In the 21st century, technology has become an important part of traveling. It helps us stay connected, keeps our memories safe and allows for working mobility. However, the variety of gadgets is so huge that it’s easy to get lost. Let’s have a look at what you really need on the road and what you can leave home.
This is the travel gadget of choice for many people. It’s comparatively cheap, multifunctional and lightweight. In many cases, this is the only tech you really need for your travels. What is important to look for in a smartphone that is a good travel companion?
- Battery life. Just accept the fact that you won’t have access to a socket at all times, so aim for something that can at least survive a couple of days.
- Durability. Travels provide exponentially more occasions for breaking your phone than everyday life. Look for Gorilla glass, solid case, and at least some water protection.
- Camera. If you’re not taking a separate camera with you (more on that later), this will be your only way of making memorable pictures. Naturally, you don’t want them to be too crappy. Try to get something with at least 13mpx and good optics. For example, a Huawei, thanks to their partnership with Leica, can give you a great camera experience for less money than a Samsung or an iPhone flagman.
- Second SIM-card slot. Buying local SIM is usually the cheapest way to stay connected, but you don’t want to ditch your main SIM in case something urgent happens. Note that in a lot of models second SIM occupies memory card slot, which is very suboptimal in a traveling phone – you need the card to store your photos, maps, guide books, and music!
Models we like: Moto G line for cheap and durable quality, Samsung or iPhone if you can spare the money, Huawei for the camera, Lenovo for battery life.
Tablet doubles most of the smartphone functions and packs them in more weight, so think well if you really need to carry it around for something your smartphone can also manage. However, there’s no denying that a tablet is great for entertainment, so you might want to pack it if you have a lot of long transits. Movies, games, books – all that is more conveniently consumed on a tablet than on a smartphone. My friends with kids say that they never travel without at least the same number of tablets as the number of their kids – it saves them so much stress!
Models we like: iPad mini, Lenovo
If you are a bookworm, you don’t need a tablet to entertain you. You also don’t need kilos of books taking space in your luggage. An e-reader is a cheap and durable device that can hold hundreds of books and survive weeks without charge. It can also be a place for your guidebooks.
Models we like: Kindle if you don’t mind its connection to Amazon, Sony
Let’s make this clear from the beginning: you don’t need a laptop unless you work from the road! It’s heavy, it takes space, and it’s most costly to replace should something happen (you do include all your tech in your travel insurance, right?). If you work is not computationally-heavy and happens mostly online, take a Chromebook, and it will cover all your needs. In case you do something heavier though, like image processing, you need an ultrabook with sufficient specifications. Don’t pick the best hardware there is, you don’t need 4 i7 cores and 16 Gb RAM to just use Photoshop. Buy an Ultrabook with the minimum specs that you actually need, and it will weigh less and the battery will last longer!
Models we like: Chromebook for browsing, Dell XPS for great screen and specs, Macbook Pro if you can’t live with anything but Apple (but don’t buy Air, it is all but obsolete now)
For those that really value quality travel pics, a good camera is a must. However, unless you are a pro and want to carry around several expensive lenses, you don’t need to spend millions on a DSLR. And if you are a pro, you don’t need our advice anyway. For most people, an automatic point-and-shoot compact digital camera will be a totally adequate solution. If you want to spend more time trying to make a perfect pic, get a good mirrorless camera – it’s a nice balance between quality and cost/weight. An action camera is necessary if you’re going to do extreme sports. It’s very durable, waterproof and keeps your hands free.
Models we like: Canon for point & shoot, Lumix for mirrorless, GoPro is the best action camera.
Here we’ve collected a few small things that will make you life on the road much easier.
- Power bank. Unless you’re going to be in the wild for days, it’s enough to just have one that allows your tech to last an extra day.
- Split-socket charger. Not all accommodation provide enough sockets for you to charge all your tech, so take this to multiply them. Especially good in hostels, where battles for sockets can get really ugly!
- External memory/memory cards. If you’re traveling for a long time and make a lot of pictures, you want to copy them to your external memory to free up memory for new pics in your phone or camera. Another way of doing it is to set up cloud backup if you have access to fast internet.
- Protective gear. Not only can you damage your gadgets accidentally, it also attracts robbers, so consider taking not only padded bags but also locks, chains etc. Life on the road is unpredictable, and the better your tech is protected, the longer it’ll last. Don’t forget to include your valuable gear in your traveling insurance, so that you can easily replace it using refund money.