The travel industry is massive, and there are boatloads of new products pushed out each year that will “make your life easier” while you travel the globe. Some inventions change the game significantly, while others disappear forever just as quickly as they emerged. Travel gear is consistently getting smarter, so we have less to worry about on the road. Here are a few travel accessories that can make traveling easier, more convenient, and will allow you to pack lighter.
Multi-tools are nothing new, but sometimes we overlook these gadgets as gimmicky stocking stuffer gifts. Wallet Ninja has embraced the gimmick and filled their site with advertisements that mock those ridiculous late night infomercials.
The Wallet Ninja is a credit card shaped multi-tool that has 18 different functions. These include a bottle opener, cell phone stand, eyeglass screwdriver, regular screwdriver, wrench, letter opener, nail puller, box opener, ruler, fruit peeler, and can opener.
While you (hopefully) won’t need to use all of these functions while you’re traveling, this can device can make meal time a tad easier. I always travel with a wine key or a bottle opener on a key chain for picnics. This tool eliminates the need for both items while also providing some extra features that make food prep a little easier. The can opener and fruit peeler sound perfect for when you’re on the road. While I have never traveled with an eyeglass kit, I’ve had many travel experiences where a screw comes loose on my sunglasses and I have to buy a new pair. The eyeglass screwdriver would definitely come in handy on one those occasions. When you’re on the road you may want to catch up on your favorite TV show. The cell phone stand can be great when you’re spending a day on a train, for example.
The best parts of this tool (besides the fact that it fits in your wallet), is that it is TSA approved and easy on the wallet at only $10.
The new and updated Lifestraw Go has a 2-stage filtration system that allows you to filter out impurities and drink waters safely on the go! In addition to the award-winning technology of their first Lifestraw Go, the new and updated version has an activated carbon capsule that reduces bad odors, tastes, and chlorine for about 3 months of use (26 gallons).
This means that no matter where you are, and whatever the quality of drinking water in that country, you can fill your water bottle at the sink, a river, stream or puddle (sorry, it can’t remove salt from ocean water).
The bottle will remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria like E-Coli, and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
When the life of your fiber membrane cartridge has reached its end, you’ll notice you can no longer pull water through the mouthpiece. LifeStraw has made it so you will never drink contaminated water, so when water no longer flows through it, you know its time to replace the cartridge. You can increase the lifespan by cleaning the LifeStraw property after each use.
The best part of this product is the impact it has on our global community. For each bottle you purchase, one school child in a developing community will receive safe drinking water for a full school year!
The BPA-free bottle comes in 5 different colors and costs about $50. Never worry about having to find bottled drinking water in a remote location ever again. You can fill up anywhere now!
Skyroam is making it super easy to stay connected no matter where in the world you are. This hotspot will allow you to have unlimited 3G/4G WiFi connections wherever you are. Well, anywhere with a cellular network for that matter. The hotspot currently works in over 100 countries!
You don’t have to worry about changing SIM cards in every country, or adding pricey subscriptions to your cellular service. The connection is secure and encrypted too! The Skyroam switches SIM automatically to give you local data, and you can order it as you need it. At $8 for every 24 hours, this can add up, but you’ll never have to worry about going without the internet again. Purchase the Skyroam Hotspot for $100 and pay for the service by the days you need it, or you can rent it for just $10 a day!
You can also share the hotspot with family and friends. Each hotspot supports up to 5 devices, so share the wealth! Just be sure to charge it every night so that you never have to worry about being disconnected again!
Eyefi Mobi Pro
If you like to take photos of your travels but hate the process of constantly transferring images from your SD card to another device, the Eyefi Mobi Pro is here to make that process so much simpler. It’s a memory card that comes in either 16GB or 32GB with built-in WiFi. If you don’t have a camera with WiFi, this device makes it easy to connect to your smartphone, tablet, laptop or Kindle device.
The Mobi Pro works just like a regular SD card, except when connected it will instantly send photos to the device of your choice. So after snapping those pictures on your SLR from your African safari, you’ll see them on your phone right away. Now you don’t have any cables to worry about and you don’t even have to remove the SD card from your camera in order to transfer images to your laptop. Never worry about not having an internet connection again, because the Mobi Pro does this for you.
