Great Travel Gadgets

Brian Welsh
Oct 20, 2010
Updated • Dec 1, 2012
Mobile Computing

I'm definitely a gadget guy. I love trying out the latest and the greatest new gadgets. I also love hitting the road and seeing where it will take me. That might be part of the reason why I am such a nut about travel gadgets. There are a ton of cool travel gadgets floating around right now. I've tried a few of them, but there is always something new. The only thing holding me back is my pocketbook.

I'm going to share my findings about a few of these fantastic gadgets here and my hope is that those of you who are gadget geeks like me, will write about your experiences with these and with the other ones that I haven't had a chance to try out yet. There's just too much cool technology for any one man to try it all.

So, what exactly constitutes a gadget. A gadget is any sort of ingenious thing-a-magig that performs a useful or interesting purpose. Any gadget lover will tell you that what makes a great gadget great isn't so much what it does, as how it does it. That's why a gadget that automatically cleans and folds your clothes with electricity might not be as great as a gadget that uses hot air to clean out your ears, because it is the technology behind the gadgets that makes us love them. Hot air is much more interesting than electricity – in terms of my gadget mind.

Here is some of the greatest of the many gaggles of gadgets that I've come across recently. Maybe you will want them, maybe you will hate them, but one thing is for sure, they are interesting.

Here's a gadget that got may attention. My American and Canadian colleagues often have to travel to the UK for business, technology conferences, and IT workshops. Of course, they always bring their laptop, PDA, and smart phone with them. The problem is that while the technology has gotten smaller, the plugs in the UK remain some of the biggest in the world. Someone had to come up with a gadget to fix this problem...and they did.

The folding plug. Yes, you heard that right. A plug that folds up into a smaller plug. The technology behind this one actually breaks my interesting technology rule, but the fact that I never thought of folding the plug but only making it smaller is what makes this gadget great.

So, how does it work? The plug body actually has two swivel pins on it that fold out to be horizontal or vertical. What that means is that when you are traveling, you don't have those big awkward pins sticking out. You just have a simple and easy to pack plug.

Not bad as gadgets go. Not completely necessary so it qualifies but it does have a useful function.

Another odd technology gadget is the development of zinc paper which doesn't need ink. This is a massive invention. Devices like the Polaroid PoGo Digital Instand Mobile Photo Printer (whew!) can make your photos on the go without having to worry about ink cartridges. It's small enough to carry with you and get this, they were smart enough to make it work with not only digital cameras but also with just about any cell phone that has a camera.

How does it work? There are dye crystals in the zinc paper which only come out when they are heated to a certain temperature. So, the device uses focused heat (from lasers!) to cause the different parts of the paper to expose different colors. Wow! That is cool technology. Anything with lasers has an automatic plus in my geek mind. Each print takes less than 60 seconds to be complete. Geeks love to time gadgets too.
One big problem with gadgets is that they usually need to have batteries. I can tell you from experience that I hate throwing batteries out. They are made of cool materials like lithium and nickel and it's just a shame to toss them. I've been a fan of rechargeable batteries for a long time, but the problem is that when I use rechargeable batteries not only do I need to have a big heavy charger, but I also need to have plugs, adapters, and in most cases electricity.

Energizer has hit the nail on the head with the Energi To Go package. It can be used to provide power to my netbook, laptop, phone, pda, and my battery charger. It uses a wide collection of tips, sockets, and adaptors. Not only that, but they promise that they will cover and charge any device and to prove it they offer to make new tips and adaptors for any gadget, machine, or electronic device they missed out on. So maybe I can get them to make a tip that will recharge my robot! We'll have to see about that one though. One problem is that Energi To Go still has to be powered by something...

Don't worry though, I have the solution. Voltaic Solutions offers you the ultimate in solar backpacks that can charge anything (including an Energi To Go). These backpacks harness the power of the sun to charge all your items and to make sure that you don't get caught out in the wild with no way to charge your cell phone. Of course, with this gadget, suddenly you don't need to have the folding plug or the Energi To Go adaptor, so maybe you should just cut to the chase and get one of these awesome trekking bags that doubles as your power source.

You just never know if you are getting VHS or Betamax anymore. It might be a Commodore 64 or more likely it will be a Tandy.

And that's the problem with gadgets and being obsessed with them. Just as soon as you think you have the perfect gadget, someone comes along and makes a better one or makes the perfect gadget unnecessary for you. Too bad, anyone want to buy my solar calculator collection?


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