I'm looking at getting a MP3 type device for photo backups, music and audio books. Any recommendations for what might be most practical for travel? Particularly the simplicity of recharging batteries and loading photos directly from camera/card.
I haven't used one for photo backups, but on my last trip to Europe (2005) I brought along an iPod Mini with a couple gigs of music. It helped make the flight more bearable.
You should also consider noise-canceling headphones (powered by a AAA battery, they generate a counter-frequency that eliminates annoying noises, like the steady, hammering drone of a jet engine). Since I want more portability, I'm researching noise-canceling/isolating earbuds (so far I've read that the Shure brand e-series seems to be favored).
On my next trip (in July) I'm planning to bring along a 4GB iPod Nano. The Nanos are smaller, use less power than the discontinued Minis, and have flash memory (instead of an internal hard drive with moving parts, which can crash).
If you're planning on using your MP3 player for photos, then you should probably go the 8GB route. However, the iPod Nanos are spendier than the hard drive models (you can get a 30GB regular iPod for the same price as the 8GB Nano).
I use a video iPod during my European trips. Before leaving the U.S., I load it with movies, television shows, music, games, audio books, even Rick Steves' audio tours. This gives me a wide variety of entertainment options during the flight or in my hotel room. Then, during the trip, I upload each day's photos to the iPod, just in case my camera's memory card is lost or stolen. The iPod hard drive is high-capicity, so you can store as many 3, 5, or 7 megapixel photos as you want. And Apple's charging unit automatically converts most European voltage to the proper amount.