26 Killer Travel Gadgets Every Geek Needs

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Update: For even more kick ass gadgets, check out Another 26 Travel Gadgets Every Geek Needs.

I admit it: I’m a tech-head. I love gadgets and I love to travel. Put the two together and I attain a state of bliss somewhere between watching a Meredith Baxter-Birney marathon on Lifetime and that feeling you get when you think about puppies and marshmallows together at the same time. See where I’m going?

Anywho, I run through my checklist of essential gear every time I travel: laptop? Check. Travel guides? Of course. Digital camera? Yup. Pink feety pajamas and the Mama’s Boy teddy bear from my girlfriend? Aye. But … there’s still something missing. I’ve never felt Inspector Gadget-ish enough.

I started doing some digging and realized I’ve been missing out in a big way. Without further adieu, I present twenty six essential gadgets that no self-respecting traveling geek should be without. Why twenty six? I’m not sure. Better than twenty five, I guess.

#1: De-Pooify Your Water Supply

MSR Miox Water Purifier
If you’re not a big fan of drinking animal droppings with your river water while hiking or on the go, the MSR Miox water filter is all you need to de-pooify a steady, virtually unlimited, potable water supply.

#2: Gorillapod

Gorilla Pod
The Gorillapod. Tripods are so last month. And who wants to actually hold their digital camera, like with their hands, when they can mount it virtually anywhere and to anything with this beast?

#3: A Hammock for Your ‘lectronics

Travel Gadget Hammock
It’s tough to tell from their German language website, but this 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque device is, as Gadling puts it, “a hammock to keep your small electronics from falling to their death while hanging from oddly-placed outlets.” I can honestly say I’ve never been in such a situation, but I like to be prepared.

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#4: Laser Virtual Keyboard

Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard
Relieve your hands of the stress of constantly pushing down heavy keyboard keys with a Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard. This thing is Minority Report cool, but without Tom Cruise’s crazy antics and all that 1984-style big-government-gettin’-up-in-your-piece nonsense.

#5: A Real Global Cell Phone

My cell phone can beat up your cell phone. That’s because I have National Geographic’s Talk Abroad Travel Phone. Can your cell phone call anywhere in the world from over 100 countries? Doubt it. This new travel phone from NG can for under $200. (Actually I don’t really have this phone. But I wanted a reason to say “My cell phone can beat up your cell phone.”)

#6: … or this Other Real Global Cell Phone

Or if you’re a cheapskate or a National Geographic hater, perhaps Mobal’s $99 world phone is more your speed? Sure, it’s not especially sexy or chic but did I mention it’s $99? And it’s global? As in: it works around the globe.

#7: Indestructible Travel Cases

Pelican Travel Case
Checking your crackberry or updating weekly travel expenses on your Treo while scuba diving is easier than ever before with the waterproof and crushproof Pelican Micro Case Series of cases. There’s even a purge valve to equalize the pressure!

#8: Mission Impossible-Style Banking

RSA Security Token
Online banking over unsecured wireless networks is sketchy to say the least. Who knows whether that shady guy sitting next to you in the pleather jacket with his laptop and a Ron Burgundy mustache isn’t sniffing the 802g airwaves for your web passwords? Get the ultimate in password security with ETrade’s SecurID® Two-Factor Authentication token. It uses strong authentication by generating a random password every 60 seconds. Tom Cruise would be proud.

#9: The Only Travel Adapter You’ll Ever Need

150-Country Travel Adapter
The 150-Country Auto-Detecting Travel Adapter And Converter. Not the catchiest product name, but we can’t all afford big budget marketing departments. Hammacher Schlemmer describes it as “the lightweight, compact device that automatically detects incoming voltage, converts it to 120-volt AC power, and provides plug adaptation for over 150 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Caribbean, and Australia.” You’re out of luck in Antarctica I guess, but I don’t think they have electricity down there anyway. At least now you don’t have to carry around 150 adapters like you used to, right? Also: “The plug configures to fit a variety of international sockets, and it has a built-in USB port that allows you to leave chargers for cell phones, digital cameras, iPod®s, and other devices at home. The device allows simultaneous AC and USB connection to charge two devices at once.” Very cool.

#10: Soap on Crack (for Your Crack)

Shower Shock Travel Soap
I think we can all agree that finding a reliable meth dealer while on the road is difficult to say the least. This might be your opportunity to Say No to Drugs and get your morning buzz on the safe, Nancy Reagan-friendly way with Shower Shock Caffeine Soap Travel. ThinkGeek says: “It works. No, we’re not kidding and no you don’t eat it. The caffeine is absorbed through the skin…” If they said it, it must be true, right?

#11: Turn Your Laptop Into a Travel Safe … Sort Of

The Stashcard hides cash, credit cards, and that picture of Fluffy you always take with you so you’re not lonely at the hotel.

