Site icon Odyssey Traveller

Nifty Gizmos, Gadgets, and Apps for Mature Travellers

Nifty Gizmos, Gadgets, and Apps for Mature aged Travellers

An Antipodean travel company serving world travellers since 1983.

Nifty Gizmos, Gadgets, and Apps for Travellers

Part of the art of travelling lies in knowing exactly what to take to enhance your travel experience. Many people have particular comfort items or devices they always take with them, whether on a quick weekend getaway or a long haul flight, and without which travel would be unthinkable. It can be a favourite suitcase or purse, or even something for security and peace of mind, such as a bag with RFID blocking pockets that protects your passport and credit cards from being swiped. While you may already know which items are essential for you, there are now many products available that may further enhance your experience.

This post offers a guide to some of the most exciting and innovative travel gadgets out there on the market. It is designed as an introduction to the various advances in travel technology from recent years. Many of the products in this feature are readily available in travel stores, while others can be found online, following the links we’ve provided. We hope you enjoy Odyssey Traveller’s guide to travel-related gizmos, gadgets, and apps. Who knows? You may even end up finding a product or two on this list that might just add that little bit of extra comfort or enjoyment to your next trip!

Travel Apps

Technology has changed the way we travel (allowing us to book flights online) and has also introduced new tools to help us prepare for our journeys. Below are three travel apps we think you’ll find useful.

We’ve talked about PackPoint in a previous article about packing tips. PackPoint is a free Android app released in 2014 that helps you organise your packing list based on the length of travel, the weather at your destination, and any activities planned during your trip. The link shows a video demo of the app’s key features. PackPoint first asks for your gender, your activity (business or leisure?), length of travel, and destination. It then checks the weather and develops a list of wardrobe, electronics, and toiletries to match your travel needs. You can tick off the items in the list as you pack, ensuring that you don’t forget anything before you leave.

TripIt is a travel planning app available for free (with a paid version called TripIt Pro) for iOS and Android. TripIt organises all bookings and reservations–flight, hotel, car, etc–into one master itinerary which you can instantly access across all devices. You can also send them to your online calendar or anyone you choose, such as a loved one or a colleague. In 2018, TripIt Pro released a new feature that tells users how long it will take to get through airport security by monitoring security checkpoint lines and wait times.

Also available for iOS and Android is the Culture Trip app, a travel reference app offering local information and recommendations. In May 2018, they published an article about the 11 travel apps you need to have on your phone, which might be of interest.

Portable Washing System Bag

Washing clothes can be a major hassle when travelling. It often proves to be one of the most time-consuming and impractical elements of a trip. Whether you attempt a wash in the hotel basin, a nearby laundromat, or use the service provided by your accommodation, keeping one’s clothes clean often feels as though it takes an unnecessary amount of effort.

The good news is that there are now many portable washing systems on the market. These nifty devices take up very little space in your luggage, and provide an easy way to clean your clothes, no matter where you happen to be. All you need is some soap and water, and a little elbow grease. The bag takes care of the rest. There are many of these products on the market, including the Laundreez Bag and the Scrubba system, which features an internal washboard. This feature allows for a machine-quality wash in just a few minutes, making it the perfect addition on your next overseas trip.

Travel Steam Iron

Like washing, ironing can also prove a challenge while travelling. While some hotels have ironing boards and irons for guests, many do not. Even where irons are available, their quality can be unpredictable. Struggling with a sub-par iron is a frustrating that many travellers have had to endure.

One solution to this problem is to pick up a travel steam iron, which can be purchased fairly inexpensively and which don’t take up too much room in your luggage. Many companies now produce irons made specifically for this purpose, including Sunbeam, Oxa, and Pursteam.

Several models come with attachments and special features for versatility, allowing you to have clean, pressed clothes even while you’re on the road.

