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6 ways to improve your vacation or staycation

Beach Vacation

Whether you're coming time off is a staycation or the voyage of a lifetime, the gadgets and products featured here will help make your R&R that much more enjoyable. Be sure to read our advice for making your vacation memorable, not miserable, don't forget to keep your home secure while you're away, and use our luggage buying guide to get the right bags. —Maggie Shader 

1. Headphones 

You don't have to spend a lot to upgrade from the mediocre earphones that came with your phone or music player. The Panasonic RP-TCM125 ($10) deliver very good sound and have a one-button remote and mic. Check out these five great, cheap headphones and our buying guide for more options. 

2. Tablet 

While compact, the 7.9-inch Apple iPad Mini with Retina display ($400 for the 16GB model with Wi-Fi) is big enough for you to enjoy videos, read books and magazines, play games, and surf the Web. It has a great high-res display and a 12.8-hour battery life. Check our buying guide and Ratings of more than 140 models. 

3. Wireless speakers 

The most portable of the budget speaker systems that we've tested, the JBL Charge ($100) can connect with your media device via Bluetooth or analog audio input; you can orient the speaker vertically or horizontally. Check our our buying guide and Ratings to find a model that's right for you.   

4. Plastic bag 

We're not kidding! You don't need a high-tech solution to keep your electronic devices safe from sun, sand, and water or any tasty libations you might be sipping. Check out the best electronics devices for your vacation. 

5. Sunscreen 

If you're going to be in the sun, slather on Walmart's Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 ($9), a Consumer Reports' Best Buy, or any of the other highly rated sunscreens from our tests. For good protection, you should apply about one fluid ounce of sunscreen every four hours. 

6. Insect repellent 

Summer’s insects can be more than annoying. Try a plant-based repellent such as Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, and follow our tips to stop bug bites. Plus find out how to bug-proof your backyard and what to wear to keep mosquitoes and ticks away. For a staycation: Create a backyard oasis This month you can find great deals on outdoor furniture, and the right purchases can help you make the most of your outdoor space. Follow our shopping tips so you know what to look for in outdoor furniture. And while you're at it, you should check out the other products on deep discount in August. 

Copyright © 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.

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