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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  • Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

    Headphones are a must for any trip, especially on airplanes where you’re trying to drown out the noise of four engines or four crying babies (or all of the above).

    My biggest problem with most earbuds is that the cords always become tangled into a gargantuan mess, either in my bag or around my neck as I (foolishly) attempt to balance my iPad and a meal on the tray on the seatback in front of me. That’s followed by another pet peeve with noise-cancelling headphones being that they are usually bulky and very thirsty for battery juice all the time — a frustration for long flights.

    LG offers a stellar entry that alleviates all of the aforementioned afflictions. Not only does this almost weightless headset offer high-quality audio and fit virtually anywhere (I kept it around my neck most of the time — even through security metal detectors), but it charges via standard Micro USB. That battery charge feels like it lasts forever sometimes — or at least it survived a nine-hour haul from Istanbul to New York immediately followed by another six-hour jaunt to San Francisco.

    LG Tone Ultra HBS800 wireless stereo headset. Available in black and white. MSRP: $119.99.

  • Attachable Camera Lens for Smartphones

    Sony Cyber-shot QX10

    The cameras on newer iPhone models and many Android smartphones have all but replaced the standard point-and-shoot camera, but in some spots they’re still lacking.

    In case you want a boost without upgrading to a digital SLR or even an entry-level interchangeable lens camera, you may want to consider an attachable lens. Such an accessory can boost zoom levels by 10 times.

    Sony offers two decent options in this category, including the lower-end QX10, which you can get for roughly $200 when on sale with some online vendors. (Looking for a good used or refurbished model on Amazon, NewEgg or Overstock is also a great way to save some cash and get nearly the same quality as a new model.)

    One of the benefits of this space-saver route is the one-touch connection with your smartphone, where you can save hundreds upon hundreds of photos that can then be automatically geo-tagged (if you’re into that sort of thing) and synced with photo sharing and storage apps like Dropbox. (More on that later.)

    Sony Cyber-shot QX10. Available in black and white. MSRP: $249.99.

  • Portable Power Bank

    As a sign of the times, none of the gadgets featured thus far require archaic disposable batteries.

    But they do all depend on an electric outlet now and then.

    To reduce the number of outlets and cords required (not to mention how often you’ll need to pull over to recharge), a portable power bank could come in handy. You shouldn’t have to spend much on one of these, and most options aren’t much larger than a Swiss Army knife. Try to find one sporting a 3-in-1 adapter cable so that you can charge standard USB-equipped devices alongside old and new iOS products.

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

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6 comments
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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.
    JamesKendrick
    • 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 :)
      RachelKing
  • 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!
    Low_tech
  • 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.
    joe@...
  • 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.
    JohnnyES-25227553276394558534412264934521
  • 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.
    Maha888