One thing I’ve learned about blogging is that “MUST have tech gadgets for travelers” would do better as a title, but to be honest, I’m fully under the belief that you don’t need anything to travel well. But I was asked to do a post on travel tech gadgets and I can give my opinions on what tech gadgets I have or think I would like to have.
Power Converter + Extension
I breifly mentioned this before but this is one of the few things I’m an evangelist about for techies. If you have more than one cord to plug in, you actually need this system.
First is the power converter. The one I have is the plain white box thing that flips into Europe, USA/Japan/Australia/Thailand and UK/SP. I had one that didn’t flip out into the EU system, and I had trouble in eastern Europe because it needs an input. The one I have doesn’t need an input it just avoids it because the prongs are long.
So now I have one US outlet which I plug the multi-outlet cord into and now have 3-4 outlets. The extender with 3 outlets has a USB option. Which, to be honest, it isn’t that helpful as we end up carrying a two prong to usb converter.
I know, this is obvious to any techie out there. So I won’t dwell on convincing you to get a smart phone. But we have had an old used smart phone that a friend stopped using for years. It is only recently that we upgraded to a newer used phone. And went years without a phone plan at all, so I’m hardly the tpyical techie.
However, the apps are the reason why I have a smartphone. I do like having other non-app things like being able to take a picture/screenshot of my hotel’s address or some other details.
Speaking of apps, here are some we have liked.
- Language learning app
- Magic Jack
- Unit Plus
We use old iPhones but would use whatever. My friend Hans posted about great deals on the Amazon Fire Phone
, which I might check out next time, as it would go with T-Mobile or whatever GSM plan and overseas.
Earbuds not headphones
It would take a lot to convince me that noisecanceling headphones are worth it, and it would be pretty easy to sell noise-canceling earbuds. I love my iPhone earbuds and I hate noise.
I thought about the headphones, and besides the price, I didn’t want to pack them for a trip just for the flight. I know they’re in style now… but let’s be honest, they aren’t convenient.
I do, however, often keep the earbuds in my pocket.
Kindle / Ipad
I know a lot of travelers live on their kindle or tablet. A tablet is lighter, smaller, doesn’t have to be taken out in airport security, and the battery lasts a lot longer. Perfect for travel. Plus, they are generally cheaper.
Audible, podcasts, itunes U, etc…
To be honest, I’ve neraly completely stopped reading. I’ve gone completely to audio and don’t regret it. I personally love learning about all kinds of things from business to science, and I’ve downloaded countless hours of lectures by experts in whatever I’m interested in at the time. But the reason I love this over reading is the efficiency of it all.
On and throughout the subway to the airport, I’m learning. In line at TSA, I’m learning. Boarding the flight, I’m still learning.
I can’t imagine a better use of my time, and I can’t imagine not taking the opportunity. Sometimes I forget to download something new to listen to, and therefore I’ve probably listened to some hour long lectures and interviews 20 times… but as long as I remember to just start downloading stuff, I’m good.
And once you find a good source of interviews/lectures, that should last you for a while.
Although I’m guessing it’s easier for me as someone who has never had any interest in fiction. Although there are a lot of NPR style podcast, (which I realize isn’t fiction…but has an entertainment angle to it at least.)
But this biggest source I know of for audio books is Audible. It is fantastic and when you signup your first book is free. So pick the longest or most expensive book you’re interested in.
2tb hard drive
This is the perfect product just because it’s the biggest you can typically find right now without needing a power source. A typical 3 tb hard drive for a similar price is 5 times bigger in actual size and needs plugged in. So I highly recommend this smaller 2tb hard drive for long term travelers.
Cameras + SD cards
I think I’ll leave out most of my opinions on Cameras for now and maybe write something more extensive later, because it’s something I’m kind of passionate about.
But in terms of video for travelers, the GoPro is the best thing since sliced bread. I’m obsessed. The old ones were real good, and the new ones (the 3+ Black, and 4) are incredible quality. They are very high resolution (new ones are in 4k), and actually built for sports, so they have decent stabilizing built in and it’s very wide.
Wide angle is generally good for travel, although it does curve the horizon slightly when you film the ocean or something. But better for smotth video, and most situations except wildlife. You’ll never see a bird on this thing.
The GoPro also does photos but it’s not quite as convinient in that it doesn’t have a screen built in it. So you’re guessing, but it’s wide enough that you can assume it got everything.
With DSLRs I’m a Canon guy, because I like video. So from bottom up the price points vary a lot. The Canon T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, 7D, 5D Mark ii, 5D Mark iii. Although if you’re doing just photo on a budget the Nikon D40 is dirt cheap compared to what it used to be, and if you want video the Nikon D5100 is a step up in quality and has video. I won’t go into lenses right now, just because DSLRs are heavy and this is about travel stuff, not just cameras.
As for point and shoots, again, I’m Canon biased. And the S110 is a great camera. I haven’t used a point and shoot in years, but I like the line. For a traveler not obsessed with the nerdy aspects of photography, this is a great series. It has photo and video, great range, great quality… but best of all it’s way more compact than a DSLR. Trust me, lugging around a DSLR is a job. For most travelers, I’d go this route.
- GoPro 3 (I have the 3+ Black)
- Canon Rebel series
- Canon 5D Mark ii (expensive) and Canon 5D Mark iii (more expensive)
- Nikon D40
- Nikon D5100
- Canon s110
Since we travel a lot, we take a lot of video and photos. A ton. So having at least a 64gb hard drive is neccisary. For most people, it might not matter. But then again, if you only do a one to two week trip and aren’t bringing a laptop to store stuff on, this might be the option that allows you to take plenty of photos without worry before going home.
I honestly buy all my stuff used off of amazon. I used to mix in ebay, but I don’t have patience for bidding and what not, and I got burned a few years ago and have been on Amazon since.
Basically, be smart. Look at the seller’s ratings, and pick someone who has enough reviews to be credible. I don’t buy from brand new sellers. But for me having a 2011 Macbook Pro for less than $500 is a good enough deal that it’s worth whatever small risk is inherent in buying used.
What do you really need? If you didn’t have any of these things, you would be fine.
Or if you just had a smart phone, you’d have basically everything. It would be a way to skype home, take pictures and video, read or listen to things, and still have all the apps like mapswithme and Uber. Basically for something that takes up as little space in your pocket as an actual map you might carry anyways, you can have everything.
We personally carry the following tech items, which includes all the above except a tablet:
- 2 Macbook Pro 2011
- 2 phones
- A 2TB Harddrive
- Power converter
- Power strip
- 1 DSLR (lenses, SD card reader, etc.)
- 1 GoPro 3+ Black (and suction cup mount)
- Chargers for everything
In my opinion, that is a lot of gear, and I personally wouldn’t recommend carrying everything for a one week vacation unless you need to. Not that I care either way if you carry a laptop or not. We work on the road, so it may be different.
What are some other tech gadgets we should consider, or that you travel with? For some reason this community has a lot of techies in it, so I’m curious as to some of the recommendations of tech gadgets for travel that others will recommend.