Seasoned travelers are the best source when it comes to determining which helpful travel tools are must-haves. Given that, we’ve compiled this list of top apps and gadgets for travelers based on feedback from longtime road warriors who spend a good chunk of their year in planes, trains, and automobiles.
Portable Charging Station
The good news is that planes, trains and even Greyhound buses now generally make power outlets available at seats. The bad news is, you may only get one to work with. And what if you need to charge a device through a USB cable?
This is where portable charging stations come to the rescue. There are many different varieties available, but the ultra-portable kind suited for passenger travel will usually give you at least one extra outlet and four USB charging ports to work with. You can even make new friends this way!
Free WiFi Calling Apps
Yes, it is possible to make free calls to phone numbers using an app. In fact, there’s a range of different options. The easiest free option for Android phones is to get a Google Voice number, then install their Hangout Dialer app. Apple users can look into Dingtone, Talkatone or Fongo.
If your travels are going to take you outdoors and/or away from power outlets and WiFi for some time, the Eton Raptor is an amazing all-in-one device to keep in a pocket. It’s primarily an AM/FM radio, but it packs in a wide range of other features: an LED flashlight, alarm clock, and a solar USB charger just to name a few. If you can’t get the local weather on your smartphone, it’s also able to pick up NOAA emergency alerts.
WiFox is an app that basically functions as a private club through which users share WiFi passwords. The user base consists of frequent business travelers, pilots and flight attendants who upload usernames and passwords that will get you into the networks at airports, lounges, and restaurants that usually require a payment or membership in some sort of organization. There’s no guarantee that the area you’re in will have a current password available, but if you travel often the one-time fee of $1.99 for the app will probably pay for itself at least a few times over in short order by getting you access in a pinch. Passwords are available from airport locations all around the world.
If your travel laptop has a slot for a security lock, it’s really a good idea to make use of it. It’s true that these secure cables won’t stand up to a pair of wire cutters or something with similar cutting capabilities, but it’s good enough to allow you to go to the counter at the coffee shop for a refill or duck into a restroom without having to pack your whole kit up in most circumstances. Most thieves prowling public areas for electronics are looking to snatch something unsecured and flee immediately, and the presence of a security cable tethered to a nice solid object will usually be enough to get them looking elsewhere.