TwelveSouth AirFly SE

WiFi HiFi Holiday Gift Guide 2023: Gifts for Travelers

There are plenty of great tech gifts a frequent traveler probably didn’t even realize they needed or wanted. You can find a wide selection of options in our comprehensive tech travel guide. But here, we have highlighted a few particularly great ones.

TwelveSouth AirFly SE Wireless Adapter

TwelveSouth AirFly SE

With the TwelveSouth AirFly SE wireless adapter, which sells for US$35, you can use wireless headphones or earbuds with sources that only have an earphone jack, like an in-flight entertainment system or treadmill. Available in black or white, it offers up to 20+ hours battery life, with a battery indicator that advises when it’s time to recharge. The AirFly SE even has volume controls for adjusting the sound level and muting. It comes with a USB-C to USB-A charging cable.

Solos AirGo 3 Smart Glasses

Solos AirGo3

Travelers will love the convenience of the Solos AirGo 3 smart glasses, which offer conversational AI through ChatGPT, come with Smart Hinge technology for interchangeable frame styles, and work with prescription lenses. Access the built-in voice assistant, listen to music, and even enjoy guided fitness exercises and tracking. While traveling, ask questions about landmarks or areas, and even use live language translation. The best part? You can hear it all without buds plugging up your ears. Patented Whisper Technology offers superior speech recognition that removes ambient noise for the best sound quality even in the noisiest environments. The dual-direction speakers with an open-ear design allow for situational awareness when on the go to prioritize safety.  The glasses also support an IP67 waterproof level, making them safe to wear in the rain and provide 10 hours of music or seven hours of call time on one charge, lasting all day. They come in Argon (US$249-US$299), Xeon (US$199), and Helium (US$199) styles for sports, the sun, or daily wear, and offered in a variety of colours. SolosChat, SolosTranslate, and Solos Fitness Coach are available with an upgraded Premium Subscription for US$10/mo. includes enhanced text-to-speech services for more natural language AI, standalone use of the SolosChat without the glasses, enhanced AI performance, and more. All purchases made in 2023 will include three months of the premium subscription for free. Stay tuned for my review.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Smartphone

Google Pixel 8 Pro

If you want to get fabulous photos while on vacation and only want to use a smartphone, the Google Pixel 8 Pro is a solid option. Powered by the Google Tensor G3 and offering an impressive up to seven years of software updates including Android OS, security, and Feature Drops. It has a 6.7-inch Super Actua display and temperature sensor on the back that lets you quickly scan an object to get its temperature. The Pixel 8 Pro’s main camera can capture better photos and videos in low-light settings. The bigger ultrawide lens delivers better Macro Focus while the telephoto lens captures 56% more light and takes 10x photos at optical quality. The front-facing camera now has auto-focus for the best selfies on a Pixel phone. There are Pro Controls for settings like shutter speed, ISO, 50 MP photos throughout the zoom range, and more. The Best Take uses an on-device algorithm to blend multiple images together that look similar so you can get the best photo of a set. No one’s eyes will be closed in a group shot, for example, or the silly face your kid was making won’t ruin the once-in-a-lifetime vacation photo. Magic Editor in Google Photos is a new experimental editing experience that uses generative AI to help you bring your photos in line with the essence of the moment you were trying to capture. You can reposition and resize subjects or use presets to make the background pop with a few taps. There’s also now Audio Magic Eraser that lets you easily reduce distracting sounds in your video, like howling winds, cars zooming by, or noisy crowds. This first-of-its-kind computational audio capability uses advanced machine learning models to sort sounds into distinct layers so you can control their levels. Later this year, Pixel 8 Pro will get Video Boost, which pairs Tensor G3 with data centers to apply processing to your videos to adjust colour, lighting, stabilization and graininess. Video Boost also enables Night Sight Video on Pixel for better low-light smartphone video quality. AI technology affords other useful features for travelers, like translating text from web pages. The Pixel 8 Pro starts at $1,349.

STM Goods BagPack Collapsible Backpack

STM BagPack

The STM Goods BagPack is a collapsible backpack with airbag protection that’s ideal for travelers. The inflatable backpack has airbag protection and stuffs neatly into its own front pocket for compact storage. Made of ruggedly durable yet feather-light 210D nylon, it can securely hold a full load of cargo with lightweight carry. The inflatable TPU bladder provides protection for a laptop, structural support for the bag, and back cushioning. Its lightweight fabric and contoured shoulder straps ensure a comfortable carry and enables quick compression for added convenience. The easy grab zipper pulls make it easy to quickly access the various pockets and compartments. The BagPack fits up to 16” laptops and is available in two different colours. Get it for US$80.

