Stuck for Christmas present ideas? Take a look at our guide to the best travel gadgets around.
Gone are the days of packing so many books into your suitcase there’s barely any room for clothes. Ereaders let you upload all your reading material – novels, guidebooks, magazines, newspapers, even blogs – onto one portable device, roughly the size and weight of a slim hardback. There are a few versions on the market, but our favourites are the Kindle (£149 from Amazon), Sony Touch (£285), and of course, the Apple iPad (from £429). Not cheap, but worth it for the convenience if you’re a book worm, and the iPad in particular offers much more than just a portable reading device (including our free beach app, coming-soon!).
These days, even the most basic mobile phones take pictures and videos, but the quality often leaves a lot to be desired and let’s face it, whipping out your expensive phone on the beach or in a club can have disastrous consequences. The dancefloors of clubs are the final resting place of many an iPhone, and mobile phone retailers are most likely inundated with insurance claims for sand damaged phones. It’s far more sensible to rely on a camera for your holiday snaps, and you’ll get better results. The Fujifilm FinePix Z70 (£95) is a solid little point and shoot camera which gives great quality pictures at an unbeatable price – so it’s perfect for chucking into your beach bag. The Flip video camera (£129) is a tiny, good quality video camera with a built in USB, so you can just plug it straight into your laptop and upload straight onto Facebook!
We’ve all done it. “I’ll just give them a quick call to let them know we’ve landed,” and ended up with a nasty phone bill a few weeks later. The internet is great, but roaming charges are usually sky high, and even in Europe it can cost up to 38p per minute to call the UK from a mobile phone. The answer is Skype. If your hotel room has free (or cheap) wifi, which most do, you can talk to home for free using a Skype headset. If your hotel doesn’t have WiFi – and you’re confident enough – it will work in an internet cafe, too. Just be prepared for a few funny looks. From £30.
Oakley Split Thump 2
As well as being very stylish shades, Oakley’s Split Thumps have a built-in MP3 player which pipes music through earpieces in each side of the glasses. HOW COOL? Just slot them in when you’re feeling musical, and unclip them when you just want to protect your eyes and look suave. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, do it in style and to your favourite beats. At £182 plus VAT, they’re around the cost of a designer pair, but so, so much better.
Canon Image Stabilising Binoculars
Have you ever stood at a viewing point and waited in the queue to use one of those enormous telescopes which costs 5 Euro, wobbles all over the place and magnifies things by about two? These image stabilising binoculars would make a perfect gift for someone who loves wildlife, scenery, and nature in general. At £310 they’re not cheap, but they’re very lightweight and compact – perfect for packing in your day bag on a holiday excursion.
Waterproof iPod Cover
Few things are more effective at rendering an iPod Nano redundant than a dip in the sea or an impromptu shower from the hotel pool. Well, the clever people at H20 have now made it possible to listen to your Nano not only by the pool, but IN the pool! With Waterproof headphones (also from H20), your iPod will stay waterproof down to 3 metres underwater, so it’s absolutely brilliant for snorkelling or just floating around on a lilo. The Capture waterproof case for iPod Nano with video is £60.
What did people do before Satellite Navigation? Read maps? How did anyone get anywhere?! The newer SatNav models can be downloaded to smart phones, which means less gadgets to take away with you. Hand-held devices might be better for taking abroad, however, and the Satmaps Active (£290) is a brilliant, waterproof device which is great for hikers, bikers, and anyone who likes to go off the beaten track. Also great for avoiding arguments with significant others.
This is NOT for making calls. Before you go away, make sure you’ve turned off data roaming before you’ve even got on the plane, otherwise accessing your emails abroad might cost you more than the flights. The iPhone is best used abroad when there is free WiFi (many hotels, cafes, restaurants, even public areas provide free WiFi these days). A good alternative is the iPod Touch – basically an iPhone that doesn’t make calls. Once you’ve got one, there’s a whole world of amazing travel apps you can download! See our next post for the best travel apps available! From £419 (without contract).