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Music to our ears: Must-Have Audio Gadgets

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Sun, sea and sound. They are three s’s no holiday should be without. From pocket-size speakers to top of the range headphones, audio gadgets are an essential part of every traveller’s packing list. So whether you’re heading on that long-awaited beach break or your trip is strictly business, discover the must-have audio gadgets that will fit snugly into any self-respecting music fan’s suitcase.

P5 Wireless – Bowers & Wilkins

Add a hint of luxury to your listening experience courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins’ advanced P5 Wireless headphones. Priced at £219.96, they are available at Heathrow Boutique and Heathrow Terminals 2,3,4 and 5. Ideal for those wanting elegant design without compromising on sound quality, the P5 model was designed and balanced by the engineers behind the reference monitors in Abbey Road Studios. Featuring advanced Bluetooth technology, the design incorporates intuitive onboard controls, meaning you can skip, pause and play tracks without your smartphone ever leaving your pocket. And with an impressive battery life of 17 hours’ wireless playback, these headphones are sure to see you through even the longest of journeys.

Aquapod Wireless Speaker ­– Boompods

If you’re hunting for a mini musical hero this summer, look no further than this miniature offering from audio brand Boompods. Shockproof, waterproof and capable of packing a 70db punch, the powerful Aquapod Wireless Speaker (£35), available onboard Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook Airlines, is the ultimate outdoor companion. Featuring the latest Bluetooth technology, this pocket size gadget has a playback time of five hours, comes in a range of four bold colours and can even answer calls. Accompanied by sleek accessories – a lanyard, suction cup, bike mount and karabiner are all included – this handy, disc-shaped device is perfectly suited to your next beach adventure, mountain hike or even an in-shower sing-along.

BeoPlay H3 ANC – Bang & Olufsen

Introducing a sleek and compact addition to Bang & Olufsen’s renowned headphone range. The BeoPlay H3 ANC headphones (€249), available from BA High Life Shop, are the definition of a small but mighty travel accessory. Perfect for music lovers on the go, this latest design twins Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound with practical design born out of creator Jacob Wagner’s study of human ears. The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) units have a battery life of up to 20 hours, using microphones mounted on the earpieces to measure incoming sound levels and neutralise their interruption. Extremely versatile, these headphones are ideal for drowning out inflight ambient sounds and also make for the perfect gym buddy.

Excite+ Headphone Amplifier – Bitmore

Do you find yourself craving better sound quality than your phone and headphones alone can provide? Bitmore has the solution. Compact and easy to use, the Excite+ Headphone Amplifier (£39, BA High Life Shop) is an understated piece of design. By boosting your phone’s power output, this handy little device provides you with a wider frequency range, opening your ears to a whole new world of sound. With a battery life of 20 hours and a recharge time of 30 minutes, this is the perfect first step into the amplifier market for wannabe musos.

DrumBass Tone Wireless Speaker – Lifetrons Switzerland

The portable speaker no traveller should be without, Lifetrons Switzerland’s DrumBass Tone Wireless Speaker (£42, available onboard multiple airlines, including Etihad, Qatar Airways and Monarch) is your perfectly formed travel companion. Available in Black, Silver and Champagne Gold, this pocket-size speaker looks as good as it sounds. Boasting up to 12 hours of audio playback, alongside a wireless range of up to ten metres, this compact piece of tech allows you to connect using Bluetooth technology or a 3.5mm audio port. Compatible with most tablets, computers and mobile devices, the recharging process is quick and easy via a nifty little USB.

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Going on holiday? Don’t forget these packing essentials

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Packing is undeniably a love-it or hate-it activity. While some may relish in the opportunity to prepare for a sun-filled, relaxing, pool-side holiday, others (myself included) would much rather throw whatever is clean in a bag and head straight to the poolside part. However, some of the world’s best airports have everything a modern man could need for some fun in the sun. Here we’ve simplified the packing list down to five items, available at the airport, that are essential for relaxing by the pool.

Stylish Swim Shorts

The absolute essential for any warm weather holiday, swim shorts are an (albeit obscure) wardrobe essential. Whether they’ve not made it into the suitcase, or perhaps have seen better days, there’s ample opportunity to pick up a new pair before heading to your departure gate. Take, for example, Orlebar Brown’s Bulldog Adventure Shorts (£195, available from Harrods, London Heathrow Airporter Terminal 4), a reimagined version of the brand’s insanely popular Bulldog shorts, combining technical and robust design with a shaped waistline, adjustable nylon side fasteners and heavy grosgrain tape trim, making them perfect for a day by the pool or an evening by the bar.

