The holiday season is synonymous with a number of things, but perhaps none more than travel. Whether you’re headed on a vacation or simply going back to Mom and Dad’s, there are a few essentials you want to have handy this year.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite gear for the techie traveler. From organization to power and everything in between, we have you covered. Just the same, the avid traveler on your shopping list may appreciate a few of these products too! Head below for our top picks for 2016.
First up is organization. Any frequent flyer knows that keeping all your gear in order while on the road is imperative. You’ll want to be sure that you have a backpack or messenger bag that can handle all of the essentials while still adhering to carry-on guidelines. Our top pick for 2016 is the Timbuk2 Uptown Travel Backpack for $119. It’s available in a variety of colors with designated storage compartments for MacBooks up to 15-inches in size plus an iPad. Additional pockets for cables, chargers, your iPhone and more will help keep things tidy while you’re on the move. It’s an Amazon favorite with a 4.4/5 star rating from customers.
A more cost-effective option would be the Samsonite Three Gusset Top-Loader Briefcase for $52. It offers many of the same storage options in a smaller package without sacrificing on features. Rated 4.4/5 stars by over 800 Amazon reviewers.
It’s important to keep your cables and chargers neatly organized while on the road. No one wants to untangle a mess of wires each time a device needs powered up. The $27 Invent Travel Organizer has dedicated storage for your cables, chargers, iPad and more. One of our favorite features on this case is its book-style design and divider that makes it easier to see more of your accessories at once.
Just the same, an AmazonBasics slim packing cube kit will keep things tidy but lack the structure of a ProCase. At $22, you’ll get a four-pack with a choice of five different colors. On a per-cable basis, it’s tough to wrong with Nite Ize gear ties that are available in a variety of sizes and colors for as little as $3. These are also perfect for attaching your Lightning cable to a nightstand at a hotel so it doesn’t fall down out-of-sight during your stay.
This year is shaping up to be all about wireless connectivity. Bluetooth made an even bigger push in 2016 with Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from iPhone 7. One of the top benefits of going wireless is the elimination of extra cords, which is particularly helpful when traveling through airports and the like. A basic Bluetooth starter kit includes a pair of headphones for enjoying music or podcasts on the road. The Bose SoundSport Wireless are a fan favorite at $149 but this year’s darling is definitely the new Beats Solo3 with Apple’s killer W1 chip technology (from $220).
While we’re on audio, you should check out the new Fabriq Bluetooth and AirPlay Speaker for $50. Not only does it offer those two popular connectivity mediums, it also has Alexa Voice Service built-in. I’ve been tooling around with this speaker for a few weeks and can honestly say it’s one of the best in the sub-$50 range for listening away from home. Audio aside, having a multitude of connectivity options and Alexa makes this a home run at this price point.
Bluetooth and travel converge with Tile’s handy trackers that ensure you won’t walk off without your wallet or messenger bag. The recently announced Tile Mate offers a smaller footprint with longer range than the previous generation. It will ping your smartphone when you get out of range, alerting you of the last known location. A single Tile Mate sells for $25 or you can grab a four-pack for $70.
Nearly every hotel room (or parent’s house) has an HDTV at this point. While travel routers used to be a necessity, now a streaming stick has taken that place. Some hotels will offer Netflix or Hulu but you’ll typically need to enter your password and set things up. By simply tossing a Roku Streaming Stick in your bag, you can avoid all of those headaches and simply plug in, join the Wi-Fi and enjoy when you arrive. The 2016 model sells for around $45 online and includes all of your favorite services (Amazon, VUDU, Netflix, Hulu, Google Play, and more).
Of course, it wouldn’t be a travel gift guide if we didn’t point out a few power options. Everyone knows that portable battery pack can be helpful while on-the-go. HP’s new Powerup Backpack includes a 22400mAh battery that designed to charge USB-C devices. There are additional USB-A ports for microUSB and Lightning cables, too. A built-in sensor detects heat and adjusts charging speeds as necessary. The Powerup Backpack currently retails for $166.
Have any other travel tech gift ideas? Let us know down in the comments what your must-haves for this time of the year include.