Five nifty travel gizmos

While my main focus is storage, I travel too. And given that it's a pain, your gizmos shouldn't be. Here are my easy, functional favorites.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Your mileage may vary but I like products that do a well-defined job simply and easily. Here are some I like.

Easy two-factor security
I have a personal blog that, over the years, has been hacked a couple of times. I'm nervous about updating it in public when away from home.

That's why I like a new-to-me service from Duo Security. They enable two factor authentication on a WordPress blog and many other services.

Two factor authentication combines something you know with something you have. So if somebody swiped your password they still can't get into your account.

The Duo service for Wordpress combines a WordPress plug-in and an iPhone or Android app. Once registered, easy and quick, a single on-screen button push does the job. Simple, easy, effective.

I like it. Free for personal use with business and enterprise licensing available.

Lightning charge
It isn't easy to travel with several devices – a notebook, phone, tablet and travel router – without a rat's nest of cables. That's why I like 2-3 inch travel cables encased in flexible plastic, like the USB mini cable kit from Griffin.

But then along came Apple's Lightning connector.

I've tried third-party Lightning cables and micro USB to Lightning adapters, but none pleased. But the ChargeKey does the job.

It fits on a keychain, handy to some, and is light, flexible and sturdy. Pricey at $25 but if you travel with an iPhone 5 or recent iPad you can afford it.

Travel router
It is disgraceful that the FTC allows hotels and telcos to claim one rate while insisting on mandatory add-ons - such as "resort fees" - that may add 20 or 30% to the price. More irritating at hotels: limiting Wi-Fi to a single device.

Enter the travel router. These tiny, lightweight, USB powered routers don't have much range but in a hotel room you don't need it. They connect to the hotel network through cable or wirelessly and allow you to connect several devices to that "Free" Wi-Fi or network service.

Set up is simple. With a Mac there's no software to download and all configuration, including adding a password, is handled through Safari. Also claims to stream video from a USB thumb drive, but I haven't tried that.

I got a HooToo Tripmate Nano for $20 at Newegg on sale.

Surf safe SurfEasy
I'm not often forced to use public and insecure wi-Fi, but when I am the SurfEasy VPN connection provides some peace of mind.

SurfEasy is a USB dongle loaded with a browser that connects up to SurfEasy servers on a VPN. Performance takes a modest hit, but has never been a problem. Up to 500MB a month is free; $60/year gets you unlimited bandwidth for up to 5 Windows, Mac (the one I've used), iOS and Android devices.

SurfEasy provides protection against most attacks as well as private browsing. Let's face it, if someone really wants your data they will figure out how to get it.

Great for using public Wi-Fi in coffee shops and airports. About $55 for the dongle plus the plan.

Visibly organized
Out of sight is out of mind for me. If I can't see it doesn't exist. That's why I like the Grid-it organizers that leave gadgets secure and visible.

I maintain several grab and go kits for travel. Cables, power supply, router, SurfEasy, and other fiddly stuff is strapped in. I can tell at a glance if I have what I need when I slide it in my briefcase. About $20.

The Storage Bits take
Once upon a time I enjoyed traveling. Those days are mostly over, especially since I have a 2+ hour drive to the airport. But a few tools have made life on the road better and may help you as well.

Comments welcome, as always. I bought all of these with my own money except the ChargeKey, who sent me one for free. What is your favorite travel accessory?

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