From NBC’s “Today” Show to “The Rachael Ray Show” to The Weather Channel, you have likely seen Katie Linendoll on TV talking about must-have travel gadgets. The Your AAA Network recently spoke with her to learn about her favorite accessories.
Click the audio player below to listen. The text that follows is a transcript of the conversation.
Your AAA: Thank you for clicking on. You are listening to the Your AAA Network and today we’re joined by an Emmy winner, a tech expert, avid traveler, TV personality, and all around social and tech influencer. None other than Katie Linendoll. She is going to walk us through some of the hottest travel gadgets, but first, let’s set the stage for our listeners. How often are you on the road?
Katie Linendoll: It’s well over 250 days. I did a calculation year over year. It spans the globe, which is pretty exciting; 250-plus days ranging from the Faroe Islands to just recently Alaska and Iceland. This next four weeks will have me in Boston, to New Orleans, back to Iceland, back to the Faroes and then to Kenya –all just in a matter of one month. It’s incredible. I call it a true blessing. I love being on the road and I learned so much. It just builds your character.
Your AAA: No doubt about that. That amount of travel is unbelievable. I know even my own travel has ramped up to maybe once or twice a month at this point and I find it hard to hold it together. So, well done. Hat tip!
Katie: It’s funny, my friends will ask me, so what are you doing in June? I’m like, dude, I don’t know what I’m having for breakfast and/or what state I’m going to be in tomorrow, so just hold tight. Pump the brakes. I don’t know what my summer plans are yet.
Your AAA: Out of curiosity so far, have you hit every state in the U.S.?
Katie: My sister and I were just talking about this. Alaska was missing until the recent trip where we were chasing the northern lights – which was epic unto itself, but right now if I’m correct, I think I’m missing North Dakota and South Dakota.
Your AAA: So aside from evolving into a big-time traveler, I know you jumped into technology at a pretty early age, so what got you started on that path?
Katie: Yeah, my background in technology, it started when I was young. I guess you could say coding was my main foray into IT; I started when I was about 12 or 13, which sounds very young, but I laugh now because I have a 9-year-old niece that is just incredible on the computer. She is on-point with robotics and engineering. And now there are so many STEM gadgets, so it’s so cool to see how things have changed over the years. But my interest in tech as I noted was at 12 or 13, getting into coding. I got my networking certifications while I was still in high school and then I went on to get my degree in information technology and new media from Rochester Institute of Technology. Through and through, tech was always a huge passion of mine and it’s just remained that way.
I never foresaw going into a television direction. I was building websites as a freelance job when I was like 17, 18 and 19, in and out of college breaks, so I never saw going into this TV direction, but it’s a perfect fit for me right now. People’s interest in technology and consumer products – whether it is the latest iPhone or the latest STEM products – is only growing. So I think it’s a really good fit.
Your AAA: That is a perfect segue to talk about some of the travel gadgets on the market today that AAA members might want to check out.
Katie: First off, myCharge devices. They come in a range of sizes. I have the MyCharge hub and it gives about nine plus hours of extra battery life and it also has the built-in micro USB and lightning cable. I carry that pretty much every single day whether I’m on the road or not and people are always knowing that I have it on me. So whether their tablet or their smartphone or whatever they’re using needs to be charged up, it is a must-have accessory, especially while you’re on the road.
Also, just to give you a few of my other key items, I love Matador bags. They are these really lightweight, durable bags. They fold up to the size of almost a baseball. They’re super tiny. And when I travel, if I’m going to really cool places, I always come back with more and more stuff. So I have these really great durable, water-resistant bags that are so tiny that I throw them in my luggage, but then I can also fill them up with so much stuff. They come in a variety of sizes. I always go to the 24-liter size. They’re backpacks and there’s also a duffel bag. They’re just really cool to carry with you when you’re bringing more stuff back.
I have my own production company, so we filmed lots of different places for the likes of The Weather Channel and a number of other national outlets. Really good luggage is obviously key – 0ne that also has a lot of compartments and one that’s not going to tear, and be weather resistant. Eagle Creek luggage is my absolute go-to after trying many different types of luggage out.
