My 9 Favorite Tech Gadgets For Travel

My 9 Favorite Tech Gadgets For Travel

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We all have our routines when it comes to travel, and things we don’t leave home without. After 15+ years of heavy travel, I figured I’d share some of the travel tech gadgets I won’t travel without.

Let me add the caveat that I’m a pretty low-tech guy, so you won’t find anything cutting edge. However, everything in my bag serves a purpose, so let me share the tech accessories that I value most. Perhaps the takeaway from all of this should be how few things I travel with.

So let me share my essentials, in no particular order, and then I’d love to hear how that compares to what OMAAT readers travel with…

A universal travel adapter

Having some sort of a travel adapter is essential for international travel, but not all adapters are created equal. Personally I have the EPICKA universal travel adapter. Why this one? It had one AC power port, three USB-A ports, and two USB-C ports. It’s rare to find such a compact adapter that has so many USB ports, including USB-C ports. I’m sure there are other great ones out there, but this one has served me well.

The EPICKA universal travel adapter is essential for international travel

A compact power strip

I feel like one of the biggest challenges of traveling is keeping all your electronics charged, given how reliant we are on gadgets nowadays. All too many hotels, airports, lounges, etc., have a shortage of power outlets. That’s why having a compact power strip is so useful, so that you can charge many electronics with just one outlet.

There are lots of options for these, but again, I’m looking for something with AC, USB-A, and USB-C ports. I’m a fan of Anker’s power strip, featuring three AC ports, two USB-A ports, and one USB-C port.

An Anker portable power strip is useful for travel

A portable charger

Charging when traveling really is important, eh? While I have gadgets that help me charge when I have access to plugs, sometimes you don’t have access to plugs for an extended period of time. Lots of airlines still don’t have outlets onboard, and that can be tricky.

So I always travel with a portable charger, and in my case I use the Anker portable charger with a 20,000mAh battery pack. It charges my iPhone quickly, and even charge my MacBook in a pinch (though given how good the battery life is there, I rarely need that). Best of all, it’s compact and lightweight.

The Anker portable charger has saved me many times

Apple AirPods Pro

I have the second generation Apple AirPods Pro, which I find offer great audio quality and noise cancelation, all while being compact. I’m a huge fan of these, and use them constantly. They’re incredibly versatile, as I can use them at the gym, and I can also use them to watch a show on my iPad.

I know this is basically sacrilege among frequent flyers, but I actually no longer bother with Bose headphones, but rather rely entirely on my AirPods Pro. Sure, the sound quality is a bit better on Bose headphones, but to me it’s just not worth lugging them around, given how bulky they are.

Apple AirPods Pro are delightfully versatile

AirFly (wireless transmitter & receiver)

For frequent travelers, AirFly is the absolute best companion to Apple AirPods. Most airplanes with personal televisions don’t support bluetooth connections (though it’s becoming more common). In other words, you can’t typically use AirPods Pro for inflight entertainment, and you’d be stuck with whatever (inferior) headphones an airline offers you (and in some cases you even have to purchase headphones on planes).

That’s where AirFly comes in handy, as it’s a wireless transmitter and receiver that offers audio sharing for up to two AirPods. This allows you to hook up your AirPods Pro to virtually any inflight entertainment.

There’s another benefit to this, as it essentially also works as a headphone splitter. If I’m traveling with someone and we both want to watch a show on my iPad, I can hook both headphones up via this.

The AirFly wireless transmitter & receiver works great with AirPods Pro

Apple AirTags

Apple AirTags have become an absolute essential for frequent travelers. You can place these small devices just about anywhere to track their location. They’re ideal for travelers, since you can place one of these in your bag, and then always know where it is.

While this is most valuable for checked bags, I also find it useful for carry-ons, since you never know when you may have to gate check a bag, or when your bag could be stolen at an airport or elsewhere. Ideally your AirTag will never actually be needed, but if it is, you’ll be grateful you have it.

AirTags can come in handy for bags when traveling

Apple iPhone

Like just about everyone else, I have an iPhone. I’ve had an iPhone 13 Pro Max for some time now, and only upgrade to the next version when I have a specific reason to. The phone works great for me, and perhaps the best part of it is that I’ve completely stopped traveling with a camera — the iPhone does the trick for me.

My iPhone 13 Pro Max doubles as my travel camera

Apple MacBook Air

In the interest of being thorough with the travel tech “gadgets” I travel with, my go-to computer is a 15″ MacBook Air. While I’ve been using the MacBook Air as my primary computer for eons, last year I “upgraded” from the 13″ to the 15″.

