Wings checks out some products, gadgets, places and experiences to make your travels more fun, for a range of budgets.
Words Owen Bailey
ON THE BEACH
Legendary US comedian Bill Hicks never understood people’s fascination with the beach, insisting: “It’s where dirt meets water, alright?” If you disagree, try one of these — a Sand-Free Rug from CGear, an Australian company specialising in patented sand-free technology. The rug’s unique weave incorporates the principle of ‘one-way sift’, so particles that fall on it will pass through unassisted and won’t come back up. The result is a sand-free, hose-down reusable rug for the suitcase or back of the car.
BEST FOR: Grit-free picnics, sand-free suitcases
Personalized Sand Imprint Flip-Flops
The simple ideas are always the best. Head to the FlipSidez site, select the size and colour of your flip-flops, and then choose from a range of pre-ordered designs – including ‘HAKUNA MATATA’, ‘CARPE DIEM’ and the most popular design, ‘FOLLOW ME, BRING BEER’ – or think up your own imaginative, romantic or just plain idiotic two-footed message to the world and have it customised for the next time you take a wander along the shore. $24.95, flipsidez.com
BEST FOR: Retracing your steps after a night at the beach bar
ON THE MOVE
Studio Banana Things specialises in ingenious everyday objects that put the fun into the functional, and the Ostrich Pillow is designed to eliminate sights and sounds so you can nap with ease. It fits cosily over your head, with two arm-holes, and creates a micro environment perfect for an economy-class flight or a bumpy overnight bus ride. Don’t worry that it makes you look like a comfort-conscious Cyberman from Doctor Who, either, because soon everyone will be wearing them – plus, it’ll fold up into your carry-on luggage. $99, ostrichpillow.com
BEST FOR: Conveying ‘Do Not Disturb’ while looking a bit disturbing
How do you escape the tyranny of technology on your travels? Well, this high-tech gadget might just help you do that. The Pebble Watch is a digital Smart Watch with thousands of downloadable ‘watchface’ apps, which can offer you on-wrist message notifications, GoPro camera control, fitness tracking, flight-checking, weather and so on, all in a stylish, water-resistant design with up to seven days’ battery life. Why spend your entire holiday checking your phone, when you can check your watch, instead? Much better.£99, getpebble.com/pebble
BEST FOR: Helping you leave your phone alone
Scoots You, Sir
Micro 3-In-1 Luggage Scooter
US electro-house superstar DJ Steve Aoki helped design this funky reimagining of the humble carry-on case, adorned with Aoki’s Dim Mak label graphics. An all-in-one kickboard, case and trolley, it meets the approval criteria for carry-on luggage when folded, and it also has integrated Sound2Go speakers which enable you to play your music via your smartphone as you whiz through the departure lounge. Ostentatious it may be, but hand luggage everywhere is clearly jealous of the fun it’s having. £249.95, micro-scooters.co.uk
BEST FOR: Leaving on a jet plane – in style
ON THE WEB
Sidetracked Online Journal
Every journey starts at a homepage, and if you’re looking for inspiration for your next adventure, this beautifully designed site is the perfect online destination. It covers adventure travels, extreme challenges and cultural expeditions with the emphasis on contributors’ personal journeys, and through a series of interviews with well-known explorers and survivalists such as polar trekker Ben Saunders and survivalist Ray Mears, there’s something here for every ambitious traveller itching for a challenge. sidetracked.com
BEST FOR: Whetting your appetite for adventure
Aerobatic Flight Experience
If you’re visiting London and fancy injecting a dash of adrenaline-inducing aerial adventure into your trip, what better way than to take to the skies for an aerobatic flight experience? Travel to Surrey, an hour away from the capital, and after a comprehensive briefing where you choose how brave (or foolhardy) you want to be, you’ll board your Cessna 152 with your pilot and hold on tight for a breathtaking 30-minute sequence of manoeuvres including rolls, stall-turns, Cuban eights and the like. Then you can take the controls from the instructor, and have a fly yourself. £155, redletterdays.co.uk
BEST FOR: Thrillseekers, frequent flyers, crazy people
Win A Holiday
Global Scavenger Hunt