Designer Sunglasses

Perhaps one of the more luxurious items you can take on holiday, a good pair of designer sunglasses will see you through years’ worth of sun-filled breaks and getaways. While the temptation to buy a cheaper, throwaway pair will always be there, cheap sunglasses have a tendency to age badly and break easily. These Burberry Textured Front Square Frame Sunglasses (HKD2,100, available from Burberry, Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1), from the Mr Burberry sunglasses collection, are the perfect example of a stylish, yet timeless design, made in Italy to ensure quality craftsmanship and with 100% UV protection from their polarised lenses, you’ll keep your eyes safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

 

Wireless Headphones

While relaxing poolside may seem like the most peaceful way to spend a holiday, in reality other holidaymakers can be prone to disrupting the idyllic peaceful vision of relaxation, but fear not, with noise-cancelling wireless headphones, you can chill out in even the most distracting environments. Sony’s MDR-XB650BT lightweight, Bluetooth headphones (199.00 SGD, available from Sony Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3) are the perfect holiday companion. With a bass booster, soft padded ear pads and a handy fold-flat mechanism, they’re a carry-on essential.

 

Sun Protection

An all too often forgotten holiday essential, sun protection is vital for any sunny escape. While some higher SPF creams can be oily, sun protection specially formulated for the face is often light, more absorbable and guarantees a burn-free post holiday glow. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 (136.00 AED, available from Kiehl’s in Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International Airport) is the perfect example. With squalane and octinoxate, the cream is both easily absorbable and provides excellent UV protection, leaving your skin soft, nurtured with a burn-free glow.

A (proper) Camera

While the majority are happy with phone camera snaps of our holidays, for those wanting to capture as much of their getaway as possible, there’s a range of cameras pushing the boundaries of photography. Take Samsung’s Gear 360 (£199.00, available from Dixons Travel Manchester Airport) for example. The handheld camera has five viewing modes, and can capture 360-degree still images with its 15 megapixel camera, as well as record and live stream 360-degree video in stunning 4K resolution, with wireless Bluetooth connection to iOS and Android devices – making it perfect for giving friends and family at home major holiday envy, and capturing your holiday adventures from all angles.

 

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9 tips to take your travel photography to the next level

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1. Invest in the best camera you can afford

This doesn’t mean splurging all your savings on the latest top of the range model, but it does mean researching your options carefully. If you know you have a budget of X, then read up on all the cameras that fit into your price bracket before making a decision. Bear in mind the substantial discounts you’ll get shopping in duty free stores, and treat yourself to equipment that will stand the test of time. Of course, a good camera doesn’t make a good photographer – that part is up to you.

Leica M10 in silver

Leica, Hong Kong International Airport, leica-store.hk

2. Make sure your lens is fit for purpose

When you’re traveling, you don’t want to be lugging several lenses around with you. So your best bet will be to get a good all-rounder lens such as the OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 45mm F1.8 which gives a lovely depth of field, or if you’re shooting on a DX Nikon, the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300 mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR. It’s important to think about – not just the price – but the weight and size of your chosen lens. Pancake lenses (so called because they are flat and thin) have become increasingly popular with bloggers thanks to their sleek aesthetic appeal, and the ease with which you can transport them. No bulky camera bags needed here.

OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 45mm F1.8 lens

Dixons Travel, London Heathrow Airport, boutique.heathrow.com

3. Think about light

Ask any photographer and they’ll rave about the merits of ‘golden hour’ lighting. It’s that magical time shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is at its most flattering. Now, no flash is ever going to achieve this same glowy effect but it’s worth bearing in mind the different options you have. For portraits, a ring light will give you very few shadows and a uniform lighting – a style made popular by endless fashion editorials. A ring light is also a handy tool to have for underwater photography and macro shots too.

Sigma flash macro EM – 140 DG EO – ETTL II for Canon

Camera Kitamura, Tokyo Narita International Airport, shop.kitamura.jp

4. Play around with composition

In the olden days (read: 20 years ago), photographers used to take sample shots on Polaroid as a quick way of assessing the lighting and set-up. Nowadays, digital cameras have display screens for instant feedback, but some photographers still like to use an instant camera to refine composition. There’s certainly something about committing an image to film that makes you think oh-so-carefully about framing, and we’d encourage anyone to give this a go.

Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 90 Camera

Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International, online.dubaidutyfree.com

5. Try a different angle

There will be times on your travels when you won’t want to bring an expensive and fragile camera with you; be it white water rafting, riding, skydiving, or even just swimming in the sea. This is when the GoPro action camera really comes into its own. Its sturdy waterproof casing means that you needn’t worry about dropping it or getting it wet, and it comes with a whole range of accessories that allow you to attach it practically anywhere. There are clamps, harnesses, suction bases, helmet attachments, and yes, even selfie sticks. So now you won’t ever have to think, “If only I brought my camera with me…”

GoPro HERO 5

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, seebuyflyhappyhour.nl

6. Shoot, shoot, and shoot again

If you ever watch a pro photographer at work, you’ll see that they take hundreds of shots – only to use just a few of them in the final cut. That’s because nailing the perfect picture is easier when you have the option of choice, and this hefty memory card allows you to go trigger happy. Of course, trawling through hundreds of photos with only a slight variation is no fun either, so be sure to maintain a discerning eye when you shoot.

