Gad­gets to go

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their per­sonal tech­no­log­i­cal pref­er­ences; not un­less you have at least a week to spare.

Google Earth: In many ways, Google Earth is just an ad­vanced ver­sion of a ven­er­a­ble trav­ellers’ ad­dic­tion: pulling out a mon­strously huge at­las and por­ing long­ingly over the maps within. Google Earth just de­liv­ers far more de­tail than we could — even just a few years back — have hoped for and all without the risk of do­ing your back in.

Its Street View func­tion adds an al­most voyeuris­tic el­e­ment to the vi­car­i­ous thrill. Street View is also a great re­search tool and, on a very prac­ti­cal level, al­lows you to start psych­ing up for such things as the dense bru­tal­ity of Shang­hai traf­fic. And for those who de­cry Google Earth as rob­bing travel of its few re­main­ing mys­ter­ies, there’s al­ways the op­tion of not us­ing it.

GPS: There are ar­gu­ments for and against nav­i­gat­ing by Global Po­si­tion­ing Sys­tem, but there are times when it’s im­pos­si­ble to beat get­ting pre­cise di­rec­tions from space. Times such as when you’re in Ire­land, be­ing glee­fully fed a load of car­to­graph­i­cal red her­rings by the lo­cals. Or in Rus­sia, clutch­ing a map that’s been de­lib­er­ately botched by the pub­lisher just in case it falls into en­emy hands. Or in a yacht drift­ing per­ilously close to Ira­nian ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters. Or lost in the out­back, wan­der­ing in cir­cles with noth­ing but the ever more at­ten­tive buz­zards for com­pany.

Sure it’s bound to all go wrong one day and GPS de­vices across the world will si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­gin ad­dress­ing us in HAL 9000 voices but, in the mean­time, pro­ceed to your des­ti­na­tion.

On­line check-in: On­line check-in is one in­no­va­tion best en­joyed af­ter you’ve ac­tu­ally used it (es­pe­cially if you only have carry-on lug­gage), as you stride through the air­port ter­mi­nal with lit­tle more than a brief and pity­ing glance in the di­rec­tion of the hud­dled masses in the ser­pen­tine check-in queues.

It’s im­por­tant, how­ever, to re­mem­ber one small but of­ten over­looked fact: hold­ing a board­ing pass in your hot lit­tle hands be­fore you even reach the air­port will not make you mag­i­cally im­mune to miss­ing your plane.

Wa­ter pu­ri­fiers: Once upon a time it was deemed part

Pri­vate su­per­sonic jets: When Con­corde was re­tired in 2003, it felt like the era of su­per­sonic flight was over for every­one but as­tro­nauts and air force mil­i­tary pi­lots. But now there’s the Ae­rion, a su­per­sonic jet that will soon go on sale to pri­vate buy­ers keen to ex­er­cise their right to sip mar­ti­nis while streak­ing through the big blue faster than the speed of sound.

Among its most cru­cial fea­tures are a pointy, Con­corde-like nose, an ap­pear­ance that sug­gests both space­ship and dart, a top cruis­ing speed of Mach 1.6, and — cru­cially from the point of view of avi­a­tion law — a rel­a­tively in­nocu­ous sonic boom.

Club to­gether with 10 mil­lion of your clos­est friends and you too can live the su­per­sonic dream. Su­san Kuro­sawa’s col­umn re­turns next week.

Deals of the week

Toast the NSW south coast with bonus nights; free Fiji stopovers; Mau­ri­tius with ex­tras. Th­ese and other money-sav­ing of­fers are fea­tured in Travel&In­dul­gence’s hol­i­day deals, up­dated daily:


Il­lus­tra­tion: Tom Jel­lett

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