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Upgrade your experience – Top innovations in travel

What would Phileas Fogg make of it? In Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, the main character prompts disbelief when he claims he can travel Around The World in 80 Days. With the help of his faithful servant, he moves from train to hot air balloon and even elephant and, after some confusion with the International Date Line, wins his bet.


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These days, you’re not likely to cross the IDL without knowing about it and you shouldn’t need a servant. However, some recent developments can make your life easier…

The must-have travel app

Apple launched Passbook a year ago, allowing users to store boarding cards, coupons, event tickets and travel tickets, in fact there are now 40 airlines you can use it with. With the ability to even store your coffee shop loyalty card, PassWallet has been developed for Android-device users to import and view Passbook passes.

The free app TripIt is recommended by traveller website departures.com, “Manage all your messy itineraries in one place… Add upcoming trips to your account and store everything from confirmation numbers to meeting locations to dinner reservations. It’s also available online if you misplace your phone.”

The company describes its app as ‘automagical’, saying, “All you have to do is forward an email to get an itinerary. We made it accessible, so you can see all your travel plans in one place, on any device. We made it agnostic, so you can book your travel wherever you please.“

Smart ways to pay


Prepaid travel cards take the stress out of getting your cash. Will Thomas from Tuxedo says that its currency cards are popular with holiday-makers as well as business travellers. “The days are gone of having to change your cash at a kiosk and then carry a wad with you,” he said. “Our cards are very easy to set up yourself and load with the amount you want. Then it’s there, safe and ready to go.”

As the Daily Mail reports, “You could say they are like a 21st Century version of travellers’ cheques. The best pre-paid cards are significantly cheaper to use abroad than the most expensive debit cards. You can’t go overdrawn, so a prepaid card is a good option if you want to keep within a certain budget.”

Backpack that beats the surcharges

The new CabinZero rucksack, £37.99 from Next online or Fenwicks, combines the cabin-size suitcase smartness with the comfort of a backpack. Square, rather than round, it’s easy to store in the overheard locker and, as it weighs less than 800g, it means it’ll be easier to keep within the 10kg weight allowance on board RyanAir and easyJet. The waterproof backpack comes with an OKOBAN Global Luggage Tracker built into it. Register your bag’s unique tracker reference online and so your bag can be returned easily if it does go astray.

Spare One mobile phone

Having a back-up ‘dumb phone’ is a trick used by many a traveller but Spare One goes a bit further. As the Spare One people say, their mobile is, “The world’s only emergency mobile phone powered by a single AA Battery.” The device won the Innovations Award at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Association convention in Las Vegas. With just one battery, it will last for up to 15 years, has a built-in flashlight, panic button and a dedicated emergency services dial button for wherever you are in the world, just make sure you’ve plugged in a local sim card.

As Gizmag says, “If you stored the handset in a glove box with a pack of batteries, you could be chatting for weeks in an emergency situation long after your smartphone loses its juice.”

Speed up translation

Apple founder Steve Jobs was a big fan of author Douglas Adams, who dreamed up the Babelfish, which excreted translations into people’s ears. It’s nice to think the late great men would have appreciated the Vocre app that translates anything you say, with no imagination or fish poo required. Set the language you want to translate from including everything from Afrikans to Vietmanese, then set the language you want to translate to. Say the phrase you wish to translate into your mic, turn your device on and the translation will be broadcast. The service is free to download but you do need to purchase credits.

Recharge your batteries, then party

The POWERplus® Jaguar is a nifty multipurpose tool for the savvy traveller. For £34.99 from ecogreenstore.co.uk you can charge your phone from the built in Lithium battery which can be charged in advance from any USB or via the solar panel on the front of the unit. There is a battery power indicator too, plus it has a three watt external speaker for when you want to unwind with some music. It’s got a robust, neat little carry case that can be clipped to your belt or backpack, keep your phone safe and access it quickly with the retaining strap inside. Phileas Fogg was said to be ‘always ready.’ And you can be too, with these nifty innovations on your travels.

Journalist and travel writer Sarah Thompson lives in London but loves to explore the UK and beyond whenever she gets the chance.