Hi-Tech Foot Warmers

This item is more of a luxury, but many travellers have grown to love their hi-tech heated inner soles, and now wouldn’t think of going anywhere cold without them. These products are perfect for those with circulation problems, or those who struggle to keep their toes warm in colder weather. These lightweight insoles, which can be controlled via your smartphone, allow precise heating as well as counting steps and calories burned. The temperature can controlled with a simple, easy-to-use interface, ensuring that your feet stay warm and comfortable. Several companies have started producing these products, including Thermacell and Digitsole.

Reception Extender

Almost all travellers have had the experience of walking up hills and scaling tall buildings in order to find phone reception. Sometimes, it’s essential to call family and friends, or to ring ahead and book accommodation. And since Odyssey takes travellers on tours to remote and isolated regions, as well as cities and urban areas, coverage can sometimes be an issue. Which is where reception extenders can be handy. Invented for use in remote disaster and rescue situations, these small devices allow your phone to stay connected even in regions of low or limited mobile coverage.

While still on the more expensive side, one of these gadgets could allow you to get the phone service you need, instead of spending time and money in search of coverage. There are many of these products on the market, including those made by goTenna and Beartooth.

Small, Folding Knives

Ever been in need of a sharp knife while travelling overseas? Maybe while on a picnic, or when trying to prepare some fruit in a hotel room? Knives are obviously now prohibited from carry-on luggage, and it can be a hassle to wrap and protect a small knife in your checked luggage. This is where portable, folding knives, designed specifically for travellers can come in handy. These innovative designs combine practicality and sophistication. There are many companies that now produce such knives, mostly using lightweight polypropylene in the construction, along with a thin but sturdy blade. The Cardsharp2, for instance, made by Iain Sinclair, features a particularly sleek design and makes a nifty travel companion. With an extended, 65mm cutting edge, and a high-quality blade, it makes the perfect travelling companion.

High-Quality Noise Cancelling Headphones

A quality set of noise-cancelling headphones is a must for the serious traveller. If you’ve never experienced the sonic bliss of being able to cancel out engine noise while on a flight, or attenuate loud sounds while navigating a city, you’re missing out.

Though they were once the province of those in first-class, or the pilots themselves, in recent years they have become an affordable option for travellers of all kinds. There are many models and options available. Popular models include the Bose QuietComfort 35, the Bowens & Wilkins P9 Signature, and the Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones.

Portable Wireless Speakers

While we’re on the topic of audio, portable speakers are an invaluable addition for music lovers of all kinds. While listening to music through headphones is great, it’s also nice to be able to enjoy ambient music while travelling. The technology behind portable, wireless speakers is constantly improving, and there are many good options available. As with all audio equipment, the amount one can spend varies greatly, but there are a number of affordable, high-quality products on the market. Popular options for travellers include the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay2, the Kakkoi WOW, and the Kreafunk Aglow Speakers.

Portable Battery Charger

A good portable battery charger is a must for all travellers. It’s often hard to know where you’ll be able to recharge next, and if you’re out and about for the day, the last thing you want to worry about is your camera or phone running out of charge. Portable battery chargers are an easy way of ensuring that you can keep using your devices, and can be easily recharged overnight. Chargers now have impressive battery-restoring capabilities, and can be used again and again. They also weigh far less than they used to, and numerous ultra-light options are available. Particular good models for travellers include the Anker PowerCore, the Tech Armor Powerbank, and the GoalZero Flip30.

Travel Tracker Devices

While many people are familiar with regular pedometers, there are also more precise and interesting ways to know your walking patterns. Imagine being able to retrace your exact trips through the city of Paris, say, or Rome, and be able to recreate your journey at home. Devices such as the GPS TravelTracker are powered by AA batteries, and have 4MB of built-in storage. They can operate for weeks on end, tracking every step you take. When you’re next back at the computer, loading the data via the USB connection allows you to see a Google earth integration of your walking. You’ll be amazed to see which twists and turns you took across a city, and it’s a great way of remembering what you saw. If you’re after a different kind of record of your trip, you may well enjoy this kind of gadget.

Secret Compartment Sandals

A bit of a novelty, perhaps, but these nifty sandals allow for an easy way of storing your hotel keys, credit card, and a small amount of cash. They let you free up your hands, and stroll down to the beach with nothing more in your hands than a towel. No one will know that your belongings are safe and sound under your feet!

