Traveling for work or pleasure is one of those activities that tests the mettle of your electronics — if you have a frequent traveler in your life, here's a starting point for finding genuinely useful devices and accessories.
Whether or not it can replace a laptop is debatable, but for travel, an iPad is practically perfect. It can easily fit in carry-on luggage, has a long-lasting battery, and provides a wealth of entertainment including books, games, and movies. Watching the extended editions of "The Lord of the Rings" films is a surefire way of surviving long-haul flights and train trips so long as you preload them for offline viewing. An iPad can also be used to take care of tasks like email, light work, and photo uploads.
For travel purposes we recommend skipping the iPad Pro and going with the 9.7-inch "basic" iPad. A 32-gigabyte Wi-Fi model starts at $329, often less, and even a $429 128-gigabyte model is $220 less than the cheapest Pro (even more when you shop this sale). You simply don't need the Pro's features unless you're planning to do work in illustration, photography, CAD, or video editing.
Do put your iPad in a rugged case if you can — you never know when you're going to get jostled or drop it.
Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
A decent backpack is good for avoiding luggage fees and theft, as well as running to catch a flight, and keeping any photo and video gear close at hand. The Backpack 45L ($299.95) gets is name from the ability to hold 45 liters' worth of items at full capacity. It's also equipped with a zippered divider sleeve and internal and external pockets, the latter of which can even hold a tripod. Waterproofing means you shouldn't find your clothes soaked when you check into the hotel.
GoPro Hero 7 Black
Your iPhone is by all means a good travel camera, yet there's an argument to be made for taking a Hero 7 Black ($399). It's rugged and waterproof first of all — it should survive rainstorms, tumbles, and even shallow dives. It has swappable storage and batteries for extended shooting, and you won't consume all of the space on your phone you might want for apps and music.
The Hero 7 Black additionally offers gimbal-like "HyperSmooth" stabilization, and a "SuperPhoto" mode that automatically processes photos with HDR, local tone mapping, and noise reduction. The only real drawbacks are that it's essentially wide-angle only, and that you'll need to spend extra on accessories to make the most of it.
Anker PowerCore+ 20100
Battery packs are practically a must for extended travel. You won't always be able to find a free outlet at the airport or train station, and even if you do, all it takes is something like shooting 4K video during a shore excursion to run you dry.
There are a lot of solid packs out there, one of which is the PowerCore+ 20100 ($69.99). It's got both USB-C and USB-A ports and enough juice to fully recharge an iPhone, iPad, and 12-inch MacBook on one charge. The one Apple portable it's not ideal for is the MacBook Pro.
Newvanga universal travel adapter
You may need a power converter as well depending on your devices and the country you're headed to, but Newvanga's adapter ($12.95) supports U.S., U.K./European and Australian outlets, and delivers energy via two USB-A connections.
Anker 60-watt 6-port USB wall charger
Modern travelers often have an arsenal of gadgets with them. Anker's 6-port USB hub ($25.99) only features USB-A, but that's probably enough to ensure that everything you're carrying gets charged overnight.
Anker Lightning cables
Chargers and adapters are somewhat meaningless without cables, so for iPhone and (most) iPad owners, you may need to pick up this two-pack by Anker ($23.99). The cables are 6 feet long, nylon-braided, and let you leave your expensive Apple-branded ones at home.
OWC USB-C Travel Dock
For MacBook owners, the USB-C Travel Dock ($39) adds HDMI 2.0, a UHS-II SD card slot, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and a 60-watt USB-C power port. It's pretty compact, so it can slip into any free pocket you have.
Sony 1000X M3
A good set of noise-cancelling headphones is worth its weight in gold on a long-haul flight. The 1000X M3 ($348) is built to be light and comfortable, and has a 30-hour battery life, with quick-charge support that gets 5 hours of listening with 10 minutes of juice. While we're not normally fans of touch-sensitive controls, one nice addition is a "Quick Attention" mode, which lets you hear other people without having to pull the headphones off.
A portable Bluetooth speaker definitely has its uses on the road, whether you're camping or in a hotel room. The Wonderboom ($64.99) is IPX7 waterproof, with an integrated loop that practically begs you to hang it in the shower or off a backpack. It also has a 10-hour battery life, and comes in a range of colors and patterns.
Orange Holiday SIM card
We would actually avoid this as a gift unless you know someone is headed to Europe, but if they are, they might appreciate Orange's Holiday Europe prepaid SIM card ($49.90). This gets you 10 gigabytes of data, 2 hours of global voice calling, and up to 1,000 text messages. You can of course get one in the nano-SIM format Apple uses.