Witchdoctor’s essential guide to travel tech

June 14, 2023
4 mins read

Deciding on which gadgets you need for your winter holiday can be a real task. Thank goodness for PAT PILCHER and his indispensible guide.

As much as I love Wellington in summer, winter is a very different story. It feels as if you’re living in a Tupperware container, in a freezer as the sky stays grey for months and our back lawn turns into a swamp from the relentless rain. Add a bitterly cold southerly into the mix and the need to get on a plane to go somewhere warm becomes very real indeed.

As any well-appointed geek will tell you, packing tech for travel is bit of a science. With excess luggage weight costing the equivalent of a Third World nation’s GDP, careful packing is a must. Each gadget must serve several purposes and be as compact and light as possible. Here’s what I packed.

Taking a smartphone on holiday is a complete no-brainer. Not only can you keep tabs on emails and craft social media posts to show everyone what a wonderful time you’re having, but the clincher is that a smartphone is many times lighter than any half decent camera and is twice as versatile to boot.

I packed Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 ($2849). Its four cameras offer super crisp wide-angle photos, a 3x optical zoom, OIS for rock steady videos, panoramas and 4K UHD video, so it shoots pin-sharp photos and videos virtually every time, making it the perfect holiday companion. Equally important is its audio chops. These come via to the adapt hearing function which can customise its audio output to your particular hearing. Add to this its highly pocketable fold out mini tablet form factor, and navigation with Google Maps or translating non-English restaurant menus makes travel a breeze.


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Jet travel is noisy. If you’re in any doubt, try this. Switch on your vacuum cleaner. Now sit next to it in a seat that is marginally too small for comfort, now eat some of your pet’s food. Lastly, add a screaming kid into the mix, preferably sitting next to you. Now do that for at least three hours, or even longer if you’re planning on travelling further afield. This is why a good pair of noise cancelling headphones are a must (sorry, even the best tech can’t do much about airline food).

The noise cancellers I packed were Technics EAH-800 over ear cans ($519.99). They’re super comfy, come with a durable protective carry case (and a handy inflight audio adaptor, should you wish to watch in-flight movies). Most importantly, their active noise cancellation capabilities are rock solid. ANC levels can be adjusted using the Technics audio connect app (Android/iOS) so that crying baby seated behind or besides you becomes less of an in-flight annoyance. Delivering plentiful bass as well as a balanced mix of crisp mids and highs, they also have a whopping 50 (!) hours of battery life, so they’re ideal for long (or short) haul flights as well as poolside relaxation.

Speaking of all thing’s poolside, there’s nothing like a relaxing holiday read. Trouble is books are bulky and heavy. Worse still, once you’ve read them, they’re a dead weight consuming valuable luggage space. The solution to this travel conundrum is Kindle’s latest e-reader, the Kindle Scribe ($619). Not only does its roomy 10.2-inch display make for a more book-like reading experience, but its LED backlighting can be tweaked from a cool white through to warmer shades for less eye strain and night time reading. Amazon also thoughtfully includes a stylus allowing you to annotate books or highlight sections of text and you can send pen written notes to your PC/Mac (if you have an office 365 account). Best of all, e-books are cheap and being pure data, weigh nothing and the Kindle Scribe can hold a matric shit tonne of them in its 12GB of memory. There’s also thousands available via the Amazon bookstore which can be accessed using the Kindle Scribe’s Wi-Fi.

As handy as all this tech sounds, no power inevitably means flat batteries and dead gadgets. Thank goodness for USB. Not so long ago, each gadget used proprietary power adaptors, meaning you had to pack a separate power brick for each gadget you packed. They were usually bulky and heavy, leaving less luggage space for shopping and clothes. Not any more though, I packed a single 68W Belkin GaN power adaptor ($101). GaN technology translates into a super compact design, but plenty of power output, so the GaN power adaptor can also fast-charge many devices, including my phone. As they are 110/240vac multi-voltage capable, they’ll work in almost any country so instead of packing 5-6 adaptors, I packed the one super small power brick, plug adaptors and a USB-A and C cable (plus the charging puck for my Galaxy Watch) and I was good to go.

As handy as the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is while out on the go, I also packed a 10th Gen iPad starting (from  $899). When its super lightweight and compact design is combined with the magic keyboard cover case, it transforms into the perfect travel companion. For knocking out emails, watching movies I’d already downloaded using Amazon Video and other tasks needing a larger screen, it’s hard to beat. For music, I used an Amazon Music subscription. Being able to download entire albums in a high bitrate format and save them to my phone/iPad meant I had a plentiful supply of music without having to resort to tedious CD ripping or illegal piracy.

Being on holiday also meant I took a tonne of Photos. Losing or damaging my phone could however mean than all these memories end up lost. As part of my Amazon Prime subscription ($14.99 per month), I installed Amazon Photos on my phone which gives me unlimited photo storage on Amazon’s cloud services. The gotcha with Amazon photos though, is that storage is limited to just 5GB for videos.

The last, but perhaps most crucial part of the holiday tech I packed was Google Maps. With it, finding good eats and other attractions proved to be effortless. Downloading my destination map to Google Maps on my phone also meant I could navigate without consuming any mobile data (I’d smartly enabled 2Degrees’ local roaming plan, which for just an additional $8 per day meant I was charged for all calls, texts, data at my NZ rate rather than being hit with a whacking great international roaming charge).

PIC: Travel tech Google Maps

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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