This post was written for Urban Travel Blog by regular guest blogger Andrew Matthews, resident travel pundit for holiday rental experts HouseTrip.com.
Recent news that 1 in 3 British travellers prioritised access to wifi over everything except a nice view, didn’t come as a great shock. It’s fairly obvious the craven desire to share the minutiae of our lives doesn’t diminish in direct proportion to distance from home territory – if anything it seems to go into overdrive. And presumably a ‘view’ only topped the list because it’s handy proof we didn’t spend a fortnight sitting in a garden shed eating Cheetos and taking selfies.
(I don’t do selfies, this comose gentleman is Jiuck)
But judging by the floods of horrified comments following the wifi revelation, suggesting you might like to Instagram your mates a few times during your annual hols is civilisation’s final death rattle. It’s really quite surprising how many of our species apparently spend their downtime lying on deserted beaches listening to Bach through conch shells and perusing the complete works of James Joyce hand-lettered on papyrus.
I like a bit of technology with my travel. And while I’m not about to be the one risking life and limb in pursuit of the elusive hotspot, I won’t try to tell you my head hasn’t been turned by some great non-essentials on occasion. It’s all about balance. So now we’ve fessed up to wanting wifi more than a clean bed (yes, really) here’s some other stuff to covet too – just to annoy the holiday purists!
SleepTracker Elite Pro
Worried about all the time free wifi is eating up? The answer is to find more waking holiday hours by managing your sleep. Set the SleepTracker and it monitors your body movements during the night, makes sure you don’t wake during the most restorative ‘deep sleep cycle’ and gently rouses you at your optimum waking time (within a time window you pre-programme). You can even do your own sleep study with it. From £80 www.sleeptracker.com
Acoustic Sheep SleepPhones
Sticking with sleep. If you‘ve decided to nobly sacrifice a clean, comfortable bed in favour of as much wifi as any holiday can stand, you might find a set of SleepPhones handy. Completely flat earphones in a fleece band mean music lulls you comfortably to sleep and external noise (ie. snoring) is blocked out. Yes, they look ridiculous, but I’m thinking if you plumped for the dirty bed you’ve probably got more to worry you. From £28.95 www.sleepphones.com
steriPEN Freedom UV Water Purifier
You don’t need to be anywhere that far-flung to fall foul of local drinking water – it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just different. steriPEN Freedom UV Water Purifier destroys 99.9% of unsafe micro-organisms and makes water drinkable in under 50 seconds. It uses ultra-violet light, it’s tiny and it’s USB rechargeable. And cutting down on bottled water is very virtuous even for wifi loving holiday philistines. From £85.97 www.steripen.com
Canon Vixia Mini Digital Camcorder
If you can’t resist torturing the folks back home with your holiday highlights, at least get a little creative. And creativity doesn’t get much littler than the Canon Vixia Mini, it’s truly tiny (about the size of your palm). It also has built in wifi and full HD so no excuse for anyone to miss a moment of sharing. Pleasingly idiot-proof and almost as easy to use as your phone. It also has a flip-function if you must selfie and a fish-eye lens just for fun. From £299.00 www.canon.com
Museums of the World app
From opening times and directions to special exhibitions, notes on permanent collections, reviews and news on thousands of museums all over Europe, download Museums of the World app. It’s free, clean, sleek and not a bit stuffy and it uses your location at any time to give you a detailed list of nearby places to visit http://museu.ms/About/Index and if you’re in the mood you should download Eventseeker to find out what’s worth doing and where. www.eventseeker.com
Innergie Pocket Cell Duo Rechargeable Battery Bank
Not cheap, but genius. Recharges two devices at once and fast. Has two USB ports and a Magic Cable Trio (so charges just about anything from phones to tablets). Powered by Lithium Batteries so you can use it anywhere. From £89.59 www.myinnergie.com
LaCie Fuel 1TB Wireless External Hard Drive
Less than 12cm square and weighing in under 300g the LaCie Fuel is the external hard drive that’s making all the others look mean and miserable this year. If you run out of 1TB of anything to watch on holiday, you should really just have stayed home. The LaCie Fuel is wireless, plays media on most devices and shares with up to five at once. From £148.00 www.lacie.com
Panono Camera Ball
If the idea of Polaroid’s ‘Socialmatic’ leaves you wondering, ‘why?’. You clearly haven’t got your head round the idea of ‘enough never being enough’. So to really tip your cherished belief that taking pics is all just about memories, try the Panono Camera Ball. Basically it’s a 108 mega pixel camera in a ball that you throw in the air and it brings back 360˚ images for you to do with as you will. I have to say I kind of want one of these just because it exists. Pre-order from 549€ at www.panono.com
HABU Mood Based Playlist app
HABU sorts your tunes by mood, alerts you to the folly of an overload of introspection/empowerment/energy etc. and basically creates the kind of delightfully self-indulgent playlist designed to blot out anything and everything else on holiday this year. And never again will you have to ask yourself, ‘What does my music say about me?’ www.habumusic.com
Lifeventure Cotton Travel Sleeper
Definitely not a gadget in the conventional sense, but could come in useful if you’re of the 1 in 3 who really didn’t think a clean bed was very important when you were compiling your holiday wish list. An anti-microbial, anti-mosquito and anti-bedbug cotton mummy style sleeping bag that packs up small, weighs next to nothing and is a really quite nice colour. From £16.99 www.lifeventure.com
I apologise in advance if any of the above scream the ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ to you. Personally all I’m hearing is ‘I want one of those and I want it now’.
If you liked any of Andrew’s gift ideas here, he did another one for us on travel-ey Christmas stocking fillers that you may enjoy.