8 Great Travel Gadgets
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Now a slew of new gadgets are making the arduous process of going on holiday even smoother — from a suitcase that weighs itself to sensors that track lost luggage and a bracelet that warns of impending sunburn.
ChargeAll Portable Wall Outlet
That 10-hour layover could be the death of your laptop, leaving you Netflix-less until you reach your final destination. The ChargeAll battery pack provides both a three-pin socket for charging larger devices, such as speakers and TVs, and two USB ports for charging smartphones, tablets and pocket cameras. The smaller version of the ChargeAll is slightly larger than an iPhone 5 and can store 12,000mAh of power (enough for two laptop charges); the larger one stores 18,000 mAH and weighs a hefty 5 pounds.
Price: $199.95 or $229.95 at chargeall.com
Unu Ultrapak Tour Portable Battery Pack
If you use your smartphone to take photos and navigate on your travels, the last thing you need is for the battery to run dry. The Utrapkak Tour portable battery can charge itself in 15 minutes enough to almost fully recharge an iPhone 5 (2,000mAh), and it stores enough juice to recharge most smartphones three times (10,000mAh).
With an LED readout on top, you’ll always know exactly how much charge you have left. And you can plug in two devices at once to charge with its 5V-1amp and 5V-2.1amp charging ports.
Price: $99.99 at Amazon
Netatmo June UV Exposure Bracelet
Off on a jaunt to the beach? The Netatmo June measures the sun levels you’re exposing yourself to and sends protection alerts to a Bluetooth-paired iPhone. A water-resistant UV sensor set beneath a plastic jewel reads the current conditions outside and combines that with a sun-sensitivity rating based on your skin tone, eye color and hair color to recommend an appropriate sunscreen.
The accompanying iPhone app displays a Sun Dose meter that warns you when you've been out too long, based on the UV index, your sun sensitivity and whether you're wearing sunscreen. At the start of the day, the app suggests recommended sun protection such as a hat or high-SPF sunscreen.
The June comes in platinum, gold or gunmetal jewel colors with two wristbands in leather and silicone, plus a USB-rechargeable battery.
Price: $99 from Amazon
Hide valuables safely
The Lock Box
If you've planned a more active vacation, this credit-card-sized box with a combo lock is great for safely hiding keys and ID when you hit the trails, surf or slopes.
The box accommodates most car keys plus cards and small valuables, and a padlock-style U-shackle lets you attach it somewhere safe, such as beneath your car.
The box and U-shackle are secured via a combination lock, so there's no key to lose while you're hanging ten or rafting the rapids.
Price: $35 free2ride.com
Track your bags
Trakdot Luggage Tracker
Pop the Trakdot into your checked-in luggage. If the airline loses your bag, this compact device helps you find it by connecting to a cellphone network when the plane touches down. It can then send its location via text or email, handy if you're traveling internationally without cellular roaming and can only connect via Wi-Fi.
While GPS signals can be blocked by thick walls (such as airport basement storage), the Trakdot's GSM connection means it can be tracked anywhere in the world that there is cellphone coverage, except countries that don’t use GSM such as Japan and South Korea. The Trakdot runs on two AA batteries.
LugLoc Luggage Tracker
Similar to the Trakdot but without the annual subscription fee is the LugLoc. It also uses the GSM network to track luggage but connects only to iPhones and Android phones via the LugLoc app. Instead of shelling out a yearly subscription fee, you purchase individual traces only when you actually need to find your luggage. The LugLoc runs on a rechargeable battery.
Price: $59.95 from lugloc.com , traces from $2.99 each
Tile Location Stickers
If you're worried about losing smaller items such as your passport, tablet or kids' backpacks, these micro-location sensors stick on the back of your belongings and can be tracked from up to 100 feet away by a Bluetooth-paired smartphone. If a lost item is outside that 100-foot radius, the app will show the tag’s last known location on your phone's maps app, based on the last time the Tile connected to the app.
The Tile app displays the distance to all tagged items. Tap each on-screen item to make the Tile tag play an audible melody. As you get closer to your tagged item, the app’s tracking circle will fill in, letting you know you’re getting closer.
Tile sensors last about a year, at which time you’ll need to replace them. The device works with iPhone 4S or newer and Android 4.3 or newer.
Price: Starts at $20 for one from thetileapp.com
The ultimate smart suitcase
Bluesmart Carry-on Luggage Weigher
Forget waiting until check-in to discover that your carry-on luggage is too heavy. Just lift the handle on the Bluesmart, and its sensor records its weight and displays it in a companion smartphone app. And GPS lets you track the suitcase via the app so that if it ends up in a different city, you can pinpoint where it’s gone.
If you forget to lock your suitcase, proximity sensors clock when the suitcase is separated from you and then locks automatically. You'll receive an SMS alert when your suitcase is outside a set distance from you, handy if you should leave it behind while browsing the duty-free shops. The Bluesmart app tracks your suitcase to record trip stats such as where you've been, how far you've traveled and how much time you spend per journey. It also syncs with your calendar (and, down the line, other travel apps) to send flight alerts and packing reminders.
On the design end, a handy pocket at the front holds laptops and tablets for easy removal during security screenings, and its built-in USB charger holds enough juice to refresh your smartphone six times. The lock itself is TSA-approved so baggage inspectors can easily open it, and you can share access with trusted friends via the Bluesmart app.
Price: Funding from $295 (retail expected at $450) at Indiegogo; expected delivery July 2015