The 5 best travel tech gadgets of 2022

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Travel isn’t as simple as it used to be, with the impact of COVID-19 and the rising cost of living forcing many of us to reconsider our work or holiday trips with more care.

However, there appear to be signs that the travel industry is slowly on its way to recovery, and with that, we may be able to look forward to a vacation of two. 

Planning and paperwork requirements may be more complex for travel now, and it can be far too easy to leave packing until the last minute — throwing everything into one bag and hoping you’ve remembered everything. However, there are essential travel accessories and gadgets which, if you’re like me, can be left in a dedicated drawer and pulled out when you’re about to hit the road — making travel less stressful and lightening the load you need to carry, too. 

Below, ZDNet has compiled our top picks for travel technology and accessories in 2022, whether you’re going on vacation or to a work event. 

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INIU portable power pack, charger

Best travel tech gadget overall

INIU portable power pack, charger

Amazon

Features: Reasonable charge capacity, multiple connectors

INIU’s power pack, available on Amazon, is always thrown in my cargo bag so I know I won’t run out of charge on my phone, Kindle, or Nintendo Switch on long-haul flights. Other options, such as the range produced by Anker, have more charge capacity and connector types, but I prefer this pack because of how light and small it is. 

Pros:

  • Outputs USB C/A
  • Lightweight and small
  • Built-in light

Cons:

  • Only contains a 10,000mAh charge (other banks can go beyond 26,000)

Hex technical backpack

Best for outdoors enthusiasts

Hex technical backpack

Hex

Features: A rugged design with charging as a bonus

The Hex technical backpack is a travel bag designed with tough, heavy-duty materials for water resistance and to prevent wear and tear. Likely a backpack that will last you years, Hex’s backpack also includes an antimicrobial coating, a magnetic laptop compartment, and various organizer slots, including one for your passport. In addition, the backpack includes a wireless charging pocket which can be used to power your devices with Hex’s own model, or other chargers. 

Pros:

  • Multiple compartments for your laptop and other travel accessories
  • Rugged design

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Charger sold separately

Epicka universal travel adapter

Best for travel to different destinations

Epicka universal travel adapter

Amazon

Features: Essential adapters for visiting multiple countries

When you travel, one of the first things you should put in your bag is an adapter as there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination and realizing you can’t charge any of your devices. 

While you can buy cheap adapters for specific countries, we recommend going for a universal adapter so you’re never caught short of the right connector. Epicka’s universal travel adapter contains the prongs required for over 150 countries and multiple USB connection points.

Pros:

  • includes every type of connector you could possibly need abroad

Cons:

Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

Best for those who need sleep

Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

Bose

Features: Active noise-canceling technology

One of my must-have items for travel is my Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. While I needed to replace the ear cups after a few years, Bose headphones are a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers — and, of course, they can also be used day-to-day, whether at home or on the daily commute. 

When it comes to features, the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones include active noise-canceling technology, Bluetooth connectivity, and a ‘hear-through’ option if you want to listen to music but remain aware of environmental noise. 

These headphones come in black or white. 

Pros:

  • Noise-canceling technology
  • sturdy design

Cons:

SideTrak portable monitors

Best for working away from home

SideTrak portable monitors

Amazon

Features: A portable display for various laptop models 

As many of us now balance work from home, the office, and while on the road, you could consider investing in a portable monitor or two to improve your remote productivity. 

Laptops are convenient on the road but sometimes, all you need is more screen space. One option to consider is SideTrak’s portable monitors, which are 14-inch, 16:9 ratio displays in FHD (1080p). Once mounted, the displays are powered via USB/mini-HDMI.

Pros:

  • A valuable tool for remote work
  • 14-inch display

Cons:

  • Expensive and you may need more than one
  • You will need to buy protectors

What is the best travel tech gadget?

INIU’s power pack will ensure you never run out of charge on your phone, Kindle, or Nintendo Switch. There are other options, but I personally use this option and prefer it because of how light and small it is. 

Travel tech gadget

Price

Features

INIU portable power pack, charger

$20

  • Reasonable charge capacity, multiple connectors
  • Outputs USB C/A
  • Lightweight and small
  • Built-in light

Hex technical backpack

$159

  • A rugged design with charging as a bonus
  • Multiple compartments for your laptop and other travel accessories
  • Rugged design

Epicka universal travel adapter

$22

  • Essential adapters for visiting multiple countries
  • Includes every type of connector you could possibly need abroad

Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

$329

  • Active noise-canceling technology
  • Sturdy design

SideTrak portable monitors

$369

  • A portable display for various laptop models 
  • A valuable tool for remote work
  • 14-inch display

Which is the right travel tech gadget for you?

It really depends on you, where you’re going, and what you need. But consider the following use cases in the chart below if you need help deciding whether any of the gear I reviewed is worth getting for your trip.

Choose this…

If you want…

INIU portable power pack, charger

To charge your devices on the go

Hex technical backpack

To stuff your kit in when hiking, camping

Epicka universal travel adapter

A handy adapter you can use abroad

Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

To block out noise on the train or plane

SideTrak portable monitors

More screen space

How did we choose these travel tech gadgets?

When we decided on the most useful items to take away with you on work trips or vacations, we tried to tackle the most annoying and sometimes stressful issues we encounter: running out of power, being unable to use our electronics, and failing to account for differences in plugs and connections in other countries. 

Furthermore, you need to consider weight limits when you travel and may have to leave your PCs or bigger laptops at home. Being able to expand your display for work or entertainment purposes without adding more weight is worth considering. 

Will I be able to use my gadgets abroad without adapters?

You should always check the outlet requirements before you go to a different country, as the general answer to this question is no — unless you have also brought global or country-specific adapters with you. For example, a device with a US plug will not work in Europe, and a UK resident traveling to India or Japan would need adapters, too.

You should also have a backup adapter in case your main one fails. Rather than messing about, I just take two universal adapters with me on my trips — they may be more expensive to buy, but they can last for years and save you the hassle. 

You can find a useful guide on what prongs, slots, and patterns are used in different countries here

Should I go for a lighter travel laptop or more powerful (and heavier) options?

If you can, it might be best to have a separate laptop for travel that can perform whatever daily or basic tasks you need (and let’s not forget to stream films on the plane or in your hotel room) but doesn’t store critical information or files that you can’t afford to lose. 

Accidents happen whilst on the road, and while you could always ensure your main laptop, you should consider the potential inconvenience of having to set up a new device due to an accident or theft. 

Is it worth getting insurance for my travel tech?

You will likely already have basic travel insurance for cancellations, healthcare, and accidents. Another option offered by many travel insurance providers is cover for technology you take with you, including laptops, camera equipment, tablets, and more. 

My basic rule-of-thumb is that if I’m taking anything worth more than $1000, I will also pick up cover for a trip, although you might have a different value in mind. As I’m usually also taking camera equipment worth over $6000, insurance is personally a must — and I include theft, not just accidents, in my policy.

Are there alternative travel tech gadgets worth considering?

While deciding on the best products on the market, we tried to find the best options to throw in your luggage and make your next trip as stress-free as possible.

However, there are also other options worth considering:

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