 

SanDisk Ultra 128GB Micro SDXC Memory Card With SD Adapter

Maplin, Belfast International Airport, maplin.co.uk

7. Nice and steady

Had enough of balancing your precious camera on bins and random boulders? Then it’s time to splash out on a proper tripod and get that secure, level shot. Tripods are excellent for when you want to play with shutter speed, which works particularly well for landscape photography (try capturing running water for some really cool effects). What’s more, by using a tripod to keep the camera steady, the resulting images will be sharper.

62.6″ TRIFORCE 3-Way Panhead Tripod

Brookstone, various airports within the USA and Canada, brookstone.com

8. Find inspiration in magzines

One of the joys of travelling is discovering new sights, but that can be easy to forget when you’re stuck on a four hour layover in an airport. So use this time to ransack the magazine shop – there’s always a magazine shop – and feast your eyes on the best works from the industry. Photography, like any creative field, is subject to trends and this will inform your own style. It’s not only specialist photography magazines that can help you improve, it’s any publication with an aesthetic that inspires you. So go forth. Be bold. Discover what makes you click (your shutter).

9. Process your images in Adobe Lightroom

Everyone has heard of Photoshop, but more and more professional photographers are turning to Lightroom for their editing needs. There are pros and cons to both pieces of software, but one of the main benefits of Lightroom is that it allows for speedy batch edits. It also has a variety of presets (like a much, much better version of Instagram filters) that let you play around with different effects. The latest version of Lightroom is available to buy as a standalone product, or you can buy Lightroom as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan. It’s pricey, but your blog/photo album/Instagram feed will thank you for it.

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Set your sights on the Tambour Horizon: Louis Vuitton and Google Release Smartwatch

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It’s easy to see why smartwatches have become popular. Why take up valuable packing space with a separate alarm clock, watch, phone and pedometer, when you can just wear one watch?

But just because it’s practical, it doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. Louis Vuitton has teamed up with Google to release the customisable Tambour Horizon. The travel-friendly yet trendy gadget operates on Android Wear 2.0 and can be personalised with a choice of three cases (black, graphite or floral) with 60 straps, of course including the iconic LV monogram design.

The travel exclusive My Flight function provides essential information for the airport, such as flight times, terminal and gate information and delays. The City Guide function provides geolocalised info, so you can blend in with the locals. Weather forecasts and store opening times are displayed hourly for planning optimisation too.

The 24 hour watch face can be set to two time zones, simulating the GMT function of a mechanical watch and ideal for syncing to your destination to combat the dreaded jet lag. You’ll receive customisable notifications for calls, texts and emails so there’s no need to fumble for your phone. The watch also has alarm and timer functions so you won’t miss your flight.

For traditionalists, there’s the mechanical sister watch, Tambour Moon; it’s less technical but just as luxurious.

 

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WHAT’S IN MY CARRY-ON BAG? – OLIA HERCULES, CHEF AND FOOD WRITER

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After training at Leith’s famous cookery school and working for the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi, Olia Hercules is a rising star of the culinary world. Working as a recipe writer and food stylist, Hercules contributes to top food magazines and has made several TV appearances on shows such as Saturday Kitchen. Her debut cookbook Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Beyond brought us the gastronomic delights of her home country Ukraine to much critical acclaim, and her next book Kaukasis: A culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond is out 10 August 2017.

Needless to say, all this first-hand research has made Hercules a rather frequent flyer, so we asked her to share her five inflight essentials.

Omorovicza Limited Edition Queen of Hungary Mist

“I really like the Hungarian brand Omorovicza. Their cleansing mask is amazing and so is their hydrating spray. I take it with me when I travel. I often take an old-school Soviet sleeper train from Kiev to my home town (it’s a twelve hour journey after the 3.5 hour flight from London). In winter they really crank up the heat in the carriages so your skin needs a lot of help!”

Jurlique rose hand cream travel exclusive size 100ml

“I miss the times when I had perfectly manicured hands, but those times are sadly gone. I have worker’s hands now. I cook a lot and my hands have become quite veiny and dry and covered in burns, and my fingertips have gone completely asbestos. I do try to keep them moisturised as much as I can though. I squeeze a bit of the rose hand cream into a small jar and use it throughout my journey. The smell makes me relax too.”

Birkenstock Arizona sandals

“I can’t have my feet feeling uncomfortable. So it is always Birkenstocks in the summer and Blundstone boots in winter especially when I travel. I am on my feet a lot. When we were shooting my second cookbook in the Caucasus we’d work from 6am to 10pm for ten days in a row or longer. I’d stand no chance without comfy footwear.”

