Travel For Geeks: The Accessories

The CG staff travels a lot for work reasons and our own Mike Kobrin put together a tasty selection of gear he likes to travel with for work, but we didn’t want to stop there. After all, travel gives us geeks an excuse to buy more-mobile versions of things we already own, hunt for new solutions to travel problems we didn’t know we had and feel like giants when we use our travel-sized deodorants. (Yes, some of us do use deodorant.)

To that end, we put together a list of some of our favorite products to take with us — for business and pleasure — and a few brands and Websites you’ll want to check out when you go shopping for travel-related accessories, both tech and otherwise.

It’s no surprise that there are a bunch of places to buy travel accessories on the Internet. One of our favorites is The site is well organized, has good prices and has just about every travel accessory under the sun including electronics. Plus, you can find the latest information on TSA baggage guidelines and restrictions, a currency converter and general tips for packing and travel.

Another noteworthy accessory site is The Franzus Company. Franzus sells a big assortment of accessories — from locks to toilet-seat covers to some of the best power converters we’ve seen.

And while we’re on the subject of power, if you travel with a lot of gear that needs recharging, we recommend stopping by APC and grabbing the $90 Universal Power Adapter with built-in USB charging ports. You can use it to run your notebook with power from a car, airplane or any AC wall outlet, and it can charge up to two additional devices at the same time, thus reducing the number of chargers you need to bring. APC makes a ton of other mobile accessories as well.

When we mentioned earlier “solutions to travel problems we didn’t know we had,” it was stores like Brookstone and The Sharper Image we had in mind. As travelling gadget lovers, it’s tough to resist things like the M1 TracLite, for example. We have a ton of flashlights, but none of them are like this $20 keychain LED one that has a magnetic swivel base. Of course they have all manner of other handy travel accoutrements like the Lingo Voyager 12-Language Talking Translator that can be picked up elsewhere, but these stores are ususally where we discover a lot of stuff we didn’t know we needed.

We end up using our cell phones more when we’re away than at home, so we like to keep either a CellBoost or similar phone charger on us for emergency recharges. Of course you can always run into a store and pick one up after your battery dies, but that’ll do you a load of good when you drive your rental car into a ditch and then find out your battery’s dead (true story). Another option is to pick up a second battery to keep charged and with you. For that we recommend popping over to They stock accessories for a broad assortment of phones and other mobile devices, including batteries, chargers and cases, and everything is easy to find on the site.

When we travel, we take a lot of pictures. To keep from having to take along a card reader, we prefer using SanDisk’s Ultra II SD Plus cards, which fold in half exposing a USB adapter so you can pop the card right into a USB port.

Outside of that, there are products like the Kingston DataTraveler Reader. The $34 2GB thumb drive has a built-in SD/MMC card reader. Put in a card and plug the drive into your laptop and it appears as two separate drives. You can transfer the photos either to your hard drive or to the flash drive.

Also, if you don’t normally travel with a laptop, but would still like to be able to dump your photos off your flash cards to another storage device, you should pick up Belkin’s USB Everywhere. The slim, compact, lightweight device allows you to transfer files between two USB storage devices without the need for a computer. For example, if you fill up your SanDisk Ultra SD Plus card with shots, you just plug it into one of the USB Everywhere’s ports and connect another storage device to the other open USB port, such as the Memorex 8GB Mega TravelDrive, and press a button and the little unit pulls the images off your card and puts them on the drive.

A pocket tripod is also a nice thing to have handy when you’re on vacation. There are plenty of them to be had, but Vanguard makes a wide variety of the minipods, including the 0.12-pound Flexi with bendable legs for surfaces that aren’t quite flat.

, makes a number of mobile accessories worth checking out.

We didn’t spend time here on any kind of portable media devices because, well, that’s not really an accessory. We also are skipping over headphones because we expect all of you to know by now that there’s no better way to relax in the back of a car or on a flight than with a pair of good, noise-isolating canalphones or over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones. However, we do want to add one thing you might want to check out: Pzizz. It’s a piece of software and accompanying soundscapes to help you fall asleep or take power naps. Yes, it’s incredibly new-agey and we don’t normally go in for this sort of thing, but if you’re open to it, it will help you relax and bliss out.

On a final note, we’re under the impression that the 3-ounce-liquid restriction on flights is only continuing because it’s boosted the sale of tiny, sample-sized bottles of shave gel, toothpaste and shampoo. Conspiracy theories aside, if you want to stock up on travel-size pharmaceuticals, make a stop at’s Travel Store. If shopping online for tiny bottles of mouthwash doesn’t make you a big geek, we don’t know what does.

This article is part of our series on Travel For Geeks.