Holiday travel season is upon us and we’re gearing up for seeing all sorts of friends and family over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah. We’ve already rounded up the best apps for road tripping and booking flights and hotels, but now it’s time to get gadget-y with it. Here are 10 essential tools and tricks for the frequent holiday traveler. (And no, the robotic suitcase didn’t quite make the cut.)
1. Airport Express ($99): Many of you are probably familiar with the airport express for optimizing wifi in your house or apartment. But did you realize that you can also take advantage of better wifi in hotels while traveling? If more than one of you wants to get online, you can all share one wifi login via the airport. Awesome!
2. Aux-In Input Cable ($4): You never know when the opportunity for a dance party might strike. A cable with two “headphones” ends works with even your parents’ antiquated sound system. Plus, most rental cars have a way of connecting, but no cable.
3. CLEAR: If you’ve got more than 5 roundtrip flights in the next couple of months, you might want to invest in CLEAR (or at least sign up for a trial). In selected airports, CLEAR lets you clear the security line in less than 5 minutes. Simply sign up, verify your identity the first time you head to the airport, and your card will come in the mail.
4. Mini USB to USB Cable ($6): This may not be the handiest of cables for your Apple devices, but it rules for just about everything else. If you want to transfer your sister’s photos to your computer, use this. Charge your Kindle or Jambox off of your laptop? Use this! You have no idea how handy just one cable can be.
5. Spotify Offline Mode: Ok this isn’t exactly a gadget, but it’s a pro tip for using our go-to music app. Did you realize that you can save playlists, albums, and tracks for offline listening? Crucial for air travel! And great for conserving battery when you’re on the road. This works for your desktop, smartphone, and any iPod that connects via wifi (for downloading the tracks).
6. Headphones ($20 and up): No matter where you’re headed or how long it takes to get there, a traveler never leaves home without headphones. Most likely, you don’t even leave your house without headphones when you commute, so we’re sure you’ve got this covered.
7. Juice Pack Powerstation ($130): Featured in last week’s backup chargers post, this portable power station charges anything that can connect via USB. This is great for travel as it is both dust and water proof and looks just as extreme as your hiking, climbing and camping gear.
9. Portable Speakers ($30 and up): But let’s get back to rocking out. Headphones are for solo dance parties, and the aux-in cable only helps you out if you’ve got a stereo to work with. But what if you don’t!? These portable wireless speakers are perfect for on-the-go jamming.
10. Roll Up Travel Charger ($49): Keep everything charged up when on the move with this awesome roll up charger. It lets you charge 4 things with one outlet, and looks good too.
Bonus! Portable Big Jambox ($200): Ok this isn’t the smallest music box to keep in your arsenal, but it’s great if you’re road tripping or checking a suitcase. Jam on with our handy dandy velcro hack.
What are your travel tech essentials for the holidays? Share links with us in the comments below.