip or an international excursion, here are a few technologies that will enhance your adventure.
A proper set of headphones is an absolute game-changer, especially on busses and planes. The full-ear coverage ensures crisp sound, and it can easily drown out cranky babies, roaring engines, or the chatty person in the next seat over. Without wires, you won’t have to worry about tangled cords or snagging your headphones on an armrest. Best of all, you can get wireless headphones across a variety of price ranges and in a whole spectrum of colors. A word of caution, though—flashy tech can make you a target for theft, especially while you’re abroad. Depending on your destination, keep your headphones in a safe, discreet place when you’re in public.
E-readers have been around for a while now, and while they haven’t made physical books obsolete, their compact design makes them a favorite among travelers. Rather than cramming books onto your carry-on or making overpriced purchases at the airport’s bookstore, you can store a library’s worth of books on a single, portable device. Unlike tablets, e-readers often have weeks’ worth of battery life and special lighting to reduce eye-strain. With a quality e-reader, you can save room in your luggage without sacrificing a good read.
Unlike a traditional point-and-shoot camera, action cameras are built with durability in mind. These compact gadgets can be attached to bikes, helmets, cars, surfboards, and even pets—and they capture footage in crisp, wide-angle HD. While GoPro remains the most iconic action camera on the market, other brands like TomTom and Sony offer comparable versions. These cameras come at a cost, but if you’re looking for a way to document your next outdoor adventures, they’re worth the investment. Not sure where to begin? TechRadar and Digital Trends offer detailed breakdowns of their favorite picks for 2018.
If you’re not quite ready to commit to an action camera, you can easily improve your own photo- and video-capture experience with a multipurpose phone grip. The selfie stick is the most infamous model—allowing you to take group shots and flattering selfies without straining your arm. If you’re worried about dropping your phone, a sleeker alternative is a compact finger holder, like these versions made by PopSockets or LoveHandle. For more candid photos, a flexible mini-tripod like GorillaPod will help you take solo or group shots without having to flag down a stranger.
If you have a habit of misplacing your things, Tile is an essential travel gadget. The idea is simple: you attach a keychain-sized Tile to essential items: your luggage, your keys, and your wallet. You can then download the Tile app to your phone. If you lose something important, the Tile app can show you the item’s last-known location or have the item ring until you find it. Tile is great for staying on top of your belongings while you’re on the go. Say goodbye to rummaging through luggage and making frantic calls to your last hotel!
Smart luggage is a newer travel trend, and these bags are as carefully designed as they are innovative. Many brands of smart luggage come equipped with USB chargers that allow you to plug your phone into your suitcase, rather than desperately searching for an airport outlet. Other sought-after features include built-in GPS tracking, digital scales, luggage-specific apps, and even cup-holders!
Another way to ensure your devices don’t die on you is to keep a portable charger on hand. Many laptop brands are compatible with external battery packs—just keep in mind that a powerful external battery can be fairly bulky in comparison to your phone charger. Similarly, there are a variety of portable phone chargers that can come in handy if you aren’t near an outlet. Some are even built into phone cases! No matter what type of tech you choose, making sure you have power for the devices that matter most to you is key.
Once you’ve reached your destination, it’s time to get settled in. To make any shared space feel more festive, Bluetooth speakers can amplify your favorite music or your go-to podcast. Whether you’re looking for a compact speaker for your studies abroad or a waterproof speaker for an afternoon at the beach, a Bluetooth-enabled speaker can add joy to your travels.
The right technologies can make your travels smoother, livelier, and more hassle-free. What’s important is that you choose gadgets that align well with your style of travel. If you’re staying at a resort, you might value different tech tools
than if you’re backpacking through rural Asia. Ultimately, the best travel tech isn’t the newest or flashiest gadget—it’s the device that adds value to your travels.
Grace Lower is a recent college graduate with a love for writing and an incurable case of wanderlust. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.