Travel smart: 2016's best travel gadgets

12/23/2016
Travel shouldn't simply be about getting from A to B. Whether you're heading off on holiday or returning from a business trip, the latest technology can make your journey easier, more entertaining and more productive. We've tracked down some top tech gadgets that make traveling smart, simple.

Smart luggage

These days smart packing isn't only about finding space for that extra pair of shoes or managing to scrape in under the weight limit. It's about investing in a case that's clever enough to weigh itself.

At £350, the Bluesmart One carry-on suitcase costs considerably more than your average piece of luggage, but then it's not average in any sense of the word. Capable of connecting to your smartphone via a dedicated app, it features a GPS location tracker and a battery charger for your smartphone and tablet. The remote locking function activates automatically once the case leaves your side, and if you're worried about exceeding your weight allowance, you only need to check the suitcase's built-in scales.

Tablets and e-readers

Regardless of how long you'll be spending at the airport, having a smartphone, tablet or e-reader to hand makes it easy to stay entertained and connected. Apple's iPad Pro, available from £549, is a next generation tablet offering revolutionary graphics, portability, speed and up to 10 hours of battery life. As free Wi-Fi is available in many airports and lounges, surfing the web or streaming movie content from subscription sites like Netflix shouldn't be a problem. Alternatively, plan ahead and download music, films and TV shows onto the device before you leave home. 

Apple's iPad mini 4 (from £379) is 6.1mm thick and weighs in at just 299g, making it a better option if space is at a premium. If you prefer Android devices to Apple's iOS software, consider Samsung's Galaxy Tab S2. Priced from £299, it's a solid competitor to the iPad thanks to its lightweight design, easy-to-read screen and powerful performance.

If you love nothing more than curling up with a good book, a simple e-reader could be the best option. Amazon's range of Kindle e-readers leads the market and their latest entry-level version is on sale for £56.99. Capable of storing thousands of books, it comes with a screen that's comfortable to read and a battery life that'll satisfy even the most voracious reader.

Travel apps

With millions of smartphone and tablet apps available for download across Google and Apple's app stores, finding content to keep you entertained during your journey won't be an issue. Heathrow is one of many airports to offer a dedicated guide. It provides details of the full range of facilities you can expect to enjoy on arrival, and can help you to plan your onward journey. Why not discover more about your destination during the flight by downloading one of Lonely Planet's city guides. Select XE's currency app to stay on top of your finances while overseas, and turn to translation software to make yourself understood across the world.

If you're traveling with an airline that doesn't offer video screens in the backs of its seats, remember to download your own content to a tablet or smartphone. It's also worth checking whether the airline has a dedicated in-flight entertainment app, such as the one offered by Air Canada Rouge.

Charging on the move

Along with your house keys and wallet, your smartphone is likely to be something you never leave home without. Unfortunately, a dead battery can bring calls, messaging, work emails and internet surfing to an abrupt end. While airport lounges provide you with a chance to charge your electronic items, it still makes sense to put a portable charger right at the top of your list of must-have gadgets.

There are numerous options available, from lipstick-sized devices that are ideal when you're short on space, through to large chargers that'll keep you topped up for days. The Anker PowerCore+ mini (£10.99) will recharge an iPhone 6 once and its lipstick-shaped design is highly portable. Offering more power in a larger package is the Zendure A5 portable charger (£38.36), capable of charging an iPhone between 5 and 6 times.

Arrange your ride home

Waiting in line for a taxi once you've reached your destination isn't ideal, especially in poor weather. Let technology take the strain by hailing a cab with the touch of a button. Download the Uber app to your smartphone, create an account and request a ride once you've collected your baggage. The company serves airports in more than 400 cities worldwide and as payment is taken via a credit card, there's no need to worry about having local currency to hand.