By Adele Chan
Before you go anywhere this year, check out these 5 items that will make your life so, so much easier.
1. SKYROAM SOLIS
WHAT IS IT: A gadget that provides WiFi almost anywhere in the world! It connects to the local networks of 100+ countries; you just need this device, and Skyroam “day passes” that you purchase online. Day passes are like a daily subscription to the WiFi service and starts from the time you activate it, and provides unlimited WiFi for 24 hours. Up to five devices can be connected to the Skyroam Solis at once, so yes, it can be shared with friends! The Skyroam Solis also happens to be a 6,000 mAh power bank with USB-C connection (that’s faster charging speeds than traditional USB-A and Micro-USB ports).
I TRIED IT:
When I travel, the one thing I can’t live without is my phone. And internet access. This portable global WiFi keeps me connected, and is now such an essential part of my travel gear. It is super easy to setup and connect to, and at US$9 (SG$12) a day, costs much less than Singtel’s data roaming service that starts at $19 a day. And compared to what Singtel offers, the connection speeds are essentially the same, using the country’s local 4G network. Also, the 24-hour day pass starts at the time you activate it. For Singtel’s service, it runs from midnight for 24 hours, regardless of when you first start using it.
VERDICT: The Skyroam Solis has fulfilled a need I didn’t even know existed. This is a must-have gadget if you travel often, or even at all.
HOW MUCH? The Skyroam Solis costs US$149.99, with accompanying day passes at US$9. If you travel once in a while, the Skyroam device is also available for rent, with day passes at US$9.95. There are 15% discount codes that you can search for online (see below). Also good to know, standard shipping to Singapore (5—10 business days) is US$29.99, and expedited shipping (2—5 business days) is US$39.99. Available at skyroam.com.
CODES: You can sign up for their newsletter to get a 15% discount. Or you can try the codes: “15%OFF” or “Wifi15”, or “FreeShipNow”. The free shipping code gives an overall better price.
I TRIED IT: I’ve been seeing the Kickstarter ads for this jacket for months, and have been wanting to get one ever since. Over the Black Friday weekend, the website was having a sale, so I decided to finally pick up the sweatshirt design — because it’s generally hard to go wrong with this style. Baubax ships with DHL, and I got my jacket exactly six days after placing the order…..and, oh wow…..it’s exceptional! It has an exceptional number of pockets. And it works for me because I love pockets. And most of the pockets have zips so things can’t fall out (very important), and the sleeves are surprisingly extra warm, which makes it the perfect jacket to bring with me on the plane. But what I particularly love is the neck pillow. I’ve struggled with blowing up and deflating the Muji neck pillows in the past, and swore off neck pillows while travelling on planes because the blow up is just too troublesome; but the BAUBAX jacket has what they call a “2 second inflation neck pillow”. You put your lips to the plastic ring and blow, and the neck pillow instantly fully inflates! I was amazed. It was fast, and it was super easy to do. To deflate it, you just press open the rubber tab to let the air out, and then press the pillow to flatten it. It deflates as quickly as it inflates. Again, super impressive and I wish I discovered this technology earlier; it would have made my travels so much more comfortable.
VERDICT: The reviews are real! The jacket is comfortable, looks good, and is super functional! I loved it so much, I bought two more for family members.
HOW MUCH? When I bought my sweatshirt, it was on sale at US$119.99. Prices have since gone back to: US$149.99 for Windbreaker and Sweatshirt; US$179.99 for Bomber; and US$199.99 for Blazer. Available at baubax.com.
VERSION 2.0!!! If you can wait, the second version of the jacket is on Kickstarter and has 25 features instead of the current 15. The estimate delivery for version 2.0 is August 2018.
I was looking for a portable charging solution for my Nikon batteries and stumbled upon the Nitecore UNK1. Because it charges with a USB input, I can connect it to my computer, any USB wall charger, or most importantly, a power bank — removing the need for a wall charger altogether. I like that it has a display screen that indicates the battery status and level among other things.
4. MUJI PORTABLE AROMA DIFFUSER
WHAT IS IT: An aromatherapy diffuser that doesn’t require water, and runs on a rechargeable battery that is charged by USB.
I TRIED IT:
I saw this on Muji Japan’s Instagram last year, and tried to find it in the Singapore stores. I was told Muji Singapore doesn’t bring this item in, so I bought one in Osaka when I was there last December. Because it doesn’t require water or a wall socket, I can bring and use this anywhere — from room to room at home, the office, and when I go travelling. It’s a very cool little device; you just twist it open, place a few drops of essential oil on the mesh pad, close it, then turn it on. A scent fills the area around the diffuser — and it’s not too strong. I imagine it won’t be appropriate using this on an aeroplane (not everyone may appreciate your choice of aromatherapy scent), but it’s definitely perfect for hotel rooms and Airbnbs. It even comes in its own black Muji mesh pouch that stores the diffuser, and USB charging cable, with space for a bottle of oil.
5. CYGNETT USB-C 20,000mAh ChargeUp Pro Power Bank
WHAT IS IT: A 20,000mAh power bank that charges devices with a 45W USB-C output.
I TRIED IT:
A power bank is an obvious must-have for travel, but what makes this new Cygnett one so special, is that it can charge up a laptop — a device that requires far more charging power than a phone or tablet. It’s also crucial if you’re going to be someplace where you can’t get access to a power supply (eg. the forest, jungle, desert, even aeroplane). Also, this power bank charges an iPhone X twice as fast as charging from the standard Apple 5W wall charger (it goes from 0 to 50% in 30 minutes). And with 20,000mAh, you can fully charge an iPhone X five times.
I asked the brand how much this can charge a laptop. Here’s a list of what 20,000mAh can do:
— MacBook 12″ = 1.2 Charges
— MacBook Pro 13″ = 1 Charge
— MacBook Pro 15″ = 0.6 Charges
— HP x360 = 1 Charge
— Lenovo Yoga 910 = 0.6 Charges
— iPad Pro 10.5 = 1.8 Charges
— Nintendo Switch = 3 Charges
VERDICT: It’s pricey, I’ll admit; but sometimes (and in this case), you do get what you pay for. If you’re wondering why it’s so much more expensive than say a Xiaomi of the same capacity from Lazada, this is what the PR says: “Cygnett also offers a 2-year warranty, technical support and ensures products are compliant to safety standards. Cygnett power banks are tested to the highest level to ensure longevity and safety, including drop test standards, battery quality and testing, and built-in over-current / over temperature protection.” I can’t say for sure that this power bank is worth the big price difference over similar products, but if you’re willing to fork out for it, it’s definitely useful and very dependable, and has made my list of the 5 items I must bring with me when I travel.