There are two types of travelers: those who come prepared, and those who come with regrets. If you’re the guy that shows up to a lake trip in Canada wearing a cotton sweatshirt, that’s an A-level sign that you’re a travel newbie. The same goes for tech — don’t be the person that’s constantly asking to borrow your travel partner’s headphones! As society becomes more mobile, the tech world is pushing convenience to new levels and it takes keen attention to tech trends to stay on top of it all. Here are seven tech tools that will relieve your travel frustration and get you ready for the road.
1. Noise-canceling headphones
Since my days of touring in a punk rock band, my number-one rule of travel has been this: ABH. Always bring headphones. I can’t sleep without them, particularly in hostels, floors, thin-walled hotels, or anywhere else where I’m not isolated in a room far-removed from the bustling outside world. I’m cursed with being a pathetically light sleeper, which in addition to driving my wife nuts, is quite a hassle for a frequent traveler. Noise-canceling headphones are the ultimate sleep aid for me, even more so than sleeping pills or booze.
2. Project Fi
$5/day international data packages and roaming charges add up quick. Project Fi, from Google, is a phone service essentially built for travelers. Data is $10/GB up to 6 GB — after that it’s free, and data is usable in 170+ countries. Their service moves between data and WiFi depending on what’s available where you are, meaning that there’s no worry about not being able to make calls on your Verizon plan simply because there’s no Verizon towers around. International calls are subject to a small fee, so if you’re on the phone a lot, stick to WhatsApp.
3. GoPro Hero
I’ll admit that I cast a wincing glance when someone breaks out a selfie stick in an awkward place. But I have to remind myself that some of my best travel media — both video and stills — comes from my GoPro Hero 4. When documenting action sports and outdoor adventure are part of travel, GoPro is as good as it gets.
4. goTenna Mesh
How many times have you been abroad or out in the backcountry and needed to contact someone else from your party? goTenna built a communication system that is free from cell phone data or WiFi, and allows users to connect with each other at distances of about four miles in many cases. The device is essentially a walkie-talkie for texting. Download the app on your smartphone, link it via BlueTooth to your goTenna device, and the device sends texts to other goTenna users within range. When traveling with friends or family, staying in touch is simple regardless of who has cell service and who doesn’t.
5. Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker
This one is applicable primarily for road trips unless you’re checking a bag and can stuff a small speaker in there. A good portable Bluetooth speaker, like this one from Kicker, is perfect for camping, hotel rooms, and even driving in a vehicle without a good sound system. Charge in advance, and connect your phone or laptop to rock out to music or podcasts.
6. Portable battery
Basic travel tasks such as booking an Uber or finding an internet café are impossible when your phone’s dead. A reliable portable battery charger is essential. Poweradd makes a great one that’s as easy on the wallet as it is to find space for in your carry-on.
7. A dependable carry-on bag
They may not be the most tech-related item on here but a strong carry-on bag is essential. Something that keeps your clothes fresh, makes it easy to remove the laptop for TSA checks, and fits in the overhead storage bin. I’m a fan of Nomatic — their travel backpack is essentially a cross between backpack and suitcase. It’s perfect for heading to conferences, festivals, and other short trips.