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“My father’s friend is originally from Orenburg in Russia where they make the most beautiful goat lace shawls. It is an essential on a plane (when aircons can become extremely fierce). I’ve got one hand-made by our friend’s mother, that I’ve been using for the past ten years (it has travelled with me to the weirdest places). It’s light and compact and incredibly warm.”

Bose Quietcomfort 35 Wireless Headphones

“I have been using Bose headphones for about 15 years. I love proper, chunky ones. If you are tired they are excellent at cancelling the noise out. I will never be the person that unsympathetically tuts at your toddler for throwing a tantrum on a plane…I make sure that I cannot hear them (I highly recommend that). I now have a wireless pair that I do not leave the house without.”

“I have a five-year-old son so reading books at home is very rare for me, which I miss so much. I always take a book with me if I travel alone. I have just finished Stories I Stole from Georgia by Wendell Steavenson – an excellent account on life in raucous 1990s Caucasus.”

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6 Ways To Keep Kids Entertained When Travelling

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Travelling with kids: it’s not for the faint of heart. I say this not as a parent, mind, but as the Responsible Eldest Child among three siblings (my brother is a whole 17 years younger than me). On family trips from London to Hong Kong, I have witnessed first-hand the number of tantrums thrown, toys lost, and demands made – all before we’ve even left the house.

I have vivid flashbacks of helping my mum make the 12-hour trip with two small children in tow, complete with tedious layovers and jet-lagged tears. Not to mention the pushchair that was necessary to wheel my small emperor of a brother around the airport.

Luckily for today’s parents, things have improved somewhat. There are iPads and fidget spinners, and even suitcases that double up as kiddie rides. I get a strangely smug kick out of seeing children willingly transport themselves and their luggage around (they’re being useful but they don’t know it!).

Trunki Hamleys Bus Ride On Suitcase

Available at London Heathrow’s Hamley’s store, this clever little case is only £44.99. With its distinctive London bus design, it’s also a great way of bringing a little bit of the capital with you on your travels.

Mardles Augmented Reality sticker sets

From trunks to T-Rexes, kids are sure to love these augmented reality stickers that bring their favourite prehistoric pals to life. It works in a similar way to Pokémon Go in that players simply point a smartphone, et voila, the stickers pop up in 3D with animation and sound. Users can then control the characters with arrows and keep memories and selfies with the on-screen icons.

Aurora’s Sparkle Tales collection includes a cuddly white unicorn available with gold or silver horns and hooves. Available in 2 different sizes: 18cm and 30.5cm.

Of course, sometimes the oldies are the goodies. It’s hard to beat the classic comfort factor of a cuddly toy, especially when travelling in unfamiliar environments. Sadly, this unicorn doesn’t have wings, which is why he needs to travel in economy with you. Available in airport stores from November 2017 to February 2018.

Despicable Me 3 Top Trumps

While smartphone apps and inflight computer games are handy ways to keep kids busy, there’s nothing quite like a pack of cards for getting the whole family involved. Featuring the characters from Despicable Me 3, this Top Trumps set is a good one to keep in your back pocket for delays and long layovers.

1st Class Kid Travel Pillow

This one isn’t strictly going to entertain your small person, but it will help them get a decent nap so you can entertain yourself. The idea for the 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow came about from the founder’s experience of travelling long-haul with her own children. This ingenious cushion inflates and sits on the floor in between the passenger seats, so it can be used on a plane, in a car or even on a bus.

 

 

And if all else fails, you can always rely on sugar, right? The travel-exclusive Haribo Travel Bag (800g) is packed with portion-controlled 100g bags of Goldbears, Happy Cola, Starmix and Tropifrutti. What’s more, the kids can take the shoulder bag with them on their next adventure.

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First look: B&O PLAY launches new noise cancelling headphones Beoplay E4

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We’ve all been there. Seat 22B besides a screaming toddler, or stuck behind a contender for World’s Loudest Snorer. The truth is, no matter how comfortable the extra-wide plane seat or how engrossing the in-flight entertainment is, there’s not an awful lot we can do about the noise pollution on flights. Even on trains which have designated quiet carriages, it’s hard to enforce the rule if someone decides they simply must shout “I’m on the train” down a phone.

So what to do?

Well, you could write a bitter blog post about it. Or you could invest in a decent pair of active noise cancelling in-ear headphones. For £229 at Dixons airport stores, you can get yourself the latest Beoplay E4 from B&O PLAY which launches today.

Click through for a detailed look 

Available in black, Beoplay E4 comes with a charging cable, flight adapter, four different silicone ear tips, one pair of Comply Memory Foam Ear Tips and a travel drawstring bag. It’s a stylish and understated piece of kit from the Danish audio brand, which makes it perfect for those who wouldn’t be seen dead wearing those big, on-ear headphones beloved by hipsters.