8 must-have travel gadgets

Bose portable speaker

In my experience holiday accommodation, whether it’s a hotel or an Airbnb cottage, seldom comes with good sound equipment. If you’re lucky, there’s a digtal alarm clock that plays the radio. So when Murray and I were in Melbourne earlier this year, in a gorgeous apartment that had everything except music, we devoted a morning to the purchase of a Bose Soundlink Mini. JB HiFi had the best price. Positioned with its back to a corner or wall, this small-but-powerful device puts out a wickedly good noise. And of course it bluetooths to music stored on your phone.


Subscription to Google Play Music

All the Airbnb stays we encountered during nine weeks in the UK and Europe came with free WiFi, so streaming from Google Play Music (using phone linked to Bose SoundLink) was an easy way to match music to the surroundings. For example, when in Scotland we played various kinds of Celtic music and while in the Portuguese countryside we found that blues and roots mixes rang the right bells. Within any broad category, such as French, there’s a multitude of sub-categories – French lounge, French jazz, Vintage French and so on. As well as individual artists, you can select Google stations that deliver a collection of artists from the same genre. The first month is free, then it’s about NZ$15 a month.

A powerboard

This was Murray’s stroke of genius. With two smartphones, two Kindles, a laptop, electric toothbrush and Bose SoundLink Mini travelling with us, the task of keeping everything charged almost required a spreadsheet. So now we take a powerboard. It means a single powerpoint can feed all devices at once. And if you’re outside your home country, you only need one plug adaptor. Brilliant!


Champagne keeper

The first night at any new destination demands bubbles, but not always an entire bottle, which is why we try to pack a champagne keeper. I say try, because we’ve forgotten this tip too many times. We have a drawer full of champagne keepers acquired on various holidays. Our latest was purchased in the Lisbon equivalent of a $2 Dollar shop. Yes, we forgot again…

Zip-close plastic bags and clothes pegs

Buy any sort of food for the accom kitchen and you’ll quickly be faced with a storage challenge. Biscuits need to stay crunchy, melons need to be fridged and bar snacks need to be contained. Including a few zip-close plastic bags of varying sizes, plus a few clothes pegs for sealing packaged things like chips and cereal, is not an OCD symptom. The pegs might also come in handy for drying your smalls. It’s commonsense, from the Martha Stewart school of travel.


Mobile phone car charging cable

Navigating with Google Maps saves time, petrol and tears, but it can flatten a smartphone battery faster than you can say “four-lane roundabout take the third exit”. Then things can get messy. Many rental cars have a USB port that lets you feed your phone while you’re driving, so your usual charging cord will work. If you’re driving a ‘rent a dent’, you’ll need a cigarette lighter adaptor.

A sharp kitchen knife

Blunt knives are standard equipment for holiday homes and Airbnb accommodation. To prevent kitchen frustration, I like to pack a Scanpan knife, which comes with a matching blade sheath. Definitely an item for the checked-in luggage, not the cabin bag.


Noise cancelling headphones

No we’re not sponsored by Bose, but boy do they make great noise-cancelling headphones. For any flight beyond two hours, peace and quiet is one flick of a switch away. The noise cancelling effect is powerful enough to neutralise squalling infants, as well as the muffled roar of Rolls Royce jet engines. Also, it’s so much easier to hear the dialogue on the inflight movies when you have earphones that seal around your entire ear.