The old saying goes that ‘any fool can be uncomfortable’ and here we look at ways you can take those words of wisdom on board to improve your travelling experience this year and beyond.
As we enter a new decade of enticing global travel opportunities, now is the perfect time to look at key products which will help you embark on your journey with that all-important peace of mind. Whether it’s the age-old problem of keeping your passport secure, or the modern issues of battery charging and phone safety, there are plenty of gadgets to put your mind at rest. And here we highlight the important things for you to consider before you depart. Plan ahead and you will reap the rewards...
Smart protection for your phone
Regardless of whether you are heading to the beach, the mountains, or just the swimming pool, your smart phone will be at risk. Most phones are fine when dropped from less than a metre, but any higher and you may have a nasty communications headache on your holiday. I know this because I contrived to throw my phone onto the tarmac while simply walking past a convent in northern Spain in 2018. Whether it was divine intervention or not, it resulted in a smashed screen, lost contacts and a hefty bill after my insurance company refused to cover the cost of the emergency replacement I was forced to buy while away on holiday.
You can get a range of protective cases that are also spare battery packs, and which activate at the press of a button. Yes they are bulky, but they might be worth it. I’ve got one from Yishda at the moment and had one from Kiwibird in the past. They both do the job, but the charging ports can become unreliable. Ultimately you will get what you pay for.
Somewhere to lay my head
How many times have you walked onto a long-haul flight and experienced instant envy on seeing another passenger with a portable neck pillow tied to their bag? Let’s face it - achieving any level of sleeping comfort on a 12-hour flight in an economy seat is elusive. Now the travel pillow isn’t going to solve all your problems, but it’s got to be worth a try, hasn’t it? Anything which can slightly enhance your chance of sleeping for a few hours is a good investment. When flying, most people choose the traditional rigid foam horseshoe shape from a wide range of suppliers, however, the Trtl Travel Pillow is more of a wraparound device and is extremely well reviewed.
One of the most commonly asked questions by people who are about to head off on their holidays is: “Should I take currency, my British debit and credit cards, travellers’ cheques (remember them?), or is there a better way?”
A couple of years ago I signed up for a FairFX foreign currency card before I visited the US and I have not regretted it. You pre-load it with US dollars and then use it as a payment card with no further fees (apart from a minimal fee on cash withdrawals) in restaurants, shops and museums, etc. You can load it any time you like via the App on your phone to make the most of beneficial exchange rates and it seems to work everywhere. The App updates almost instantly, so you can check your balance on your phone and make sure everything looks to be in good order. FairFX also provides a Euro card and there are plenty of other suppliers on the market.
No more passport panic
A constant problem for travellers all over the world is: where do you put your passport? If you are in a hotel, then the room will probably have a safe and this is usually the best option during your stay, but what about while you're on the move? After all, if you forget this one vital document, or it goes missing in transit, then your holiday will not be far from ruined. So how about investing in a smart travel wallet which can carry all your important travel information and your passport?
The Stackers Men’s Passport Sleeve (£18) is a neat option from John Lewis, while the likes of Boden, Aspinal and Mulberry have a range of ladies’ designs, at various prices, depending on your budget.
Universal plug solution
One of the quirks of the modern world is that (according to the World Standards' website) there are 15 different types of plug socket in the world. Some of them are near obsolete, but even so, it can be a headache working out whether you have the right adaptor before you shut your case. So why not invest in a simple one-size-fits-all solution? There are plenty on the market and you should still check before you buy that it covers your destination (South Africa is particularly awkward), but when you get the right one - with adequate USB ports too - it will save you a lot of bother. Expect to pay around £20 and try VGUARD or SUPLONG, but do check the small print to make sure there is a function for your destination.
We have the power
On the subject of electricity, a portable power bank (Power Monkey or the like) can also save you a lot of grief. In a world where boarding passes, tickets and even your payment methods may well all be held on your smart phone, running out of battery on the way into the airport is a particularly modern problem. So save yourself the bother by carrying a power bank with you. Just make sure it’s fully charged whenever you get the chance and watch out for everybody else wanting to borrow it and burn up your power!
You should be able to buy a RAVPower device for approximately £45, which might sound a lot for a back-up charging device, but I'd wager it won’t take long before you think you’ve had your money’s worth.
OK, maybe this one isn’t a gadget, but getting the right cover will give you untold peace of mind. Many readers will have travel insurance provided as part of a paid-for package in their banking current account. The monthly fees on these bank accounts may seem steep (£19 on a Lloyds Platinum Account) but the travel insurance is good and if you also utilise the other features (eg. mobile phone insurance and roadside cover) you will more than likely be getting good value for money. Alternatively, you can shop around and insure each trip individually. Either way don’t make the mistake of travelling without adequate cover.
If you are looking to make your journey through the airport a little less tiresome for yourself, and more fun for your children, then how about a ride-on, carry-on suitcase? This way, the kids can sit on their cases when they start to get bored and drag their heels, and you can all get to the departure gate in good time and good spirits. There’s even an option designed to look like a Range Rover Sport SVR from Ryman (at a special half-price offer of £29.99 at the time of writing). So just walking through the airport can be part of the fun now.
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