#12: Hide Your Valuables In Plain (Stained) Sight

Brief Safe
But if you’re at all concerned with hiding lots of money and other valuables inside your most valuable and theft-worthy electronic gadget (read: your laptop), consider BriefSafe. It’s a pair of nasty-looking, “pre-skid marked” drawers with a hidden pocket for all your cash, passport, etc. Add a touch of realistic, poo-smelling Doo Drops and you might not want to touch your own valuables.

#13: Stash Sandals

Reef Stash Sandals
Or if you’d rather your hostel-mates or the hotel chambermaid not think you’re a disgusting chap with a penchant for showing off your poo-laden unmentionables, Reef’s Stash sandals are just the trick. Although they’re technically marketed towards the ladies, they are offered in jet black. So if you’re a dude, no one has to know that you like to wear women’s shoes.

#14: Superman Wine Glasses

Travel Wine Glasses
Le Travel Store fills the travel-addicted gadget-head wino niche perfectly with their Indestructible Travel Wine Glass. You just never know when the urge for booze will strike.

#15: Bottle Opener Sandals

Reef Fanning Sandal
Fancy yourself more of a hops fellah than a wino? The aforementioned Reef has outdone themselves by combining the classic staple of beach life – the sandal – with the classic staple of the beach life boozer – the bottle opener. Introducing the Fanning. Brilliant! Why didn’t someone think of this before?

#16: Wind Up Cell Phone Charger

Wind-Up Cell Phone Charger
If you’re a long ways from home (and a power outlet), this little beauty will keep your cell phone juiced for as long as you have a working hand. Of course, the obvious question is: if you’re that far from civilization, are there likely to be cell towers near you? Just a thought.

#17: GPS Photo Tagger

Sony GPS
Serious traveler/photographers know what a pain in the ass it can be to keep track of where each and every one of their photos were taken. You could keep a running diary of every shot, but who needs that hassle? Enter the Sony GPSCS1KA GPS Unit Kit. All you need to do to use it is turn it on and carry it with you. It takes a snapshot of your location at fifteen second intervals. Back home, the included software checks the EXIF data from each photo and matches it to where you were at that point in time.

#18: A Space Pen To Out Space All Other Space Pens

If John Wayne were a pen, he’d be the Fisher’s Bullet Space Pen. All you need to know:

  • Writes at any angle. Great for harried travelers with cell-phones stuck in their ears having to write on notepaper on a wall.
  • “Writes through dirt, oil, grease and in freezing cold; down to -55F BELOW ZERO”
  • All Brass and Steel Components
  • Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee
  • It’s a no-brainer at less than $17

#19: Waterproof iPod Shuffle

We’re not talking some fancy rubber case to wrap around your iPod. SwimMan actually disassembles genuine iPod Shuffles and reassembles them using “proprietary waterproofing technology”. Neat. You can snag waterproof headphones from them too. What – no photo? C’mon, you know what an iPod Shuffle looks like!

#20: PacSafe Safety Camera Strap

If you’re a serious photographer and one who’s crazy enough to lug a $1K+ camera around on your travels, you’re quite the likely target for hustlers and pickpockets. PacSafe says “the CarrySafe Camera Strap is embedded with snatch-proof, high tensile, stainless steel PacSafe CarrySafe Camera Strapwire”. “Snatch-proof”? Moving along …

#21: Tourist Remover Software … No, I’m Not Kidding

In the same way that HDR photos can take all the best bits from multiple exposures of the same subject and combine them into a single kickass photo, futureLAB’s cleverly named Tourist Remover Software can de-tourist-ify your travel photos. Simply snap a few shots of a building, statue, etc., happy tourists and all. Their software will combine all of the un-touristed sections of each pic into a single tourist-free photo. Simple and pretty damn cool.

#22: Casio Pathfinder Watch

Casio Pathfinder Watch
Plan on climbing Everest? With Casio’s Pathfinder watch, you can lug the rest of the crap on this list around and still know what time it is and how freakin’ cold it is at the top. This beast sports an altimeter, thermometer, compass, barometer, auto-setting atomic clock functionality, tide graph, depth gauge, and dive log. Oh and it’s solar powered. Is it really still considered a watch at this point?

#23: Batman’s Swiss Army Knife

Mega Swiss Army Knife
When an 84-tool Swiss Army Knife isn’t enough, you need Wenger’s Giant Collector’s Swiss Army Knife. This 8-inch monstrosity weighs in at a cool, practical 2 pounds, 11 ounces and boasts 85 tools – that’s every tool ever created by Wenger. Oh and it’s only $1200. The only thing missing? Flamethrower. You just never know when that’ll come in handy.

