Today, travelers can take comfort in the fact that the modern hubbub of Covid prevention is at least countered by modern technology that makes our lives as travelers noticeably easier. A few nifty new products and improvements have hit the market since our last serious trip, here are our must-haves for the year ahead. (Note that none are shipped from the UK, so you don’t have to worry about additional shipping costs.)
Gadgetpro Flexible Cell Phone Holder
It might not seem difficult to hold your phone while watching downloaded programs, but seven hours into a long-haul flight, the struggle is real. The wedge doesn’t work either – even the rubberiest case will slip off in minutes. So a flexible mobile stand is worth every penny of its €2.99, especially since it can also be used installed in a hotel room, or stuck to the dashboard while driving.
€2.99 from homestoreandmore.ie
Travis Touch Go
We can pretty much get by in foreign lands using wild gestures and slowly pronouncing English words with heavy accents (kidding – don’t do that), but a pocket translator makes communication easier. It works by listening to what you say and instantly repeating it back to the person you’re talking to in their language – useful for on-the-job situations like asking about transportation options or explaining dietary restrictions. Even though it is still a nascent technology, the results are surprisingly fast and accurate. The market leader is PocketTalk, but TravisTranslator has the advantage of not needing an internet connection to translate basic sentences into 15 languages, which means it will be more practical in the wilds of Peru or Thailand.
RRP €249 from travistranslator.com
Waterproof phone case
Don’t find out the hard way – if you’re going on a coastal trip, wrap your precious device in a waterproof case so you don’t lose £800 less at the end of the trip. These cases are perfect for snorkeling and, depending on the exact brand, diving. But you can also use them in swimming pools and on a boat, where the lanyard means you can stretch out of the boat to take pictures without worrying about it slipping out of your hand and falling into the seas. Also useful for snow holidays.
30-39 € from puremagic.com
USB universal adapter
Hands down who flew overseas only to find they brought the wrong adapter. Or forgot the plug bit for their telephone cable. Or have stayed in a ramshackle accommodation that only has one outlet. Guilty on all three counts, I now swear by a universal adapter. This essentially means that on that stressful night of packing and admin before the trip, you don’t have to think about the plug and adapter situation – just throw it in with the cables and then move on to the toiletries situation.
24 € from travelshop.ie
Portable Travel WiFi Hotspot
If you’re heading further than the EU and aren’t facing massive data costs, you have two options: get rid of spotty public Wi-Fi where you can get it, or buy a SIM card local to use in a personal wifi hotspot, which acts like your home wifi router, only on the go – like this TP-Link 4G mobile wifi model. For the most part, it offers a reliable internet connection on laptops, phones, and game consoles, making it convenient for business and leisure.
RRP €89.95 from harveynorman.fr
Urban Factory External Battery Bigee 6000mAh
Such is our reliance on our phones when we’re abroad and constantly in need of information that a power bank is less nice to have than essential. For travel purposes, a power bank needs to balance the amount of juice it stores with its weight, as these things can feel like carrying a brick. There’s a happy medium with the Urban Factory Bigee, which packs about two full iPhone charges into its 200g device (the size of a baking apple). It also charges up to three devices at the same time, which is handy if you’re traveling in a group.
RRP €61.18 from elara.ie
phone lens kit
A phone lens kit means we can cross a single-use camera off our packing list in favor of light travel. Most phone lens kits come with a fisheye lens for that distinctive distorted effect; a .67x wide-angle lens to capture what the phone’s panoramic camera settings never quite can; and a macro lens for extreme close-ups, offering a range of additional options for the budding travel photographer.
€10.50 from designer.ie
Sony XB900NL Noise Canceling Headphones
The main benefit of noise canceling headphones is that the loud background noise of planes and buses is leveled out, providing the user with relative silence. And the over-ear headphones also act as a visual cue if you want to be left alone – because sometimes an airplane breakfast just isn’t worth waking up to. These Sony headphones deliver good bass and have an excellent 30-hour battery life on a single charge, making them a solid choice.
€269.99 from did.ie
If you’re worried about losing your suitcase, backpack, passport, wallet, or other essentials you need while abroad, a Tile can ease those fears. The Slim version is the size of a credit card and fits in luggage tags, passport holders and pockets. If the item disappears, the Tile app shows you where it is on a map, using each device that also has the Tile app. It’s not foolproof, but it helps.
RRP €34.99 from tile.com