I think one thing on the travel side that everybody needs to know that is kind of a hidden tip and trick is the Wi-Fi at rental car companies now. Well, first off, people don’t know about the travel pass on your smartphone. When I am internationally on location for a majority of the places that I visit, it’s only $10 extra a day to have a full-on travel pass as opposed to like, you know, $2 a minute, which can quickly add up. I know people who have seen their bill and they freak out. I think people need to take more advantage of their monthly service of just adding that on when they are traveling internationally or overseas. Wi-Fi hotspots that you can rent at rental car companies are also something a lot of people don’t realize are out there … they are about 10 bucks a day and it not only gives you Wi-Fi access in your car, but you don’t have to rent a GPS which can be super expensive per day at the rental car company. Now you can use your phone but you can also use a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere you’re traveling in that country. So I think that is a really great tip and trick for anyone that’s going to be on the road this summer.
Your AAA: That’s awesome. I had no idea that something like that was offered. So going back real quick to the luggage, have you tested out any of that ride-on luggage that’s out there?
Katie: Personally, I think it’s gotten so crazy in terms of the media press and I just don’t think it’s practical.
Your AAA: I feel like there’s a line where there’s just too much technology and this just kind of crosses it, right?
Katie: There is totally a line! Plus I can run faster than that and I run a lot in airports. I hear my name way too often over the loudspeaker. One thing that I’m adamant about with what I test and what I stand behind in terms of technologies is practical tech.
Your AAA: So any good travel gadgets for families with young kids?
Katie: One thing I’m so keen on – I have lots of nieces and nephews is MiFOLD – it’s this little booster seat. Unless you’re a parent with a little one will this really hit home, but it’s super lightweight and it’s portable. If you have to bring a booster seat when you are traveling, it’s not great for airlines. It’s not approved, but it is good for when you are renting a car so you don’t have to pay for that extra booster seat. My niece always travels over to her friend’s house and actually takes that booster seat with her and it folds up right in her hand. It looks like nothing. Imagine a booster seat compacting down all the way to like a piece of paper. It’s amazing what the technology has come and done for that particular gadget, so parents will love that one.
And then, also of course, it’s not telling you anything you don’t know, I love the tablet side of things, whether it’s an iPad or the Kindle Kids Fire edition is just an awesome travel gadget. My nieces and nephews love it and are always watching the latest, whether on PBS or the Disney channel, they’re always staying tuned on. I’ve also hooked them up with Puro headphones. The decibel level on the headphones only goes to a certain level so it keeps their ears protected and it’s really good sound quality. So I think that’s a cool accessory for parents that are looking for really great pair of headphones.
Your AAA: I know when I’m sitting next to a kid on a plane, I can’t wait for them to break out the tablet with the headphones. Use it the whole flight, please.
Katie: Your fingers are crossed for it!
Your AAA: Getting back to travel now, let’s go into our rapid-fire questions. Sand or snow?
Katie: Snow. Said no one ever. I grew up in Erie. It was the most snow accumulation in 2017. I am a snow girl through and through.
Your AAA: Best childhood vacation memory.
Katie: There were six people in my family and we had a Ford Taurus and that we would pack in and go on road trips. Just being with my family was awesome.
Your AAA: Bucket list destination.
Katie: You know what? I’m going to actually go with a revisit because I feel like no matter where you go on the globe, it’s the people in the environment that make all the difference. It could be the coolest place but with the worst people and it’s going to change your whole attitude towards it. I just had one of the best travel experiences of my life in Fairbanks, Alaska. I think it’s dubbed as the golden heart of Alaska and they’re known for their people being so awesome and warm, and just cool people. Just because of the environment there and the people and the culture, I’d like to revisit it.
Your AAA: Favorite travel spot in the Northeast.
Katie: I love the Boston area. I hope to be buying a home there.
Your AAA: Finally, what is one piece of travel advice you’d like to leave our AAA members with?
Katie: Preparation and organization, and all the right gadgets. You kind of have to split the difference. I prepare and I organize for my trips but I also leave room for the “let it happen.” I just came back from a trip to Disney and you can tell where the kids have just had it because they try to jam so much into one day. Sometimes you’ve just got to ride out the adventure and see whatever comes your way. Go with it. I think you’ve got to split the difference in terms of being organized and having a plan, and being ready to go off the grid.
Your AAA: I have no doubt that this conversation is going to leave AAA members wanting more from you, Katie. So where’s the best place folks can find you online?
Katie: Totally. I’m at Katie Linendoll on social across the board and I love connecting with new people. I always try to be good about it, responding, helping you with any travel gadgets or tech tips. So yeah, that’s where you can find me.
Your AAA: Awesome. Thanks for a great conversation. Be sure you head on over to katielinendoll.com and be sure to stick with the Your AAA Network for more travel and lifestyle content. I’m Andrew Rosen. Thanks for clicking on.
This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated.