Travelling has changed a lot over the years. These days, you can book a flight to almost anywhere in the world with the click of a button. It’s funny how we take technology for granted – and surprising how recent many of our most life-changing innovations actually are. Before the 1990s, people couldn’t research destinations online or book their preferred seats from a computer keyboard. TripAdvisor, the world’s most visited travel site, didn’t even exist until the year 2000.
Today, we have the best travel gadgets for just about anything: video screens on the backs of airplane seats, GPS apps to guide us around strange cities, translator programs to cope with language barriers, space-saver bags for efficient packing, and a global network of ATMs that have made traveller’s cheques almost obsolete.
The catchcry for today’s global nomads is ‘travel light’, so new travel gadgets need to be as compact and simple as possible – otherwise they will be left at home. Still, there are some of the best travel gadgets that you just can’t do without.
We’ve divided these handy must-have travel gadgets into four categories: ‘Entertainment’, ‘Packing’, ‘Getting Around’, and ‘Lifesavers’. So, wherever your travels take you, the following travel gadgets represent some of the handiest potential additions to your suitcase, backpack or carry-on luggage:
Noise cancelling headphones
Travel can be hard on the ears. Sometimes, all you want is a little peace and quiet. That’s where a good pair of noise cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver. A set of quality noise cancelling headphones lets you take refuge from aircraft engine hums, street noise outside your accommodation, or the enthusiastic bawling of a baby in the train seat behind you.
For travellers who take their peace and quiet seriously, noise cancelling headphones are a must. If silence is golden, then noise cancelling headphones are as good as gold.
Video recording sunglasses
With video recording sunglasses, you won’t miss a moment. Combining style and mind-blowing technology, video recording sunglasses are a must-have travel gadget. Video recording sunglasses are exactly what they sound like: sunglasses with an in-built camera, which can record videos (usually up to 10 seconds long) or take pictures, so you can document all those precious travelling memories.
Most video recording sunglasses have impressive audio and video quality, so you don’t have to worry about sub-par recordings, while they also protect your eyes, which is particularly handy if you’re visiting a warm, sunny climate!
Optical camera lens for smartphones & tablets
When it comes to travelling, less is often more. That’s why an optical camera lens for your smartphone/tablets is such a great travel gadget – you can leave your bulky camera at home, without sacrificing picture quality. If you’re sick of blurry photos ruining your holiday snaps, this is a must-have travel gadget. Simply place the lens over your phone/tablet’s camera, and enjoy significantly enhanced picture quality to capture every special moment!
Wireless travel router
Wi-Fi quality can be sporadic in many parts of the world. Luckily, there are a number of range extenders on the market designed to boost available Wi-Fi signals. Getting stuck in an unfamiliar country without a phone signal or Wi-Fi can be quite scary, making a portable Wi-Fi router an indispensable travel gadget to ensure you’re never without Wi-Fi.
Pocket photo printer
Travel gadgets are all about making the impossible possible. With that in mind, we have two words for you: printed videos. That’s right, you can now print videos. That might sound crazy, but hear us out. In addition to printing photos directly from your phone, pocket-sized photo printers can also print videos. Simply download the app, hover your phone over the printed photo, and your videos will automatically play back. What’s more, you’ll also be shown handy info about when and where the photo was taken!
You’ve heard of smart phones, smart homes, and even smart fridges. Now, smart suitcases are beginning to make waves. Most smart suitcases connect to your phone and show you important data, such as how heavy your bag is, where your bag is – a particularly useful feature if your luggage is lost or misplaced – and whether your bag has been opened. Some smart suitcases even include USB connection points so you can charge your devices on the go.
Digital luggage scale
There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at the airport, only to discover your luggage exceeds the baggage weight allowance. You either have to frantically discard items in the middle of the airport, or pay an excess weight fine. Neither of those are ideal options. Thankfully, digital luggage scales make over-packing a thing of the past. Small enough to fit in your pocket, a digital luggage scale allows you to weigh your bag anywhere, so you can avoid nasty surprises at the airport.
Mini iron, washing machine, and vacuum
When it comes to travel gadgets, size matters. Luckily, these days, there’s a miniature, portable version of just about everything. That includes mini irons, mini washing machines, and mini vacuums. For example, the mini iron is the smallest iron in the world – roughly the size of a computer mouse – but still features a 420-watt motor and three heating levels.
Similarly, the pocket-sized washing machine promises to have your clothes clean in less than 3 minutes, using only 2-4 litres of water and some washing liquid, while mini vacuum pumps remove all the air from your suitcase, thereby shrinking your clothes to half their original size and leaving you plenty of room to bring home some souvenirs. When it comes to travel gadgets, think mini!
Never get stuck in public with an uncharged phone or laptop again, because charging backpacks feature in-built charging ports, allowing you to charge your devices on the go.
Coping with different languages is one of the biggest challenges for an overseas traveller. Fortunately, there are a variety of language translation devices available to help you communicate in the local lingo. Most translation devices will allow you to choose from more than 50 different languages, while also including in-built grammar guides with idioms and irregular verbs to give you a better grasp of how the language works. This can help with everything from directing a taxi driver to your accommodation to ordering food.
