The 50 Best Travel Essentials - Gadgets

Wherever you’re off to on holiday, it always pays to be prepared. Jamie Merrill has a trailblazer’s guide to the summer’s top gear
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The Independent Online

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The 50 Best Travel Essentials - Luggage

The 50 Best Travel Essentials - Security & Health

The 50 Best Travel Essentials - Clothing

The 50 Best Travel Essentials - Extras

Skype Headset

As the advert says, we love to talk, but roaming charges can leave you with a nasty bill when you return from holiday. With one of these, Simon suggests, you can talk for free from the comfort of a cybercafé or your hotel room. “There is absolutely no point in using your mobile to make calls when you are abroad. Even just from Europe it can cost 38 pence per minute as opposed to nothing or almost nothing on Skype.”

Where: Skype (

How much: from £16

Oakley Split Thump 2

“Not content with being achingly stylish sunglasses, Oakley’s Split Thumps are also home to a built in MP3 player that pipes music via two earpieces that slot into each side of the glasses. Simply slot them in for audiophile excellence or unclip them for ultimate suaveness,” enthuses Michael. So whether you are hiking in the Swiss Alps or wandering around Montmartre this summer, do it to your favourite tunes.

Where: Advanced MP3 Players (

How much:£165

Worldwide Plug Adapter

“One of the big changes in travelling over the last few years is that people are now taking their mobile phones, digital cameras, video cameras and laptops away with them. All these gadgets are great but they won’t work for long without a charger,” says Tom. “Often they have separate chargers so it’s a good idea to take two adapters away with you so you’re never caught short.” This model accepts UK square threepin plugs as well as two-pin shaver plugs and fits sockets in most parts of the world, (Where: American, European and Australian systems have been adopted.

Where: Blacks (

How much:£7.99

Petzl Tikka LED Head Torch

“If you have ever had to creep into bed when all your friends are asleep, you’ll understand why a head torch is so essential on any holiday,” warns Tom. “No matter what the trip you’ll always find a use for this torch, from putting up a tent in the dark to finding your clothes in a hostel for that early-morning flight. They are great to read by as well.” It boasts a 10-metre range and variable settings to prolong battery life.

Where: Blacks (

How much: £24.99

Olympus Mju 1030 SW Camera

The features of this camera sound more like those of a space shuttle – it’s shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof and crushproof – than a point-and-shoot camera. “Built to take the knocks that any holiday or user can throwat it and with a 10-mega-pixel resolution to boot for gloriously detailed snaps,” says Michael. Available in a choice of Platinum Silver, Midnight Black or British Green

Where: Play (0845 800 1020;

How much; £234.99

Audio Technica ATH-ANC7 Quiet Point Headphones

It’s a noisy world out there of airplane engines and blaring car horns but short of staying at home, your best bet for cochlea relief is a pair of these noise-cancelling headphones. “Inbuilt microphones in each earpiece ‘cancel’ ambient sound by emitting their own noisecancelling frequencies, meaning raucous students, screaming babies and drunken adults can be seen and not heard,” say Michael. Its manufacturers claim it will cancel most noise by up to 85% up to 20 decibels.

Where: Amazon (

How much: £112.45

Griffin iTrip Auto Pilot

Atrue modern travel essential. “Portable as hell and compatible with both the iPod and iPhone, the iTrip is a must for car hire and long road trips if you’re to avoid musical purgatory while visiting sunnier climes,” says Michael. “It sends the audio from your iPod to your radio wirelessly via a minuscule FM transmitter”. It will even use radio data systems wizardry to show your iPod’s song information on the car radio display.

Where:Currys (0844 800 34 56;

How much:£59.99

Canon Image Stabilising Binoculars

“A mighty ten-times zoom means you can track lions, tigers, or irate buzzards from a safe distance. On safari they’re a must-have if you’re to avoid becoming a big cat’s ready meal,”warns Michael. They don’t come cheap but are ultra lightweight and compact so you’ll find yourself staring in ultra closeup at all manner of things.

Where: Canon (

How much: £350

H2O Waterproof iPod housing

“There are few things more effective at killing an iPod Nano than an impromptu electronics zapping bath, which is why the clever bods at H20 have mercifully brought their skills to bear on awaterproof iPod Nano housing,” say Michael. “So now you can listen to Wipe Out,while you, er, wipe out.” It will even stay waterproof down to 3m when paired with H20 Waterproof Headphones.

Where: Advanced MP3 Players (

How much: £47.99

Panasonic Toughbook CF-Y7

The Panasonic Toughbook is forged from a robust magnesium alloy allowing you to enjoy virtual freedom (Where:ver you are in the world. “It’s so rugged that it’ll withstand up to 100kgf pressure and falls of up to 76cm,” raves Michael. “Ashock-resistant hard drive and water-resistant keyboard complete the hard-as-nails spec and, thanks to a meaty battery, it’ll truck on for up to seven hours away from a power supply.”

Where: PC World (0844 5610000;

How much: £1,699.99

Powermonkey Explorer

“On holiday your mobile or iPod always seems to run out during that crucial call or your favourite tune and charging while you are away can be tricky. But the Powermonkey Explorer has a host of USBadaptors to charge everything frommobiles to MP3 players,” says Michael. “It solves the problem of charging itself with a Solar Slave, a solar-powered charger to keep the Powermonkey’s internal battery topped up.”

Where: Powermonkey (www.

How much: £65

Victorinox Outrider Swiss Army Knife

The inclusion of a Swiss army knife in your travel kit requires no explanation, according to Tom. “It is still absolutely fantastic for everything from peeling fruit to running repairs on your luggage. The Outrider is in a league of its own because it includes a quality pair of scissors and some pull-out tweezers and, unlike some knives on the market, it is almost indestructible. And, for me, there’s some something very satisfying about owning a Swiss army knife.”

Where: Swiss Tool (

How much: £29.95

Edirol R09 Portable Recorder

Some travellers spend thousands on fantastic cameras for that holiday of a lifetime but people don’t always think about capturing the sounds of their trip. “People spend a lot of time andmoney on a camera to take pictures but I think the sound of a place is just as important and with this you can get absolutely perfect stereo sound,” raves Simon. It has a built-in stereo microphone so there is no need for fiddly accessories.

Where: Amazon (

How much: £249.99

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