ZDNet’s Business Bargain Hunter scours the web for great deals on computers, phones, services and much more. Prices and availability are accurate at the time deals are shared. Some products and services may not be available outside the U.S. Follow BBH on Facebook and Twitter, where he’s known as The Cheapskate.
These days I don’t travel much for business, but when I do, I do it like a pro. That’s because I’ve learned a few things from my time in planes, trains and automobiles — like what to pack for every possible tech scenario: not enough outlets, unreliable hotel Wi-Fi, too many cords and so on.
And not only what to pack, but how to pack it. That’s the first item on my list of essential tech for your travels, stuff you’ll find indispensable. Of course, because I’m the Business Bargain Hunter, I made sure to assemble this kit on the cheap.
A travel electronics organizer: $16
Cords, chargers, outlets, your favorite mints — all this stuff needs to go somewhere. I used to just dump everything into the bottom of a backpack pocket, but then of course it was impossible to find what I needed.
Solution: a rigid, rectangular organizer covered in elastic bands. You probably rolled your eyes just now, but trust me when I say this thing is the best.
Because now everything tucks into place and stays in place, and I can spot anything at a glance. A large organizer, like this one from Joto, runs about $16; smaller ones sell for a few bucks less. It’s perfect for a backpack, briefcase or the like.
A 4-port power adapter: $18
Things you probably need to recharge in your hotel room: phone, tablet, Bluetooth headphones, mobile charger…shall I go on?
Needless to say, there are never enough outlets. That’s why every traveler needs something like the iClever BoostCube+ travel USB wall charger, which serves up four 2.4-amp “smart” USB ports and folding prongs for easier stowing.
The BoostCube+ currently sells for $18, which may seem a tad pricey for a wall wart, but it really is a traveler’s best friend.
A retractable 2-in-1 cable: $13
Even with the aforementioned organizer, cord clutter is the worst. That’s why I’m fond of retractable cables, which keep everything neat and tidy.
Like this one from Cafele, which combines a 3-foot, 2-in-1 Lightning/microUSB cable into a single spring-loaded carrier. Pack this in addition to your regular set of cables, because you’ll be amazed how often you find yourself needing a spare. (If you don’t use Apple gear, get one that’s just microUSB, natch.)
A travel router/wireless drive/mobile charger: $32
Talk about killing a bunch of birds with one stone. The RAVPower FileHub Plus is like the Swiss Army knife of travel tech, combining numerous useful tools in a single pocket-size package.
For starters, it’s a travel router, able to convert hotel Ethernet into a Wi-Fi hotspot for all your devices. It’s also an external hard drive, able to stream media from an USB drive or SD card to your mobile devices. Finally, it’s a 6,000mAh mobile charger. It may also dispense Cappuccino; I don’t recall.
The FileHub Plus is already kind of a steal at $40, but for a limited time, BBH readers can snag one for $32 by applying promo code ZDNETCOD at checkout.
The only power bank that makes sense: $38
Wait, isn’t the FileHub already a mobile charger? Yes, it’s one of the two mobile chargers you’re going to travel with. It’s the one you loan to your buddy who didn’t pack a charger. It’s the one you use as a backup when you realize you forget to recharge your primary charger.
Your primary charger is going to be one like the iWalk 10,000mAh power bank with built-in Lightning and microUSB cables — basically any battery pack with built-in cables. (There’s also a standard USB port for charging other items.) In an ideal world, it would also have wall prongs for recharging, but those models tend to cost more.
A rental-car dashboard mount: $9
Recently I used Turo to rent a car for a few days. To my delight, the owner had a magnetic mount already in place — meaning I could put my phone right up on the dashboard for easier navigation (something I was doing a lot of, given I was in a strange town).
If you’re already using a magnetic mount in your own car (something I highly recommend), it’s a no-brainer: pack a simple air-vent mount to use while traveling. WizGear sells a two-pack for $9. Not doing the magnet thing? This air-vent mount employs a universal phone-holder and sells for 10 bucks.
And there you go! All the tech you need for successful travels. Did I forget something? Add your recommendations in the comments.