I travel a lot for work. In 2014 I visited 62 cities in 13 countries, logging over 300,000 miles and spending 224 days on the road. There is no shortage of products geared towards frequent travelers, and I’ve tried a lot of them. Many I just haven’t found helpful (like neck pillows), but some have become must haves while I’m on the road. Here are some of my favorites.
Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling Headphones
My biggest passion outside of work is music, so it’s should be no surprise that the first item on my list is a pair of headphones. Noise canceling headphones are a must have on any flight. Between the engine noise, and the other passengers, it can be hard to tune out everything going on around you and relax. These headphones make it easy to put on some music or a podcast and just relax. They come in a nice carrying case to keep them safe, and they include an adapter for older airplane headphone jacks with two prongs, so you can use them instead of the cheap headphones they hand out on flights. They also have a remote and mic built into the cable.
The only downside of these headphones is that they’re a bit bulky so they take up valuable bag space. Bose makes noise canceling earbuds as well, and I’ve heard really good things from people who own a pair, but I’ve personally never found in-ear style buds comfortable for long periods of time. I’m able to wear these on an 8 hour flight with no problem, so for me the extra space they take up in my bag is worth it.
All things considered, these headphones are the number one thing I can never travel without.
Mophie Powerstation XL Battery Pack
This battery pack is a lifesaver on long trips. It seems my iPhone and iPad batteries never last quite long enough on longer trips, and there’s nothing worse than being in a foreign country and not having access to information and communication. This thing is pretty simple, it charges via USB, and provides power on two USB ports. I’ve found it’s generally enough to charge my phone 4 times on a single charge. It also has enough power to charge both my iPhone 6 and my iPad mini at the same time. Mophie has a few sizes, this one being the largest, and at just over 11oz (312g) it’s not the lightest thing in my bag, but just like the Bose headphones I think it’s worth the space and the weight to know I’ll never be stuck with a dead phone while traveling.
UE Boom Bluetooth Speaker
As someone who takes music very seriously, I’ve always been skeptical of the sound quality of portable wireless speakers. I tried the UE Boom in an Apple store last year and I was so blown away by the sound that I bought one immediately. The volume this little thing puts out is impressive, and the sound rivals much bigger systems. I still can’t figure out how it puts out as much bass as it does.
It also has a built in microphone, so it can be used as a high quality speakerphone. I’ve used this feature a few times when on conference calls for work with colleagues in the room with me, and everyone was able to hear clearly. Listeners on the other end of the call reported a voice quality on par with other speakerphones.
Did I mention it’s water resistant? It can be used in the shower or by the hotel pool without worry.
It charges via USB, and has an incredible 15 hour battery life.
At 7.1″ (18cm) tall and a weight of 19oz (538g), this is easily the biggest and heaviest item on my list, but like the two items before it, I think the tradeoff for quality and performance more than makes up for the size and weight.
Kenu Airframe Portable Smartphone Car Mount
In my time on the road, I’ve gone throguh a lot of smartphone car mounts, and this is by far my favorite. I’ve found there are two main problems with most smartphone car mounts; they’re bulky, and it’s hard to find a vent mount that works reliably in many different models of cars.
I’ve been using this one for about 6 months now, and with it’s small size, I barely notice it’s in my bag until I need it. It’s also been able to mount to the vent in every rental car Hertz has thrown at me since I bought it.
The only drawback I’ve found is that after a few days of use, it can start to slip off the vent, so this may not be the best choice for a permanent installation in your personal car. If you’re in and out of many different cars like I am, this is the best mount for the job that I’ve found so far.
elago Tripshell World Travel Adapter
With support for over 150 countries, I have yet to go somewhere that I couldn’t use this adapter. It can charge 2 USB devices simultaneously, and has a universal outlet for connecting a plugs from many different countries.
It’s important to note that this is not a power converter, merely an adapter, so make sure anything you plug into the outlet can handle the voltage of the country you’re in. For me, the only device I have that doesn’t charge via USB is my MacBook Pro, but Apple’s power adapters can handle both 110v and 220v. If you’re looking to keep a MacBook, iPhone and iPad charged while in a foreign country, this is a great solution.
The only thing I don’t like is that it has a blue LED that is obnoxiously bright. If you charge your devices overnight in your hotel room like I do, this can be a problem. I just covered the LED with electrical tape. Problem solved.
What is your must have technology when traveling? Let me know in the comments.