In parts 1 and 2 of my Holiday blogs, we talked about planning and preparation for your trip away. By now I expect you have your Evernote database populated with all your travel documents and ideas for day trips, and your itinerary entered in TripDeck or TripIt. Today I wanted to give you some ideas for tech to take with you, software you might find useful when you’re away and general advice for travellers.

Data Roaming

First things first, I wanted to remind you that using your mobile phone overseas is not covered in most talk or data plans. Obviously if you’re travelling to an EU country you are covered by the limits imposed on EU carriers for maximum charges (on calls, texts and data), but if you’re a heavy user these could still add up considerably over a two week trip. Take a trip to the USA though, and most UK carriers have you over a barrel. If you don’t turn off data roaming (go to Settings/Mobile and make sure Data Roaming is not green) be warned that you may come back to a bill you hadn’t expected! That was one of the reasons I chose to move to Three as my mobile provider (their One Plan gives you “Feel At Home” which means that I can pretty much use my normal allowances in many of the most popular destinations – check here for the countries covered).

Whoever you are with for your mobile phone, check their charges before using it abroad! Always better to be safe than sorry.

For the flight

Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones

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Flying long-haul I tend to use this time to listen to or watch a lot of media.As you probably know, the airline normally provides headphones but they’re typically awful. I always carry a cheap pair of in-ear headphones for listening to stuff on the beach or elsewhere, but my guilty pleasure is a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones for the flight. Frankly these are not the best sounding headphones I’ve tried or even purchased, but for spending 8-10 hours on a plane they are an absolute godsend. There’s a reason why private aircraft pilots generally use Bose headphones – their noise cancelling is the best around when it comes to aircraft “rumble”. Slip these on and you’ll be amazed at the immediate reduction of the rumble created by the aircraft’s engines. After 10 years of use, I wouldn’t travel longhaul without them – and despite the fact I find my cheapish in-ear phones are better sounding in quieter surroundings, I’m more than happy to have paid a premium for these and  and prepared to carry them with me on every flight since.


No matter what phone or tablet you use these days, most of them, as well as many other devices (Go Pro’s for example) charge using a USB connector. So if you’re travelling as a group, there’s a chance you’ll be taking several chargers with you. To save a bit of room though, you could look at the Anker five port USB charger. This, when plugged into a power outlet, provides you with sufficient USB ports to charge five devices simultaneously.

Power leads

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You may of course have other devices that don’t use USB chargers (many dSLR cameras for instance) so you will need to take those chargers separately. What I’ve done over the years though is to collect a number of appropriate power cables for each region so that I don’t take UK power cables for everything and a number of adaptors. Most power cables are interchangeable, being of two designs (commonly known as figure of eight and kettle leads). Take one or two of each of the types you need for the countries you are travelling to, and you’ll save a little bit of space. I’ve acquired these when buying electronics products overseas, but most electronics shops will be able to sell them to you. That takes care of charging when you’re in the hotel, but what about when you’re out and about? I’ve found the Anker Astro E5 15000mAh battery perfect for getting some juice into your phone or tablet. This particular unit has two USB outputs and also an LED light for emergency use. I’m not sure why, but Anker have become a great source for charging devices over the past couple of years. The products I’ve had from them have been of very good quality, but also at great prices.

Making memories

Of course, wherever you travel to, you’ll want to keep as many memories as possible. The obvious things are photo’s but what about keeping a journal while you’re away? Day One is a fantastic bit of software available on Mac and iOS which allows you to electronically journal your trip. It’s very much like an old fashioned paper diary, but allows you to attach photos, location, information, maps, videos etc to a daily entry just so you can remind yourself what a great day you had, and the data is synchronised across any of the platforms you have the software installed. Now while I’ve tried, and failed to use a journal for any length of time I will make a point of doing it on holiday this year, if nothing else it will be a way of keeping my motivation for writing going while I take a short break. That said, I do know quite a few people who like to make a daily journal so its definitely worth thinking about. The software also allows you to export it in a couple of different formats (pdf, text or markdown) to allow you to put the information into other things such as a personal Web site.