These handheld translation devices typically have many functions: translator, metric converter, calculator, language teaching aid, and currency converter, making them an essential travel gadget if you’re visiting a country where you don’t speak the language.
If you’re planning a relaxing, beach-side holiday, it’s definitely worth waterproofing the essentials. Luckily, these days, travel gadgets are available to help you waterproof almost anything. This includes waterproof Bluetooth speakers, waterproof travel wallets for your passport, identification, and other important documents, waterproof suitcases and toiletry bags, and waterproof phone and laptop cases.
While it might not be the most ‘high-tech’ gadget on this list, a universal plug adapter is definitely one of the most necessary. There are few things worse than arriving at your accommodation only to find plug sockets that don’t match your electrical devices. That means you can’t charge your phone, laptop, or tablet, let alone plug in items such as hair dryers or electric shavers. Enter, universal all-in one adapters, which are designed to fit any plug socket. Most universal adapters also feature USB ports.
Solar powered light
Ideal for adventurers, solo travellers, and people who love to explore off the beaten path, solar powered inflatable lights require 6-7 hours of charging in the sun and produce approximately 16 hours of LED light. This is especially useful if you like to go exploring at night or are seeking a little extra security as a solo traveller.
Sandless beach towel
Anyone who has ever been near a beach knows that sand gets everywhere. This is simply a fact of life. Often, you’re still picking it out of your shoes and bag weeks later. Enter, the sandless beach towel, which is impossible to cover with sand. This might sound like a bold claim, but it’s true. No matter how hard you try, the sandless beach towel remains blissfully sand-free, leaving you free to relax and enjoy your travels!
Personal alarms may be pocket sized, but what they lack in size, they more than make up for in sound. Ideal for solo travellers or anyone looking for a little extra piece of mind, simply clip a personal alarm to your backpack, keychain, or luggage, then, if an emergency situation arises, pull the pin and a loud alarm siren will sound for 30 minutes (or until you instruct it to stop). Additionally, most personal alarm devices can be used as tripwires to keep your campsite secure.
Smart sleep mask
Jet lag is one of the worst aspects of travelling. It can be hard to fully enjoy your holiday when your body is stuck halfway around the world in a different time zone. That’s where smart sleep masks come in. Smart sleep masks work on a few different levels. Firstly, they use red-toned light to imitate the sunset, thus sending signals to your body and brain that it’s time to sleep.
Next, they use blue-toned lights imitate the sunrise and let you know that it’s time to rise and shine. While you’re asleep, they also use pulsing lights, which are designed to help you achieve a deeper, more restful sleep. So, if you struggle to sleep on long flights, this might be the ideal travel gadget for you!
Lifestraw personal water filter
Dubious drinking water can be a problem anywhere in the world, whether you’re camping close to home, exploring hygiene-challenged cities, or heading into a jungle. Sure, you can purify suspect water with tablets, pump it through a hard-to-clean filter, mix it with iodine or boil it – but for the ultimate in water purification, Lifestraw personal water filters take efficient simplicity to a new level.
Weighing in at 56 grams, these state-of-the-art filters remove 99.9% of protozoan cysts and 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria without the use of chemicals. It filters down to 0.2 microns and can filter 1,000 litres of water. The Lifestraw allows you to drink safely from most fresh water sources simply by inserting the bottom end of the straw into the water and sucking the purified water out of the top.
Yes, there’s an app for that
Apps can be incredibly useful for travellers and they’re getting more advanced all the time. Apps make it possible to have lots of cool ‘travel gadgets’ stored on a single device – saving you tons of packing space and streamlining your travel-related tasks. Here are some of the handiest apps for techno-geek nomads:
Want to know what the live currency rates are when you’re abroad? This free currency converter helps you sort out all that confusing money conversion, which is an unavoidable part of overseas travel.
It can be a real chore sifting through dozens of travel and airline sites trying to find the best-value flights around the world. Fortunately, the Skyscanner app does all that hard work for you.
Walking around a strange city and asking every coffee shop you come across if they have Wi-Fi is not much fun. The Wi-Fi Finder does exactly what it says: it shows you the location of the nearest wireless internet in your neck of the woods. You can also download maps and access them offline later.
Not everyone can afford to spend every night of their holiday in a 5-star hotel. If you’re after accommodation that’s cheap but safe, this app could easily become your best friend. With over 35,000 budget hotels in 170 countries all over the planet, you’ve got a great chance of finding the perfect place to spend a night (or a week) as you tour the globe.
This cross-platform messaging system makes communicating with people around the world easier than ever. If you’re connected to wireless internet, it’s free – and messages are received at the other end immediately. You can also send videos, audio files, photos and GPS tags. If you travel with a smartphone, Whatsapp is a must-have.
Taxi drivers might not like it much, but the viral expansion of Uber’s car-sharing service is proof of its global popularity. If you’ve had a hard night out on the town and are wondering how to get home safely, this app could be your answer.
Travellers are still waiting for the perfect electronic translator, but this handy app is certainly a step in the right direction. Not only does it translate phrases so you can communicate like a local (well, sort of), but it also has a rather nifty feature that enables you to photograph a foreign word and then translate it.
This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Travel Insurance