Nextbase iQ Smart Connected Dash Cam

Nextbase iQ

Set the Nextbase iQ smart connected dash cam in the car before heading out on a road trip to keep a recording of your drive and any pertinent incidents. It uses both AI and 4G ioT connectivity for real-time access through the iQ app. The idea is to help car owners anticipate, prevent, and defend against incidents both on the road and while parked. Available exclusively through Best Buy starting at $700, it offers up to 4K resolution and a built-in interior cabin camera with infrared. Add the optional third rear window mounted POV camera (the iQ Rear Camera) for complete vehicle coverage. The Smart Sense Parking feature scans the surrounding area to warn of any danger via real-time notifications to your smartphone with imagery and video. Witness Mode, meanwhile, is voice-activated and instantly saves a 30-minute block of video to the cloud then pushes a notification to an emergency contact in real-time. This ensures that you never face a stressful situation alone or without evidence. You can use it with the free Solo service for access to voice control and real-time text notifications. The Protect subscription is $14/mo. or $135/yr. and adds live view (60 minutes), Smart Sense Parking, Witness mode, remote alarm, 30 days of cloud storage, and, coming soon, RoadWatch AI and Guardian Mode. For $28/mo. or $275/yr., the Protect Plus plan extends cloud storage to 180 days, emergency SOS, an extended warranty, and, coming soon, automated incident back-up and the ability to store multiple user accounts. Now through December 31, 2023, customers in Canada and the U.S. can take advantage of a three-month trial subscription (either Protect or Protect Plus). 

Sennheiser Accentum Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser Accentum Wireless headphones

I never travel anywhere without a pair of noise cancelling wireless headphones. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a good pair. Sennheiser is one of the top brands in this space and the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless headphones won’t break the bank at just $250. Along with hybrid active noise canceling technology, they support Bluetooth 5.2 multipoint connectivity and the aptX HD codec. They can run for up to 50 hours per charge, lasting for more than a flight from Toronto to Australia and back. Quick charge them for 10 minutes to get an extra five hours. Need to connect to the in-flight entertainment system? Use the included USB-C cable (with an adapter). Thanks to the two built-in mics and wind reduction mode, you can use these to chat with others while you’re on the go, exploring a foreign city or roaming the streets in a new province. Use the companion apps to further personalize the listening experience. It comes in black and white with sandstone accents.

Wise Multi-Currency Card

Wise multi-currency card

I have a U.S. dollar account and Visa that I use for travel, but recently, I have switched to the Wise multi-currency card, which is connected to my Wise business account. You can accept payments in this account or transfer funds from your bank, then use them to pay for items in any currency via this card, which functions like an international debit card. The fees are nominal, often much better than you would get via currency exchange or credit card. But it’s mostly about the convenience. You can track all your purchases and lock the card at any time then unlock when you want to use it, all from the handy app. You can use the physical card or download a virtual version to a mobile wallet like Apple Wallet. Need cash for things like tips? Use the card to withdraw money from any compatible bank machine as well, just like a standard debit card. For both business and leisure travelers, I’d highly recommend getting this card. It will become your new go-to travel card. Make a habit of transferring money from your bank to the Wise account periodically to build up a nice travel fund.

Anker 735 Charger

Anker 735

No matter where you stay, from a hotel to an AirBnb, there are either never enough power outlets to charge your devices or they are never enough in the right spot. I keep a power block in my travel backpack so I can always extend one outlet into two, three, even four. Nowadays, most of the charging cables I have are USB-C so it’s important to have one with both USB-C and USB-A ports. The Anker 745 GaN Prime Charger ($80) will be a lifesaver when you find that the one open outlet in the hotel bedside night table is not enough to charge your phone, wireless earbuds, and smartwatch. It has two USB-C and one USB-A ports and can charge compatible devices at up to 65W speeds. The PowerIQ 4.0 technology can detect what device is connected and how much power is needed. ActiveShield 2.0, meanwhile, intelligently monitors temperature to safeguard your precious tech. Tell the traveler to keep this in their carry on and you’ll be surprised how many times you get a message thanking you because they pulled it out to plug in in a pinch.

Travelpro Platinum Elite Hardside Luggage

TravelPro luggage charging

I recently traveled to Italy and took the Travelpro Platinum Elite Compact Carry-on and Medium Check-in Hardside Luggage Set with me. How is luggage high-tech? These suitcases come with an external USB-A and USB-C port for fast-charge capabilities. Plug your portable charging bank (not included) into the FAA-compliant battery pocket inside the hidden top zipper and you can plug in your phone, headphones, or other portable device into the charging port on the side to recharge while you sit down at the gate waiting for boarding or have breakfast in the airport. The internal dividers are a nice touch so you don’t even need to invest in a set of packing cubes. The set is on sale for $840 at the time of this writing, regular price $1,050.

Belkin BoostCharge Plus 10K USB-C Power Bank With Integrated Cables

Belkin BoostCharge Plus

Another item I always bring with me when traveling is a portable charger. It comes with me to the airport but also daily as I walk about. Either I or a friend or family member always ends up using it, too, when their phone battery is running low. But I have one precursor: I only ever bring ones with built-in cables so I don’t need to bring a long, separate cable with me, too. The Belkin BoostCharge Plus 10K fits the bill. It has an integrated Lightning and USB-C cable so you can charge all types of devices, including older iPhones and newer ones, Android phones, wireless earbud cases and headphones, tablets, and more. With the 10,000mAh battery, you can get up to 31 extra hours of use from an iPhone 11, keeping it powered up all day while you explore a new city, town, or country. You can charge two devices at once via the combined 23W power and leverage pass-through charging to charge one device while the power bank itself gets a battery boost.