If journalling isn’t your thing, you might like to keep a record of your movements over the trip. I use a great app called Rove Pro (there’s a free version but it’s a little more limited) that keeps a map of my movements, as well as logging where/when I took iPhone photos and what music I’ve played throughout my trip. The paid version of the app allows you to export a weekly report of your movements (which I find is very useful for double checking my mileage expenses claims). If you’re taking lots of photos with a camera that doesn’t have GPS built in, it could also be a great cross reference as to where you were at any given time to plot your photos onto a map in Lightroom or Aperture.

Movie camera

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One of the current trends is the increasing use of GoPro cameras for recording activities. Right now these are still coming out, in my view at least, a little expensive. But there is an alternative. I’ve heard good reports about the Qumox SJ4000 as an alternative. Working out at around £75, compared to £269 for the GoPro, with virtually the same specification and fittings this is worth a try if you are thinking of taking some video, especially on theme park rides and in water. There’s a wealth of different accessories available from sports helmet mounts through to hand held poles and tripod mounts; whatever you want to shoot, there’s probably something to help you. There’s a great KelbyOne course on shooting with GoPro’s that is equally suitable for the Qumox cameras which you can watch by subscribing, or even taking a 24 hour trial membership. If you’ve never heard of KelbyOne and you’re interested in photography…….you’re missing out massively! Speaking of photography, if you are taking lots of photographs, whatever you do please make sure you have a second copy of them somewhere (not on your person) before flying home. The best tip for those travelling with a computer is to bring a spare external drive and copy your new images to it before departing for home, and give it to someone else in your party. For iPhone photographers, make sure you upload your photos to your photostream just in case anything were to happen to your device.

Out and about

I’ve mentioned TomTom in previous posts, and this is something that’s definitely worth having if you’re using a car. Obviously you need to bear in mind the data charges when it comes to things like traffic alerts (which are an in-app purchase) but the other thing you need to think about is where you’re going to mount your phone to be able to see the driving directions. Every car is different so not all mounts will work in every car, but the one that I’ve found to work just about everywhere is the Osomount. This has an extremely sticky base that sticks very well to any flat(tish) surface without leaving a residue. The stickiness does eventually reduce, but you can renew it just by running it under a cold tap and letting it dry. When packing our cases I (ask my wife to) put the Osomount in a suitable place so I can grab it out of the bag to mount the phone ready for our drive away from the airport. On that note it’s a good idea to get your phone turned on, and the TomTom app started as soon as permitted on arrival (usually this is once you are through immigration) to allow your phone to get a SatNav location worked out (otherwise you might find yourself waiting a few minutes in the car park while it does it). I also usually pack a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable with the mount just in case the car we get doesn’t have bluetooth connectivity and I can pass the audio through to the car stereo using the cable.

Relaxing by the pool

We’ve talked about music and videos in previous posts, but one thing I’ve noticed recently for those people who like to read on holiday is that Amazon have finally released their WhisperSync service in the UK. What this does is allows you to purchase the Kindle version of a book (which you can read on an Amazon Kindle device, or the Kindle app on an iPad), and also purchase the audiobook version of the same book from Audible (now owned by Amazon) at a reduced rate. The advantage of doing this is that you can read the actual book when you want, but at any time you can pick up listening to the audio version where you left off reading and vice versa.

Finally, public wifi

A cautionary tale – public wifi hotspots are notorious (especially in tourist areas) for what is known as man in the middle attacks. People who carry out these are able to intercept all your data (including login information) so it’s vital that you are extremely cautious when using a public wireless network, especially fo anything confidential or financial. My recommendation is that you use the ProXPN service I mentioned in a previous post to protect your data. Whatever you do have, enjoy your holidays and I hope some of the tips and software I’ve mentioned comes in useful for you. If you have any feedback or other suggestions, please do let me have them!

Links for things mentioned:

Subscribe to Evernote

Three Mobile

Purchase Bose QuietComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones

Purchase Anker 5 port USB charger

Purchase Anker 15000mAh battery pack

Purchase Day One for Mac

Purchase Day One for iOS

Purchase Rove Pro for iPhone

Purchase Qumox SJ4000 camera

Subscribe to KelbyOne

Purchase Osomount for iPhone

Purchase Kindle PaperWhite reader

Buy Amazon Lightning cable

Create a ProXPN account

Buy Amazon 30 pin Dock Connector cable