12 travel gadgets to make the most of your end-of-summer jaunts

With Labor Day and the start of a new school year just around the corner, you and millions of others are probably squeezing in one last trip before summer is over. While you’re supposed to disconnect on vacations, we know geeks can’t leave the tech at home. Whether you’re traveling by air or car, here are a few of our must-pack gadgets to bring along.

Olympus Air A01 smartphone camera ($500)

Olympus Air A01 smartphone camera (0)

No matter how great your smartphone is, vacations require a quality camera. But what to do when you want to pack light? The Air from Olympus is a great solution. It’s essentially a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, but minus the baggage. This small camera pairs any Micro Four Thirds lens with an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, which you use for live view, settings adjustments, and remote operation (the Air can also work independently, like an action cam). It delivers improved image quality over a smartphone camera, yet it’s compact enough to fit into the smallest carry-on. Pair it with a 14-42mm pancake lens for travel, but attach premium glass when you want to do serious photography. Read more here.

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Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones ($250)

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones (0)

Airplane cabin noise is not only distracting when you’re trying to watch a movie, listen to tunes, or catch some Z’s, but researchers found it can also affect your appetite. Noise-canceling headphones can help counter the effects of engine noise, and make the flight more pleasant. Bose’s QC20 is a terrific, Digital Trends-recommended noise cancelling in-ear headphones that are comfortable to wear (great for long-haul flights), are easy to stash, and deliver clear sound. The noise cancelling can be turned off when not needed. The QC20 isn’t cheap and we know there are less expensive options (like the Sphear from Focal), but Bose has experience in making aviation headsets, and the company knows how to make a great pair of headphones. Read our full review here.

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Kobo Aura H2O waterproof eReader ($180)

Kobo Aura H2O waterproof eReader (0)

Summer vacations are the best times to finally catch up on those tomes you’ve been meaning to read. The waterproof Kobo Aura H2O is designed for reading on the beach, by the pool, or even in your bathtub. This Digital Trends Editors’ Choice product has a bright screen and ergonomic design, giving us one of the most pleasurable reading experiences we’ve had from an ebook reader. It also has great battery life: You can use it for the duration of trip without recharging. And unlike Amazon’s Kindle, the Aura H2O supports a wide variety of ebook formats, giving you more options in where you purchase ebooks. Read our full review here.

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Braven BRV-PRO Bluetooth speaker ($150)

Braven BRV-PRO bluetooth speaker (0)

The BRV-Pro from Braven is a jack-of-all-trades portable Bluetooth speaker. It’s rugged (dust, water, and shock resistant), delivers great sound, and has a built-in power bank and speakerphone. But what’s unique is the modular design that lets you attach additional accessories ($15 to $50), like a battery pack, LED light, solar panel for eco charging, and a “stack plate” for attaching multiple BRV-Pros. Our favorite accessory: An action mount that lets you attach the speaker onto most GoPro mounts. Watch our video review here.

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Amazon AT&T Braven

Polaroid PD-G55H HD dashcam with GPS ($102)

Polaroid PD-G55H HD dashcam with GPS (2)

In-car dash cams have become popular lately. Drivers use them to record what’s on the road, in case of an accident or other emergency (footage could also be used if you need to fight an unwarranted traffic ticket). The PD-G55H is the latest from Polaroid. It shoots Full HD 1080 video at 30 frames per second, and is powered via the cigarette lighter or its internal battery. It automatically turns on when you start your car, while a 2.5-inch display lets you frame the shot and play back content. GPS records location info, and there are safety features like lane-departure and speed warnings. While dash cams are not meant for use as regular cameras, you are recording scenery (or turn it around and record your kids’ antics that go on in the backseat), so you could incorporate the footage into a family-vacation video.

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Amazon Walmart

Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro portable multifunction device ($80)

Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro portable bluetooth speaker ()

When you’re hiking or on a bike ride, you don’t want cumbersome tech to slow you down. The Buckshot Pro is a multitasking device that’s a flashlight, portable Bluetooth speaker, and backup battery that lets you recharge your smartphone or GoPro camera. The unit is completely rugged (shock and water resistant), and comes with a mount for attaching it to your bike’s handlebar. In case of an emergency, the flashlight can function as a distress call signal. Read more here.

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Amazon REI Backcountry L.L.Bean Bespoke Post

Tumi USB travel plug adaptor ($75)

Tumi USB travel plug adaptor

Going abroad? You’ll most likely need an adapter. What we like about this one from Tumi is the USB port for charging mobile devices and cameras. This help you cut down on the number of power adapters you need to bring along, and make more room in your bag for souvenirs.

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Motrr Galileo iPhone & GoPro mount ($142) or GoPole Scenelapse 360° GoPro mount ($35)

If you’re going somewhere awesomely scene this summer, don’t photograph in 2D –create a 360-degree panorama video. The Scenelapse from GoPole is a gadget that automatically rotates your GoPro Hero camera for 60 minutes to create a time-lapse video (use the GoPro’s built-in time-lapse mode and set the interval). For iPhone users, the Galileo from Motrr offers the same function (and more); an adapter for GoPro is available. Read our full review of the Galileo here.

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Brookstone Best Buy

Kenu Highline iPhone protective case system ($30)

Kenu Highline iPhone protective case system

The Highline is a simple concept, yet the function is genius. It’s essentially an iPhone 6 case with a cord and loop that you attach onto a zipper, carabiner, or something secure. This helps to prevent your phone from being pickpocketed or becoming lost.

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ThinkGeek Flux Capacitor USB car charger ($40)

ThinkGeek Flux Capacitor USB car charger

You won’t travel through time if you hit 88 miles per hour with this USB car charger from ThinkGeek. But it looks cool. Enough said.

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Kenu Airframe smartphone car mount ($24)

Kenu Airframe smartphone car mount

The Airframe is another basic yet super useful iPhone accessory. The car cradle is small and lightweight, but lets you quickly mount your phone onto any air vent – handy when using a maps app, especially in a rental car. We’ve been using the Airframe for a few months, and it’s one of the best iPhone car mounts we’ve used.

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