Top 10 must-have travel tech accessories.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Yeah, well he never had to take a 10-hour flight in coach. Vacations are fun (hopefully), but getting to the destination and losing out on some of the creature comforts of home is kind of a drag. Then you have to try to keep yourself entertained, hope your bag doesn’t get lost, and make sure you don’t fry your favorite gadget when traveling overseas. The accessories on this list will help you out on all those fronts. They’ll also help you drown out travel noise, keep your devices nice and charged, and help your phone survive a dunk in the water.
A high-capacity external battery
External battery chargers have become popular, but because they get bigger in size along with how much power they provide, many folks only have a small one. Do yourself a favor and invest in a slightly larger, but way-higher-capacity battery like this one from Anker. It weighs less than a pound, but has the ability to charge an iPhone 6 seven times. There’s nothing worse than thinking you have enough power to get you through a trip, but getting stuck with a nasty layover or missed connection. Plus, this one has two USB ports, so you can help out a friend if you’re traveling together.
Anker PowerCore 20100 Portable Charger, $39.99
A power converter
Don’t fry your electronics when you go overseas. This is coming from a well-seasoned traveler who still managed to slip up last summer. It’s a little heavy-duty looking, but if you’re going abroad for a significant amount of time, it’s well worth investing in a power converter like this one from BESTEK. In addition to its three outlets, this power converter has 4 USB ports, so you don’t have to take up any outlets when you need to charge your phone or tablet. If you’re picking one of these up you’ll be all set for travel to Europe, the US, UK, or Australia.
BESTEK International Travel Voltage Converter $39.99
A waterproof Bluetooth speaker
If you’re going on a beach vacation, it’s a good idea to bring a waterproof Bluetooth speaker along. You can listen to your favorite tunes without worrying about it getting destroyed if a big wave comes or it gets left in the rain. Out of all the durable options I’ve tested, JBL’s Flip 4 has survived my most aggressive water test yet: 10 minutes of full submersion. It’s also small enough to fit in a carry-on bag in transit, and a beach bag when it’s time to hang out by the water.
JBL Flip 4, $81.99
A streaming stick
If a hotel room is going to be your home-away-from-home for a week or two and you want to kick back and watch YouTube videos after a day of seeing the sights, Roku is your friend. Their latest streaming stick got our recommendation recently for good reason. Performance is pretty consistent, and any lag was app dependent, not system wide. Video output is limited to 1080P, but unless you’re staying an a very tech-forward hotel, you’re probably not going to have a 4K TV in your room. Best of all, the Roku doesn’t take up too much space, and can be powered by a TV’s USB port.
Roku Streaming Stick (3600R), $36
A selfie stick
For better or worse, selfie sticks have become a constant companion for many travelers. I’m recommending this one by Fugetek because people seem to like that it pairs with your phone via Bluetooth. Once paired, you can snap a shot or zoom in or out through the buttons on the stick’s base. This model extends out up to 49″ and is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones, GoPros, and digital cameras. Reviewers on Amazon are generally happy with this device’s overall design and build quality, although one lamented the fact that it wasn’t strong enough to hold their DSLR despite Fugetek’s claims.
Fugetek Professional High End Selfie Stick, $18.95
A battery case
If you’re traveling and don’t feel like carrying around an external battery, it might be a good idea to pick up a battery case for your phone. Like I’ve said before, nothing is worse when traveling than having your phone die on you. Anker’s slim profile batter case adds an additional 120% of battery life to your iPhone 6, while adding less than a quarter inch of depth. The case is charged by MicroUSB, and charges your phone simultaneously if they’re attached. Most reviewers on Amazon praised the case’s profile and charging performance. There were a handful whose cases didn’t charge properly, but all Anker products carry an 18 month warranty, so swapping it out shouldn’t be a hassle.
Anker PowerCore Battery Case for iPhone 7, $33.99
A waterproof phone case
If you’re going to be around a lot of pools and beaches on your next trip, it’s important to make sure you’ve got a case on your phone that can stand getting wet. We’re going to continue to recommend the Lifeproof Fre as the best waterproof phone case option. It has a small profile and works as advertised: If your phone takes a dunk while in this case, you won’t have to run for the rice. If you like the idea of having more waterproof tech, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Lifeproof FRE Waterproof Case for iPhone 6/6s, $36.02
Engine noise, children screaming, and chatty row mates are all part of the modern traveling experience. Tuning them out can be the difference between arriving at your destination well rested or very aggravated, which is where noise-cancelling headphones come into play. I’ve tested Sony’s H.ear pair before, and it performs well — especially at its current price. The noise cancelling is powerful, and if you listen to music with that setting on, you probably won’t hear anything else.
Sony H.ear Bluetooth Headphones, $348.00
A luggage tracker
If you’ve ever lost a bag while traveling, you know how tedious and nerve-racking it is trying to get it back. Plus there’s the thought that it might never be found and your stuff will just end up in a between-airport limbo. Trakdot wants to eliminate that frustration with its palm-sized luggage tracker. The tracker has a GSM chip inside of it so you can be kept up to date on its newest destination (hopefully you’re at the same one.) When its within 30 feet of you, the Trakdot will send your iOS or Android phone an alert. Reviews of the product seem positive, but there’s one catch: there’s an annual, biannual, or lifetime subscription fee. That makes sense because the GSM chip in the Trakdot is performing the same task as it would in a cell phone, but it’s still something to consider.
Trakdot Luggage Tracker, $39.99
If you’re an avid reader and traveler, you owe it to yourself to pick up a Kindle. Nothing will ever replace a paperback or hardcover book, but the sheer convenience of being able to carry hundreds of books at a time is undeniable. If you’re going to give the Kindle a shot, I recommend going for the Paperwhite. It’s a step up from the standard Kindle, but it has a higher-resolution screen that has backlights built in. This makes it easier on your eyes, and eliminates the need to use those all-too-bright overhead lights on the plane.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, $119.99