The minimalist guide to summer travel tech

The minimalist guide to summer travel tech

Summary: As someone who prefers to travel as light as possible, here are some tried-and-true tips on how to make the most out of toting the fewest gadgets and entanglements possible.


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  • Foursquare/Swarm

    A lot of my friends think Foursquare is a bunch of rubbish and routinely chide me for wanting to publish where I am all the time.

    But that’s only a small part of the quickly-expanding Foursquare platform — despite the recent oddball development siphoning off the check-in process as a new app dubbed, “Swarm.” (I’m a bit peeved by the feature/app separation strategy demonstrated by Foursquare, Facebook, and others, but that’s a whole other article/rant entirely.)

    While I do use Yelp and TripAdvisor for restaurant and hotel reviews from time to time, I’ve found Foursquare’s mobile app and desktop browser user experiences to be the most fluid and time-saving of the bunch.

    Foursquare has also proven to be the most sophisticated and seamless way for keeping track of both where I want to go and where I have been through lists I can curate myself or follow others made by established travel and culinary sources such as Travel + Leisure, Zagat, and Eater, among many others.

    Foursquare and Swarm: Free. Native apps available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. Reviews/lists (but not check-in process) also available via desktop and mobile browsers.

  • Photo Storage and Sharing

    Even if you're not into selfies (you're really not alone), chances are you're going to be using your smartphone to snap some pictures wherever you might be venturing.

    Thanks to the convergence of the cloud, mobile, and big data, gone are the days where organizing photos after a long trip need to be more exhausting than enduring a long line at TSA.

    There are many options out there, and I actually keep my photos backed up across a number of different cloud services (i.e., Google Drive, Box, Flickr and Facebook) after putting them through a melange of photo-editing apps.

    But for amateur and professional photographers alike, Dropbox's Carousel gallery app for digital photos and videos is one of the best places to start. Once you download and opt in to the geo-tagging and upload features, Carousel really takes care of the rest.

    The app automatically organizes your photos by date and location while uploading images in full resolution, freeing up valuable space on your smartphone for more photos or other digital content.

    Carousel by Dropbox: App and up to 2GB of cloud space are free. Pro storage starts at $9.99 per month for 100GB of space. Available for iPhone and Android.

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Hardware, Smartphones, Travel Tech

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  • Excellent tips!

    Nice stuff, Rachel. The Logitech keyboard for the iPad mini you use is quite good, but it might be worth a look at the ZAGGkeys Cover for the mini. I've used both keyboards and the ZAGG is better for touch typing.
    • Logitech and ZAGG

      Thanks, James! I've tried Zagg keyboards with the iPad 2, and definitely good stuff from them too. For my use anyway, any keyboard with the 9.7-inch iPad hasn't required much typing adjustment. Any keyboard w/ the iPad mini does take some time, but it's worth it for the stress relief on my shoulder :)
  • Nice tips.

    I would skip the key board for the ipad though. If you are only going to be answering a few emails, then save some weight and leave the key board at home. Also, if you have a very good camera on your phone (iphone, GS5, Lumia etc) then you can certainly leave the camera lens at home. I would also suggest a 1 size smaller backpack than you think you need. You'll be amazed at what you really don't need, when you don't have space for it!
  • Don't need FlightBoard

    The free TripAssist (also from Expedia) will show you your updated gate info... but it's free. Also, look at GateGuru (also free) for detailed maps of all of the terminals at the airport, so you don't waste time going the wrong direction.
  • I just avoid tech

    For me, I try hard to avoid tech on vacation. Part of my vacation is to get away from the constant connection to work and schedules. I keep my iPhone close but keep it on silent. Only monitoring occasionally. I don't need a keyboard, because I don't plan on any lengthy replies. A smart phone is smaller and still does what most tablets like a iPad Mini does. I'm sure not everyone can get by with just a smartphone. But for me I have ditched the tablet scene and either use a notebook or a smartphone. Tablets are just not on my list of travel necessities.
  • Wrong About NC Headphones

    Rachel King is dead wrong about noise canceling headphones eating up batteries. That was true back in the day, it's not true in 2014. I just picked up Sony MDRNC13's which are rated at 100 hours battery life with only 1 AAA battery. Today's noise canceling headphones are much more efficient and last a lot longer.

    I will say however, I am intrigued with the use of bluetooth headphones and I do plan to get one in the future. For long flights though, the noise canceling is a must to kill the low frequency hum of the engines. The ability to get off a 9 hour flight refreshed and energized because of a headset is really a blessing.