The Best Gifts for Travel Tech Lovers
The gear you tote on the road can revolutionize your travel experience — or cause endless headaches and take up precious room in your carry-on. And with the tech market more saturated than ever, it’s tricky to figure out which products are worth the extra cash.
Treat the travel-loving technophile on your shopping list (or, hey, yourself) to one of these gadgets. All of them are compact and lightweight — in other words, ideal for packing — but high-performance enough to stay in year-round rotation even at home. From beauty lovers to bookworms, we’ve got the gadgetry to satisfy every shade of gear junkie.
This year, Travel + Leisure is offering its most comprehensive gift guide ever. The goal? Make sure you can find the perfect present for everyone (yes, even your mother-in-law) on your list. Below, our top picks for the jetsetting tech lover.
Any bookworm who’s ever lugged a suitcase full of hardcover tomes along on vacation can attest to the necessity of an e-reader. And Amazon’s latest Kindle is a worthwhile upgrade if you’re a gadget geek, since the Oasis keeps getting better. This e-reader is shockingly thin and light, so you can read for an entire transatlantic flight without getting a wrist cramp, and it’s waterproof, so you can read poolside without worrying about soggy pages.
To buy: amazon.com, $250
Samsung Gear VR
Record vacation memories with a 360-degree camera, then relive the moment with this virtual reality headset that’ll transport your pal — in spirit, at least — from sad office cubicle to the beaches of Thailand. Or snap a smartphone into the headset and kill time in midair with a VR version of addictive video games such as Minecraft and Escape the Room.
To buy: bestbuy.com, $130
ASUS ZenBeam E1
Add an HDMI cable and a sheet or blank wall and this projector will turn any site into a big-screen movie theater. This tiny contraption can easily slip into a small purse or the side pocket of a carry-on, and built-in speakers and a rechargeable battery (that’ll even juice up your phone while you watch) eliminates the need for any additional gear to get movie night underway.
To buy: newegg.com, $269
This little square (and it’s diminutive new spinoff, the credit-card-sized Tile Slim) will ensure you never again lose your wallet, handbag, or carry-on. Stick it on to any item you’re worried about misplacing and it’ll tap into the Tile network to update its location when a fellow Tile user equipped with the app passes within range. Or if you’ve just misplaced a wallet or set of keys in your hotel room, open the Tile app on your phone, press the alert button, and the Tile will beep loudly so you can track it down under the bed or in the pocket of yesterday’s pants.
To buy: amazon.com, $25
Bose QuietControl 30
Bose is the gold standard for noise-cancelling technology, but until recently, truly tuning out the world meant toting around a pair of bulky over-the-ear cans. The QuietControl 30s were the company’s first foray into noise cancelling wireless earbuds, and continue to be an essential for any frequent flyer. The neckband base extends the battery life, so these can handle a full day of flight without quitting. And since the noise cancellation is adjustable, you can crank it to full blast to drain out engine noise or turn it down to catch connection info on the loudspeaker.
To buy: ebags.com, $299
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
Dyson has finally done for dryers what they did for vacuums. At $400, it’s likely pricier than anything else in your hair tool arsenal, but for superfast drying that won’t blow out your eardrums or wear out your shoulders, it’s worth the splurge. It’s designed for home use, but the unconventional, packable shape (in lieu of a traditional nozzle, the Dyson has an open cylinder barrel with magnetic attachments) and lightweight design (at 1.8 pounds, it rivals some travel dryers) make it ideal for travel, too.
To buy: sephora.com, $400
Hauling your DSLR on vacation means endless debate: Do you take it sightseeing and deal with the headache (and, uh, shoulder ache) of carrying a camera bag? Or leave it at home and risk having to rely on your smartphone for that snap of a lifetime? For the casual shutterbug, the DxO One might send your heavy-duty camera into early retirement. This little guy plugs into your iPhone, then works like a regular point-and-shoot. It’s powerful enough to capture detail your phone will miss, but so small you could fit into a clutch or crossbody bag.
To buy: amazon.com, $469
Away The Bigger Carry-On
Away has developed a cult following for their budget-friendly, understated suitcases. Their scaled-up carry-on has all the elements of the original — USB charging, a zip-out laundry bag, a compression system, and a nearly indestructible shell — with an additional eight liters of packing space. Just shy of 23 inches tall, it’s still compact enough to slide into the overhead compartment, though the extra real estate makes a difference if you’re traveling for more than a quick weekend jaunt.
To buy: awaytravel.com, $245
It's hard to go incognito when you're lugging a camera bag around. Nylon casing and plastic buckles just have that “I’m a tourist, swindle me!” vibe, even if you’re not wearing white sneakers and a fanny pack. ONA’s collection merges the practicality of performance gear with the polished look of your favorite handbag. The Chelsea offers padded casing for your DSLR, multiple lenses, and any other essentials (tablet, wallet, shades, bottom-of-the-handbag miscellany), all in a luxe saffiano leather casing that’ll take you from window seat to boardroom to bar-hopping.
To buy: amazon.com, $280
The creators of this personal air purifier overshot their original Kickstarter fundraising goal by half a mil, and it’s no wonder: Wynd combines pollution monitoring and medical-grade air filtration in a device that’s under a pound, about the size of a Starbucks cup, and has eight hours of battery life. For those with allergies, it’s an ideal companion to ward off wheezing fits in smoggy cities or your cat-loving aunt’s vacation rental, and for anyone with a touch of germophobia or sensitivity to pollutants, the Wynd can help you breathe easier.
