Portable Travel Buddies You Can’t Live Without

I have things I usually bring with me that I can’t live without. I’ve been a fan of new technologies, and everything is constantly improving. The scientists invent these gadgets to make our lives so much easier. They make everything in smaller package but with all the necessary features that a person might need. It all depends on every individual needs.

Now we can even fit everything in a bag – from a telephone to a mobile phone, a radio to an mp3 player, and analog camera into digital camera. I, myself can’t live without certain things in my bag. I always see to it that I have everything available when I need it. Here are some of the gadgets I always have with me. I call them my “travel buddies”.

Ø Credit Card and ATM Card

I find that bringing ATM and Credit cards much safer than bringing a big amount of money with you. Credit card is very convenient to use and it is very accessible when ever we need it. You can use your major credit cards to shop anywhere in the world. It also provides an easier way to track your expenses.

Ø Cellular Phone

I just bought this amazing phone, the Sony Ericsson K850i cyber shot; it is a true digital still camera with a 5-mega pixel power. What amazes me most about this phone is the automatic lens cover, with auto-focus so you don’t have to worry about the sharpness of the picture, and it also has xenon flash for poor lighting conditions. You can even print the pictures directly from the phone, no need to transfer it to your computer. I just plug it in any printer and pick the picture to be printed and BOOM!, I have my picture printed. You can even have a quick and easy access to the internet. With my new phone I am able to do video calls, audio and video streaming, internet surfing, and email on the go, who could even ask for more? I don’t even have to bring my laptop with me, making my life much easier.

Also watch out for these phones, Sony Ericsson C702, Samsung Soul U900, Nokia N96, Giga-byte MS820, and Android OS SDK. Let me give you a bit of information about these phones. Maybe one of these phones would be compatible to you.

o Sony Ericsson C702

This phone has face focus function. The C702 will automatically detect and focus on the face when the view finder detects it. With this feature, you don’t have to worry that you not being in the picture. It also has a built-in A-GPS which guides you to your destination. It actually leads you to where ever you want to go. Hmm, maybe I should get one too, so I won’t get lost when I travel. Instead of asking around where to find a certain place, I’ll be able to track it myself – pretty clever!

o Samsung Soul U900

Same as Sony Ericsson C702, this 5 mega-pixel camera phone also has a face detection function. You can enjoy super-fast internet access with its 7.2 Mbps High Speed Downlink Packet Access browser. This phone is perfect for people who love to listen to music because of its music library navigation feature and a digital power amplifier. The digital power amplifier actually uses special switching circuits that will minimize the voltage that is dropped in the output semiconductor devices, giving you a higher efficiency.

o Nokia N96

This Nokia phone has a built in DVB-H receiver for digital TV signals in Europe and Asia, and a kickstand for desktop viewing. It is truly an optimized TV and video phone.

o Giga-byte MS820

It is a 3.5G smartphone at 3GSM, and it has a TV and a GPS feature. The motion-sensing G-sensor and UI feature manages the phone’s activity which is based on your activity.

Ø Digital Camera

Not that I don’t enjoy the camera feature on my phone but of course to take a better picture, one has to own a digital camera. Since I travel a lot, I take lots of pictures as souvenirs. I have the newest edition of Casio’s EXILIM, the EX-V7, which is best for travelers like me. Because it is very slim and exceptionally portable, has a very powerful zoom lens and it’s also great looking too. With those features, it’s so easy for me take quality pictures anywhere without any hassle. This 7 mega-pixel digital camera has the four blur reduction technology of Casio that mechanically compensates for any camera shake. Then automatically analyzes the velocity and vector of a moving object setting the appropriate ISO sensitivity and a faster shutter speed. What actually eliminates the blur is the electronic camera shake compensation function. These features are actually great for me since I like to capture beautiful scenery even when I am in a moving vehicle.

Ø Play Station Portable

The newest version of PSP was made to be slimmer and lighter making it much easier to bring. You can have access to your games anywhere you are, as well as an internet browser, and you can also store videos.

