Five of my favorite iPhone travel accessories

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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Lately I’ve been traveling a great deal for both work and personal reasons, and I came to realize I have a small stash of iPhone travel accessories that goes with me on every trip. I’m a type A, list-making person, and each of the items below has a permanent spot on the list. No matter how stingy the airlines get with baggage, how little room I have under the seat in front of me, or how cramped my feet might be, these gadgets have to be in my bag before I walk out the door. Oprah I am not, but I realized many of these devices make my travels easier, so I thought I’d share them with the AppleTell community (sadly I can’t give one away to each of our readers, but you’re welcome to reach under your seat and act excited anyway).



I’m dirty. Wait, that’s not quite how I meant it…I mean my iPhone and iPad get all fingerprint-smeared and gross and I need help! It still sounds bizarre, but smudges are a fact of life with our touch screen devices. I originally fell in love with Lenspens’ SideKick cleaner at Macworld 2012, but its large size made it better suited to the iPad, so my poor iPhone had to muddle through all grimy and grubby. This year’s Macworld saw the introduction of the SmartKlear, a pint-sized version of the company’s carbon-based cleaning system. No longer a plus-size accessory, the SmartKlear works as well on an iPhone or iPod nano as it does on an iPad, and its diminutive size is very much appreciated when you’re hitting the road.

You can pick up your very own SmartKlear directly from LensPen for only $10.

ōlloclip, the Quick-Flip case, and the ōlloclip app

Though I fear I’ll be burned as a heretic for saying it, the recent addition of a circular polarizing filter to the ōlloclip family effectively nullified any reason I had to schlep around my Canon DSLR. It has an 8 MP sensor, and so does my iPhone 5S. The Canon has nine fixed autofocus points, while my iPhone can focus anywhere in the frame. The Canon has limited autoexposure points, while my iPhone lets me tap anywhere in the frame to set the exposure. And the iPhone comes with an app (courtesy of ōlloclip) that lets me independently set these two infinite points just by tapping. So why bring the camera? Oh that’s right, I love the shoulder fatigue from carrying it around all day.

The ōlloclip app is free, while the Quick-Flip case will set you back $50. The ōlloclip lens family has gotten a bit more complicated recently, but at a minimum you should have the 4-in-1 lens ($70) for fisheye, wide angle, and macro shooting. Complete the set with the 2x telephoto and circular polarizer for $100, and you’ve still spent less than you would have on a single DSLR lens.

Velodyne vPulse

Easily the most versatile headphones I’ve ever tested, the vPulse can cut out airplane engine noise, rock out in a hotel, or work out at the hotel gym with equal deftness. They’ve got a great noise-isolating design, so they create a pristine listening environment in which to enjoy their deep bass and distortion-free sound. The linguine-style strap and adjustable cable length make them great for working out as well, as the cord doesn’t tangle and I can shorten the headphones under my neck so they stay firmly in place during any workout. The inline remote is useful when you’ve got your hands full of luggage, and the included microphone makes these a perfect phone accessory for those FaceTime audio calls. It’s really like having three pairs of headphones in one.


The vPulse go for $99, and can be had in blue, black, or pink.

Transit by Soen

Headphones are great for personal listening, but if I’m watching a movie on my iPad or packing up on the last night of a trip, I don’t want to be chained to my device. The slim design and long battery life of Soen’s Transit Bluetooth speaker have made it my go-to travel speaker. In contradiction of its diminutive size, the Transit is capable of filling a room with crisp sound, which frees me to go about packing, working, or just relaxing. The included speakerphone functionality is also useful for those business conference calls in hotels, so my team can listen without sitting on top of each other to hear the conversation. And the audio quality still amazes me with surprisingly rich bass and an expansive soundstage I would expect from a much larger speaker system.

Soen recently dropped the Transit’s price by 50 bucks, making it an even better deal at $200. It should also be available from the Apple Store in time for the holidays. Check it out at Soen’s online store.

PlugBug World

Even though I’m not traveling with my MacBook, Twelve South’s PlugBug is still in my kit bag. It functions perfectly as an international USB charger, so I just snap on the right plug for whatever country I’m visiting and hit the road. USB has simplified the charging situation somewhat as you no longer have to worry about power conversion, but until they start installing USB ports in power outlets you still need to find a plug to fit in your host country’s outlet. The PlugBug provides five different options that will have you covered across most of the world, and it’s even lightweight enough to throw in your carryon luggage.


The PlugBug is available from Twelve South for $45.

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  • Brian Symonds

    I use a Fujifilm World Adapter with USB charger rather than the PlugBug as the plugs are built in. Mine cost about 20 euros. You can get them with two USB charge ports.

  • Truffol

    Are accessories like the Olloclip able to make the iPhone replace your GoPro soon? Heck the iPhone is going to replace everything electronic gadget around you in due time!

  • M Noivad

    I would swap the vPulses out for the NoiseHush NS400 Headset: Bluetooth, long battery life, clear mic & great sound for the $40 price tag. Plus the neckband works better for me (and others who hate earbuds always falling out). Also, I’ve started carrying my AppleTV since HDMI inputs are easy to find, making both my MBP & iPad portable entertainment servers. But I’m an edge case user…
    Good Article. Thx.