I’m thrilled with that decision. Yes, it’s a little bigger and heavier when traveling than the smaller version, but it’s also the computer I use all day at home, so I find it to be a great middle ground between being portable while also being big enough to use at home.

My 15″ MacBook Air is serving me well

Apple iPad

I’ve had a “standard” 10.2″ iPad for several now years, but I use it differently than most. Personally I don’t like browsing the web on my iPad, but rather I use it to watch TV shows when traveling. I don’t watch that much TV, but when I do, it’s usually shows I’ve downloaded to my iPad.

I’d say 80% of my iPad use is while doing cardio at the gym (I just find the iPhone screen too small to properly watch a show), and the rest of my watching of shows is typically while flying.

I use my iPad to watch TV shows

Bottom line

While I’m a low-tech guy, there are some travel gadgets I won’t travel without. I try to strike the right balance between traveling as light as possible, while also bringing all the essentials that prevent tech frustration.

I have the basics, like a MacBook Air, iPad, and AirPods Pro. But beyond that I have accessories that help keep all my electronics charged, ranging from international adapters, to portable chargers, to power strips. I’ve also found AirTags to be great for peace of mind when it comes to not losing things while traveling.

Are there some other accessories that would be nice to have? Sure. But I really value being able to travel light, so I only bring things along that I get significant use out of.

I’m curious to hear from OMAAT readers — how do you travel tech gadgets compare to mine?

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  1. Anthony Guest

    You do know what those earpods are doing to your brain. Simple magnetics. Wire is better despite being considered old fashioned.

  2. ecco Gold

    Great write up. I’d be concerned about the weight including the Samsung galaxy notebook although I’ve nearly given away trying to do carry on only.

    I’ll never give up taking my Bose noise cancelling headphones. So handy when sitting near noisy adjacent passengers, kids especially…

    I do carry a temperature/humidity gadget for hotel rooms as I always like to know the room temperature for a good night's sleep.

    1. ecco Gold

      Sorry meant apple laptop. I was thinking of the Samsung Galaxy notebook someone mentioned in the comments.

  3. Kiwi Guest

    I know I mentioned my usb powered fan earlier but I forgot to add my Firewalla purple in case a hotel only supports a single internet connection for a fee, then I can share across all my devices. I can also use it to sign into my network at home as I have a Firewalla gold as well. Lot less likely to get filtered due to an IP block in cases of streaming

  4. Steve Diamond

    Not sure if it qualifies as tech but i dont leave the country without a Portable Carbon Monoxide alarm. Its the size of an ipod and $10. So simple and potentially life saving.

    1. Brent Guest

      Steve, I have one I use for our motorhome. I never thought of bringing on regular travel though — what specifically are you concerned about and where do you put it (we don’t use AirBNB’s or anything like that, but hotels, cruise ships, etc are all places we might stay). Happy to bring it, but I want to make sure I am using effectively. Thanks!

    2. David Diamond

      He probably has the Hotel Rancho Pescadero in his mind. Can't say it's a bad idea.

  5. AeroB Guest

    Clearly there are some who choose to write a comment without actually reading the article.
    The author made it clear at the outset that the items mentioned are his personal choice of travel accessories.
    As an Apple technology user it makes perfect sense to choose compatible devices.
    Other devices are available from alternative manufacturers, however, if one wants the best then ….

  6. Alan Diamond

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned a travel router. Personally I bring a GL-iNET AR750 (older model, the newer is much larger). This easily permits one to share a wired or wireless connections but more importantly if you pair it with another router at home you can easily set up a private VPN (works great with Netflix).
    I connect to the hotel wifi and can connect all of my devices without having to reenter...

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned a travel router. Personally I bring a GL-iNET AR750 (older model, the newer is much larger). This easily permits one to share a wired or wireless connections but more importantly if you pair it with another router at home you can easily set up a private VPN (works great with Netflix).
    I connect to the hotel wifi and can connect all of my devices without having to reenter passwords and they all end up with my home IP address. The slate also has a physical switch that allows you to turn off the vpn without needing to go into the configuration page

    1. Andrew Guest

      This is really interesting, never thought about getting one. 100% should get a write up on OMAT of how to use this.

