Travel Tech

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As someone who strives to travel lightly and smartly, I have grown to love using technology to my advantage.

There have been moments during my travels where I was incredibly grateful for the tools I set up beforehand and the travel gadgets I brought with me. I have been caught in positions where having a power bank, an e-sim service set up, or a tracker prevented a worse situation from happening.

More often than not, great tech products can save you time, money, and stress if used properly. Read on to learn about the best tech products for maximizing your travel experience.

Read More: Why You Need International Travel Insurance When You Travel

Portable chargers are essential travel gadgets. Photo by Canva
Portable chargers are essential travel gadgets. Photo by Canva

1. Portable Charger

There have been many times when I have been saved by a portable charger. Whether my phone conveniently dies right when I need to direct my way home or there aren’t chargers on trains when I thought there would be, I cannot emphasize how important a portable charger is for your travels. Make sure they have all the proper ports for what you need to charge on the go including USB-A and USB-C, and ones that support lightning cables for your Apple Products.

Don't forget a travel adapter when you travel internationally. Photo by Canva
Don’t forget a travel adapter when you travel internationally. Photo by Canva

2. Travel Adapter

A travel adapter is a travel essential but it’s very important to find the right one for you. Pay attention to the ports and what your own devices may need. My boyfriend bought one that didn’t accommodate the power chord for his MacBook so he kept having to use mine. My favorite has two USB C ports, 2 USB A ports, and a traditional plug-in port. It has three settings, one for the EU, one for the UK, and one that works for both Australia and America. This versatility is important.

Amazon's Kindle is my favorite E-Reader. Photo by Canva
Amazon’s Kindle is my favorite E-Reader. Photo by Canva

3. E-Reader

I don’t think I have to explain why an E-reader makes more sense than lugging around a whole library. Modern E-readers allow for thousands of books stored in one simple, light device. You can store travel guides, PDF documents, maps, and content beyond just books for pleasure.

I have an old Kindle that has lasted me a while and has served me well. There is an amazing feature that allows me to loan books through my local library. Just like loaning a normal library book, you can get it for increments of 3 weeks and extend your loan if need be.

Learn More About Checking Out a Library Book on Your Kindle

eSims are a great, affordable way to acquire data abroad. Photo by Canva
eSims are a great, affordable way to acquire data abroad. Photo by Canva

4. eSim

I have been able to get around Europe for three months using exclusively Airalo, a recently developed invaluable travel tech product. Airalo is an eSim that is very easy to use and costs way less compared to using your home phone plan abroad. Before using Airalo, I used Verizon’s international plan which cost $100 a month. For convenience’s sake, this was worth it. I thought the alternative was to physically buy and replace your SIM card. I didn’t want my number to change which is why I didn’t like this option. Newer phones also don’t allow this.

Airalo

Airalo allows you to purchase gigabytes in many different countries or regions. When I was in one country for more than a week, I bought it for that country. If I was moving around a lot, I bought the Europe regional plan. I found that its cheaper to buy per country but easier to buy the whole region if you move a lot. Airalo notifies you if you are running low on data and it’s easy to buy more.

How much you need is dependent on your lifestyle. I have found ways to be pretty frugal with my data and make 1gig last a week. Other times, I blow through 10 gigabytes in a few days. I recommend starting with a gig and going from there based on your habits. I turn off cellular data for the apps I don’t feel I need it for which definitely saves a lot of data. The ones that drain your data the fastest are photo and video-heavy apps /websites. I also sometimes use it as a hotspot, which can also use up a lot of data. Texting, light internet browsing, and using your GPS do not use much data.

Some Airalo plans include a phone plan, but the one I used did not. I am fine calling with WiFi, but this can be limiting, depending.

AirPods are a great, compact travel tech gadget. Photo by Canva
AirPods are a great, compact travel tech gadget. Photo by Canva

5. Noise-Canceling Earbuds or Headphones

If you have an iPhone (or even if you don’t), I recommend getting some AirPods, specifically the AirPods Pro. Not only are they great quality but they are noise-canceling which is crucial for travel. Whether you want to sleep on the plane when a baby is crying or accidentally booked a hotel room in a rowdy neighborhood, AirPods allow you to create a sense of peace in a chaotic world.

Like Apple Airpods, noise-cancelling headphones are a great travel tech companion. They are bulkier and take up more space, but typically have better quality sound and more accurate noise-canceling capabilities. Most are wireless headphones which is convenient but pay special attention to battery life when buying them.

My parents swear by Bose headphones and whenever I take a flight with them, they seem at bliss even when a baby is screaming. Beats headphones also now come with great noise-canceling features.

Read More: How to Pack Light for Any Length Trip Abroad

A smart watch has surprisingly become one of my favorite travel gadgets. Photo by Canva
A smart watch has surprisingly become one of my favorite travel gadgets. Photo by Canva

6. Smart Watch

I took a while to hop on the Smart Watch bandwagon. My father was quick to buy one, and I laughed every time he answered a phone call by talking to his wrist. Several years later, I decided to give it a try to keep track of health and fitness stats, and I’m glad I did.

