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Tim Leffel

Professional Travel Expert

Travel Alarm Clocks

Whether your body wants to cooperate or not, worry-free travels often involve waking up early to catch a train, plane, or bus on time or getting ready for a meeting or conference. Alarm clocks in hotels are notoriously difficult to program and wake-up calls have been known not to happen as promised. Many watches and cell phones have alarms built in, but they’re not so loud and can be a pain to set and reset.

As insurance, if nothing else, it pays to carry your own travel alarm clock. That once meant loud tick-tocking mechanical alarms or simple electronic ones, but alarm clocks on the market now are meant to do a lot without taking up a lot of space in your bag.

Best Travel Alarm Clocks by Tim Leffel

The Best You Can Get

  • Cartier Pasha Sentimer Travel Clock

    Tim says: If you’re the fashionable type who wants a designer travel clock as finely crafted as a Swiss watch, this Cartier model should look great on the nightstand for decades. Crafted in Switzerland with a quartz movement, it features a palladium finish and black dial with luminescent hands.

    The stand doubles as the clock face cover, with the whole thing folding into a small and elegant circle. While the price may seem high, compared to the corresponding watch line that retails for $4,000 to $8,000, the travel clock looks like a bargain.

    • Modeled after a line of luxury Cartier watches
    • Palladium finish
    • Swiss quartz movement
  • Seiko Global R-Wave

    Tim says: Moving from time zone to time zone can be a pain, especially if you’re crossing an ocean and are disoriented and jet-lagged. With this Seiko global clock there’s one less thing to worry about as it uses radio waves to reset the time wherever you are. It also adjusts itself when there’s a daylight time switchover.

    This Global R-wave solves a few other problems too though, like getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night while staying in a strange hotel. It has a built-in LED flashlight that will light your way. It also has a calendar that sets automatically and a thermometer that answers the question, “Is it cold in here, or is it just me?”

    • Automatically sets to local time
    • Large digital display
    • Doubles as a flashlight
  • Lewis N. Clark Infrared Motion Sensor Alarm Clock

    Tim says: If you want to be able to check the time in the middle of the night without fumbling, but don’t need to waste juice leaving it on all night, this motion-sensor light provides a lighted display just when you need it. An infrared sensor detects movement within twelve inches and activates the display light.

    A wave of the hand also is enough to activate the snooze function, meaning no hitting the wrong button when you need five more minutes to stir and wake. The clock also displays the date, the day of week, and the room’s temperature. It only uses two included AAA batteries, making it very compact and easy to carry.

    • Wave of the hand activates display light
    • Only uses 2 AAA batteries
    • Displays day, date, and temperature
  • i.Sound iPod Travel Alarm Clock

    Tim says: This alarm clock is a bit bulkier than most, at 4-1/8 x 4-1/8 x 2-5/8 inches, but that’s because it has a built-in speaker to play the songs from your iPod. You just plug your iPod into the dock on top and set the alarm to play your favorite tune.

    It charges the player while it’s plugged in, using an A/C adapter or 4 AA batteries. With the batteries, it should go for 60 hours of music playback before needing replacements. The iSound clock comes in white or black, works with all iPod models with a bottom dock, and has a lighted blue display.

    • Wake to custom songs from your iPod
    • Charges your player in the dock
    • Lighted display
  • Travel Sleep Sound Generator Alarm

    Tim says: If you have trouble sleeping at night or are bothered by noises from other hotel occupants or a city street, this sound generator can help you nod off. You choose from eighteen different sounds that will lull you to sleep, such as ocean surf or spring rain. You can set the noise to run for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, with a tapering function available to make it gradually softer.

    Of course the device also functions as a full-featured alarm clock, with either a regular buzzer or the choice of rising to one of the nature sounds. There is also a calendar, plus a backlit LCD with both your home time zone and your current one. There is a voice recording function as well. At 9.5 ounces without the included AC adapter and attachments, this is bulkier than standard travel alarms and it uses four AA batteries. If you’re a light sleeper though, the extra weight could be worth it.

    • Lulls you to sleep with nature sounds
    • Dual-time alarm clock
    • Works on A/C power or batteries

You will be happy with any of these

  • Seiko Silver Get Up and Glow Travel Clock

    Tim says: Most of a travel clock’s weight and bulk comes from its batteries, so this Seiko model slims down considerably by using only one included AAA battery. As a result the light does not stay on in the dark, but the same large button used for the snooze turns it on.

    The clock weighs less than four ounces as is only 3 inches by 3.5 inches. The date is also displayed and when not in use the stand folds over the front of the alarm face, protecting it. Seiko stands behind its Get Up & Glow with a one-year warranty.

    • Slim, small, and light
    • Only 1 AAA battery
    • Stand doubles as a clock cover when folded up
  • Lewis N. Clark Nightlight Clock

    Tim says: This ultra-slim travel clock stays lit all night when the alarm is on, so there’s nothing to press to see what time it is. It also functions as a flashlight when needed so you can find your way to the bathroom or locate something in the dark.

    It is only five by three inches and is featherlight, with the cover doubling as the stand when in use. Yet it features a large LED display. This model is priced right, but comes with a one-year warranty.

    • Stays lit when alarm is on
    • 7-minute incremental snooze
    • Runs for 8 months on batteries
  • Howard Miller Travel Lite Alarm Clock

    Tim says: Although measuring only 2.5 x 4.75 x .75 inches, this well-designed alarm clock also includes a tiny flashlight for when you need to stumble in the dark. It’s a metallic silver color, with a flap that folds down over the analog display clock face when packed.

    The white dial features separate second hand and alarm setting dials, plus the hands are luminous to glow at night. With quartz movement and the use of small batteries, it’s both accurate and easy to carry.

    • Thin model that’s easy to pack
    • Quartz movement
    • Includes a flashlight
  • Oregon Scientific Atomic Travel Clock with World Time

    Tim says: Radio atomic travel clocks have continually come down in price, to the point where some models are now the same price as clocks you have to manually set yourself. This model from Oregon Scientific delivers the perfect time all the time. Wherever you are traveling, it picks up the proper radio waves and sets the clock to the proper local time.

    It also includes a calendar function that is set automatically, a nice feature after a long flight where it’s hard to tell what day it is. It folds up slim and compact, comes with a travel pouch, and only uses two included AAA batteries. Be sure to get the world version if traveling outside the U.S., however. The cheaper model with “U.S.” in its name only works in one country.

    • Inexpensive clock for world travelers
    • Resets the time and date automatically in 130 cities
    • Comes with travel pouch and batteries
  • Clocky from Nanda

    Tim says: Do you have trouble getting out of bed while on the road? You’ll have no choice with this Clocky alarm clock because if you don’t get up the first time it beeps you’re in trouble. A few minutes later (at an interval you set) it runs away like a scared robot and beeps a variety of noises until you find it and turn it off.

    With two wheels on the side that start turning at the set time, this is not the most compact alarm around and it requires four AAA batteries for all that motion. If it means the difference between making your important meeting or not, however, the Clocky would be worth its space in your bag.

    • Runs away when snooze alarm starts
    • Rugged construction
    • Comes in four colors

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