  7. CPH-Flyer Gold

    A travel adapter is just impractical, too large and bulky, often don't fit in the outlets. Conference rooms where the outlets are integrated in to the tables, hotel rooms with semi hidden outlets in the desk it night stand. Much easier to have the appropriate chargers for the country you go to. I have 5 different comfort kits packed with the cables I would need to various destinations. Just bring what I need for my trips.

  8. AM Guest

    I’d like to support Pez member post.
    The Anker portable power strip is not portable at all. On the snapshot it looks like portable, but it’s quite bulky and the extension cable is rather short. I use a 15 feet extension cord (no power cube, just a power outlet) that is very compact when folded.

  9. Raylan Guest

    The travel power adapter is something I swear by but I think that it's wiser to purchase one that uses GaN as the power conduit. GaN has superior thermal properties and better power switching to multiple devices. It's better positioned to be a safer and more reliable power adapter.

  10. Adele Guest

    While I love my AirPods Pro for everyday use, I never board an airplane without a wired set of earphones with passive NC. I have a set of Sennheiser MM 30i, which have been going strong for about 10 years. Wireless headphones will not last the duration of a long flight, and it gets worse as they age and battery life goes down. More concerning is they consume way more battery power from your phone/tablet,...

    While I love my AirPods Pro for everyday use, I never board an airplane without a wired set of earphones with passive NC. I have a set of Sennheiser MM 30i, which have been going strong for about 10 years. Wireless headphones will not last the duration of a long flight, and it gets worse as they age and battery life goes down. More concerning is they consume way more battery power from your phone/tablet, and it’s no fun landing and wondering if you’ll have enough juice to order an Uber. Sure, you can charge on the plane most of the time, but plenty of times the in seat power is either not there or not working. A good set of wired buds is not expensive yet very small and light.

  11. Matt Guest

    This is the last trip these Bose are coming on. First trip without my MacBook - phone and iPad only. And first trip w/ the air fly!

  12. Leisure traveler Guest

    I like posts like these cuz you do travel a bunch so your viewpoints on these things are nice.

  13. iamhere Guest

    Seems like a promotion Apple products. You also incorrectly use the word adaptor. An adaptor does not convert the current and just changes the type of plug. Converters are usually larger because they convert the current voltage too.

  14. Kevin King Guest

    I have everyone of those in my bag. I also have AirPod max.

  15. Tim Gullifer Guest

    This is my latest must have gadget for travel. It can charge both your Iphone and your new iPad and Mac with the 2 different connections . Buy in a pack of 4 to save. No cables needed but to charge it also has 2 types of usb connections
    https://www.pulsecharge.com.au/?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjwupGyBhBBEiwA0UcqaIZsjj71U2WhbuF-WP_6hmIAdFR7J3DBD5vQ_nvcDrqiFA2ShHpBvBoCvN4QAvD_BwE

  16. Auspointer Guest

    I have also recently purchased a Mogics Bagel universal power strip. This looks a little more travel ready than the one Ben has.

  17. Onemiler Guest

    Basically your apple products and everything you need to make sure they stay charged. Lol

  18. Melanie Guest

    I always carry a very simple light cheap extension cord because sometimes there is no outlet near you at an airport or even some hotels. Just happened at the Westin in New Orleans. Not a single outlet by the desk if you can believe it. I have used it in multiple airports and hotels. Also convenient bc you can plug in multiple items. Also if there is only 1 outlet in a public space and...

    I always carry a very simple light cheap extension cord because sometimes there is no outlet near you at an airport or even some hotels. Just happened at the Westin in New Orleans. Not a single outlet by the desk if you can believe it. I have used it in multiple airports and hotels. Also convenient bc you can plug in multiple items. Also if there is only 1 outlet in a public space and one person is already using it they are usually more than happy to plug into the ext cord. That said always travel with 2 adaptors for each country - not only in case one stops working but also if you want to share an outlet with someone (i.e. they would need to be able to plug into your ext cord and if they are not from the US then you'd need that adaptor)

  19. Kiwi Guest

    I would add a portable battery powered fan. It’s great to have when a plane doesn’t have air gaspers or in a hotel with mediocre AC

  20. JTF Guest

    Agree on mostly a good llst. For the majority of the world that is using a Samsung phone (67 percent world wide vs 31 percent iPhone), their Smart Tag (in full and pocket size) is just as good a performer as Apple Air Tags, with more nearby users abroad to help locate a lost item. On smart phones more generally, I recommend either a second phone or one with dual-sim capacity (or purchasing an e-sim) to ensure local connectivity and avoid roaming charges.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      This is wrong.
      Samsung doesn't have 67% of the market, nor does only 2% belongs to non Samsung or iPhones.

