Check out this list of must-haves for their carry-on bag, compiled from some traveling friends. What do you carry in your bag?
1. Universal (All-in-One) Plug Adapter
An absolute must have with me...
2. Noise-Canceling Headphones
"Noise-canceling headphones were probably the best travel investment I have made," says pro photographer Erik Dresser, who logs tens of thousands of air miles each year for his work. Dresser notes that the headphones let him shut out the general din of the aircraft so he can relax more easily, permit him to sleep in flight without getting woken up by chatting passengers and crying babies, and signal to others that he is not up for socializing.
3. Portable Phone Charger
This is a must.
4. Car Charger
If you will be renting a car, bring a car charger/adapter. Recharging your stuff while driving helps combat the "not enough accessible outlets in the hotel" factor and allows you to use your device to map your route, play a podcast or distract your kids in the back seat without running down the battery.
5. Weatherproof Phone Case
In my informal gadget survey of friends who travel frequently, the one thing that few of them owned but many were thinking of getting was a weatherproof phone case. At home such cases often seem overly bulky, but when traveling they've found it more common to get caught out in bad weather.
"Ziploc bags work to protect the phone, but actually using the phone through a wet plastic bag is a mess," one noted.
Bringing a tablet as well as a phone had always seemed like just too much stuff to me -- until newspaper and magazine apps started getting good. I used to leave home with more than five pounds of paper reading material, which I left behind for other potential readers in airplane seatback pockets, gate areas or hotel lobbies; now I download magazines and books to a tablet.
For heavy vacation/travel reading, many hardcore readers swear by the Kindle because it's so easy to read outside in strong light. If you read a ton while traveling, and in all kinds of places, a branded Kindle e-reader is probably the way to go.
Admittedly, bringing a Kindle just for reading and a tablet for apps isn't ideal for light packers, but it helps that the Kindle is smaller and lighter than most tablets.
8. Solar Charger
For hardcore travelers who might spend long periods of time away from plugs of any kind -- such as backcountry hikers, climbers and campers -- solar chargers are a useful addition to a packing list. Sure, part of the point of heading into the backcountry is getting away from connectivity, but that doesn't mean that GPS devices, cameras or even smartphones are completely verboten.
9. Portable Hard Drive/Wireless Router
Okay, this puts us into the gadget weeds a bit, but for some folks a device like this can really help, allowing them to convert a wired connection into a secure wireless network to which they can connect multiple devices, as well as providing backup storage.
If the hotel has a wired internet access point, this can make a big difference when the Wi-Fi isn't cutting it and your whole traveling party is trying to get online, or if you really need to post that magazine article.
10. Sun/Insect Repellent Shirt
This isn't exactly a gadget, but clothing has become quite technical in nature and can provide more than just routine cover. Many companies make pants, socks and shirts that provide specific protection from both sun and insects, including measurable UV protection as well as EPA-certified insect repellent properties. Many are lightweight and breathable as well, making this a "tech" purchase perfectly suited to travel.
11. Smart Suitcase
We're in the early days of smart suitcases, but the idea is extremely compelling -- being able to check on your smartphone where your bag is, how heavy it is and whether it has been opened. Some smart suitcases even provide the ability to charge devices through a USB connection.
There are also simple tracking devices you can put into your luggage, so that might be another way to tap into this type of tech without going all in on an expensive bag. As this tech comes into its own, soon enough tracking our own bags might seem almost routine.
What's in yours?