Travel and tech go hand in hand—what traveler wouldn’t love a tiny device that can make the time pass faster on a layover or can help them connect to WiFi without hunting down the one person who knows the password? We rounded up our expert picks on the top gadgets to give to the traveler in your life this year.
1. Gogo Holiday Jetpacks
Why We Like It: As you jet around for the holidays, a couple of seasonal specials can keep you online at 30,000 feet, even at a healthy discount. Gogo’s Holiday 3-Pack ($20) and Reindeer 2-Pack ($15) are valid starting November 17th and December 22nd, respectively. Use up these day passes before January 3rd, and you’ll save, save, save as you fly the friendly skies.
How Much: $15-20
Buy It: Visit GogoAir.com.
2. Portable Charging Station
Why We Like It: This efficient, leather-bound system can power up four devices at once, either through a wall outlet or—with its built-in battery—anywhere. As it does so, it neatly stores the cords for the devices. And it zips up easily to fit in your purse or carry-on. A great gift for anyone who travels with multiple gadgets… or multiple friends with gadgets.
How Much: $170
Buy It: Visit AViiQ.com.
3. mySpot Pocket-Size Access Point
Why We Like It: This lipstick-sized hotspot gives you simple, secure wireless online access. Connect one end to a wired Internet source (like the one on the desk in your hotel room), the other to USB power (from either a laptop or wall adapter) and you’ve got WiFi for up to 16 users. Just plug it in and you’re ready to go. Or you slightly geekier types can open a browser and reconfigure the settings and password to make sure its just you and your friends on there.
How Much: $60
Buy It: Visit KanexLive.com.
Why We Like It: With the free companion Android or iOS app, you can use your smartphone or tablet to control these fun little rechargeable cars. For those who like to multitask, you can drive up to four at once. Race, battle, navigate mazes, and perform tricks. They can also be controlled with a separate remote. At just three inches, they’re easy to take along and bust out on any trip.
How Much: $30
Buy It: Visit Brookstone.com.
5. iFit-1 Portable Rechargeable Speaker Stand
Why We Like It: This cute, super-compact rechargeable speaker pumps out pretty respectable sound for its size. Plus, it also acts as a stand for your smartphone or tablet. It’s great for playing a game, watching a movie or just listening to up to six hours of music on-the-go. Even though it’s small, it can also act as an external speaker for laptops or other audio sources.
How Much: $16
Buy It: Visit Satechi.net.
6. Fitbit The One
Why We Like It: This discreet little health and fitness gadget never rests. During the day, it’s inside your pocket or clipped to your belt, measuring your steps taken, stairs climbed, distance traveled, and calories burned. At night, it’s tucked inside a wrist band, measuring how restful your sleep is. (Do you actually sleep better while traveling?) In the morning, it can wake you with a gentle vibration. And all the while, it wirelessly syncs data to your computer. You can also track stats as they happen, with a wireless connection to your smartphone. And it offers fun little awards for achievements, several apps, and competition with friends to motivate you.
How Much: $100
Buy It: Visit Fitbit.com.
7. GoPro Hero3 Video Camera
Why We Like It: Known for their tiny, waterproof, hands-free action camcorders, GoPro has managed to create an even smaller, lighter, and more powerful camera. This latest series all shoot in high definition, have built in WiFi, are app-compatible, and can capture bursts of up to 30 still shots per second. In Continuous mode, it can grab stills at regular intervals—every 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds—even while simultaneously shooting video. As this mesmerizing video shows, it can be worn or attached to a variety of gear or vehicles. So it’s safe to say that it’ll capture amazing, high-quality images wherever and in whatever conditions your adventures take you.
How Much: $200-$400
Buy It: Visit GoPro.com.
Award-winning Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, hundreds of mobile and wireless tips, and dozens of freelance articles. In addition to his Discovery News gadget blog contributions, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo Credit: Top left: Logo: Gogo LLC,; Laptop: Daniel Irvine/iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Bottom Left: Desk Pets International; Centertop: AViiQ; Center Bottom: Satechi; Top Right: Kanex; Right Center: Fitbit;Bottom Right: Woodman Labs.