      Google just opened Android's crowd source network so it should significantly be better than Samsung and iPhone tracking combined.

  21. Christian Guest

    A travel with a wireless HDMI connector. Not all televisions on my travels have screencasting, so being able to plug an HDMI dongle to the back of the TV and then the transmitter to my tablet, phone or laptop works great. I also bring along a Bluetooth mouse and mini keyboard to hook up to my tablet when I don't bring my laptop. Finally, an LED rechargeable reading light that clips onto my books.

  22. Miramar Guest

    Apple Vision Pro! I bought one the day it came out and it has completely changed my travel experience, it offers the same viewing experience as being front and center in a theatre, totally removes you from the feeling of being on a plane, unbelievable tech leap.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Any VR headset can do that at a fraction of the price.

      Nor does the headset makes your 30" pitch feel bigger.

    2. Aerob Guest

      …. Thereby lies your problem Eskimo, size anxiety, alternatively, could it be a funding challenge?
      Clearly you responded with destine to those of us who choose Apple products over the alternatives. There is an old English saying …. “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it darlink”, you may even like Apple products once you have tried them Eskimo.

  23. Lee Guest

    Pixelbook Go, two Pixel phones, two pair of UGREEN HiTune T2 earbuds
    Apple dual USB-C power block, Apple international adapter kit, Belkin USB-C/USB-A 10k battery
    Native Union 8-foot USB-C to USB-C cable, 6-foot USB-C to USB-C
    Native Union 6-foot USB-A to USB-C, plus A to C male/female and female/male adapters

  24. pez Member

    One more to add: 3-in-one Wireless phone charger/Apple Watch charger/earbuds charger. Search "Yoxinta wireless 3 in 1 charging station" on Amazon, but there are others. One plug with USB-C charges 3 devices, and it makes a nice bedside night stand for your iPhone in standby mode. Just make sure you get one that doesn't require you to also bring your Apple Watch charger.

  25. PointsandMilesDoc New Member

    Love the AirFly, it's been a game changer for me. I pair it to my Bose noise cancelling ear buds.

    Does anyone know if there is a 2- or 3-pronged adapter for the AirFly? My only complaint is sometimes there is static when using the single prong on a multi-pronged plugin!

  26. Auspointer Guest

    Oh and I have just ordered one of these Bagel power strips:
    https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B01NH0B0X3/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_1?smid=A3DHIDKFMBHW4K&psc=1

  27. Auspointer Guest

    Sounds crazy but I never travel without my Apple TV, remote, power cord and HDMI cord.

    1. pez Member

      Same here, but with Google. It came in really handy for 2 of us to watch "home" TV on our 4-month RTW trip (with NordVPN, of course).

    2. Jay Guest

      Use your iPhone or iPad for the remote…1 less thing to carry

  28. DENDAVE Member

    Agreed on many of these, but for the universal travel adapter I've gone back to buying individual plug adapters. I used to always bring it, but the size and weight of it would often cause it to pull out of outlets. I got tired of trying to prop it up. My current travel adapters have two outlets per plug to it's like a mini power strip and they fit snugger in outlets. I bring two...

    Agreed on many of these, but for the universal travel adapter I've gone back to buying individual plug adapters. I used to always bring it, but the size and weight of it would often cause it to pull out of outlets. I got tired of trying to prop it up. My current travel adapters have two outlets per plug to it's like a mini power strip and they fit snugger in outlets. I bring two so I can set up different devices in different places, like a laptop on a desk and a phone by the bed.

    I don't know how they compare to Apple's but Bose does offer earbuds. I switched to them for their size and find them pretty good, not as good as the over-the-ear ones, but good given how much smaller they are.

  29. Bill n DC Diamond

    Great Post. I’m commenting only because I literally threw away my old Bose Overear phones a couple hours ago. Ha! Still interested in your iPods or the Bose wireless, I’m still using wired Bose NC buds. Will check into AirFly.
    Since retirement don’t need a lap top. iPad iPhone with your adapter/charger.
    Stop on!

  30. Dave W Guest

    I'm curious about which paid services you use. Entertainment, data storage, etc.

  31. Flyguy1 Guest

    Another gadget I love (kinda related to tech since it's for the phone) is a wallet phone case for my iPhone. I can store 4-5 card in a slide out slot in the back of the case and use this instead of carrying a seperate wallet. Less to worry about losing or keep track of.

