There’s nothing worse. You’re walking around a conference. After a few hours of tweeting, messaging and checking your calendar, your phone’s about to die. And it’s only 11am. For all the improvements in technology we’ve seen over the past few decades, travelling is still a chore.
Battery technology can only get so much better, and even then you’re looking at four to six hours of productivity – if you don’t get distracted. The fact is, most people are unprepared when it comes to travelling. They stick the laptop in a bag and head to the airport, not thinking about what might happen when their phone suddenly dies or there isn’t a spare power point at the airport. But thankfully there are plenty of travel technology tools available to make life easier.
We’ve put together a list of the top 10 travel technology tools that will make your journey just a little bit more productive, and hopefully, stress-free.
1. Cable organisation
Hardly high-tech stuff, but there’s nothing worse than having a bunch of cables tied up in your bag. One solution is using cable ties, but there are plenty of other, better ways to manage your cables. The Grid-It system is a popular choice. The board uses elastic bands to keep different cables and gadgets together on a board, which can be organised in any way the user wants. Of course, basic cable ties like the Nite Ize do the job well enough.
2. Noise-cancelling headphones
As much as airplanes have improved in terms of ambient noise, there’s nothing worse tham the roaring drum of a jet engine when you’re trying to get some work done. Noise-cancelling headphones go a long way in helping. Most of the major hardware manufacturers make noise-cancelling versions, although Bose is most well-known for its range. Other high-end brands such as Sennheiser and Grado are also popular.
3. Portable batteries
The main problem with charging smartphones, tablets and other high-powered gadgets is that you normally have to stay in on place – next to a powerpoint. Portable batteries are affordable and will give you an extra two, three or even four charges while walking around. They’re a little heavy, depending on the brand, you’ll be able to slip it in your pocket without a problem. Some of the most popular brands include Mophie and Third Rail.
4. USB chargers
Although gadgets come with USB chargers, there’s nothing stopping you from using any non-branded charger as well. There are plenty on the market, and they’re invaluable in a tight spot. Something like the Logiix cubes are easy to store away, and then pull out whenever you need them.
5. Wi-Fi hotspot
Apart from just being a handy way of accessing internet on devices without a mobile data connection, Wi-Fi hotspots are a must for travelling groups. Only one person needs to have a hotspot – the rest just connect to the device. Most carriers will offer Wi-Fi hotspots, but if you don’t need a 3G connection and just want to split a single internet line into Wi-Fi, Apple’s Airport and Airport Express are a good start.
6. Power strips
It’s one of those gadgets which we tend to think about bringing but leave behind. A power strip can go a long way in turning your travel from a pain into a seamless experience. Especially at an airport, where a power strip can not only help out yourself but others as well if you have a spare port. While any old power strip will do, there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a little extra power. Manufacturers like Belkin and Monster make power strips with USB ports and surge protection as well, so you’re able to access all sorts of gadgets.
The most obvious converter used by travellers is the power converter. But plenty of jetsetters forget about the other types of converters they’ll need along the way. Whether it’s a USB A to B cable, or a VGA to DVI converter for an external monitor.
8. Wireless keyboard
The wireless keyboard and mouse combination isn’t going to be right for everyone, especially if you’re not crunching that much work. But if you have a laptop and you’re using it constantly, you’ll find it’s best to get a small, bluetooth-connected keyboard and mouse set for work on a larger desk. And in any case, if your laptop keyboard happens to break – which occurs more often than you’d think – you’ll have a spare set handy.
9. A spare phone
It’s amazing how often we don’t think of this. You probably have an old phone from the mid 2000s sitting around. You should charge it, turn it off, then take it with you. They’re always going to work and if your smartphone dies you can use it in a jam. Most countries will allow you to buy a prepaid SIM card. Nine times out of 10 you’re not going to use it, but you’ll be thankful for the one time you brought it along.
10. USB drives
Using cloud services is all well and good, but there’s still nothing worse than having no way to back up your data. You may lose internet access for some reason, and for those situations you need a backup. USB drives are easy to come by and easily portable.