One of the rare joys of long-haul flights is kicking back and watching the latest blockbuster. So how annoying is it when you can’t understand that the actors are saying? Noise-cancelling headphones are the solution. They dampen the sounds of plane engines and passenger chatter, making dialogue and music crystal clear. Most cost well over £200, but one of the best new models costs less than £90 – the excellent Philips SHB8850N. When you’re not flying, these also work wirelessly with Bluetooth, so you can use them for workouts without the wires getting tangled in the weights.
Travelling on your own can be a real adventure – but also occasionally lonely. Two new websites solve that problem by connecting you to like-minded individuals for an hour or two of purely platonic conversation. Install the Btrfly app, and you can find someone to share a drink with on dull airport layovers, while Maiden Voyages will set you up with a female dinner companion at destinations around the world, giving you a little insight into the local culture at the same time.
You’re on holiday and you need to quickly check Google Maps for directions – only to discover your phone has bitten the proverbial. Pluck FluxCard from your purse and you’re good to go. This bijou rechargeable battery – with built-in iPhone lightning and Android microUSB cables – holds enough juice to fully charge your phone twice. It’s about the same size as an iPhone 4, but lighter at just 88grams.
Save on your luggage allowance while still getting killer photos by ditching the hefty digital camera and using Olloclip. It sounds like a faff, but you simply slide these dual add-on pro lenses over the top of your phone in one swift click. The front lens makes your phone’s camera wide-angle, while the rear-facing gives it a fun fish-eye effect – or flip the clip around for the reverse options (front fish-eye, rear wide-angle). In both cases, you’ll be able to squeeze in loads more of your mates and the landscape without the need for a naff selfie stick. Just stick your arm out and pose.
Who hasn’t arrived at their destination, only to realise you brought the wrong adaptor or too few of them to power all your devices? Next time, pack the clever little Skross Pro Light USB World. This adaptor works in more than 200 countries and includes two in-built USB chargers. Simply plug it into a single socket at your destination, and you can use this handy three-in-one device to power your hairdryer – and charge your phone and tablet at the same time.
Get a lot more bang for your buck with this nifty new app-card. Download the app onto your iPhone or Android phone, then link it to your existing current account, and you’ll be sent a Mastercard debit card. Use it for purchases and cash withdrawals abroad, and you’ll save around 15% on average compared to UK bureau de change or using your ordinary debit or credit card. The app also keeps track of your foreign spending as you go, so you can check it to help stay within your holiday budget.
When they first launched, smart watches dwarfed most women’s wrists and were pretty pointless for travellers. The Moto 360 2nd Generation, an Android watch, addresses the former with two size options, and travel-loving developers have fixed the latter. You can now download apps to the watch that give you directions, show your boarding pass or flight times, do quick currency conversions, translate foreign words into English, check the local weather, use it as a remote camera shutter for your phone and more. And with its built-in step counter and heart-rate monitor, and heaps of add-on health apps, it functions as a top-of-the-line fitness tracker, too.
Compare getting there
If your holiday funds are tight, save cash on your travels in the UK and Europe with the first website to tell you the cheapest way to reach your destination. Simply type in where you want to go, and Gopili will show you the cost and duration of getting there on plane, train or coach. Trying London to Paris, it showed at a glance that it would be £61 cheaper – but take three times longer – to go by coach instead of Eurostar.
Published in Woman’s Own, 2017