Being stuck at an airport for any length of time is never an entertaining experience – and when winter weather forces you to spend more than a day inside the terminal building, things get really boring. There are only so many ways you can keep yourself busy with CNN Airport edition and a stale bagel.
Thankfully, technology can once again come to the rescue – we’ve collected ten gadgets and accessories that can help make the experience of being stranded a little less horrible. None of them can magically make flights appear and delays vanish, but every hour you can spend doing something fun is one hour closer to getting the heck out of the airport.Monster Outlets To Go
If you have ever spent any time at the airport, you’ll know that there is usually just one outlet for the entire terminal building. Do yourself (and your fellow strandees) a favor, and travel with a compact power strip. The Monster Outlets To Go Laptop is the perfect solution for this – it features a built in surge protector, folding prongs, 2 USB charger ports, and packs away nice and compact.
Product page: Monster Outlets To Go
This is a pretty broad recommendation, but a smartphone can mean the difference between reading the terminal monitors for two days, or actually having something to do. A decent phone can also help pick alternative flights, book hotels, and look up phone numbers of a cab service.
Price: from free (on contract)
That shiny new smartphone won’t be much use when it runs out of power. And since most phones have trouble making it past a day, you will eventually run out of power. You can of course travel with your phone charger, but chances are outlets will be rare, all occupied or worse.
Battery packs come in a variety of sizes – some are powerful enough to charge a laptop, others can only power a small device. Prices start around $15 for an iPhone battery, up to $200 for a powerful laptop pack.
Not battery operated, and completely without any lights, buttons or touchscreens – You Bars are custom made energy bars and trail mix that are designed by you. Pick all the ingredients you want, and this company will create your very own bar. Prices are obviously higher than store bought bars. but you’ll never run into another lousy bar again (unless you pick ingredients you don’t care for!).
Product page: Youbars.com
Price: from $32/box
When an airport terminal is full of stranded passengers, chances are your 3G mobile phone speeds will grind to a halt. Thankfully, most decent airports offer Wi-Fi, and one of the most affordable ways to get on that Wi-Fi is with Boingo. With plans starting at $7.95, Boingo Wi-Fi covers thousands of airports, hotels, restaurants and more.
Product page: Boingo
Price: from $7.95/month
Netflix streaming movies
Before leaving, make sure to fill your iPod, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry or other device with a good assortment of entertainment. If you are lucky enough to be stuck at an airport with Wi-Fi, get online and use Netflix to stream movies to your laptop or mobile device. With a massive assortment of decent movies, Netflix has what it takes to get through a whole day at the airport (and I speak from experience here).
Product page: Netflix
Price: from $7.95/month (streaming only)
Headphones + splitters
Keeping a pair of cheap headphones in your ears for a day is going to hurt – so consider a decent pair of on-ear headphones, and if needed, carry a splitter so you can share a movie with your travel partner. If the terminal is full of crying kids (or grown ups), you’ll appreciate a pair of noise canceling headphones. If your budget allows for it, we recommend the new Denon AH-NC800.
Product page: Denon AH-NC800
Price: $349.99 (MSRP)
If you think it is hard entertaining an adult when stranded at the airport, then you’ve never tried entertaining a toddler. With an attention span of just over 2 minutes, keeping kids entertained on the road is a real challenge – but a challenge that can be conquered with technology.
Sure, in the old days, we had to settle for a coloring book, but unless it beeps, kids are just not interested in it nowadays. The iPod touch is a great option – it serves parents and kids, can be loaded with free and cheap games, and it does movies and videos. For a sturdier option designed for pre-K and K kids, consider the Leapfrog Leapster Explorer.
Product page: Leap Frog Leapster Explorer
While the rest of the terminal tries to get comfortable on the most uncomfortable seats in the world, you could be resting peacefully with your inflatable pillow and blanket. The Lugsac was picked as one of the best travel products of 2009, and is an innovative blanket/pillow in a single product.
Product page: www.lugtravel.com
Price: $28 (NAPSAC) $30 (SNUZSAC)
Combo laptop charger + USB
If you travel with the usual assortment of gadgets, you’ll most likely have a laptop and at least one mobile phone. Instead of dragging along several chargers, consider a single laptop charger with USB charger port.
Product page: Kensington Laptop Chargers
Price: from $49.99