There are a range of these products on the market, including those made by Reef Footwear and Slotflops.

Reading Tablets

Many of our travellers use reading tablets of various kinds. Kindles, Kobos, and Lenovo e-readers are all good options for those wanting to keep up with their reading schedules while travelling. Whereas physical books are bulky and heavy, e-readers allow for thousands of texts to be stored on a single device. iPads also allow for books to be read online, and are ideal when travelling.

360-Degree Spherical Digital Camera

You’ll be amazed at what a High resolution 360-degree camera can do. The most recent developments in video imagining technology allow you to take 360-degree, high-quality images and video of your travel experiences. Imagine being able to relive the full experience of your most recent European holiday from the comfort of your own home. Or showing friends and family how breathtaking your latest wilderness experience really was.  Many of these models allow for continuous HD video recording of 1080p at 30 frames per second for 25 minutes, which also come with large amounts of internal memory. They pair easily with your smartphone and have intuitive control systems. This is a must-purchase gadget for the serious traveller, who wants to try and record an even more realistic snapshot of adventures and travel experiences of all kinds.

There are many good models on the market, including those made by Ricoh (pictured), Samsung, and 360Fly.

Non-Electric Portable Blender

Imagine being able to create a delicious, nutritional smoothie with fresh fruit and vegetables while you’re on the road! Portable blenders make this possible, often using an ingenious rotary blade system that relies on small hand movements. The Revablend, for instance, consists of a polypropylene bottle with sturdy stainless steel blades connected to a rubber wheel base. When the bottle is “Rev’d” at a 30 degree angle you can reach speeds up to 3000 revolutions per minute. Since no electricity or batteries are required, it is ideal for travellers. Other models use USB charge to generate enough power for juicing.

If you’re a big juice drinker, and want to stay healthy and hydrated on the road, they might be worth looking into.

High-Tech Sleep Masks and Pillows

Travelling doesn’t have to be synonymous with poor sleep. There are a range of high-tech pillows available that promise deeper and more restful sleep. The Dreamlight Rechargeable Sleep Mask, for instance, uses light technology to create optimal resting conditions. Fully compatible with a smart phone, it monitors your sleeps patters each time you use it, and can help you learn how much sleep you require in certain situations. It also eliminates any light leakage, and uses ambient nature sounds (or white noise) to help you fall asleep in noisy situations. (Alternatively, you can play your own music through the internal Bluetooth speakers, or choose for pre-programmed soundtracks.) It also has an alarm clock built in, and uses soft green light to wake you during the best point in your sleep cycle. This cutting-edge technology might seem futuristic, but it promises deeper sleep for travellers, allowing you to enjoy international tours while feeling properly rested.

Other Hi-tech Sleeping Pillows

There’s also the famous Ostrich sleeping pillow (below), which is remarkably portable, considering its size when unfurled. While it looks rather strange, it supposedly provides a deep form of rest. Many travellers have found this pillow to be a particularly comfortable way of getting some sleep during long flights and waiting periods.

Luggage Trackers

With a Smart Luggage Tracker, you’ll always know where your bags are. Designed to synchronize with your phone or computer, these devices allow you to keep an eye on your bags at all times. They’re ideal for lost luggage situations, or just for keeping track of where your belongings are. These devices are fairly inexpensive, and may be worth purchasing if you often find yourself concerned as to the whereabouts of your things. Models include the Victorinox Tracker and the Dynotag.

Noise Blocking Device

These devices allow you to get a peaceful night’s sleep even in noisy conditions. Perfect for city travelling, or even blocking out loud neighbours, these small gadgets use innovative vibration technology to cancel out surrounding sound waves. Many of these devices stick to smooth surfaces or rest on a table, and reduce a startling amount of ambient noise. It’s a great way of escaping the stress of unwanted outside sounds, leaving you free to enjoy sleep or just the peace and quiet of your room. Particularly well-reviewed models include Muzo and sono.

Originally published January 23, 2018.

Updated November 8, 2019.