The iPhone may just replace the Leatherman as the most valuable travel-sized multi-tool. Sure it can’t whittle some kindling wood for your campfire or open a can of soup, but it can make airline reservations, help you find a campsite, tell you which way is North, and help you keep your travel documents organized.
If you’re trying to pack light, the iPhone can cut down on the number of gadgets and dodads you bring along on your trip. There are travel organizer apps that keep all your travel documents together and guidebook and National Parks apps that cut down on your need for heavy books and maps.
Only downside of relying on your iPhone while traveling is that it is pretty darn fragile. What is worse than losing your hotel confirmation documents, but watching your unprotected iPhone fly out of your pocket, smashing onto the concrete, and obliterating all your travel documents at once. I personally want a phone that I can toss around a bit, so I am not a good candidate for an iPhone.
If you’re going to travel with your iPhone, a protective case is a necessity. It seems like everyone is making an iPhone case these days so you will find no shortage of options. A search on Amazon comes up with over 50,000 items, so sheesh how do you decide?
First consider how rough you tend to be on electronics. How long did your last phone last? If less than a year, I would highly recommend an ultra-tough case. Cases offer everything from minimal protection to highly impact resistant, waterproof and shock-absorbent protection.
Second, do you want your case to be anything more than just a case. There are cases that hold extra power and boost your phone’s GPS capabilities. Lastly, consider style and color. This can be a tough thing to consider last because I am betting you want to keep your iPhone as sleek and sexy as it looks out of the box. Unfortunately cases that protect the most tend to look bulky and less attractive.
Here are some of the best iPhone cases for travel listed from minimal protection to hardcore:
Speck Products Pixel Skin Case - If you have slippy fingers the Speck PixelSkin Case for iPhone may be perfect for you. The lightweight PixelSkin helps protect your iPhone from bumps and scrapes while providing a nice grip to prevent dropping. Featuring openings for all the iPhone’s ports and things, you easily access all phone features. Only downsides are lack of a screen cover and not so good of protection from significant falls.
Otterbox Impact Case for iPhone - The Otterbox Impact Case for iPhone provides all access to your phone’s features while encasing it in a durable silicone skin with a shock absorbing inner core. The case is plenty grippy to protect against drops and it also comes with a self-adhering film to protect the screen and a cleaning cloth. This case adds quite a bit of protection without a whole lot of bulk. It will protect from bumps and dings, but it is not recommended for water protection.
Magellan Tough Case - The Magellan Tough Case not only protects your iPhone from the elements but enhances its GPS capabilities and transfers power to your iPhone or iPod to increase the battery life of the device. Totally waterproof and shock resistant, this case is perfect for the outdoor adventurer who wants to enjoy their iPhone in the great outdoors without having to worry about damaging it from the elements. The Tough Case offers excellent protection while also offering full access to the touch screen, hard buttons, and audio jack so you can fully interact with the device. The current Magellan Tough Case is only compatible with the iPhone3G, 3GS, and iPod Touch (2nd generation).
Pelican i1015 Case - The Pelican i1015 Case is designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but it also fits a laundry list of Blackberry smartphones. Although you can’t actually make calls or interact with the touch screen, the Pelican case is a safe place to store you iPhone while you’re not using it if you’re say on a river trip or beside a pool – though you can listen to tunes via the external audio jack. Pelican Cases are water-resistant, crush-proof, and dust-proof with a lifetime guarantee of excellence. I’ve been using the Pelican 1010 Micro Case for my digital camera so I can vouch for Pelican’s ultra-toughness. Too bad they don’t make a fully functional case.
Otterbox iPhone Defender Case - Often described as the tank of all iPhone cases, the Otterbox iPhone Defender Case offers some hardcore protection for your iPhone. The high quality polycarbonate shell is combined with a shock-absorbent skin and a clear protective membrane over the touch screen. The case provides full access to all iPhone functions, plus you can take a photo and charge the phone with the case still on.
Only downside is that the case is a bit bulky, but that is what you’re going to get with rugged protection. The case is available in yellow, black, pink, and white. Caution, the Defender looks waterproof but it is not.
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