When you’re traveling, whatever you can do to make things go smoothly is worth the effort. So much is out of our control when out on the road, but we’ve found some ideas and products that can help you keep the details firmly in hand.
Options for mobile payment have increased a lot in the past couple of years, and many of the new chip-enabled terminals are also mobile-pay enabled. Whether you’re using a smartphone or an Apple Watch, consider setting up and using a mobile pay solution when you travel. You bypass some of the fraud potential that exists when you swipe a care, and it can be a real time-saver when you’re juggling bags, passport, wallet, keys, and more.
Related: Get the Skinny on Mobile Payment System
Mobile hotel management
Many hotels now offer email or mobile check-in, and several are also offering mobile door keys. Yes, that’s right, you can use your smartphone or smartwatch to open your hotel door at selected Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood properties.
Related: A Look at Pioneering Hi-Tech Hotel Amenities
The most valuable currency for many travelers is electricity: Keeping your devices charged. Pick up a compact surge protector with USB and electric plugs, and consider an external charger for your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Depending on your travel habits and your devices, you may want a wireless charger to cut down on the cords you have to carry, or a solar charger, if you’re outdoors frequently. Check that any charger is compatible with your phone or other devices before purchase, though.
Related: Masterful Smartphone Life Hacks You Won’t Want To Forget
Roaming and Battery Management
Devices that run on cell networks may give you a couple of points of concern when you travel. Check your smartphone’s settings and turn off wi-fi, location services, and other features you may not need to help preserve battery. If you’re using maps or other location-related services, of course, you’ll want to be selective here.
If you’re traveling outside your home country or network area, check with your carrier before you travel to select an international service plan that fits your budget. Don’t wait to be surprised by high data and roaming fees! You can often find an affordable plan when you check in ahead of time.
Related: Protecting Your Battery Life: 7 Insider Secrets to Stretch Your Screen Time
Here’s what separates the road warrior from the occasional traveler: How much you’re willing to pay for headphones. When you just want to hear music, you’re probably happy with the headphones that came with your phone or music player. But when you’re trying to work out of airports, coffee shops, and all over the place, a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones that helps you hear well on conference calls is essential. Check out the new Backbeat Sense wireless, Bluetooth-enabled headphones from Plantronics ($179). They’re super-smart: They stop playback when you take them off and resume when you put them back on.
If you’re traveling in a place where you don’t speak the language well, see if Skype Translator or a similar service can help. Just out of Preview mode, Microsoft’s communication service now offers instant translation for Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish, and for more than 50 languages in instant messaging.
If you ever travel outside the United States, be sure to apply for the Global Entry program, which can help you speed through customs and immigration, after you undergo a background check when you apply for the program. Double bonus: It will also get you TSA Pre-Check on most domestic flights.