We now live in an age where lightning fast internet, awe-inspiring video games, HD movies, and all manner of music are all available no matter where you go. There was a time when your only choices for entertainment during travel were crossword puzzles and the funny haircuts of the other passengers. Thankfully, these days are long dead.
It will someday be intensely difficult to communicate just how dramatically different life was before laptops, smart phones, and wireless internet. The truly tragic thing is that many people have already settled in and stopped appreciating the massive technological leaps in recent times. We now carry phones in our pockets hundreds of times more powerful than the supercomputers of yesteryear. As a traveler with all this power at your disposal, just what gadgets deserve a place in your luggage?
- Chrome OS Ultraportable Laptop
This loyal standby should never be forgotten when you break out the suitcases, car chargers, and sunglasses. It is difficult to dispute or replace the reliability, affordability, and ability of a good laptop. What brand you lean toward will likely depend upon your price range and preferences. If your budget is limited and your needs light, I would recommend something hosting the Chrome OS. The Samsung and Acer Chromebooks in particular offer excellent capabilities at extremely affordable prices.
While many users have levied criticisms against the lacking functionality of the Chromebooks, they still make for an excellent, inexpensive travel companion. The Samsung models in particular are lauded for their speed and performance paired with low cost. If price is no concern or you aren’t a fan of the undeniably young Chrome OS, any of the higher Dell or MSI models will more than serve your needs. The added functionality of a portable DVD player, music player, google maps, and any manner of translation software for foreign travel will all serve you nicely.
- Nintendo 3DS XL
The traveler must balance entertainment and utility. Whether it is a guilty pleasure or a major facet of your life, you are going to want to kickback and play the occasional game during your trip. There is a reason Nintendo has always been the undisputed king of handheld gaming. There is simply no substitute for the quality of the massive library available on the 3DS.
If you want the likes of Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Star Fox, and Kirby as your travel companions- the 3DS XL is a must-have device. If you are interested in saving money and not the 3D functionality, you can invest in the budget 2DS model. Both the 3DS and 2DS are backwards compatible with the entire library of the best selling game system of all time- the original DS. As added bonuses, the 3DS features digital game downloads, Netflix, Youtube, an internet browser, and numerous other awesome applications.
- Sony Playstation Vita
With the games on smart phones being laughably bad, a savvy gamer knows that the only way to get their fix on the road is with either a Nintendo 3DS or Sony Playstation Vita. The Vita has seen only a handful of exclusives and the number of worthwhile games can be counted on one hand. So why does it receive a spot on this list?
What few gems that are in the Vita’s library make it an attractive companion console to the superior 3DS. The remake of Persona 4, Disgaea ports, and a slowly growing library of great RPGs somewhat justifies the console’s hefty price tag. While you’ll probably favor your 3DS XL on most flights and road trips- you’ll be glad to have a Vita in your bag when you’re hungry for eye candy and savory, filling home console experiences.
- Smartphone & Reliable Network
As if there was ever any doubt- a trusty smartphone in your pocket can save you many headaches. While it isn’t as versatile as a solid laptop, one cannot deny the convenience of an inexpensive Samsung Galaxy Discover or a top of the line HTC Desire 500. The ease of pulling out your phone and having access to a seemingly infinite number of applications is a luxury few travelers are willing to sacrifice these days.
Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to the best providers, but I’ve personally found AT&T and T-Mobile to be, by far, the best choices for frequent travelers. As GSM operators, these two networks are available worldwide. If you happen to be a Verizon or Sprint user looking to vacation abroad, be prepared to hunt down Wi-Fi hotspots whenever you need your GPS, translator, or Facebook fix.