Dec. 19, 2012 at 11:29 AM ET
Travelers are like those proverbial snowflakes — no two are alike. Some like to fly, some like to drive and some just want to put on their headphones and be left alone.
Perhaps that explains why the makers of travel gear and gadgets have been working overtime to roll out new products. There’s nothing that’s really revolutionary this year; instead, manufacturers appear to be updating existing technologies to make products that are smaller, more efficient or better suited for a diverse audience.
If you’re still looking for that special something for the avid traveler on your Christmas list, one or more of the following should make for a happy holiday:
For the power-hungry traveler
Power-hungry apps, video streaming and settings that result in a steady stream of updates and notifications — is it any wonder that most devices don’t last a day anymore?
For those with multiple devices, the Mojo Battstation Tough Dual Pro features two USB ports, a rugged rubberized case to prevent damage and even an LED flashlight for late-night use. Available in 7200mAh and slightly more powerful 8400mAh versions ($30–$40), they’ll recharge a phone and a tablet at the same time.
For the tangle-prone traveler
If you've ever been frustrated by tangled headphone wires — really, who hasn't? — the new OT-ADAPT ($40) from Outdoor Technology may ease your pain by turning any headphones or headset with a standard 3.5 mm jack into a Bluetooth device.
Once you plug the jack into the device, you can leave your music player in your pocket or backpack, clip the ADAPT to your shirt or pocket and control volume and playlists via the device’s Nano-like buttons.
For the road warrior
Even as states pass all-inclusive texting-while-driving bans, the future may look more like California, where a new law allowing hands-free texting goes into effect Jan. 1.
The new Commute Car Kit from BlueAnt Wireless ($100) syncs with Siri and Google Voice so owners of newer iPhones (4S and 5) and select Android handsets can use simple voice commands, rather than their hands, to dictate, send and listen to text-based communications, as well as to make and receive phone calls.
For little travelers
Worried about letting the little ones play with your $600 tablet?
Get them their own with the FunTab, a 7” Android tablet from Ematic ($119). Featuring a rubberized frame for easy gripping, it comes preloaded with educational content from Zoodles.com; popular games, including Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, and a parental-control dashboard that allows Mom or Dad to create customized lists of approved websites and monitor their child’s activity from another computer.
For the frequent flier
Noise-canceling headphones may be the best thing to hit air travel since the jet engine. But for light packers, the standard over-the-ear models are just too bulky.
Enter the PS 210 BTNC “half-in-ear” earphones from Phiaton Corp. ($129). Like their predecessors, these ‘buds neutralize up to 95 percent of ambient noise, feature inline music controls and Everplay-X technology, which means you can still listen to your music if the unit’s built-in, rechargable battery dies.
The PS 210 BTNC also features Bluetooth technology, which is great for walking around the terminal but, alas, still a no-no once the airplane door closes.
For the athletic traveler
Between busy schedules, strange beds and restaurant food, travel can be hazardous to your health — or at least your health and fitness routines.
Enter the larklife wristband, an iPhone-compatible unit ($150 in the Apple Store) that will not only monitor your exercise, sleep patterns and calories consumed and burned but also provide gentle reminders to move when you've been stationary for long periods, rehydrate after exercise or eat some protein after sleeping poorly.
For the traveler who wants it all
Or at least carry it all.
The latest offering from the multi-pocket magicians at Scottevest is the SeV Fleece 7.0 Jacket ($160), which features 23 pockets that will hold everything from travel papers to an iPad. Add in removable sleeves — yes, there’s a pocket for them — and a “Clear Touch” pocket that lets you use your smartphone without removing it and, suddenly, looking for space in the overhead bin is no longer an issue.
It won’t do anything about full planes and flight delays, but avoiding the battle for the bin may bring a little bit of joy this holiday season.
Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.