How a few gadgets can improve your travels: first hand review

I spent a week in Kauai for a business meet up and the experience was terrific. I’m very used to airports, planes, boarding cards, miles, etc. but I hadn’t been on a long haul trip like this since 2005 when I spent a few months in New Zealand.

I wanted to use this opportunity to benchmark a few gadgets designed to make the trip more comfortable. It took me 30 hours to go and 36 to come back, here my first hand report on a few toys I had with me:

Bose Quiet Comfort 15

Bose
These headphones are supposed to cancel background noises and provide an excellent music experience. I’m not an audiophile but I was really impressed by this device. The airplane engines vanish as soon as you turn them on and the music is loud and clear. They are also perfect for sleeping on crowded places.

Cost: $299 at BestBuy
Personal vote: YAY

Samsonite sleep mask with earplugs

sleep mask
I was not impressed about this sleep mask. Earplugs are very low quality and the cords are not comfortable on the ears. The mask is filled with polystyrene spheres so it keeps cool and soft. Not that much to be honest.

Cost: 10 Euro at a local shop
Personal vote: MEH

Samsonite travel pillow

Pillow
It’s inflatable so you can pull it out only when you need it and put it back in a pocket when you’re done. At the beginning it was fine but past the first few hours it became very difficult to sleep on that pillow. It’s a plastic air bubble covered with a velvet-like fabric. So you start sweating and it soaks up within a few minutes. Then it stinks. No way.

Cost: 20 Euro at a local shop
Personal vote: NAY

Calm.com

calm
This app is supposed to help meditating but it’s so useful during a long trip. You can isolate yourself during the long hours at the boarding gate and it can help to catch sleep on the plane.

Cost: Yearly subscription for $9.99 on iTunes Store
Personal vote: YAY

Clocks

Clocks
When you travel across multiple timezones and you have to sync with your team around the globe, just a basic clock app is not enough. On my iPhone I simply set up multiple clocks on the default app, but on my Mac I use Clocks to keep track of the time.

Cost: $2.99 on iTunes Store
Personal vote: YAY

Other must-have apps

  • Tripit Pro to keep track of my flights, hotels, rental cars and more.
  • Skype Pro is an essential tool because every airport/lobby/public wifi/airline nowadays have wifi accounting on Skype. So you don’t have to register every time and you pay with your Skype credit.
  • Spotify ideal travel companion, just remember to local-sync your favorite playlists so you can keep listen while in airplane mode.

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