#24: Keep The Malaria Outta Yo Pants

Is that malaria in your pants or are you just happy to see me? If you’re wearing Ex Officio Buzz Off Insect Shield Clothing, it’s probably the latter. Insects are a real and potentially fatal problem in many parts of the world. So if you’d rather pass on picking up malaria or any number of other fun maladies involving flesh and organ hungry parasites, hook yourself up with these insect repellent infused clothes. The “clothing line has permethrin, a man-made version of a centuries-old natural insect repellent, bonded to the actual apparel, so it repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and no-see-ums without having to apply any chemical to your clothes. The odorless protection lasts for 25 washings, doesn’t change the feel of the garments, and comes in everything from socks and shirts to hats and vests””you could swaddle yourself in the stuff.”

#25: Tune In, Tune Out

Ultimate Ears Headphones
Still using Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. Tsk. Sorry to hear that (pun intended). Outside Online points us to Ultimate Ears ear buds:

The base model””but, trust me, more than adequate””UE-5c ($550, www.ultimateears.com) is tuned specifically to optimize the sound of mastered music and has a low-frequency and high-frequency speaker in each ear, delivering an unbelievable salience of sound””not to mention the full spectrum of a recording. You might as well have your head stuck in an amp. Think of something you know by heart, then think again. Most likely, you haven’t heard the half of it.

Mmkay. Sounds like aural sex (another pun intended). The price includes a visit to an audiologist for a custom fitting. Yup – each pair is 100% custom to each individual’s ears. Sound appealing? (I’m done, really.)

#26: Solar Powered Backpack

Solar Powered Travel Backpack
… and you can throw everything above into the solar-powered Voltaic Backpack. This bad boy will power every one of your gadgets (save your laptop) as long as there’s daylight. And when the sun goes down, you can always take to the streets to impress strangers with your new 8-inch tool (no, your other 8-inch tool).

By the way, I own none of these. So if you’re thinking of some early Christmas shopping … I’m just putting it out there.

About The Author

Mike Richard
Founding Editor

Mike Richard has traveled the world extensively since 2008. He's camped in the Jordanian desert with Bedouins, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. He loves the great outdoors, good bourbon, and he (usually) calls Massachusetts home. He also enjoys speaking in the third person.

95 Responses

  1. Mike Richard

    You know it, Stacy! Of course, I don’t plan on bringing most of these things on my trip. Just the Swiss Army knife actually.

  2. Dave

    For the record, I’ve already gotten the watch, just bought the voltage converter tonight, and intend to get the Etrade keyfab once I open a money market account this Fall.

    I’m going to take a pass on the rest!

  3. Mike Richard

    C’mon, Dave. Did you see the Swiss Army Knife? Go without it at your peril!

  4. ugh man!!

    you just couldnt help urself but post those nasty underwear

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  8. Cool Photos

    the stashcard is a really smart idea
    well…considering that the laptop is the first thing they’ll try to steal it’s not actually that great idea, still interesting btw

  9. Tezza

    Thanks for sharing some interesting gadgets.

    I have to draw the line at the swiss army knife. Couldn’t help but laugh. I wonder if they managed to sell any of these to the general public?

  10. Travel Gear Blog

    Tons of cool stuff on there. But Ithink Im most impressed with the electronics hammock. Thats such a great idea I wish I thought of it.

  11. Kelli

    Great gadgets. But traveling with gadgets/electronics can also provide an additional security hazard. Hotel safes cannot necessarily be trusted. Any ideas on how to keep your gadgets (laptop, cell phone, camera equipment) safe in your room when you are out enjoying a nice dinner?

  12. Belle

    I love all this stuff! We are about to embark on a 6 month around the world trek. Have a small but almost insurmountable problem (apart from the cat). I have to take medication which must be refrigerated at all times and not freeze. I can’t guarantee we’ll have refrigeration, maybe even electricity. Does anyone know of a small battery driven cooler??

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  14. pligg.com

    26 Killer Travel Gadgets Every Geek Needs…

    I started doing some digging and realized I’ve been missing out in a big way. Without further adieu, I present twenty six essential gadgets that no self-respecting traveling geek should be without. Why twenty six? I’m not sure. Better than twenty f…

  15. sanket

    Thanks, i like #22: Casio Pathfinder Watch, as i can’t live anywhere without watch.

  16. Bunny got Blog

    What a fantastic post.This is so helpful packed with informative information about products not everyone know about.

    Thanks and keep it coming!

  17. Tink *~*~*

    Love the Batman toy. I may have a brother or three who will want that bad boy for Christmas!

    Tink *~*~*

  18. Simon

    Outstanding range.. think I might see if I can track down one of those Photo GPS units… I can see that be especially useful.

  19. r10t3r

    Is it wrong I just want these things for the sake of having them…screw travelling with them, they might get dirty :)

  20. jolene

    Mike, keep it coming. I dig your finds. I am about to buy a handful of them. Thanks.