To buy: hellowynd.com, $199
Flight 001 4-in-1 Adapter
Streamline your carry-on with this color-coded 4-in-1 power adapter cube that’ll cover your charging needs in 150 countries. Flight 001’s corresponding world map helps you quickly determine which component to use, and the modular design minimizes the jumble in your bag and ensures smaller pieces won’t get lost in the shuffle.
To buy: amazon.com, $20
Moleskine Smart Writing Set
Get the best of digital and analog systems with Moleskine’s digitized writing kit. Scribble on the dot-grid paper as usual and the Pen+ smartpen duplicates your notes or doodles in Moleskine’s companion app for easy review. By tapping the tiny envelope in the corner, you can instantly email a page. Both pen and notebook have a slimmer, less obviously gadget-y profile than similar products in the field, and the app is intuitive enough that even a technophobe can use it.
To buy: bestbuy.com, $200
Cozy up on the plane in this hoodie that’s purpose-built for travel. What looks like your run-of-the-mill sweatshirt is actually a multitasking, gear-filled supplement to your suitcase. It’s got dedicated pockets to fit your iPad, passport, sunglasses, travel blanket, and a beverage, plus a built-in eye mask, gloves, inflatable neck pillow, microfiber cloth for cleaning your screens, telescoping zipper pen and stylus, and a channel to keep your headphone cord from tangling.
To buy: ebags.com, $120
Apple Watch Series 3
Apple’s third take on the smartwatch introduces a handful of new features that make the device even more useful for travelers. For the first time, the Apple Watch has cellular capabilities, meaning you can go to the beach or take a run without bringing your phone. There’s also a barometric altimeter to help you track elevation gain on hikes or bike rides.
To buy: apple.com, $399
Amazon Echo Show
With a 7-inch touchscreen, Alexa can now display beautiful images, play video content, show music lyrics, and even tap into your home security cameras, baby monitors, and pet cams — while still doing all the tasks Amazon’s home assistant is best known for. Make hands-free calls, read recipes, listen to audiobooks or music, and order from Amazon Prime without lifting a finger.
To buy: amazon.com, $230
Flitt Flying Camera
Hobbico’s petite, four-ounce foldable camera is a fun new way to capture your adventures, hands-free. The device’s arms and propeller blades tuck into the camera body when not in use, making it easy to drop the Flitt into your purse or backpack while traveling. The camera can fly for seven to nine minutes at a time at a height of up to 33 feet, and captures 720p HD video. An Android and iOS-compatible app makes it easy to instantly share your aerial photos and videos to your phone.
To buy: amazon.com, $100
Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3
A perfect party gift, the latest Fujifilm Instax printer produces high-definition prints on the iconic, square instant film. Simply upload photos from your phone's photo album, a Fujifilm camera, Facebook, Instagram, or any number of places where your photos live, and have keepsake printouts within seconds. From Instagram, the SP-3 even lets you print photos based on a hashtag, making it easier than ever to collect memories from a wedding or group vacation.
To buy: amazon.com, $199 (November 17)
Lenovo Yoga 920
Every traveler needs a lightweight, barely-there laptop. We love this 360-degree design, which allows the model to function as a laptop or tablet, or to become presentation-ready in a tent or stand shape. Despite its features (13.9-inch 4K HD touchscreen display, HD webcam, fingerprint reader, and 15.5 hours of battery life), the Lenovo Yoga 920 weighs just a hair over 3 pounds and measures half an inch thin.
To buy: bestbuy.com, $1,599
Snap iPhone photos without ever fearing that you’ll run out of space. The latest Bolt device is like a thumb drive for iPhones, making it possible to store up to 8,000 photos (or save photos directly on the memory stick). Just plug the Bolt into your lightning connector and forget about how many gigabytes you have left.
To buy: amazon.com, $60
Native Union Dock for Apple Watch
Help the tech-lover on your gift list clean up the tangle of wires on his or her nightstand with this sleek Native Union Dock. Designed exclusively for the Apple Watch, the charging dock turns your watch into an attractive bedside clock, and comes in sophisticated silicone and aluminum shades that match the device. (Splurge on a one-of-a-kind white or black-marble base for friends and family that have been extra good.)
To buy: amazon.com, from $60
PowerDot Wireless Muscle Stimulator
Once reserved for serious athletes with access to personal trainers and high-tech electrical muscle stimulation equipment, now fitness enthusiasts can enjoy the benefits of EMS from home. PowerDot can help fight muscle soreness (post workout or post long-haul flight) while improving endurance with a small, portable collection of wireless electrodes. The app-based programs can even be run without Wi-Fi or data — just connect your phone to the pods with Bluetooth.
To buy: amazon.com, $449
Mophie Wireless Charging Base
There may be no better companion gift to the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X than a wireless charging base. Mophie’s wireless charger beats out competitors because of its rubberized, non-slip coating — making it easy to just drop a phone on the base and have it instantly begin charging. The charger also works with other devices that support Qi wireless charging, like the Samsung Galaxy S8, Note8, the Google Nexus 7, and the LG G4.
To buy: apple.com, $60
Roku Streaming Stick Plus
Perfect at home and in hotel rooms, the ultra-portable Roku Streaming Stick (just a few inches longer than a thumb drive) turns any television into a smart TV stocked with all of your favorite streaming accounts. The latest model has a voice-controlled remote and supports the latest 4K technology.
To buy: amazon.com, $69