Casual Friday: High-Tech Travel Tips

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The Practical Tips

Have the right headphones and the right audio settings: Most MP3 players come with a pair of earbuds. Throw them out. I'm serious. First, earbuds are potentially bad for your hearing. Jam these things into your ears and crank up the volume, and you're begging for a busted eardrum. I prefer over-the-ear cans, namely Creative's Aurvana X-Fi headphones. They not only improve the sound quality at the touch of a button, but they also provide noise-canceling features the same way Bose's overrated offerings do.

Creative Aurvana X-Fi
Another bonus of noise-canceling headphones is that you don't need to turn up the volume. Couple that with an MP3 player's smart volume-adjustment feature, and you might not blow out your hearing. Sounds good to me.


Have the right cables and power supplies: Whether it's in the form of batteries or a couple of device chargers, every technophile needs power on the go. PC World Contributing Editor James A. Martin wrote about Belkin's Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger, which is great. If you ask me, it's all about the right cables. For instance, I like being able to charge my phone, PSP, and DS Lite through a USB port. So here's something I did: Several companies (such as Mad Catz) offer a USB cable for the PSP, and I chose a Y-split version. One end charges old and new PSPs, and the other end is a mini-USB jack. Thanks to that cable, I can charge my PSP and HTC Touch phone simultaneously with a single wire.

Or you can just use the DS Lite. Its amazing battery life means I never need to think about nightly charge sessions. It can stay in idle mode for days, and I've gone on entire trips without having to plug in Nintendo's awesome handheld even once.

Enjoy wireless, wherever: Another obvious thing is to consider entertaining yourself wherever you may roam. You could pony up money to go online with your laptop through a high-speed data card. But have you read the news lately? I'm trying to save some money here! Free Wi-Fi hotspots are the way to go. One low-tech resource is the quick list at The Wi-Fi-FreeSpot Directory, a grassroots collection of places all over the world where people can get online. Be careful, though! Some sneaks masquerade as access points to try to steal information. If you're at a store or hotel that offers free Wi-Fi, find out the server's name.

Keen Alameda 15
Bag it up: Personal tastes go a long way, but I always try to stow gear in bags that don't scream, "Hey, I have a truckload of electronics in here!" The important part is to find something big enough, with enough pockets. I'm currently trying out Keen's Alameda 15. This sack, made from some of the company's recycled shoe parts, is rugged and road-ready. And it doesn't look too shabby (or smell like feet), either.

Just remember: The next time you're in the airport, seeing some poor schmo sweating about assembling a PowerPoint presentation, breathe easy. It's not you, for a change.

Until next time....

Senior Writer Darren Gladstone geeks out over gadgets, games, and odd uses for humdrum tech. In other words, he's a nerd--and he's okay with that.

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