While traveling, it will create a secure and private connection, and if you’re home the Mobi Pro will also transfer images over your home WiFi network. Using this SD card you will have multiple ways of transferring your pictures to multiple devices at once. You can directly connect to the iPhone app for example, while also syncing with the cloud, which will allow you to review these on your Mac (or PC) as well! With the cloud, you'll never have to worry about losing your pictures if a device is stolen.
You can transfer both JPEG or RAW files with Eyefi mobiPRO, although RAW files will drain your camera battery much faster during transfer since they are much larger files and you do need to have your camera on during the process.
Currently, this is the only WiFi SD card that integrates with the cloud. Eyefi’s Cloud is free for the first year, although you will have to shell out about $50 per year after that. The Mobi Pro isn’t cheap, it runs about $100. While it will certainly streamline the photo uploading process for you, you will need to evaluate if the convenience is worth the money. If you don’t have an SD slot on your laptop, this might be a no-brainer purchase for you!
Very recently, Toshiba began implementing “Eyefi Connected” features into its FlashAir SD memory card, so stay tuned for more affordable options similar to the Mobi Pro.
Selfie Stick that Doubles as a Tripod
With the invention of the selfie stick, we’ve become self-reliant on taking portraits of ourselves and our friends and family. We don’t have to ask strangers to take our pictures if we don’t want to, and we get to control the frame of the shot, the angle, lighting, etc. They’ve become a lot more acceptable and popular over the last few years. There are hundreds of versions out there which will allow you the flexibility to take the photograph that you want, without anyone else’s help.
When was the last time you traveled with a tripod? If you aren’t a professional photographer, your answer may be “never.” A tripod can be really helpful in getting the perfect shot whether you want a full-length picture at a distance, a long exposure time, or maybe it is simply because there is no one else around to take your picture.
Both of these products can be incredibly helpful while traveling, but the reason they make the list today is when these features are combined. The GoPro 3-way Grip, Arm, Tripod Mount is one of our favorites (if you own a GoPro camera). This versatile camera mount can be used not only as a selfie stick, but also as a camera grip when you’re on the move, or as a lightweight mini tripod stand that is stored within the handle. The tripod feature can be used on its own (removable) or with the adjustable handle/arm. When fully collapsed the product is 7.5 inches, but expands up to 20 inches. This combo stick is one of the more expensive products like this out there, and designed exclusively for GoPro cameras, but there is a multitude of similar options for other smartphones that you can find on Amazon.
Waterproof Cell Phone Case
For those of us that don’t have a water resistant/waterproof phone, but don’t want to limit ourselves from participating in wet and wild adventures, invest in a waterproof case. I’m on my second LifeProof case since my last iPhone decided to take a swim in the ocean a couple years ago. I have complete peace of mind now when I'm in a watery environment. I don’t worry about accidentally dropping the phone in the sink, toilet or a body of water for that matter! I take it stand up paddle boarding, I can take it swimming (in limited depths of course), and it can withstand going under waterfalls like when I went to Iguazu Falls.
My favorite LifeProof case is the NÜÜD design, although I currently own the FRE. The NÜÜD case allows your fingers to make direct contact with your phone screen. You can add a screen protector to keep the screen free from scratches but the case itself creates a waterproof seal around the screen. The FRE case has a thin sheet of plastic over the screen which is attached to the case so you do not have direct contact with your touch screen. It can reduce sensitivity a little on occasion, but it is still a fine case, and might actually give you a bit more peace of mind if you don't trust the seal of the NÜÜD case.
If you don’t want to pay $50+ dollars for a waterproof cell phone case (I don’t blame you), you can always go the cheaper route and buy a dry pack clear pouch for your phone which hangs from your neck on a lanyard. You can pick one up for under $15. You can still take pictures and video with your phone, although it may be a bit more difficult to use and lower quality images. Bonus points if you get one that floats!
What travel accessory can you not live without?
Add your favorites in the comments below!