The fact that I love video games, PSP gives me the option of getting to bring my favorite games while I’m on the go. And since I get bored easily, if I’m not listening to music, I’m most certainly playing my game.

Ø iPod

This was actually designed for music lovers like me at first. Then after awhile many variations of iPod came out. There is the iPod classic, the high-end touch screen iPod touch, iPod Nano, the screenless iPod shuffle, and the iPod mini.

I personally have the 32-gig iPod touch; I preferred this one because of its great features. It is Wi-fi capable with Safari and Apple browsers. This is the first iPod generation to have wireless access to iTunes Store. It can even detect the last 10 songs that were played in Starbucks café within the vicinity. Pretty cool!

Since I am a music lover and all, it is great for me. I don’t just get to listen to my favorite songs; I can also watch movies and catch up on my favorite TV shows. With my iPod Touch, I need not worry.

How about you? What are the travel buddies you can’t live without?

Libya – A Total Eclipse – An Intergenerational Travel Adventure

With Libya in the news again I’ve been thinking about my trip there in 2006 and how my experience was enhanced by the kindness of ordinary people. Maybe I got special treatment — my travel buddy was my 9-year-old grandson and I’ll go on record to say that there could not be a better duo! A grandma and a cute kid will open doors the world over.

I’m a solar observer and the golden grail is a total solar eclipse. The eclipse of March 29th 2006 path of Totality covered a swath of the North Africa, and Libya was forecast to get around four minutes of totality. Hog heaven.

I signed up for an eclipse tour sponsored by Sky and Telescope Magazine but when I saw the singles supplement cost I had second thoughts; in casual after dinner talk with my daughter and son-in-law I broached the possibility of taking Ben. Their response was a heartening “we trust you and what an awesome experience for him”. It was an awesome experience for both of us.

Ben and I flew out Tucson to Heathrow via BA (direct overnight flight) and despite ample time to make our connecting flight to Milan, horrendous lines at Terminal 4 security meant we missed the connection and did not arrive in Milan until 10 p.m. Six weeks ago, another negative experience at Heathrow served to reaffirm my resolve to avoid Heathrow if at all possible. A hair-raising taxi ride to our hotel — our driver seemed intent on overtaking anything that moved. Always ask an Italian taxi driver to show you his tariff card prior to getting in the cab and avoid surprises at the end of the ride. Set routes such as airports to hotels have a government approved and enforced tariff.

I’d promised Ben that his first night in Italy he could eat pasta and gelato! He held me to that so midnight found us sitting at sidewalk cafe, the Duomo in clear view and this child chowing down on a massive plate of pasta and sausage. He took his gelato to go and we strolled the Duomo Plaza much like seasoned Italians. What fun.

We had to get to Genoa by 4:00p.m. where we were to meet up with our group and the Italian Cruise ship. A quick Internet search in the hotel lobby and I figured the 2:00p.m train would be perfect timing. Italian trains can be a great bargain. Think of all the possible discounts (group, mid day travel) and ask! For Ben and I it was a senior fare and a child fare. Not offered at the ticket window but once I asked, no problem and the discount was around 35% over regular fare. We spent the morning in Milan visiting the Ferrari shop — kid friendly and what boy hasn’t heard of a Ferrari. The salesman was taken by Ben’s enthusiasm and gave him a baseball cap with the Ferrari logo – I didn’t even get a sales pitch. We took the elevator to the roof of the Duomo – he loved it, I hate heights! The views from the rooftops out over Milan were worth conquering my fear for. And of course there was more gelato to sample when we got down.

The train station was replete with it’s own traps. Beware of strangers who approach you, ask if you need help. Tell this seemingly kind stranger what train you are looking for and he’ll grab your suitcase, urge you to run because the train is leaving and then hold your luggage up for ransom when you board the train. I described this experience later to others and found I was not alone. I stood my ground with one of these unauthorized porters and refused the 10 Euros he demanded. The man was increasingly aggressive, blocking my way and refusing to give me the suitcase. My Italian is limited but the few phrases I used calling for help attracted the attention of a policeman and as he approached, the “kind man” took off. As Ben put it, “wrong grandma to pick a fight with”. I’m not so sure, I think without the police intervention I may well have lost my bag. No such thing as trolleys and Skycaps at Italian train stations and there are always steps. Travel light is the order of the day.

