Holiday technology checklist

An expert guide

Wondering which devices to take away on holiday? Read our expert tips from technology specialist David Phelan.

Taking the right technology on holiday can help you make the most of your break. And planning in advance could save you money – and space in your suitcase.

So, if you’re planning a trip away, read these expert tips on the best gadgets and apps to take with you, from technology specialist David Phelan.

Gadgets to consider

Smart suitcases

Some of the latest suitcases and backpacks come with a variety of adaptions to keep your gadgets charged and safe.

David says: “Suitcases now have built-in Bluetooth sensors, which can automatically lock when you’re more than a few feet away. Some cases also come with GPS, so you can locate your bag, and built-in scales to make sure it is under the required weight. This "Smart" luggage doesn’t come cheap, though. About £350 will snag you a wheelie case with plenty of technology.”

A 10,000 mAh battery, seen in some Smart suitcases on the market, is enough to charge most new phones about 5 times. However, it’s important to know that many airlines don’t let you check batteries into the hold so it’s better if it’s removable.
Alternatively, "consider upgrading your suitcase with a Smart luggage lock", says David.

“Bluetooth padlocks have been around a little while, and cost about £50", he adds. "It means you don’t have to remember a combination code because the lock senses when your mobile is nearby and unlocks automatically, or when you tell it to.”


The right kind of camera for your trip will depend on the type of holiday you have planned.

“If you’re skiing, cycling or surfing, those tiny, waterproof action video cameras that attach to your helmet or surfboard are the perfect way to record your adventures,” says David.

Action video cameras can cost as little as £35, but the quality isn’t likely to be as good as premium models. The highest quality recording resolution is 4K, also known as Ultra HD.

“However, it comes with a heftier price tag. For the best models, you should expect to be paying more than £300,” David says.

“If you’re going on safari, a high-end digital SLR camera with a long zoom and responsive shutter is ideal,” he adds. “For everything in between, your smartphone camera is king, and makes uploading to social media a cinch.”

“A high-end digital SLR camera, or D-SLR, can start at around £350, going up to £1,000 or more if you opt for a market-leader model,” David says. “One of the key elements to consider is the type of the sensor, which captures light and converts what you see through a viewfinder or LCD monitor. APS-C or Full Frame sensors are the most potent, and can give you larger images of a better quality. To get the best photographs, choosing the right sensor can be more important than the pixel count of a camera", says David.

Additional areas to consider are whether you need a memory card (16GB for stills or 32GB for video), if the D-SLR has video capabilities and whether it can connect to Wi-Fi which can help with uploading your images to social media via the camera manufacturer’s app.

Noise-cancelling headphones

“Having your music or, the latest podcast, with you can be a good way to relax – and there are several headphone options to choose from,” says David.

“It’s worth considering active noise-cancelling headphones,” he adds. “These can help to tune out engine noise on plane journeys and, while there’s a variety on the market, it’s best to go for quality. Expect to pay at least £100 – some of the latest models are priced at around £300.”

Look for the words ‘active noise-cancellation’, which involves technology to block sounds out, compared to ‘passive’ which simply means the headphone shape and layers of foam helps to mute sounds. However, active noise-cancelling headphones generally require batteries, so you’ll have to buy spares or have a battery pack to keep them charged on the go.

Specifications of headphones, including frequency response, harmonic distortion and noise-cancelling ability, can be tricky to compare. Instead, read a number of reviews and make sure you try the headphones on before you buy, suggests David.


Smartphones are now such a staple to take on holiday, but there are a number of gadgets which can help you avoid roaming charges and network costs.

One is a new wave of technology which operates as a “walkie-talkie” add-on for your mobile. These devices use Bluetooth and VHF radio signal so you can communicate, send messages, navigate with GPS and share your location – all without a mobile network.

“The two-way radios are pocket-sized and can reach a 2-mile range,” David says. 

“These gadgets mean you can use your phone in a number of ways, all without a mobile network. They generally cost less than £100, but remember that you’ll need 2 to communicate effectively.”

Apps to help your trip go smoothly

“There are plenty of apps that can help you with everything, from planning your trip to getting around,” says David. 

“First on the list are packing apps. TripList stands out because of its neat styling and the fact that it can integrate weather predictions to help you decide on the best clothes to take.”

“Once you’re abroad, Citymapper is brilliant and will guide you around a selection of cities on public transport with great precision – even telling you which carriage on the subway to choose,” says David. “It’s free, and it needs a data connection for many of its services, but you can still access some of its features, like transport maps, offline.”

“Mapping apps – such as Google Maps and HERE WeGo – are handy and can work as well as a dedicated satnav offline,” says David.

And if you’re out for a meal, there are several apps that can help.

“With Google Translate, you can use the camera to photograph a menu and it’ll translate it before your eyes,” explains David. “OpenTable is one of many apps to help you find restaurants, not to mention book a table and read reviews.”

“And when it comes to paying for your meal, there are apps which can help,” he concludes. “My favourite is Turbo Tip Calculator, a free app which lets you divide the bill as you like, converts currencies so you know exactly how much it’s costing and even has a guide to what percentage you should tip in lots of countries.”

Money tips for your trip

A range of technology is tailored to help you manage your money – and keep it safe – on holiday.

If you bank with us, Barclays Mobile Banking can also help you keep track of your account balance, report your card if it’s lost or stolen or call us directly if you have any issues.1

And it’s important to think about insurance – for your travelling plans but also your gadgets. “Making sure you’ve got a good travel insurance policy in place is essential,” says David.

If you have travel insurance with your Barclays account you can download the Travel Plan-it App, which includes a trip planner, contact details for the claims line, and a handy packing list.

Alternatively, if you hold the Barclays Travel Plus Pack, you also have access to the Barclays Traveller App, which gives you 6 free visits to airport lounges and other exclusive offers. The Pack is available to current account holders and includes worldwide travel insurance, as well as UK and European home and roadside assistance with RAC comprehensive breakdown cover.

Barclays Tech Pack is also available to current account holders and provides mobile phone and gadget insurance at home and abroad. Find out more about Barclays Travel Pack here, and find out more about our Tech Pack here.

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