  21. leisure forte

    very cool, where did you find all these things? great job.

  22. x

    most of this stuff listed is pure crap. as a true gadget freak and very experienced world traveler when are you going to gives a real list? most of this stuff is pure garbage.

  23. Japanese words

    Great list. I always wonder why more backpacks don’t have solar panels. Seems like it should be common sense.

  24. IsabellesTravel

    I really like the sandals! Both of them, the one with the opener, but especially the Stash Sandals. I didn’t even know they excisted, so thanks for sharing this great list!

  25. Hansen

    This is the most amazing list I have ever seen. I think I will start saving money now to eventually by every piece of equipment (including a flame thrower that wasn’t on the list).

  26. Mark

    I was searching for the Casio Pathfinder watch and couldn’t fine one with a depth gauge and dive log feature. Not sure if this one is accurate.

  27. paige

    #12 had me laughing hysterically as i tried to read the full description through tears. hahaha great and hilarious idea. hahahahahaha

  28. Linko

    Tourist remover software! Haha, now you can rub-off all those meddling tourists :)

  29. Seymour Jones

    Loving the hammock. As a frequent traveler who is forever dangling his iPhone from a bathroom shelf, it is a godsend.

    Cheers for the tip!

  30. William Wallace

    Lots of interesting bits of kit, but I’m however real glad that I’m not a geek, so I don’t have to worry about buying them….

  31. Tami. G

    Hey Mike!! This is great! Now I feel like I’ve been living under a rock :)
    anyhow, loved the info, very helpful! Loved the backpack the most. Will check the price, may be I can afford it. Gotta retweet this for sure :)

  32. David Harper

    Hey Mike, great post, have thought that a solar backpack would be a good idea for ages now, but not seen any that have really been up to the task, how does the recharging compare with the likes of the PowerTraveller Explorer for example?, mine fully recharges an iPhone 3 times before it needs topping up again, and takes a full day of sunshine for the small solar panel to fill the Power Monkey battery pack.
    Also, I need a backpack that protects my camera gear, difficult to get everything you want in one package, I think your ahead of us on such things, than us on this side of the pond, maybe I’ll try and make one myself!!
    Great photos by the way, do you PhotoShop?

  33. Geek Gadget

    @ Gadget number 12: that is a disgusting way to hide your newest gadgets. But still a great idea.

  34. Eduardo Gonzalez

    great article, great gadgets ……especially number 12 lol

  35. Happy Traveler

    Logitech Revue with Google TV, coolest prep tool I’ve found recently! I’ve been lucky enough to work for Dish Network so I get to preview a product before it comes out than as a consumer decided if I want to explore further. Kind of like a heads up. Why do I treasure this little dandy; the multi-tasking capabilities. I’m able to watch TV while I research my next trip on my big screen together with integration technology. Research, watch the news, and set up my DVR to record while I’m away. Definitely my cool tool choice!

  36. x

    the laser keyboard:
    “compatible with Windows 2000/XP” ??

    where did you dig up that old bugger… :)

  37. x

    aahhhh…… i see…… a 4 year old post and i hadnt even noticed! That is how gadgetty these gadgets were!

  38. Daniel Johnson

    Lots of interesting bits of kit, but I’m however real glad that I’m not a geek, so I don’t have to worry about buying them….

  39. todd

    For capturing video and still shots the gorilla pod is brilliant. I’ve been able to get some excellent angles using one of those. And the reef flip flops with the beer opener is a great conversation starter no matter where you go. One of my favorites is the “grid-it” you can find them on amazon. Great for keeping certain, smaller items organized.

  40. Four Letter Nerd

    The hammock is interesting. The website has a small diagram that shows how to assemble by folding, so it also tells anyone with a pair of scissors and some flexible plastic how to make one.

    Why not use an extension cord instead? That’s what I do. The cord doubles as a clothes line, for tying two bags together while waiting for a long time in place where a thief might pick up a small bag and run, and occasionally for light bondage.

  41. Dariece - Goats On The Road

    Great post, some cool ideas on here. I could use a solar backpack! I would definitely add a Boil Coil to this list. (don’t know the real name for it that’s just what i call it) it’s a little coil that you plug in to the wall and put into a mug of water and it boils the water in about 1.5 minutes! Great for coffee, tea, noodle, and hard boiled egg lovers! Its about the size of a fork and we use it every day! You can get them at almost any appliance store in any country on the road. Surprised more people don’t have them!

  42. Favourite Gifts

    Love the Hammock and the virtual keyboard. I am definitely going to look into buying them.

  43. Sam

    Some of these are HILARIOUS! The underwear made me die a little, but can’t deny it’s clever.

  44. Marc

    My god, this is something very unique. I have the water purifier and it helped me a lot when i was backpacking in Sri Lanka. I think that Swiss army knife is a bit exaggerated.


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