Top 4 Technological Tools for Travelers
Forget your paper plane tickets, film cameras, and travel agents. More than ever, we live in a world where technology makes traveling easy and enjoyable. Whether your travels are for business or pleasure, take advantage of the best tech and make your next trip a breeze!
Many novice travelers are shocked to find that electrical outlets aren’t universal. Electrical outlets have a letter designation from A to M—that’s a lot of different types of outlets! Some countries share the same outlets; Japan and the USA share the 2-prong flat vertical outlet, while almost all of Europe uses the 2-prong round outlet. Australia uses a 2-prong flat V-shaped outlet, so European and American plugs don’t fit. Universal adapters are a traveler’s best friend, since they can accept any plug type and allow the device to be used in any country. They’re small, inexpensive, and worth carrying a few.
Be careful, though—the electrical outputs are different in each country, and if you aren’t careful you could fry your beloved laptop or hair dryer. For example, Americans use 120V while Australians use 240V; plugging an American curling iron into an Australian outlet could cause it to overheat and burn hair or even catch on fire! Check the small print on the chargers and plugs for your devices and look for the line labeled ‘input.’ If it reads “100-240V,” then it’s safe to use in any country with any electrical output. If it only shows one allowable input, leave it at home.
The bustle of a busy train station, a screeching baby on an airplane, a drunken hostel roommate, or a wannabe rapper blasting obnoxious noise from his tinny cell phone speaker—all situations where a little less auditory stimulation would be appreciated. Rather than try to drown out the noise with your own loud music, you can protect your hearing and your sanity with a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Many people become anxious around loud noises, and you may be surprised by how relaxed you feel with a little more peace and quiet.
You may be able to live without your laptop for a few hours, but many travelers find themselves incapacitated by a dead cell phone battery. Our cell phones have become so much more than just phones. They’re our watches, cameras, maps, e-readers, GPS units, alarm clocks, translators, and guidebooks. Our travel plans, e-tickets, confirmation numbers, and directions are kept in emails rather than paper itineraries. External batteries can power just about any device, and they’re becoming cheaper and and better all the time.
If you have just a few important devices, dedicated extra batteries for those devices might be a smarter choice. You can buy extra batteries online for most cameras and some cell phones, and while name-brand Canon and Samsung batteries can be costly, the knock-off generic versions are cheaper and will certainly be fine in a pinch. Many cameras, especially high-end and DSLR cameras, cannot be charged with an external battery pack; their batteries must usually be removed and charged in a special charger. It’s better to have an extra $20 battery than to have no pictures from part of your trip!
Gone are the days of lugging around a heavy guidebook for each country or city on the itinerary. Today, a single e-book reader or tablet computer can put thousands of books at your fingertips. Smartphones have many of the same capabilities as tablets, but the screens are too small to read easily; tablets are a much better choice for guidebooks. Apps for attractions, public transportation systems, hotel and travel bookings, and so much more can be downloaded to make traveling easier. Many cameras can also be wirelessly connected to tablets for instant upload and viewing of photos and videos. Tablets will also keep you occupied on long flights and train rides!