Competitive travel is apparently a ‘trend’ for 2015… And we’re not talking about how many cocktails you can sink by the hotel pool. The Global Scavenger Hunt 2015 is definitely more Indiana Jones than Bridget Jones, as teams from around the world compete to solve clues and earn points for a $25,000 prize by visiting at least 10 different countries on a three-week ‘blind date with the world’ – relying on street smarts and travel savvy rather than guidebooks and smartphones. And it’s all in aid of raising funds for the organisation’s charitable foundation, GreatEscape. $25,000 per team, globalscavengerhunt.com
BEST FOR: Meeting strangers in strange lands
ON THE HORIZON
It may not be with us quite yet, but at über-geeky tech show CES 2015, the most-hyped product by far was the Selfie Drone. Like it or not, these automated flying camera drones will soon become a fixture of our skies, and with products such as the AirDog and Hexo+ promising intelligent auto-follow features as well as mobile-phone control, surfers, mountain bikers, skiers and extreme sports lovers of all stripes are going to find them impossible to resist. $1,295 ex. VAT, airdog.com
BEST FOR: Over-dramatising your trip to the ice-cream van on the beach
Sleeping With The Fishes
With space tourism still tantalisingly out of reach, for now, maybe it’s time to explore holiday potential beneath the waves. You can already dine beneath the waves at Conrad Maldives’ Ithaa undersea restaurant, and now the Poseidon Undersea Resort in Fiji is gearing up to offer rooms and fine dining below the sea, personal Triton submarines, luxury seabed submersible tours, and unrivalled island tranquility. It may be for the super-rich at the moment, but we expect that more attainable versions will spring up in countries all around the world before long. $15,000 per person per week, poseidonresorts.com
BEST FOR: The ultimate immersive holiday experience
The Emerging Business Lab is putting Ghana’s capital firmly on the map
Words Larissa Clark
Visitors to Accra, new and old, will be happy to hear that the inaugural edition of the GLO Accra Visitors Map has been published and is in circulation.
A custom-designed illustration covering the important districts of Ghana’s capital, the map features a detailed collection of nearly 100 of the city’s finest hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, banks and popular brands on five maps, which also include government agencies, landmarks, hospitals, embassies, places of worship, schools, and other essential places of interest.
The maps include all the popular areas of the Ghanaian metropolis, such as James Town Ridge, Osu, Cantonments, Labone, Labadi, Airport Residential, Roman Ridge, Dzorwulu, East Legon, and Spintex Road; and also features the locations of Glo Mobile Ghana’s GloWorld Shops so you can get connected as soon as you arrive, as well as the full-service branches and ATMs of Stanbic bank.
Given it’s the only map of its kind for tourists, business visitors, local residents, expatriates, and relocating professionals, you might expect this handy pocket-sized guide to come with a hefty price tag. The best news? It’s free.
Anyone can download a PDF version of the map before a visit to Accra where they can pick up a free printed copy. Be sure to use it to plan your stay by discovering the best that the city has to offer. Although hold on tight as all the taxi drivers will want to borrow your copy. You’ll be venturing far from your hotel without fear of never finding it again as you discover the older parts of Accra, around the ministries, and the even older parts of Osu: where Labadi Road narrows. Here you can still have a sense of Old Christiansborg High Street.
“Adabraka is a really cool area” says Matthew Jones, one of the map’s creators “so much of Accra has this incredible character, I’ve really come to see these districts as diamonds in the rough that could be redeveloped into the heart of the city. I’ve also discovered gems like the George Padmore Research Centre and the Accra Central Library that I would have never found if we hadn’t developed this map”.
He reflected on why his organisation, Emerging Business Lab, chose to draw Accra as their second city in West Africa after five years of producing Liberia’s Monrovia Visitors Map; “Accra was actually the first African city that I ever visited, many years ago. Although it is a major gateway for all of West Africa, there are only a handful of guides for visitors, and no detailed maps that really showcased the city. It seemed a natural next step to introduce the Accra Visitors Map.”
Proudly printed in Ghana, free printed copies of the GLO Accra Visitors Map can be found at local hotels, restaurants and shops and is available to download from accravisitorsmap.com. Share your experience and tips on the map’s Facebook page: facebook.com/accravisitorsmap