Travel has changed a lot in recent times because of the way we employ technology before and during our trips. Planning, traveling, documenting our trips, everything has become a lot easier and definitely a lot more fun because the smaller or bigger gadgets we can pack in our bags or slide in our pockets. As any gadget lover tends to have trouble parting with any of them, here’s a list of essential gadget for travelers meant to help you decide what is a must and what you should leave behind when you embark on a journey.
A smartphone is a traveler’s best friend
Smartphones these days are pretty much a computer you carry around that weighs way less than the lighter laptop and allows you do everything it’s bigger relative would. On top of that, you can keep in touch with family and friends, and call for help in case of emergencies. Emails, travel apps, your favorite Internet browser, they’re all at your fingertip. What’s even better, you can easily personalise your smart phone so you can spot it while on the go, as, let’s face it, a lot of them look exactly the same!
Your smartphone will render a lot of other gadgets useless – GPS devices and translators being the most commonly recommended. If it is tech related, there’s probably an app for that. International calls can get quite expensive. My advice is to opt for pre-paid cards whenever you travel to a new country. It might be a bit of a hassle, but it will save you tons in the long run.
Bring a camera to document your travels
We’ve gotten used to relying on our phones to take pictures or shoot quick home movies, but let’s face it, phone cameras are still limited. Breathtaking landscapes, lively parties and mysterious night views, a wild beast that you only glimpse for a second, these require a better camera. If you are a travel writer or blogger, then the quality of your pictures becomes even more important in your choice of camera.
I have been using a DSLR camera for many years and I wouldn’t switch to a different type. It’s perfect for what I need and there’s always more to learn on using it. However, buying a quality camera can get a bit expensive. Instead of going for reduced performance, consider buying a second hand camera. For example, you can get your very own top of the line Canon cameras on gumtree and pay a lot less than you would for a new device.
Don’t forget your tablet or e-reader!
Every traveler attempts to pack as light as they can, but if you travel for long stretches of time, you need to keep yourself entertained. Long flights, impossible airport layovers where you can’t go visit the sights and you are trapped there for hours, rainy days preventing you from reaching your next destinations, all these happen. You can opt to huff, puff, and get frustrated, or bring a tablet or an e-reader and help pass the time.
While tablets allow you to do more than read, the e-readers have their own advantage: ridiculously long battery life. Instead of charging my tablet once or twice a day, I’d rather bring my Kindle along and not worry about its battery for a week or two.
Power adapter kits will be a blessing
If you travel internationally, this little gadget will become your delightful companion. Hotels might have power adapters, but then again they might not, and hostels or smaller B&Bs are even less likely to help you out if your power cords don’t match the outlets. Of course you could waste time shopping for a different adapter at every destination, but being prepared will allow you to focus on what’s important: your trip.
I discovered the usefulness of power adapters on my first longer business trip. I expected the fancier hotels we’d booked to come with such options for business travelers, but no such luck. If you don’t stay at a hotel that’s near some shops or a mall, you’ll have to do a bit of a trek to find something that’s so simple and not next-gen technology by a long shot. The good news is they’ve gotten smaller and smaller over time!
Flash chargers, power banks, and other portable chargers.
These are not as prevalent as cameras and phones. Not yet anyway! Despite that, they are real life savers. The one problem newer technology has is that the gadgets require a lot more power to function. Long gone are the days when we charged our phones a few times a month. Now it’s once a day if we’re lucky. When your trips get longer, you might need some extra juice to keep your phone alive long enough to research nearby hotels or find out when your next trains leaves.
These come in many shapes and sizes and you can choose those who suit you the most. The better, more expensive ones, allow you to either charge a device several times till they are depleted, or connect several gadgets at once. As I am big on road trips and I’ve done that in the past few years, I’ve skipped on buying a proper power bank, but I will soon have to correct that.
Security gadgets to put your mind at ease
These vary from locks you put on your bags and tell you if it’s been opened recently or not, alerting you to your bags having been stolen from, or they can actually help track a missing bag. Lug Loc for example uses GPS and GSM signals to track your missing luggage. You just slip one into every piece of luggage you carry with and if any of them get lost on the way, you’ll at the very least know where they’ve arrived.
Going old school is not overrated
We all love technology and how it’s made our lives a lot easier. However, there’s no full proof gadget or piece of technology out there. It’s better to be prepared than to later regret trusting your devices too much. Maps, some cash, a compass should never be left behind, especially if you tend to go off the beaten path and explore on your own. Having an idea of how to use a map and compass is also advisable.