Summer Travel Tips: 12 Terrific Gadgets

Make it easy on yourself: Check out our suggestions for great travel gear, ranging from waterproof HD video cameras to digital luggage scales.

Gadgets Take the Trouble Out of Travel

It's summer: Time to get out from under all your work e-mail and all the tweets on your smartphone, and switch to a vacation state of mind. But before you go, take a look at this clutch of tech travel gadgets.

With one or more of our finds, you can say good-bye to travel stress. We have everything from waterproof HD camcorders to inexpensive noise-canceling headphones to mobile power packs.

Haven't started planning your vacation yet? Stop by some travel sites for some help.

Sanyo VPC-WH1 Waterproof HD Video Camera

If you want to set your videos apart from the crowd--on the Web or among your personal pile of home movies--consider the Sanyo VPC-WH1 waterproof HD video camera.

With the VPC-WH1, you can shoot clips of all kinds of aquatic activities, whether your kids are doing the backstroke at their swim lessons or the whole family is snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. The VPC-WH1 comes in three bright colors--blue, yellow and white--and you can take it underwater up to 10 feet deep. For $335, the VPC-WH1 is one of the best ways to document your next vacation, and you won't have to worry about getting it wet.

Genius Noise-Canceling Headphones

You're seated next to a mother with a screaming baby in her lap on a 6-hour plane ride to Hawaii. There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide--and you can't help but think, "This isn't how a relaxing vacation should begin."

A good way to keep your in-flight sanity is to bring a pair of noise-canceling headphones along. Check out the Genius GHP-04NC headphones. These comfortably designed headphones boast a soft headband sponge and leather ear pads, which make them great for long plane trips. With a leather carrying bag and the ability to fold flat, they're designed for travel.

The best part? They're only $50--a steal compared with most noise-canceling headphones on the market.

Kensington Portable Power Pack

Few things are more disheartening than your iPod losing battery life 20 minutes into a long flight. Or your phone battery dying in the middle of an important call.

Avoid frustrating moments by toting the Kensington Portable Power Pack in your carry-on. At $60, the power pack is especially slim and convenient, and it works with any USB device.

Olympus Stylus Tough 8000

If you have a nice camera but you hesitate to bring it on trips for fear of damaging it, I have two things to say to you: First, those days of missing out on great photo opportunities must end. Second, you’'ll need a more durable camera to prove to your Facebook friends that you actually backpacked across Europe this summer.

A good option is the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000, a shockproof, waterproof, and freezeproof camera. It sounds gimmicky, but the camera can survive being dropped from 6.6 feet or submerged up to 33 feet underwater, and it can withstand Arctic temperatures.

If you're prone to dropping things (in water or elsewhere), the $400 Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 camera may be for you.

Balanzza Ergonomic Digital Luggage Scale

Now that the airlines are trying to recoup their fuel costs by charging passengers for absolutely everything, you really have to watch how much your checked luggage weighs, or you could add a lot of extra bucks to the cost of your trip.

Enter the Balanzza Ergonomic Digital Luggage Scale. This little gizmo hooks onto your suitcase. Then, you just lift your luggage in the air, put it down, and check the digital readout for how much you're trying to take onto the plane. (It can measure up to 100 pounds, which is probably the maximum that one suitcase should carry, no?) Compare the result to the limits listed on your airline's Web site, and remove any overage.

It costs just $25 (on the site), and it could pay for itself in one or two uses if you're a compulsive overpacker.

Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

If you opt to hit the road for your next trip, and you know that you'll need to use your cell phone along the way, be safe and use a Bluetooth headset. The $130 Aliph Jawbone is an extremely comfortable-to-wear Bluetooth headset that features excellent call quality. Rambunctious kids in the backseat? The Jawbone is designed to cancel out background noise too.

The headset comes with several different earpieces, so you can find one that's a perfect fit for your ear. And since it's stylish, with a unique textured surface that comes in seven colors, you can be fashion- and safety-conscious at the same time.

Nikon GPS Geotagging Device

This device could save you a lot of time when you're trying to remember where you were when you took that photograph of your family posing on that…that one bridge. What was it called? What river was it built over? Oh, wait…what city was it in again? This geotagging device, the $210 Nikon GP-1 GPS Unit, takes the place of your memory when you need it to. After you affix it properly to your Nikon DSLR camera, it remembers the exact coordinates where you snap each and every photo.

Don't own a Nikon camera? Take a look at the Nikon D5000. Already have a sweet digital SLR? Similar geotagging tools that might work with your camera include the Jobo PhotoGPS and a device by ATP.

HP Pavilion dv2 Laptop

If your next flight is for a business trip, you'll probably have some work to do during your journey--and then some more once you're at the hotel.

The HP Pavilion dv2, a sleek ultraportable laptop with decent battery life, will let you keep on keeping on and get as much work done as possible during a 3-hour flight--and of course, it will help you browse the Web and post Twitter updates in your spare time, too.

At 3.8 pounds, the dv2 won't weigh you down--and $749, it won't break the bank, either.

(If this laptop doesn't appeal to you, see our Laptop Buying Guide for advice on choosing a portable that's just what you need.)

Jobo Giga Vu Extreme

Another device aimed at photo-hounds, the Jobo Giga Vu Extreme packages a 3.7-inch LCD with a hard drive (80GB to 160GB) and card slots. The Giga Vu Extreme does far more than just copy images from card to disk: It offers TV-out, creates on-the-fly slide shows with music, plays movies and audio (MP3, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 files), and lets you directly attach USB On-the-Go-capable devices such as digital cameras, printers, and MP3 players.

Looking for other options? Check out similar portable hard drives.

Franklin Speaking 12-Language Translator

Sure, you took French all four years of high school, and you've even been brushing up before your trip. But when the time comes to speak with a Parisian face-to-face, you may accidentally say something inappropriate when you really meant to ask for the nearest bathroom.

Avoid awkward situations with the help of the speaking TGA-490 12-language pocket-size translator by Franklin. Priced at $200, the TGA-490 also includes five games, an organizer with an alarm clock, a calculator, and a currency and metric converter.

iPhone equipped and want a travel organizer instead? Try out the $8 GlobeJot app.

RIM BlackBerry Bold Smartphone

Remember the days when the best way to make an out-of-country phone call was with a calling card? Okay, those days weren't that long ago, but more and more cell phone carriers now provide GSM (Global System for Mobile) phones that work in other countries--such as the BlackBerry Bold, which AT&T sells unlocked. Since the phone is unlocked, once you're at your destination you can buy a local SIM card from a vending machine at the airport or directly from a carrier's store. If you don't use a local SIM card, you can still make calls overseas from a GSM phone, but you'll be charged high roaming fees (usually $1 per minute or more, depending on your location).

Many carriers also offer specials that lower the costs, such as the travel plans from AT&T.

Kensington Travel Plug Adapter

Since we've loaded you up with so many gadgets for your next vacation, we had to include this power adapter to keep your gear charged on the go--especially out of the country, where your U.S. chargers might not work with the local outlets. The Kensington Travel Plug Adapter ($20) is a pocket-size adapter that works in 150 different countries, fits easily in any type of pack, and, at 8 ounces, won't weigh you down. For alternatives, check out some other ways to keep laptops and phones charged when you travel.

Other travel stories that might help you with your trip:

"Airport Body Scans: A Better Screening Option"

"Travel Sites Venture Beyond the Bottom Line"

"Travel Smart"

"Decide When to Spend and Save on Business Travel"

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