If you could only bring six gadgets with you to Europe, you'd go far with these ones we've chosen. They'll help you stay warm, chat with the locals, and recharge wherever you go. So you'll be in great shape to stay entertained and all charged up, whether your travels take you to Stockholm, Hamburg, or Venice.
1. Sony VAIO S Series Laptop
Why We Like It: The Sony VAIO S Series is speedy, sleek, and light—both the 13- and 15-inch screen varieties weigh around four pounds and are less than an inch thin. It is great for multimedia, with a built-in DVD player, plus a high-def webcam and display. And best of all, it's got good battery life. Even the 15-incher clocks in at up to six hours on a single charge—double that with the optional sheet battery ($150), which makes those long-haul flights suddenly seem a lot shorter. All in all, it's a highly portable, fully functional travel computer.
How Much: Starting at $775
Buy It: Visit Sony.com.
Why We Like It: It's a quick, easy way to break the language barrier. Use your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to record your voice in your language; review the text on the screen to make sure it's what you want to say; with a tap, the app translates it for you, producing a fairly natural sounding native voice. It also has a mode where you simply speak into your device, then tilt it and Vocre translates aloud. To top all that, future versions even promise to do live translation during video calls, which we think will be fantastiska, erstaunlich, and stupefacente!
How Much: Free
Buy It: Visit iTunes.com.
3. T-Tech by Tumi International Travel Adapter with USB Power
Why We Like It: With both AC and USB connections, it's able to power up to two devices at once in any of over 150 countries around the world. It's great for not only phones, music players, and cameras, but tablets as well. It comes with a microfiber pouch, handy for both carrying the adapter itself and cleaning all your gadget screens. It will be available to the general public in April.
How Much: $40
Buy It: Visit JascoProducts.com.
4. National Geographic Talk Abroad International SIM Card
Why We Like It: If you're country-hopping, this is the SIM card to have for your unlocked GSM-compatible phone. It comes with both a U.S. and U.K. number; the best rates are for incoming calls. (See the Cellular Abroad site for full rate details.) You can have calls forwarded from your existing mobile number to the SIM's U.S. number—or have folks call that number directly—either way, these calls are just 25 cents a minute wherever you are. The U.K. number gives you free incoming and reasonably priced outgoing calls and texts. The card comes with $29 worth of credits. And you can add more by voice, text, or automatically when the balance gets down to $5.
How Much: $59
Buy It: Visit CellularAbroad.com.
5. Storm Logic Jacket
Why We Like It: It's a nice lightweight, insulated, breathable, durable, moisture-wicking jacket. . . that quickly stuffs into its own sack to convert into a comfy neck pillow! They sport a microfleece-lined collar and outer pockets, along with some handy inner pockets. It's available for both men and women. There's also a vest version available now and ExOfficio is coming out with a hooded sweater version in June. They all cradle your neck on the jet ride over and protect you from chills, wind, and rain when you hit the ground.
How Much: $150
Buy It: Visit ExOfficio.com.
6. Traveler Wallet
Why We Like It: Made from a strong, lightweight, water-resistant nylon, this wallet has room for a passport, essential cards, and bills in a couple of currencies. Yet it's designed to carry all that and still be super-thin. The magic lies in its combination of materials and how the compartments are distributed. The benefit is having your money and ID handy all in one place—not buried in various bags and pockets.
How Much: $35
Buy It: Visit All-Ett.com.
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Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo credits: courtesy 1. © 2012 Sony Electronics Inc.; 2. © Vocre; 3. © 2012 Jasco Products Company; 4. © 2012 National Geographic Society; 5. © 2011 ExOfficio LLC; 6. © 2012 ALL-ETT Billfolds Store