I travel on a fairly regular basis for business. The first quarter of this year alone I have travelled from New England to California, Kansas, California (again) and Florida. In general I travel between 25% and 40% of the time for work and really look for ways to make the long trips easier in every way I can. So far I have discovered a handful of gadgets that make trips pass by much easier, with far fewer headaches and thought I would share them here.
1. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Long layovers in airports, delays, crying babies in the seat behind you on long flights, noisy hotel neighbors; there is a long list of really good reasons to consider a quality pair of noise cancelling headphones! While airlines may make you turn off your noise cancelling headphones during takeoff and landing the benefits of being able to tune out the rest of the plane on long flights are well worth the investment. I will admit that I held out on purchasing a pair for a long time but after a particularly loud flight into Kansas City I decided to get a pair for the trip back. I had done research in the past and decided to go with the Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones. They were a little expensive at roughly $300 but I believe they have already paid for themselves. Since I added noise cancelling headphones to my carry-on I have been able to quiet the rest of the plane down enough to rest, listen to light music and easily hear movies I am watching. For frequent travellers noise cancelling headphones are a must have gadget!
2. Tablet Device and/or E-Reader
Now that you can eliminate a lot of the background noise from your flight you will want something to do to entertain yourself. Looking into a table device (such as an iPad) or an e-reader (like Amazon's Kindle) may be just the ticket. The gadgets are small and easily fit into any carry-on bag that you may have. Use of electronic devices is restricted during take off and landing but having an e-reader or tablet available allows you to slim down you luggage as you can pack any number of books into one small device. For my travels I opted to go with an Apple iPad simply because I can use the device not only to read books but also to listen to music, play games, watch movies and even surf the web (from hotel rooms, airports and even some airplanes that offer WiFi).
3. iPod or MP3 Player
Even if you normally carry and iPad or similar tablet capable of playing music having an iPod or similar MP3 player can make travel in airports smoother. I find that on short layovers or while walking between gates that having an iPod to put in my pocket allows me to listen to music and not have to carry a device in my hands.
4. GPS Device
Once you make it to your destination you will need to be able to find your way around. Many rental car companies will allow you to add a GPS device to your rental for a small fee but your company may not allow for this expense. I have found it useful to own my own GPS unit that I can mount in a rental car to find my way around. When I am not flying I can use the GPS for road trips in my own car. For people who want to really consolidate down on gadgets when traveling - consider looking into a GPS navigation application for your smart phone. The Apple iPhone has applications from credible market leaders that will work as a fully functional GPS - the only trick may be finding a way to set the phone up to see the screen well while driving.
GPS devices quickly return on investment if you travel often through providing directions to hotels, offices and even specific points of interest (dining, recreation locations, shopping and even back to the airport) at the touch of a button. I use my GPS for getting around everywhere while traveling and often find myself using it to browse for a restaurant at dinner time.
Overall - use of any or all of the four gadgets listed above can ease your travel experience. Each of the above has helped me on numerous occasions. Add in a good solid smart phone with applications allowing you to check in for your flight and travel becomes a breeze!