  32. Robert D Guest

    You should do a post sometime on how to download TV shows to an iPad. I truly have no clue.

  33. 305 Guest

    Swore by the Anker "cube" power strip for years. That said, one has to be very careful purchasing the newer models like the one in your photo.

    The old USB-A-only version would provide fast charging to multiple items plugged in. The newer ones that include the one USB-C port severely throttle down charging speed when multiple items are connected. It's so bad that I switched back to the old one and bring the AC "block" to charge my iPad via one of the 3 AC outlets.

    1. pez Member

      I bought the Anker but switched back to my old solution because the Anker cord was too thick and heavy. Old solution was a 4-plug power strip with a short cord that wrapped around (I think Ben recommended it years ago) along with a good old-fashioned 8-ft extension cord, with 3 plug spots. The only thing I sacrifice is the extra USB-C and A ports, but I have those on my travel plug adapter.

  34. Eskimo Guest

    I would recommend a 2nd smartphone. Or if you normally carry 2, then a 3rd phone.

    1. Mark Christopher Guest

      No one needs 3 phones, let's be real here.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Let's be real here.

      640K ought to be enough for anybody.

      Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.

      There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.

      The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty.

      How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck?

      A history of middle fingers to Mark Christopher.

    3. Mark Christopher Guest

      A travel columnist doss not need 3 phones.

    4. AeroB Guest

      Surely only organised crime team members need more than one mobile telephone to avoid arrest and carry out illegal activities?
      How many chargers, mains and other connection cable, emergency power packs, etc, would one need to carry?
      The experienced traveler is well aware that arriving in numerous countries with three mobile telephones, etc, is bound to alert the authorities to the extravagance.

  35. Creditcrunch Diamond

    I would add a door stop alarm to the list, a great device that will alert you if anyone opens your hotel room door.

  36. David Diamond

    Another use for the AirFly is if you happen to do any audioguide/tour, you could opt out of using the disposable wired earphones they give you and save the world from a bit more plastic waste. A bonus is any companion that wants to share an audioguide with you can do so, and wirelessly too!

  37. JN Guest

    My essentials are just the Android/Windows equivalents of yours. I envy the interconnectedness of Apple products, but I just can't stand with the iPhone controls (I'm a Gen Z, btw).

    Feel free to call me poor for being an Android/Windows user.

  38. Todd Diamond

    How's the latency with the AirFly devices?

    1. N515CR Member

      I noticed that I would have some pairing issues between my phone and AirPods after using the AirFly. However, it's been a while since I used the AirFly (haven't been traveling much) and perhaps there have been some software updates that have fixed it.

    2. ecco Gold

      I found the airfly pro kept disconnecting from my shokz headphones. Couldn’t use it with them. Am going to test it with other Bluetooth headphones.

  39. Love Malaysia Guest

    Ordered the adaptor through Amazon via your Link. I hope you get a Hefty comission! lol!

  40. AndrewP Guest

    For me, other than spare USB C to C cables the best things are
    - USB C to A adaptors
    - The Wicked Chilli phone holder which gives you a screen in front of you on almost any train or plane (with your phone of course )

    For laptops I am a big fan of the Samsung Galaxy Book - just so light yet strong and powerful

  41. GroeneMichel Gold

    Interesting article Lucky, I also recently stopped bringing my Bose headphones in lieu of my airpods pro..
    FYI, you can connect two pairs of Airpod's to one iPad to listen/watch something together so no need for the Airfly.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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David Diamond

Another use for the AirFly is if you happen to do any audioguide/tour, you could opt out of using the disposable wired earphones they give you and save the world from a bit more plastic waste. A bonus is any companion that wants to share an audioguide with you can do so, and wirelessly too!

3
AeroB Guest

Clearly there are some who choose to write a comment without actually reading the article. The author made it clear at the outset that the items mentioned are his personal choice of travel accessories. As an Apple technology user it makes perfect sense to choose compatible devices. Other devices are available from alternative manufacturers, however, if one wants the best then ….

1
CPH-Flyer Gold

A travel adapter is just impractical, too large and bulky, often don't fit in the outlets. Conference rooms where the outlets are integrated in to the tables, hotel rooms with semi hidden outlets in the desk it night stand. Much easier to have the appropriate chargers for the country you go to. I have 5 different comfort kits packed with the cables I would need to various destinations. Just bring what I need for my trips.

1
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