Just because travel tech accessories are getting smaller, it doesn’t mean that you want to take all of them with you.
There are hundreds — maybe even thousands — of potentially useful smartphone and tablet accessories on the market, ranging from camera lens adapters to beach speakers. However, there are a few that I believe are necessary for a short trip.
My recommendations are based on the iPhone and iPad. Depending on what you have, you may be looking at different vendors or models, but I believe the underlying suggestions remain valid.
Travel demands accessories above-and-beyond those you may be using at your office or home, such as:
- Bluetooth keyboard
- Screen protector, like a ZAGG invisibleSHIELD
- Cover or case, like an Apple SmartCover (for the iPad), or an OtterBox or LifeProof case for your iPhone.
- Headset, wired or Bluetooth (or both).
Minimum Kit, For All Occasions
Here’s what’s in my standard iPad kit. Total cost: less than $100.
- iPad-class AC adapter
Remember, the iPad needs 10 watts — twice what the iPhone’s tiny AC adapter or a powered USB port provides. So you need to bring this, whether it’s Apple’s or a third-party one. There are even some two-port 15 watt ones, like the Innergie mMini Combo 15W AC (Wall) Duo USB Charging Kit. (I also suggest carrying an iPhone AC charger as well.)
The adaptor you bring on your trip preferably should be a spare, to keep in your travel kit, so you can leave your regular one(s) at the office/home.
- Docking/USB power/data cable(s)
While you can buy these iOS cables in most computer/tech/office supply stores, and even many convenience stores, you should bring one. Or even two or three. (Third-party cables are available for less than half of Apple’s own $19.95 ones.)
- Media/USB transfer/connection adapters
If your devices don’t have SD slots or USB ports — Apple i-devices have neither, of course — bring adapters. At minimum, get Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. Apple’s own iPad Camera Connection Kit consists of two adapters, or dongles: the SD Card Reader and the Camera Connector. The iPad still doesn’t have an SD slot; this lets you move photos from a camera’s SD card. The kit also includes a USB adapter — however, since the iOS dock port doesn’t provide as much power as a standard USB 2.0 “powered port,” there’s no guarantee that other USB peripherals — or, for that matter, other card readers — will work.
- Credit Card payment-taker
The Square Credit Card Reader (plus its free app) is small — about one square inch by 1/3 inch — and provides an easy way to take credit card payments via your iPhone. It’s not only good for selling home-business crafts or yard sale items, but also makes it easier to split the check in a group. You don’t even need the Reader, but using just the app costs a tad more.
- Accessory pouch
These things are small, and easily lost. Whether it’s a ziplock bag or something else, make it easier to keep track of them.
For Longer/More Involved Trips
Other things to consider bringing include:
- Rechargeable power pack
There no shortage of ones that will recharge a smartphone one to three times, but only some can deliver the power to recharge an iPad or other 10-watt device. Innergie, Radio Shack and Targus all offer ones that can, albeit not necessarily a full charge.
- Automobile USB charging adapter
If you’ve got an iPad or other tablet, make sure you get one that provides the right amount of power.
- Mobile broadband hotspot (and service contract)
If your tablet doesn’t have its own broadband and contract (e.g., with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon…), and you don’t want to simply up your smartphone data plan to allow tethering, a mobile hotspot will let your tablet be online when there’s no WiFi nearby.
- Video connectors
Connectors like an Apple Digital AV Adapter and an Apple VGA adapter are helpful for watching iPad content on a larger TV, doing presentations, etc.
You’ll probably find some more stuff that you want, of course. (Feel free to let me know what I’m missing!)