In addition to being a useful fitness tool, it is a great companion to your iPhone. When there are directions on Apple Maps, it transfers to the watch so you can put your phone down. It gives you fewer reasons to take your phone out all the time, which is good for safety reasons, too. It’s much easier to steal a phone than a watch that’s securely attached to you. It has so many good features that make travel a breeze.

I’m also very impressed with the battery life – it lasts a full 18 hours. If you forget to charge it overnight, you can just plug it in in the morning. It won’t take much time at all to charge (depending on what percentage your battery started at).

Using an Apple Watch for Travel

There are many other smartwatches on the market that offer different features and range in price. I chose the Apple Watch because I like the compatibility of Apple products with one another. Here are some other top contenders ranging in cost and functionality:

Apple AirTags are a great way to keep track of your belongings. Photo by iStock
Apple AirTags are a great way to keep track of your belongings. Photo by iStock

7. Item Trackers

In a time where losing things is shockingly easy, this travel tech product is essential if you want to keep track of your belongings. I regret not getting some before my latest trip, because I did have a few incidents where I left items in dumb places: like a suitcase in a busy plaza, or my purse at a pub. I got eerily lucky with those incidences but I never want to risk it again.

Tile

Tile: One of the original companies to revolutionize this concept is Tile. This is a company that my boyfriend’s family swears by. They put the trackers on their keys, in their wallets, and on anything else they don’t want to lose. You can buy only one or a pack of 4 (recommended). They also have some designed specifically for wallets (credit card shaped), and stickers that are their smallest most discreet tracker.

Apple Airtags

Apple Airtags: Apple recently developed a product similar to Tile, but equipped with Apple’s intuitive and seamless technology. If you have an iPhone, I recommend the Airtag, because you’re able to see where your belongings are through the Find My app. I have my iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and MacBook Air all set up through Find My and I get alerts when I leave a device somewhere. These features work with Apple Airtags as well. There’s even a way to map a route directly to your belongings, with the precise location of where it is. Similar to Tile, Apple Airtags come in a pack of one or four. You can buy various accessories for them including keychains, clip cases, loops and more

Find Out More About Apple Airtags

There are plenty of other great trackers on Amazon that vary in price and function. Find out more by clicking the button below.

A great, easy way to keep your luggage safe. Photo by iStock
A great, easy way to keep your luggage safe. Photo by iStock

8. TSA Fingerprint Padlock

If you want more piece of mind with your luggage, it’s always smart to have a way to lock everything up. I got a pair of mini padlocks with traditional keys for my last trip. I found these to be a nuisance because I always had to go digging for the key to open my luggage. Also, if I ever lost a key, that would overcomplicate a lot. The next best option is the combination locks so all you have to worry about is a code. This is a nice solution but it is still time-consuming and annoying and it’s game over if you forget the code. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of the latest and greatest travel tech, and have a padlock that opens by fingerprint?

Translator devices are a travel game-changer. Photo by iStock
Translator devices are a travel game-changer. Photo by iStock

9. Timekettle Translator Earbuds

My overall favorite travel tech gadget is the Timekettle Translator Earbuds. This concept feels straight out of the future and is an absolute game changer when traveling abroad. Better yet, they’re having a Black Friday sale with 15% off until Christmas. I personally think this is one of the most creative gifts you could get for your travel-addicted friends and family.

Capabilities: These translator earbuds are compact and look just like normal earbuds. They provide 2-way simultaneous translation and is 100% hands-free. It supports up to 6-person bilingual translation and supports 40 online and 13 offline languages. Timekettle also has Mini Handheld Translator Device that shows instant translation written out on the screen.

Read More: Traveling Abroad? Don’t Miss These Revolutionary Translator Earbuds

Apple Pay and a convenient and secure way to pay. Photo by Canva
Apple Pay and a convenient and secure way to pay. Photo by Canva

10. Apple Credit Card

Not to sound like an Apple product ad, but I have to give them credit for monopolizing the tech market with high-quality products. I recently tried out Apple’s Credit Card. The card boasts great security features, no foreign transaction fees, a good point system, and works seamlessly with Apple Pay. I don’t remember the last time I had to take out a physical credit card. The physical credit card doesn’t have any information on it besides your name. The card number and other details are all safely stored in your Apple Wallet. If you don’t want an Apple Card, most other credit cards are compatible with Apple Pay.

Learn about Nerd Wallet’s Top Contenders for Travel Credit Cards

As you shop for your favorite travelers (or yourself), these are the best travel gadgets that utilize the most modern technology. Any of these products would make excellent gifts and would immediately inspire your loved ones to plan their next trip (and hopefully invite you, too).

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