PAT PILCHER packs his international travel bags with a small but perfectly selected array of useful gadgets that make up his top travel tech tips.
Jumping on a plane to head somewhere sunnier might be fun, but an enjoyable holiday can be even better when you pack the right travel gadgets.
The hardest part of packing travel tech is deciding what to take. In the interest of not selling a kidney to pay airline excess luggage fees, size was the first factor figuring in my choice of travel tech. Anything I packed had to take up and weigh as little as possible. The other consideration was battery life and charging.
With travel from NZ to the UK taking close to 27 hours, I needed gadgets like my noise-cancelling headphones to keep on keeping on. I also needed as many gizmos as possible to support USB charging to reduce the number of bulky and heavy chargers required. Last (but by no means least) each gadget that makes up my top travel tech tips had to fulfil a travel task that added to or improved my travel experience.
Amazon Kindle Oasis E-reader
With long flights and poolside reading figuring prominently, I included Amazon’s latest e-reader, the Kindle Oasis in my travel line up. It’s impossibly slim and light, has USB charging, backlighting and water resistance. There’s room for thousands of books and a single charge lasts weeks. Poolside reads never looked easier.
Huawei P30 Pro Smartphone
In the past, getting decent holiday snaps meant lugging a bulky SLR camera. Not anymore. Packing a 5x optical zoom, optical image stabilisation and crazy night shooting capabilities, the P30 Pro is a far more capable shooter than some dedicated cameras. There’s also 256/512GB storage, so I could carry a decent music library with me and have room for saved Amazon Prime movies. Add Google’s capable assistant to the mix and new AR maps app (see below) for finding attractions, and the P30 Pro is a no-brainer.
When it comes to headphone recommendations in my top travel tech tips, Sony dominated. Both the Wh-1000XM3 over-ear noise cancellers and the more petite Sony WF-1000XM3 noise-cancelling earbuds scored perfect 10/10. With around 30 hours of battery life and fast USB charging, excellent audio and industrial-strength noise cancellation capabilities, the WH-1000XM3 headphones have the makings of a perfect in-flight travel companion. For quality poolside tuneage, the considerably more discrete Sony WF-1000XM3’s were excellent. While they only offer 8 hours of battery life, both its audio and noise cancellation abilities were superb.
Google Maps AR update
One of the least fun parts of vacationing is getting lost. It’s something I happen to be surprisingly good at. That is until Google’s latest Google Maps update arrived. Traditionally, Google maps had relied on a combination of GPS positioning and the compass built into most smartphones to navigate you around.
The problem with this arrangement is that tall buildings interfere with GPS reception and smartphone compasses are notoriously inaccurate. Because of this, Google maps used to be great at getting me lost. The AR update uses AI and image recognition via your phone’s rear camera as well as the compass and GPS. The camera recognises buildings, landmarks and signs in a Live View window, which get overlaid with graphical direction indicators. The net result is a significantly more intuitive and reliable form of navigation.
Huawei GT Watch
Holidaying also involves loads of walking. That and the need to catch flights on time also requires that you know what the time is. With built-in GPS, the Huawei GT watch not only tracks steps and a zillion other things, but it can also record wanderings onto a map for later review. Add to this phone notifications, two-week battery life and water resistance, and there’s a whole lot to like. Best of all, however, is the ability of the Huawei GT Watch to synch to local time via your smartphone.