East End Tech: Surviving the Holiday Road Trip

The holidays are in full gear, which means that many of us are about to embark on a time-honored ritual: the holiday road trip.

For some, this might mean a quick drive into the city or a road trip to visit relatives. For millions of others, the holiday trip means a long flight to warmer climates or far-flung destinations. But this isn’t another rant about crowded airplanes and insanely stupid TSA security procedures. I’d rather focus on a few cool devices to smooth your journey and improve your travel experience.

Pick a Tablet, Any Tablet
As many of you know, the FAA finally relaxed rules requiring you to turn off electronic devices on takeoff and landing. I first wrote about this back in October, and I’m here to report that I recently took my first cross-country flight under the new rules. It was breathtaking—kind of jarring, actually. I had become so used to furtively checking my phone that I instinctively hunched over whenever the flight attendant walked past. On final approach, she tapped me on the shoulder and told me that we no longer need to live in shame, or in fear.

Plus, my kids were silent for six hours.

Get Some Rest
Now that your kids are sufficiently distracted, it’s time to sit back and relax. You might even find some time to put on your headphones and sleep. There’s one problem: your crappy airline pillow keeps getting tangled under your headphones, making it difficult to get comfy.

Check out a gadget called Sound Oasis pillow speakers. They are high-fidelity, ultra-thin stereo speakers that can be positioned underneath a pillow or even directly inside it. They plug into your mp3 player, smartphone, tablet or laptop and enable you to hear the music without headphones. Much more comfortable for you—and since the speakers are embedded inside the pillow, the volume is low enough to avoid disturbing fellow travelers. With a retail price under $25, they’re worth a shot. Or a listen.

Talk About It
While we’re on the topic of headphones, I often encounter another headphone problem that has to do with compatibility. I love my Bose noise reduction headphones; they deliver awesome sound and help me block out the world around me. And millions of others are using Beats by Dre and other high-end headphones.

But what if I want to make a phone call? Therein lies the problem: many headphones don’t have a microphone, so you need to switch to ear buds.

Try the Moov Mic. It’s a simple device that turns earphones into a fully conversational headset. Once connected, you get the best of both worlds: high quality audio for your music, and an equally strong microphone for your calls. And you never need to switch units.

Like Sound Oasis, the Moov Mic retails for under $25, so it’s a viable option if you want to consolidate gadgets and simplify your travel.

Drive It Home
When you finally arrive at your destination, you’ll need a taxi. Rather than waiting in line or calling a car services, try Uber. It’s been around for a while, and I should have written about it earlier. I wasn’t a huge fan, because I found the price too high to justify the convenience. Or maybe I’m just old and set in my ways.

Recently I used Uber once in New York City and once in San Francisco—and was pleasantly surprised. The app itself is one of the smartest ones I’ve ever used. It could not be easier to operate and manage. Within seconds, my phone located a nearby car, showed me its position on a map, and even delivered reviews of the driver. He showed up exactly when promised. Payment was even easier. Uber stores your credit card, so the driver is paid automatically, without filling out credit card forms or emptying all the cash from your wallet.

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