Skiplagged (homepage)

5 Travel Tools + Gadgets We’re Already Stoked About for 2015

We’re living in the golden age of travel for digital nomads. Essential tech gadgets are getting smaller, faster, better, and even more portable every year. Here are just five we’re already excited about for 2015 and it’s still only January!

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Toshiba Encore Tablet

Toshiba Encore Tablet

In the wake of the iPad mini, a torrent of compact tablets are now available. Many are even more compact and ultra-affordable. Many, like Toshiba’s Encore Series, even run a full version of Windows 8.1. The best part is that the Encore Mini can easily be found for less than $100. Several configurations are offered including the Encore 2 WT8-B32CN with an 8.0-Inch Display, Intel Atom 1.4 GHz Processor, 32 GB Flash Memory, and 1 GB RAM Memory. And it weighs just .84 pounds!

Skiplagged (homepage)

The newly launched Skiplagged is wisely taking advantage of a well-kept secret among professional travelers. In fact, the tactic often works so well that United and Orbitz have sued the site’s owner, Aktarer Zaman, and he’s even started a GoFundMe page to help pay for his mounting legal debt.

The gist is that it takes advantage of “hidden city ticketing“:

Basically, you book a flight past your destination, with your target destination as a stop on the route, and save more than if on the direct route.

Keep in mind that it works only for one-way tickets with no checked baggage. A word of warning: airlines seriously frown upon this. Travelers who do this often enough could lose their frequent flyer status and privileges.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

First there were ultrabooks and the iPad (and all its subsequent followers); now Microsoft has released the Surface Pro 3. It’s one of the most exciting hardware developments for travelers, particularly those of the ultra-minimalist variety. It’s essentially a combination tablet and PC — detach the screen when you only need the tablet portion; reattach the keyboard when you’re planning on more heavy duty typing tasks.

Unlike many tablets, the Surface 3 is a legitimate PC with the flagship i7 model offering up to 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. It also runs Windows 8.1, is just 0.55″ thick with the keyboard attached, and weighs just 2.4 pounds. The i3 model starts at just $799, but the premium i7 will set you back up to $2,000.

Affordable Merino Wool

Triple Aught Design Praetorian Hoodie

Hikers and active outdoor folk have known about merino wool for years. It’s like a miracle fabric: lightweight, ultra soft, comfortable, breathable, and most importantly it retains its warmth even when wet. Without hyperbole, I find it to be the ideal clothing for almost any situation. Pull on a few layers of merino wool and you’re able to conquer just about anything.

Of course the clothing itself isn’t new. What is new is the amount of players in the merino wool game. It used to be that you had to shell out big bucks to premium companies like Icebreaker (who we still love by the way) and Triple Aught Design (I rarely ever leave home without the above picture Praetorian Hoodie). Now, travelers can score solid merino wool products at their local Target for much less. Instead of paying $200 for a high quality sweater, prices have dropped below (in some cases, well below) $100.

Wireless Travel Router

HooToo Wireless Travel Router

Hotel WiFi is notoriously awful. For some reason, the industry’s idea of “free” means “speeds akin to 1999”. There are a number of devices that aim to get around this or at least make it more bearable. Portable travel repeaters have been around for years — they’re essentially powered cubes with a built-in antenna that amplifies your hotel’s WiFi signal. While these often work, they do require at least a hint of a signal to work in the first place. That’s not always possible if you happen to be in a hotel’s dreaded dead zone where the WiFi is free and plentiful for everyone but you.

Which is where the latest crop of travel routers step in, turning a hotel’s stronger and often more reliable wired internet connection into a private WiFi cloud just for you. Simply plug the router into a power outlet, connect it to your room’s wired Internet outlet, and you’ll be surfing The Daily Puppy in no time.

The ultraportable HooToo TripMate Elite Versatile is highly reviewed and doubles as a dual USB charger. The ZyXEL 3-in-1 Wireless N Pocket Travel Router is almost as well reviewed and costs less than $25 (via Amazon).

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