Our first port was Naples and we visited Pompeii — what fun for a child. Stray cats and ash entombed mummies were a hit. It was a bit of a zoo — hoards of tour groups shuffling after guides. We broke ranks and used our own guide book to visit areas that I thought would be of greater interest to Ben and it got us out of the shuffle-along line. Naturally the tour ended with a gelato for him courtesy of a charming, older man who complimented me on my “beautiful child”. A little bit of flattery warms a grandma’s heart but I did decline his offer of a tour of Naples!

Next stop was Sicily and we took a bus to Taormina to visit the Roman amphitheater. Spectacular. And then the excitement built during two days at sea. Our liner was one of the first tour ships in some time to dock in Tobruk and we watched with great delight the exchange of bouquets between our portly captain and welcoming dignitaries. Prior to the trip, there had been a lack of clarity about visas and cost involved but on the day that we were to embark for the eclipse site, the Libyan authorities waived surcharges and without exception treated us as treasured guests. We went by bus about two hours into the desert to the eclipse site and found a tent city in place. Vendors of food and drink, bands, boy scout groups performing traditional dances, drummers and of course camels. It was a joyful and colorful scene.

Silence and a stilling of the air enveloped the camp as first contact with the Sun approached, followed by murmurs of delight as the cloudless sky afforded flawless views of the encroaching moon shadow, and then a universal gasp followed by a hush as Totality descended. It was an eerie, rippling light that engulfed us; the temperature drop during Totality was significant; the Shadow Bands were prolonged and obvious on the flat sand. I heard Ben’s voice shouting “diamond ring, see the diamond ring”. As the shadow moved off and the sun reappeared excitement took over and “Awesome” “Amazing” rang out in many languages. It was my first total eclipse that hadn’t been obscured by cloud. I turned to see Ben being interviewed by a Libyan TV crew. He told them that his grandma had made all the gold colored telescopes. They turned and looked at me in my wrinkled linen and obviously thought the child was delusional because they made no effort to interview me! Once again I was playing second fiddle to my grandson. I was told, confess to not seeing this, that most of the Libyans at the camp averted their eyes and knelt in prayer as we approached Totality, that there is a long tradition in the Muslim faith of praying during an eclipse.

iPod Shuffle Accessories – A New “Shuffling” Sound

The iPod Shuffle is one of the favourite companions of most people while they are cooking, working out, travelling, or are just plain bored. The tiny thing can be hidden anywhere, and you don’t even need to have wires gangling down your chest – you can use the Bluetooth head sets. But often there might have been times, when your friends unexpectedly turned up, or your date became so romantic that you would like to dance slowly with your beloved – and the moment gets destroyed when you realise that your speakers are not there in that place, or are not working. Even in school or at college, often during dance functions, most of them flop because of bad sound. Please who own speakers find them too cumbersome to drag them all the way, and the programme ends up on the mercy of a microphone held in front of a simple audio cassette player, or the weak speakers stolen from the office.

iPod shuffle accessories come to the rescue here. Among the many fascinating iPod shuffle accessories are the amazing Apple iPod Shuffle speakers. They are tiny, foldable and thus comfortably portable. They produce an amazing sound – both in volume and in quality, which leaves the listeners amazed that such a tiny thing can be so loud. They also come in various colours – including pink. So girls, you need not rely on guys pretending to be superheroes with their gadgets anymore – these pieces can be yours, and for you! The output is superb, and when folded properly, each would be the size of a little piece of toast, that you can easily put in your purse or in your pockets. They can be carried around anywhere, and are a certain must-have for those who love weekend getaways, and love to party in style. You can freak out at a beach or at a picnic spot and turn it into a great success with the help of these speakers.

iPod shuffle accessories are extremely reasonable and affordable to all. They don’t cost much, and are definitely more worthy than their weight in gold! They can be your best companions, and help your iPod become the DJ to any surprise party or gathering.