Gadgets

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This is the page where we talk about all the special things we carried with us to make the trip easier. While we did not travel especially “light”, we also did not bring many things with us that we did not use.

Electric Cooler - We bought an electric cooler specifically for this trip. Our intention was to eat as many meals in the hotel room or in the car as possible so that we could a) save money, b) save time, and c) keep from gaining weight. 

We bought a Koolatron cooler, model P20. This is a great product, even though it is a bit on the expensive side. We simply did not want to mess with ice and there is no way to refreeze the blue-ice type packages, so we went with electric. We chose this model because it was small and would fit behind the front seat on the floor. We also bought the correspondingAC adapter and used that in hotel rooms that did not have refrigerators.


Travel Power Strip - boy was this a life saver! Although most of the hotel rooms these days tend to have more outlets than they used to, it seems almost impossible to have enough, especially when traveling with computer equipment. We purchased Monster Power’s travel power strip

that enabled us to get four outlets out of one plug-in connector. This device is especially cool because of the way it folds up and takes up almost no space. It is also designed to accommodate four of those awkward “brick” power supplies at once, which is a lifesaver when you are talking about hooking up computer battery chargers and such. We even ended up buying a second one because it is so handy. The last great feature on this little unit is the blue LED that lights when the unit is plugged in. That way you know that the strip is connected and working. On more than one occasion we had bad outlets in the room and it was a quick glance at this LED that told us something was wrong at the wall.


Portable GPS - yes, we needed this, even with Priuscilla’s navigation system. For one thing, we wanted to keep track of altitude and the Prius undoubtedly knows it but chooses not to display it. Anyway, the other main reason we wanted to bring this thing along is so that we could find waypoints while walking or while traveling in another vehicle (like my parents’ car).

We especially needed this capability to locate cemeteries for Jody. Part of Jody’s reason for coming to Colorado was to find graves of some of her relatives. And there was one cemetery that we literally would not have found without taking the GPS out of the car and simply walking to the waypoin, which took us between a couple of houses and onto the overgrown and hidden cemetery grounds. We used a Garmin III Plus, which is several years old and not Mac-compatible. But it does just fine with straight waypoints and displaying the altitude.


FAST AA Battery Charger - yes, I mean fast! We can charge 4 AA batteries in less than 15 minutes with this thing. This is really great for getting the camera batteries, GPS batteries, and the spare set of batteries charged quickly. Even though it takes up more room in the car, it is worth it to be able to keep the batteries revved up for all the use we give them. We use Energizer AA batteries with theEnergizer Rapid Charge battery charger. For about $30, you get the charger and 4 AA rechargeable batteries. We bought ours at Target.


Coolpad for laptops - this is a sweet device, especially for the new macbook pros that get a little warm. 

It is really small and light and acts to raise the laptop about a 1/2 inch off the desktop. The other cool feature it provides is a swivel action that lets you turn the laptop to adjust the angle without sliding it all over the desktop. I’ve seen other models, but this one is light and small and easy to pack. It’s made by Targus and is called the CoolPad. Even if you don’t travel, you might want to invest in one if your laptop gets warm.


Apple Airport Express - a lifesaver when 2 people and 2 laptops are trying to share internet access in a hotel room. I know this cute little router gets a lot of bad press, even from Apple Certified Technicians. But the truth of the matter is that this device is very portable and easy to use once it is configured correctly. And configuring should be done at home before you leave on the trip. 

We have an Airport Express that is configured for use in a hotel room. Whenever we have hard-wired high speed internet access (our preferred method of connection), we simply plug the CATV cable into the Airport Express and then the two of us connect wirelessly to it. This is usually more reliable than using the hotel’s wireless connection, since the wireless router is likely further away. We even used this trick in one room to allow one of our laptop computers to access the Internet from the laundry room.

© Karen Bell 2012