Subscribers recommend travel gadgets

By Armond Noble
This item appears on page 77 of the October 2011 issue.

In next month’s column I’ll have the results of your voting for Most Favorite Country.

Now to the mailbag, or, to be more accurate, I should say the computer screen, as that’s how about 95% of the communication comes to us.

I asked about your favorite travel “gadgets.” Here are some of the responses.

“Although somewhat bulky, my old Sony MDR-NC60 noise-canceling headphones always fly with me. They eliminate most passenger noise — crying babies, gum cracking, loud iPods and such. Frequently, I don’t even plug them into the airplane’s sound system. I just zone into my own quiet world. Airlines charge for their flimsy headphones, so having my own headphones saves me money, should I want a movie or music. I won’t fly without them — and I even carry extra batteries, just in case.” — Wanda Bahde, Summerfield, FL

“My favorite gadget that goes with me on every trip is a talking watch. When we want to know what time it is in the middle of the night, we just push a button. When we want a good alarm, we set it and it does a ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ that wakes us up every time. The watch costs $20 at Radio Shack.” — Beth DeAtley, Piedmont, CA

“My wife and I would not travel without our noise-canceling headphones. Our first ones were Bose QC2s, which finally gave in to hard wear after about seven years, at which point Bose let us trade them in for their latest QC15s for $99. These headphones reduce jet noise to a faint murmur and are very comfortable to wear. For bus travel, the headphones are even better and can eradicate virtually all ambient noise.

“Of equal importance is their ability to reproduce music with incredible fidelity. To upgrade economy class to a concert hall is quite a feat! Usually we are attached to our iPods or a portable CD player. We seldom plug into the aircraft’s sound system, since their music is of variable/doubtful quality. The only downside is announcements over the loudspeaker are a blur, if heard at all, so we find ourselves taking the headsets off during announcements to be sure we miss nothing vital.

“We have both commented that we feel fresher at the end of a transatlantic trip after using the Bose headphones.

“We have never tried the purified air blower you mentioned but did waste most of a morning in Mexico City helping a friend locate batteries for hers.” — Christopher Hartley, Ormond Beach, FL

“I use a Bose Quiet Comfort 2
noise-canceling headset on planes and trains. The current model sells for about $300 on Bose’s website ( I bought mine several years ago in Los Angeles. I love it! It cancels mostly the low frequencies, which is the wind noise around the airplane. It does not cancel normal voice frequencies. The headset does dampen some of the voice frequencies; however, it cancels so much background noise that I find it easier to talk to flight attendants with them on my head and powered up than without them. It also makes the entire flight less fatiguing, in my opinion.

“One problem I found was the headset wanted to turn itself on when just sitting in its case, thus running the battery down. My only guess is that the tight-fitting case is rubbing against the on/off button and jiggling causes the button to be moved from off to on; there is a very small distance between on and off. I solved that problem by taking the battery out every time I put the headset in the case.” — Richard Wood, Lancaster, CA

There, that should inspire you, too, to share your experiences in all matters regarding travel!