A journey of a thousand miles begins with a smartphone and Google Maps. Some of us won’t take a single step without them these days.
Tech doesn’t take a break in the summer, even if we do. If anything, we lean on our gadgets more when the open road calls. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, tech tools keep us on track, in touch and entertained as we trek from here to there and back again. Packing the right tech can make all the difference when it comes to comfort and convenience.
Here’s a batch of six travel gadgets we put together to help you get the most out of your summertime adventures, on the clock and off:
1. Trakdot Luggage Tracker
Other than getting sick, there’s no bigger bummer while traveling than lost luggage. Minimize the chances of going without yours with Trakdot ($49.99 for tracking device, $19.99 for first year of service). It’s a small, light (just about playing card deck-sized) Bluetooth baggage-tracking device that works with a free companion iPhone or Android app to locate your luggage anywhere in the world. Well, almost anywhere. It doesn’t work in Japan or South Korea, but works everywhere else, its Los Angeles-based maker Globatrac says.
Related: 4 Ways to Beat the Summer Slump
Once you arrive at the baggage claim area, Trakdot sends you a text message to confirm that your bags made it safely to your destination. It will even track down the exact location of your luggage if you’re standing within 160 feet of the device, which you simply stash anywhere inside your suitcases before travelling. Or, if your baggage took an unexpected detour without you, Trakdot texts you the bad news, location included.
2. Fugoo Sport
Whether you’re kicking back at the beach or by the pool, this small but mighty portable Bluetooth speaker has your summertime soundtrack covered. (Not up for playing DJ? Check out Fugoo’s Spotify playlist.) The durable Fugoo Sport ($199) is water- and sand-proof and goes the distance with 40 hours of battery life. When summer’s over (sadly, it isn’t endless), the leaves fall and the winter winds blow, you can bring Fugoo along for all of your wet, wintry activities. It’s snow-proof, too.
Bonus: Turn your Fugoo Sport into a personal assistant by integrating your iPhone’s or iPad’s Siri feature or your Android device’s Google Now in the click of a button.
3. Sony DSC-QX10 Smartphone Attachable Lens
Not enough room room to schlep your full-sized DSLR camera along for the ride (or flight)? Lighten your load and turn your smartphone into a high-end digital camera instead. Sony’s DSC-QX10 ($199.99) snap-on attachable lens transforms your iOS or Android device into 10x zoom camera. The Wi-Fi-enabled lens converts your smartphone’s screen into a camera viewfinder that you can use to edit, export, organize and share snapshots and videos (on Facebook and Instagram) from the road, wherever you go.
4. Bose QuietComfort 20i Noise Canceling Headphones
Silence is golden and pretty much nonexistent when you’re traveling on a crowded plane, train or automobile. Fight back and make your own quiet, happy head space with a pair of noise canceling earbuds from Bose ($299.95). Go completely noise-free or switch to Aware mode, which lets some of the ambient sounds around you in while you listen to music, podcasts or whatever. Aware mode is a smart option for when you don’t want to be totally cut off from the world around you, like when you’re listening for airline gate announcements or crossing the street.
5. Griffin SkyView Travel Seat-Back Mount for Mobile Devices
Not all commercial airplanes come equipped with TV screens on the backs of seats for passengers to zone out on. Surprising in this always-on day and age, isn’t it? We know. We survived a 5-hour Southwest Airlines flight this week with three sugared-up kids without said wonder distraction screens thanks to an inexpensive, awesome little plastic gadget called the Griffin SkyView Travel Seat-Back Mount ($19.99 to $29.99).
It’s a super basic clip that easily snaps onto your mobile device. Once it’s on, you can use it to attach your device to the latch on most airplane, bus and train seat-back tray tables. From there, cue up any books, movies and/or video clips you have locally stored on your smartphone or tablet. Or if your airline offers it, pay for in-flight Wi-Fi and stream its various entertainment options on your DIY seat-mounted screen. Or, better yet, rock Netflix or YouTube on it… if you can. Wi-Fi up way in the clouds is still mostly slow and spotty at best.
We used our SkyView mount with an iPhone and an Android phone, but it also works with smaller-sized e-readers.
6. Datexx PowerNow Buddy - One Year Smartphone Backup Battery With Flashlight
We saw this lithium-ion lifesaver in the SkyMall catalog after our smartphone batteries ran out with two hours of flying time left to go. You can bet we’ll have one in-hand before for the flight home.
The pack of gum-sized, three-ounce PowerNow Buddy ($19.99 to $30.00) stays charged for a full year so you can juice your power-hungry Android phone or iPhone in a pinch in less than three hours. After a year, when your PowerNow Buddy is fully drained, you can charge it back to 100 percent again in six hours via USB/AC adapter. It comes pre-charged and ready to use out of the box. There’s only one drawback: You have to use your own phone charger cord.
Bonus: It also features an LED flashlight and emergency beacon.