Whether it’s robots or smartphones, AI or premium audio products, Japan has always been at the forefront of any conversation about technology. We recently spent several weeks in Tokyo discovering not only what some of the biggest names in new tech are creating, but also taking advantage of the exciting location to test out the best smartphone cameras, and discover the charm of its popular tech-tourism destinations. Make sure to check out other entries in our series “Modern Japan.”
Traveling, especially when it involves a long-haul flight, can be tiring, stressful, and sometimes traumatic. However, use the best luxury travel tech, and it’s possible to turn plane travel back into the exciting and pleasurable experience it once was. Here, we’re going to give you our top insider tips for the plane, and the best luxury travel tech to keep you happy and sane during the first stage of your vacation.
STM Banks backpack – $130
Designed to be stylish and provide plenty of protection for your tech products, we love the STM Banks backpack, especially in the subtle blue color. We choose this because of STM’s SlingTech system which supports your laptop in a dedicated pocket, which keeps it suspended away from the bottom of the bag and the edges. It has a roomy 18 liters of space, and can carry a 15-inch laptop. We also fitted four smartphones, our carry-on survival bag, an Amazon Kindle, magazines, full-size headphones, a battery pack, and plenty more. It remained comfortable to wear, despite being very heavy. A great travel backpack.
If you’re going to travel in style, make sure you go all the way. Greenwich makes stunning leather smartphone cases, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to wrap our passport up in its Odyssey holder. The damson color is eye-catching without being over the top, and the soft leather on the outside is matched by even softer Alcantara on the inside.
LG V30 – $810
Why do we suggest the LG V30? Several reasons. It’s slim and easily pocketable, it has a water-resistant body — so if any liquid-based accidents happen the phone has a good chance of survival — and the battery life is excellent. Our recommendation goes deeper too: The wide-angle camera captures excellent pictures, and the Cine Effect video mode will give your holiday movies a totally different look every time. Finally, the V30 has a brilliant audio capability with its own Quad DAC for great sounding wired headphones, and AptX HD for the best wireless sound. It’s a brilliant companion, whether you’re on holiday or not. Read our full review.
Nowa smartwatch – $200
The fewer items we need to keep charged up while away, the better. But it’s a shame to miss out on fitness tracking just because our Android Wear smartwatches or the Apple Watch don’t have long lasting batteries. Instead, how about a hybrid watch? We chose the new Nowa watch, which is designed for travelers, with an automatic world time mode, where the watch adjusts to your new time zone without you having to do anything. It also has Apple Health and Google Fit fitness support, and acts as a remote control for your phone’s selfie camera — exactly what you need when you’re in front of that famous landmark. The Nowa is really slim, has various strap options, and looks swish enough to match whatever you’re wearing.
Noise canceling headphones are a flight essential. We also want supreme comfort, great sound, and in keeping with our luxury theme, a brilliant design from a respected brand. British audio experts Kef and design experts at Porsche Design have the perfect pair of headphones — the Space One Wireless. The latest model provides 30 hours of active noise cancelation and Bluetooth audio, with a minimalist, super stylish design. However, it’s the comfort we really love. The leather covers over the ear cups and on the headband, along with minimal grip on the skull, meant we could wear them for hours on the plane. The noise cancelation stripped away the sounds of the engines, while keeping the vibrancy and life of the music intact. The carry case is thin and protective, and there is both a cable for wired Hi-Res audio playback, and a airplane adaptor too.
Modal SIM card – $15
Keeping phone connectivity abroad is really an essential, but it can be a pain. Buying a local SIM can be time-consuming, and sometimes even impossible without a local address. Modal solves these problems by getting a SIM to you before you leave home. We took advantage of Modal’s expertise in Japanese SIM cards, but the company will supply SIMs that work in most countries around the world. Buy before you go and the SIM’s delivered to your door, at which time you activate it online and pay for how much time you’ll need. Ours worked perfectly in Japan, providing very fast 4G LTE data speeds on our Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and LG V30. There’s no contract or ongoing fees, you just pay upfront with the option to extend if you need more data, calls, messages, or extra time.
B&O Play P2 – $170
Obviously this one isn’t for the plane, but for your hotel, apartment, or Airbnb when you arrive. The B&O Play P2 Bluetooth speaker has a smaller footprint than the LG V30, and is less than an inch thick, making it highly portable. The sound it produces is anything but small, with strong bass, and a very natural, vibrant sound. It’s also shockingly loud, and lives up to everything we expect from B&O Play. Make sure you use the accompanying app, which enables the touch gestures to control playback, and the auto-shutdown to conserve battery life — another holiday necessity.
STM Grace battery pack – $50
Your phone is essential for Google Maps, the camera, and sharing photos on Instagram. Running out of power because you aren’t near to power outlet can be very frustrating. We took along the STM Grace Powerbank, which contains a 5,000mAh cell, and has a full-size USB port for your own charging cable. It’s small, and doesn’t weigh much at all, so it’s ideal for slipping into a pocket.
You’ve packed the right tech products, but what about getting the plane experience right? For our most recent trip, we flew with British Airways, and we went to them beforehand to get some insider tips from the cabin crew. Plus, we’re sharing the contents of our own, super special skin survival pack we never fly without.
British Airways Worldwide Cabin Crew member Becky Wadsworth spoke to Digital Trends over email, and told us in addition to getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare, the following tips:
- Try to book flight times to maximise rest while on a long-haul flight, helping you to settle into a new time zone more easily.
- Altitude can dry the skin, so as well as drinking lots of water, apply a really good moisturiser and lip balm.
- Eat lightly, and limit caffeine and alcohol while onboard so you feel good when you arrive.
- Get up and move around to stretch muscles while onboard. Try to do some simple inflight exercises.
We’ll add one to this. Don’t underestimate the value of compression socks. Whether they provide any protection against deep vein thrombosis or not, they really help minimize uncomfortable swelling in the legs, avoid tired feet, and stop aching leg muscles. It’s all part of feeling fresh on arrival. Take your shoes off when seated too. Just make sure you get the right sock fitting, and consult your doctor if you’re unsure about their use.
Health and skin survival pack
Plane interiors can be gross, and the drier air inside isn’t good for your skin. Packing a small carry-on survival bag with essentials to revitalize and refresh during the flight, or before landing. Like wearing the compression socks, it’s about arriving, looking your best, and feeling great.
- Use a small, see-through zip-up bag so you can take it through security control without repacking.
- Make sure all items are below the 100ml or 3.4-ounce limit.
- For men, we like Clinique products, and regularly take travel-size Maximum Hydrator face wash, Moisturizing Lotion, and Anti-Age Eye Cream.
- Consider a travel toothbrush and toothpaste essential. It’s important to keep the skin hydrated while on long flights. We like Korean skincare products such as Dr. Jart sheet masks or Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb. To give your skin a quick boost, a spritz of SK-II Mid Day Essence Spray should do the trick.
- An anti-bacterial hand wash.
- A deodorant spray is also helpful, or a sample size cologne.
- Your choice of lip balm.
Don’t be a Neanderthal. Pack these, and use them before getting off the plane. Feel like a human for the next stage of travel day.
Why you should upgrade when you can
Yes, upgrading to another class is expensive, but the difference it can make to your journey is remarkable. It’s not about the different food, or the usually unlimited access to drinks. It’s about comfort, better rest, and more space. If you haven’t splashed out for an upgrade in the past, try to do so for your next long-haul flight.
Our flight was a little over 11 hours, which we spent in Club World class on a British Airways Boeing 777. Despite the length of time, we emerged not feeling like we’d had 11 hours on the plane. Forget the figures quoting how much larger the seats are, or angles of recline. All you need to know is it’s like being seated in a great single recliner chair at home. It’s electrically operated and folds almost flat and combined with a foot stall, it turns into a bed, making real sleep a genuine possibility.
Even if you don’t sleep, the rest you get is of a greater standard. You avoid the nightmare of a completely reclined seat in front of you. The screen is larger, there’s more room for your stuff, and it’s considerably easier to work on a laptop if you need to.
British Airways offers discounted business class fares from time-to-time, but if Club World is out of financial reach, the usually reasonably priced World Traveller Plus premium economy upgrade also has more room, and gives you the chance to relax and rest on the flight more so than in economy. On a separate Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 flight from New York to Frankfurt we flew on earlier this year, we upgraded ourselves to premium economy for $200 at time of booking. The difference in service and seating is notable, and worth it for a long, overnight flight.
Watch out though, once you’ve had the pleasure of flying in Club World, or any airline’s equivalent class, you won’t want to go back to regular economy in the future.
That’s it for our tips on how to make your next flight more comfortable, and the best tech to give that journey a luxury feel.
Need more gear tips for long-haul travel? We got you covered.
- After 17 hours, the first nonstop flight from Australia to U.K. touches down
- The 20 best travel apps for vacations and trips
- Less is more: How to pack your gadgets for travel, quickly and easily
- From weird to practical, 18 small travel essentials you’ll actually want to pack
- The best laptop backpack for traveling