There happens to be a tenth circle of hell and it looks something like this: heavy bags of disorganized junk falling off your arms, kiosk lines, mazes full of people telling you to take off your shoes (wait, no, now they want you to put them on again), confusion in every direction you look. It's called...travel. Looking to make your next trip slightly less apocalyptic? Here, a guide for getting your tech life packed up right, plus essential apps and gadgets that make travel a breeze.
Packing & Prep
Before you begin tearing apart your closet (inevitably leaving your bedroom looking like a clothing tornado came through), try using Stylebook, an app that lets you create packing lists and virtually "test" outfits via photos. As for streamlining your entire kit, I love the laptop purse by Alesya Bags. Eliminating the need to pack an extra handbag, this sneaky number is completely purse-like on the outside, zipping open to reveal an interior compartment for laptops up to 15 inches. For all your plugs, cords, and digital accoutrements, I recommend trying one of the Grid-It System models by Cocoon Innovations. These feature bands of woven elastic strips, allowing you to neatly tuck everything away and keep it all from turning into a tangled mess. Certain models do double-duty, acting as protective sleeves for MacBooks and iPads.
Of course, the goal here is to help you pack as little as possible, but if "packing light" is a phrase you know not the meaning of (hey, no judgements), the Heys xScale PRO weighing device will help you avoid overweight luggage fees (or the embarrassing re-pack at the ticket counter).
In-Flight & Airport Necessities
From curbside to touchdown, there are some easy solutions to make air travel smoother. First off, nix the printer. Quite a few airlines such as Delta, American Airlines, United, US Airways, just to name a few, now offer mobile boarding passes. Apple's new Passbook is even location-aware, so when you arrive at the airport in time for your flight, it will put your boarding pass right on the lock screen. All you have to do is simply flash your phone as you enter security and when boarding. And if you've got a layover, give Gate Guru a try. This app maps out terminal businesses and services so you can make a mad dash for things like food, magazines, and gifts. Gate Guru is also great if you have time to kill; I once found a hidden massage and manicure kiosk at San Francisco International Airport (aka my best trip to the airport ever).
As for in-flight comfort, there actually is something you can do about screaming babies and noisy seat neighbors. Beats Executive Headphones might be a bit pricey at $299, but the noise-canceling technology is worth every penny when you're trying to get some sleep.
At Your Destination
Leave your guidebook at home. Chances are it'll just take up space in your bag and point you to tourist traps. When trying to discover a city's best offerings, take advice from your most trusted resources -- your friends. Trippy lets you view photos and highlights from friends' trips. Best of all, you can create your own map, share it with pals (automatically links you to a list of Facebook buddies), and solicit advice in real time for spots to check out. Similarly, there's no longer any reason to tote around a phrasebook. With Word Lens, an augmented reality translation app, you can hold up your iPhone or Android to a foreign language sign and see the English translation on your on your screen--no wireless connection necessary. The app is free, with language add-on packs at only $4.99 each.
For international travelers: one gadget you'll get tons of mileage from is the Kensington International Travel Plug Adapter. Tackling tricky foreign outlets in 150 countries, Kensington's adapter features built-in plug-ins, so there's no sifting through countless accessories. Added bonus: this model will also charge USB devices.
And of course, one last tip for vacationers: remember to take a tech break from time to time, too! Happy jet setting!
Follow Carley Knobloch on Twitter: www.twitter.com/carleyknobloch