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On the Road with Nancy Brown: Traveling with Technology

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown shares the latest in travel technology.

Have you noticed how technology is working its way into your travel plans? You scour Yelp before deciding where to eat, and instantaneously upload your road photos to Facebook. When you check into your hotel, you might be offered an iPad, pre-loaded with apps that assist in your vacation experience. How about some music to go with your hotel check-in experience? Some Inns are now loading songs straight onto your key card. Here’s a snapshot of some of the latest technologies for today’s connected travelers.

San Francisco's Clift Hotel Turns up the Music

Remember when chocolates on your hotel pillow got you excited? That’s nothing compared to the music-equipped hotel key cards just launched by Morgan Hotel Group properties, including San Francisco’s Clift Hotel. Guests can now scan a simple QR code (a two-dimensional barcode for those unfamiliar with Geek Speak) on their hotel key card with a smartphone to download the Clift’s custom playlist of ten songs. In addition, a complimentary song will be emailed to guests with their reservation confirmation, which they can download ahead of time to get excited for their stay. While you may not find, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” you’ll be able to listen to selections from emerging artists like Florence and the Machine, Thieves Like Us and Soul Clap. Rock on, San Francisco!

A Reliable Video Companion

Courtesy of GEDo you YouTube? That’s YouTube used as a verb, as in “to create or watch videos.” If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Video has the power to combine audio and visual in short bites for sharing with family and friends—even when you’re on the road. And like a moving, interactive postcard, the colorful, pocket-sized, waterproof GE DV1 has a flip-out USB plug perfect for instantly uploading videos and photos to share. This little wonder has full HD movie recording capabilities, a durable exterior, and it's waterproof up to 16 feet! If you tend to drop things while horseback riding or walking down the beach, it’s also shockproof and dustproof. The GE DV1 retails for $129.99, but is currently listed on Amazon for $94.

Hands-Free Footage

Courtesy of Liquid ImageFor the skiers, snowboarders, scuba divers, and snorkelers out there, Liquid Image has come up with video goggles and camera masks so you can document your adventures hands-free on the slopes or in the surf. Whether you’re jet skiing or ATV riding, you can easily take photos or videos of your next vacation in high definition with prices ranging from $99 - $400.

Drive Smart with Go Smart Clip

Are you one of those drivers who fumbles for the phone while trying to keep your eyes on the road? I confess, I’ve been one of those inattentive drivers you fear on the roads, but not anymore. The GoSmart Clip provides a simple solution to the modern day challenge of staying connected while moving around. The clip is a multi-Courtesy of Go Smartfunctional iPhone and smartphone holder that connects to your steering wheel, luggage handle, golf cart, or beach umbrella pole. Priced at $25.95, it beats the price of a traffic ticket from the Contra Costa County Police Department.

Solo Travelers: This Gadget's for You

I often travel alone and don’t always like asking strangers to snap my picture. But the JOBY Gorillapod travel gadget allows you to clasp your digital camera, smartphone, or iPad into this portable, bendable stand to get that perfect shot, embarrassment free. JOBY makes a slew of award-winning photo, mobile, and lighting products that go hand-in-hand with the active traveler.

What are your favorite travel gadgets?


A lifelong resident of Contra Costa County, Nancy D. Brown grew up in Moraga. When she’s not traveling, she lives in Lafayette with her husband and teens. Nancy is the Uptake.com Travel Editor, writes the What a Trip blog and is a Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun columnist. Horse lovers will find her at writinghorseback.com. Follow Nancy on Twitter at twitter.com/Nancydbrown.