Travel with Tech

ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Jess Goulart

By Jess Goulart

Photos by Jess Goulart.

The weekend of Jan 23, 2015 was dismally grey in New York City. Sleet fell from an iron sky and iced over the sidewalks, rain gutter rivulets spilled across the streets to drown fur boots in slushy pools, and a punishing wind whipped red faces.

Despite the winter austerity, 20,000 people charged through the cold, trekking all the way to the Western limits of Manhattan Island to reach the 760,000 square foot Javits Center.

The reason? It was the 12th annual New York Times Travel Show–an occasion that BTR’s Twenty-Something Traveler (TST) was sure to attend.

The event had a certain chaotic charm reminiscent of a whirlwind world tour. Consumers and travel professionals meandered through seemingly endless aisles of over 500 exhibitors from six continents, catching panels, demonstrations, and expert speakers. There were also performances every hour on one of five raised stages.

The floor plan was organized into regional pavilions and subdivided by country, each area further defined by samplings of native cuisines, music, and costumes. The Indonesian display was lined with bite-sized Wingko Babat, a traditional snack made from coconut, while nearby Antiguan and Barbudan chef Murphy (of Yabba Foods) and Chef Melvin Myers (of Success Catering) prepared carved fruit grown on their respective islands.

On the other side of the Javits Center, guests could have their names written in Arabic calligraphy at the Etihad exhibit, or chat with travel savants like Caribbean guru Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (JetSetSarah) in the Meet The Experts section.

At the back of the center a huge crowd gathered for the famed Taste of the World, a showcase featuring celebrated chefs and culinary personalities. Foodie figures for 2015 included Nick Fauchald, author of Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails, Sam Sifton, The New York Times food editor, and Chef Bill Yosses, former White House executive pastry chef.

From the colorful thickets of global destinations, four new travel technologies (and one old) caught TST’s eye–each poised to further disrupt an industry already ensconced in reinvention.

Brightbox

Know how much it sucks when you’re out to dinner and your phone dies? Triple that feeling when it happens in a foreign country. Finding a charger is about as likely as finding a gluten-free menu option, but Brightbox aims to fix (at least half of) the problem. They are installing convenient little charging stations for both Android and iPhone into restaurants worldwide. The gluten-free feat is, unfortunately, still all you.

Voltaic

Alternatively, you could negate your dependency on batteries altogether. Voltaic is a solar-power company that just released portable solar chargers and backpacks. Any tech inside of them will charge.

Backpack with solar panels? $129.00.

Knowing all you have to do is leave your bag in the sun for an hour and you can get your phone working on a deserted island? Priceless.

Libon

Marrying travel and connectivity (finally!), this new app offers free voice calls and messaging while you’re abroad. Rates to more than 100 countries are currently starting at $0.02 per minute. For anybody who has wallowed in the wrath of a satellite cell phone bill, you may now cry with relief.

Local Eats

This app isn’t new–it launched in 2008–but it is always a favorite at the show. It’s the perfect accessory to one of the best emergent travel trends; an emphasis on local authenticity. GPS tracks your location and shows you the best mom-and-pop restaurants in your search, as curated by local food critics, plus offers driving directions and deals.

The best part? No food chains allowed.

P^Cubed Travel Pants

Though they are founded in reality, warnings about pick-pocketers often go unheeded. Sometimes travelers don’t want to seem like suspicious tourists, sometimes they forget to take their wallet out of their back pocket (tsk!), and sometimes they’re just too distracted to pay attention.

Whatever the cause, statistics show one out of every four tourists will be pick-pocketed in Barcelona, while the UK averages about 600,000 incidents a year. P^Cubed Travel Pants offer a solution. The brainchild of Adam Rapp’s apparel company Clothing Arts, these bottoms are pickpocket proof (hence the name). Fashionable pants or shorts for women and men have four built-in, secure pockets for wallets and smartphones. Each pouch zips shut, with layers of buttoned fabric on top to further deter thieves searching for low-hanging fruit.

For more about The New York Times Travel Show be sure to tune into BTR’s Twenty-Something Traveler.

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