6 Hi-Tech Travel Toys You Can’t Leave Home Without

You don’t have to be a total geek to love hi-tech travel gear. Having a personal navigator, translator, entertainment system, communications center and office in your pocket makes your journeys easier and more pleasurable. We’ve sorted through the very latest travel gadgets and services to find the most innovative and useful offerings.

070131_blackberrypearlF.JPGThe BlackBerry Pearl 8100

What It Does: Keeps you in touch, wherever you may roam

The BlackBerry Pearl is the latest addition to Research In Motion’s smart phone line-up, and it’s a traveler’s dream. You can use the Pearl to make phone calls, get and send e-mail, browse the web, send text messages, check maps, and peruse your calendar, to-do and contact list. For such a tiny device, the Pearl has a surprisingly versatile keyboard, and also boasts a light-sensing screen that automatically adjusts the display’s light for optimum indoor and outdoor viewing. The Pearl comes complete with a built-in digital camera, an onscreen viewer for your digital photos, an MP3 player, and allows for international roaming between North America, Europe, and Asia.

The Bottom Line: Price $450.00, Size: 1 x 1.97 inches, 3 oz. For more information click here

From the Forums: “We bring our Blackberries which we use for phone calls, e-mails and to get on the internet to find all kinds of info we may need, particularly restaurant reviews.” (more)

Garmin’s Nuvi 370

What It Does: Tells you exactly how to get wherever you want to go

Pop this puppy into your pocket and you’ll never get lost again. Enter any address in North America or Europe and the Nuvi 370 provides door-to-door detailed directions, which it will read aloud turn-by-turn if you choose. Need to know where the nearest hotel, restaurant, gas station, or ATM is? Your Nuvi will locate it and tell you exactly how to get there. A cute car-shaped icon shows your exact position at the moment on the map. Local weather forecasts, traffic jam and road construction alerts are also zapped directly to your device. Also on board are an MP3 player, audio book player, world travel clock, currency converter, measurement converter, and calculator. Travelers can also purchase Fodor’s content for all of North America in an SD format for $70.

The Bottom Line: Price: $965. Size: 3.87 x 2.91 inches, 5.1 oz. Click here for more information.

From the Forums: “I used to take my wife as my navigator, but now I take my Garmin Streetpilot C330 and don’t need a navigator anymore. I do bring my wife, though, and she loves not being the navigator.” (more)

070131_HP_IPAQ.JPGHP iPAQrx5915

What It Does: A location guide, office and entertainment system in your pocket

This skinny, stylish personal navigation system leads you virtually anywhere in North America with both voice-guided navigation and on-screen directions. The unit also provides local weather, current times in various locations of your choice, currency exchange info, measurement conversions, and a packing organizer. Wireless connectivity means you can surf the web and send/receive email or get your work done with the preloaded mobile versions of Microsoft Office software including Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Internet Explorer. The device doesn’t have a keyboard (you tap on letters displayed on screen to enter info), so don’t expect to use it to write the great American novel on the go — but it works fine for short notes/emails and document editing. During slow times, you can play games, listen to music, or create slide shows with your photos.

The Bottom Line: Price: $599.00. Size: 4.74 x 3.0 inches, 6 oz. Click here for more information.

From the Forums: “I carry an iPAQ Pocket PC that I use for everything, including international free phone service via Skype. If you choose this route, I suggest you find a model with built-in GPS and WiFi.” (more)

Franklin’s Speaking Global Translator

What It Does: Helps you communicate on almost any continent

This nifty little device translates to and from 12 languages: Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Just enter a word or phrase in your native language and the Translator will speak and display the translation in both your native and chosen language. Asian languages are displayed phonetically using the Roman alphabet as well as Asian characters. A voice recording feature allows you to record selected words and phrases appropriate to your specific travel or business needs.

The Bottom Line: Price:$229.95, Size: 4.0 x 3.0 inches, 5.6 oz. click here for more information.

From the Forums: “I love my new deluxe Franklin French bilingual dictionary. It is the model that allows you to change a “bookman” card and change the dictionary.” (more)

070131_turbochargeF.JPGTurboCharge Portable Cellphone Charger

What It Does: Backup power for your cellphone

TurboCharge is a portable wireless cellphone charger that runs on a single AA battery. Keep the lipstick-sized TurboCharge in your pocket or purse, and when your phone starts beeping frantically because it’s running low on power, connect it to the TurboCharge. You can make and receive calls as soon as you plug your phone into the charger. In theory, one AA battery provides up to two hours of talk time or 40 hours of standby time. In reality, one AA battery isn’t going to fully charge a drained phone so this isn’t a replacement for your phone’s real charger. The TurboCharge is best used to squeeze in a few extra phone calls when your battery is almost drained, or during emergencies like power failures.

The Bottom Line: Price:$19.95 click here for more information.

From the Forums: “We took a cellphone last year because we were driving part of the trip. The plan was to use it only if we had a highway emergency. Fortunately, it sat in the glove compartment the entire trip–we never even looked at it the entire time.” (more)

An Online Safe-Deposit Box

What it does: Gives you a secure, readily accessible place to store important info

KeepYouSafe.Com offers an online place to securely store digital copies of your most important documents, which are then accessible from anywhere at any time via an internet connection and a standard web browser. Upload a scan of your passport and a copy of your passport photos and it’ll be much easier to replace your ID if your passport is lost or stolen. (The U.S. government advises travelers to make two copies of the main page of their passport and have backup copies of their passport photos). You can also store credit card numbers, scans of your airplane tickets, your medical information and insurance policy info, and any other data that you might need on your travels. Yikes, you say, put my passport and other personal data onto the evil internet? Fret not. Your information is protected using the same encryption technology that the U.S. military employs to protect top-secret information. No one has access to your information unless you give them your password — even if someone manages to get their hands on your files your data looks like total gibberish sans that password.

The Bottom Line: Price: a standard Online Safe Deposit box is free; premium service gets you more storage space and is $36 per year. For more information click here.

From the Forums: “I’d make copies of your passports. I know some people scan theirs and leave a copy in their email account.” (more)

Michelle Delio

For more tech-savvy traveler tips:

  • Call Home While You’re Away for Less