By Melissa Thompson, CEO of TalkSession
Travel interrupts our naturally scheduled programming and is an easy scapegoat for not maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as being out of touch with our friends, families and jobs. Don’t let a change of scenery spoil your New Year’s resolutions – gear up for 2014 with these 10 apps and gadgets to help make your travel experiences exciting and productive.
Here are the top 10 apps and gadgets I recommend for the ultimate travel experience:
1. Forgo frenzy: Tile your passport.
In a digital age where passports remain a critical analog exception to our paperless world. Despite the finger scanners and facial recognition currently in use, travelers cannot travel internationally without that antiquated booklet. Avoid the last minute, “I can’t find my passport!” craze with a DIY digitization.
Tile, one of Kickstarter’s hottest projects of the year, is a matchbook-sized, thin, white plastic square. This self-adhesive device, equipped with GPS, allows any item to be tracked using the owners smartphone app and Tile’s low-Bluetooth technology. Can’t find your passport? If prepared and equipped with a Tile affixed to the passport’s back or case, the owner can located the passport on a map and remotely send the device a signal to emit a sound, hopefully putting an end to the search-and-rescue. This simple device is the “find my iPhone,” for all physical items. Tile, which does not require battery changes or charging, can be pre-ordered for summer 2014 delivery. Tile for travel could keep your passport and checked-luggage always in your pocket. ($19.95 for one Tile, $59.85 for four Tiles, thetileapp.com)
21. Rove hands-free, with your automated travel diary.
This free app is an automated timeline, which tracks users’ movements through GPS, estimates the method of travel, and inserts pictures, maps and locations into a timeline. The result is a beautiful visual travel journal– no inputs required. Next time relatives ask to hear all about the trip? Just “Share” from the app and Rove will email a link to the trip’s timeline- allowing the traveler to enjoy the moment and not spend time recording it. Want to keep Rove personal? The app is 100% private unless users choose to share. (Free in the iTunes store)
3. Caught with your batteries down? Bring extra juice.
There are many options on the market to pack power for on-the-go charging. Dark Reservoir’s sleekly designed device is on the higher end of the price rage, but the pocket-sized device will provide up to five charges for an iPhone, 1.5 charges for an iPad mini and will charge anything with a micro-USB charger ($129, mydarkenergy.com). Innergie has a wide range of prices and products for back-up batteries, including laptops. (Prices start at $54.99, myinnergie.com/store)
4. Hydrated and healthy, TSA approved: LifeStraw by Vestergaard.
Described as “one of the ten things that will change the way we live” by Forbes, take this (empty!) water bottle on the road, mitigate the risk of illness, and turn local tap water anywhere in the world into safe drinking water. The filtration technology integrated into the LifeStraw Go water bottle reduces the risk of bacterial and parasitic water-borne disease transmission. Through advanced filtration technology, water is forced through fibers that only allow the clean water to pass through, keeping contaminants away from consumption. ($34.95, buylifestraw.com or at select retail stores)
5. Viber App + (friend with) Viber App = Free Calls (Seriously).
The Viber app allows users to make free phone calls, video calls or send text messages, over 4G or WiFi, anywhere in the world, free of charge (as long as both users are connecting through the Viber application). The app is available on all mobile devices and with 200 million active global users, has become one of the largest disruptors in the online global communication space.
(Free; runs on: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone)
6. Map of Maladies: Sickweather App, the “Doppler radar for sickness”.
Sickweather’s iOS app uses social status updates, natural language processing, and location data to map zones of illness in categories. Avoid getting sick on the road through the app’s push notifications and maps highlighting zones with outbreaks of specific illnesses. Sickness maps can be filtered to ones important to a specific user and included in “illness alerts” or can be mapped by disease category, density, or proximity. (Free in the iTunes store)
7. Sounds over Sedatives: SleepPhones, the “pajamas for your ears”.
Developed by a family physician to ease sleep without medication, SleepPhones come with free apps offering sounds of nature or white noise, which should upgrade your flight at a fraction of the cost. These cozy fleece accessories come with built in headphones, or an option for a wireless Bluetooth-enabled band. (Original SleepBand $39.95, sleepphones.com)
8. Don’t get lost in translation: Word Lens for Google Glass.
Word Lens, a popular smartphone app, has come to Glass, providing frictionless translation of written words. View a sign or a menu through Glass in any language, and the app renders the words in real-time, in English translation, through the Glass lens. This technology may be the end of the translation dictionary and as a bonus it uses Glass’ local storage, eliminating the need for data connectivity. As Google Glass devices proliferate, keep Word Lens on your radar. (Free in the Glassware Shop, and also available for smartphones in the iTunes store or for $4.99 in the Android Store)
9. Overcome power struggles: iBattz Mojo Slim Universal Travel Adapter.
For international travel bring a power adapter that doesn’t require a bag full of interchangeable accessories. iBattz’s Mojo Slim Universal Travel Adapter is less than an inch thick, covers 150 countries, and has both a USB input as well as a standard plug input for dual device charging. ($39.95, ibattz.com)
10. Soup up your smartphone: DSLR-like camera lens accessory.
Smartphone cameras have come a long way – but while traveling, there is a new hybrid option that allows for higher quality photos and video, without the extra device. Sony’s smartphone attachable lens shoots video in 1080p and brings DSLR-like features, like pixel-free zoom, that haven’t yet come to our all-in-one smartphones. ($499.99, free shipping, 25% off through January 11th, available at store.sony.com)
Melissa Thompson is the founder and CEO of TalkSession (www.talksession.com), an online counseling company which launched in April 2013. She is a member of GE & StartUp Health’s Entrepreneurship Program, as well as Springboard Enterprises’ Life Sciences Accelerator. Previously, Melissa was an analyst at Goldman Sachs as well as a technology and business development advisor to multiple startups. Melissa is a member of 37Angels, a Board Advisor to the Flawless Foundation and Newport Academy, and is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Health Innovation, Women in Healthcare & Life Sciences.