4 things missing from your suitcase
If we really do go on holiday to get away from it all, why are suitcases filled with so many charging cables? And why is everyone at the airport looking at a screen? And why did one man's efforts to move his hotel bed closer to a power point go viral?
Modern technology is simply too convenient to leave at home any more, and some of it becomes even handier on holiday. These gadgets let you find yourself if you get lost, entertain yourself if you get bored, capture priceless memories that, rather ironically, cost years of saving, and let you stay in contact with friends, family, and those to whom you'd like to humblebrag.
Research conducted by travel technology provider Amadeus found only 6 per cent of Australian travellers disconnect from technology while travelling, with 78 per cent seeking wi-fi hot spots while on a break. Accessing maps and local information is still the most popular reason to pack tech on holiday, according to its May survey, followed closely by researching activities, letting people know they are safe, and sharing photos of enviable exploits.
But what technology is actually worth its weight in your suitcase or backpack, and which items should you leave behind? After spending much time in airports, lounges, trains, taxis, and hotels, we can reveal the technology you should pack to make your holiday better.
THE SCIENCE OF SILENCE
Research shows loud background noise can harm our general wellbeing and disrupt sleep patterns, and you can test this for yourself on any long-haul flight to Europe. Active noise-cancelling headphones quiet the din by registering ambient noise and creating a sound 180 degrees out of phase to neutralise it. The result is on-board entertainment you can hear, a solid way to avoid talking to a noisy seat neighbour, and a quiet way to sleep.
Sony impressed audiophiles with its last take on noise-cancellation but the sequel is better again, particularly for air travellers. The headphones still feature touch-sensitive controls, and let you instantly silence playback by cupping a hand over one side, but they also automatically adjust for atmospheric pressure and can tune out more engine noise automatically. Battery life has also increased to 30 hours of noise-cancelling entertainment between charges, and these headphones will let you hear overhead announcements even while tuning out airport background noise.
The problem with noise-cancelling headphones is they consume so much room in your carry-on bag. If you can't commit, this headset from Danish audio specialists Bang & Olufsen should appeal. The earbuds fit inside a pocket-sized carry case, feature a stylish, aluminium exterior and a tangle-free cord, and come with a plane adaptor. You can switch on noise-cancellation from its attached battery pack, and while it's not quite as effective as an overheard set, the difference is pleasingly noticeable.
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
They're the first and the best known name in noise-cancelling headphones for a reason, and the latest Quiet Comfort headphones from Bose don't radically alter the formula. They still deliver enviable noise cancellation that makes plane engines sound like distant refrigerators, and their padded ear cups block the outside world comfortably. These models add an addition button for summoning the Google Assistant to answer questions, like when does my flight board.
CATCH UP ON READING
Finishing books beneath an umbrella on a picturesque beach is the dream but reading material is just as useful on a train through Europe when your circadian rhythm is locked in time zone purgatory. Modern devices provide more advantages too: you can read the magazines, newspapers, and books you like without judgment, as no one can see the cover to determine whether you're consuming the works of Nietzche or Messrs Mills & Boon.
Apple iPad Pro 10.5
Obviously, Apple's most advanced tablet computer is not just for reading - you can work on it, scribble on it, or hand it to a toddler to see what it can really do. However, reading on this versatile device is comfortable, thanks to a 10.5-inch screen that is less reflective, more responsive, and better tuned to ambient light than before. It also gives you access to magazine and newspaper apps, in addition to book downloads from Apple, Amazon and others.
Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2
If you're going to read by a pool, the sea, or just in the bath, having a water-resistant e-book reader makes sense. This refined edition from Kobo will not only survive splashes but complete water immersion and, unlike tablet screens, its E Ink display is compatible with daylight. It will hold up to 6000 titles at a time, downloads them over wi-fi, and its 6.8-inch touchscreen automatically cuts out blue light at night to help you sleep better.
Amazon Kindle Oasis
Amazon has created a lot of e-book readers but this is one of its most interesting thanks to a slender, diminutive form you can slip into a handbag and forget it's there (we've done this). Despite its meagre 131g weight, the book machine features a six-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch, adds page turn buttons, and its smart cover gives its battery an extra charge.
Photos, the saying goes, or it didn't happen. Digital cameras span the gamut from advanced masterpiece makers to happy snappers, and some will capture the entire scene with a minimum of fuss. Mercifully, most can send images to your smartphone so you can make your friends jealous almost immediately.
If you're serious about holiday snaps, Nikon's new full-frame digital SLR can capture every detail. The advanced shooter will snap 45.7-megapixel images, can record up to seven photos in a second, and its 3.2-inch touchscreen moves to help you capture images at challenging angles. Its new sensor is also surprisingly capable in low light and will help you capture night scenes without a tripod.
Canon EOS M5
If you want great photos but aren't willing to commit to a big camera, Canon's EOS M5 provides a compromise that doesn't look like one. The interchangeable lens camera is like a shrunken 80D, with a 24-megapixel sensor, hinged touchscreen, and seven-photos-per-second shooting speed.
Samsung Gear 360 2017
Reliving your holiday can be easier if you use a 360-degree camera to capture absolutely everything in a scene, including yourself. Samsung's second Gear 360 is easy to hold, as its buttons and display feature on its handle, and its two wide-angle, 8.4-megapixel cameras can capture 4K video as well as still images that are sewn together to create ultimate panoramas.
KEEP LOOKING UP
Even though smartphones are handy travel companions, you should strive to look away from them occasionally to ensure you are in the same location indicated on your boarding pass. Thankfully, there are technological solutions for that too. Wearable technology can keep your fear of missing out at bay while you explore something more important than new emails.
Apple Watch Series 3
All the important additions are included in Apple's third smartwatch. It will show map directions discreetly on your wrist, it's water-resistant, and it will let you take phone calls and dictate text messages without fishing through your backpack for your iPhone. If you're holidaying in Australia, you can even use its cellular connection to leave your phone locked in your hotel room while you escape to the beach. No more hiding your phone in a towel.
From $559, apple.com/au
If you can't bear the thought of leaving your exercise routine at home, Fitbit's first smartwatch can assist. The Ionic watch features personal coaching on its small touchscreen and will guide you through exercise in your hotel room. This smartwatch also has the benefit of uncommonly long battery life, with more than four days of use from one charge, and it can be used to make credit card payments if you bank with a compatible provider.
These camera-toting spectacles aren't officially available in Australia yet but you can order them through Big Apple Buddy or HopShopGo, or buy them at your destination. Their purpose is simple: they can record short videos of whatever you see. All the wearer has to do is press a button on the left arm and, just to warn others, it sets off lights in one corner so others know you're recording. The 10-second videos can be shared on Snapchat, of course, or downloaded for use elsewhere.