Having gadgets at home is one thing, but having the right electronic tools on your travel is essential and there are a few things you really shouldn’t leave home without. I will recommend the type of tools you should have and what is important to look out for when you buy something with an eye on traveling! So here is my list of top 5 travel tools:
If there is one thing you should take with you on a trip, it is a smartphone. Even if you don’t have one at home, it is the most essential tool to have when traveling and will make it much, much easier. And, no, not because you can watch cute dog videos on YouTube or make your facebook friends jealous with beautiful sunset photos from the beach. It’s because you have most of the information known to mankind available at your fingertips. Think about it, at home, you know where to find a shop or restaurant and know how to get there. You know what things should cost, or what is generally accepted behaviour – or not. Is that true for your destination? Granted, if you are on a tour/cruise or stay at a resort without leaving, it won’t matter much. For everybody else, it will save you lots of time, effort and money. I use it starting at the airport: Finding the best transportation and what it should cost, keeping taxi drivers honest with navigation, find sights, restaurants or shops at my destination, convert currencies I’m unfamiliar with, hail a taxi or uber wherever I am or use maps to find my way. Get background information on cultural sights I’m visiting or tips for do’s and don’ts – or just stay in touch with loved ones wherever I go! I will post about the best apps to have separately.
- Digital Camera
I know, I know… you have a camera in your smartphone – why dragging around a camera, it’s so 20th century… well, it is – until you try to take photos of wildlife or a candid shot of kids playing or an architectural detail: all of that requires a zoom lens and while you have a “digital” zoom on your phone, you’ll lose a lot of those megapixels they have, leaving you with grainy pictures. Or you are trying to take a photo in dim light or at night – you won’t get very far with a phone there either. Take a look at the jungle photo – with a phone, you get a photo of a tree; with a camera, you get a photo of an orang utan in the wild!
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to drag around a bag full of equipment – a simple and compact travel zoom camera will improve your photos dramatically from what any phone camera can do!
- Electric Adapter
Now that you are carrying around some electronic gadgets, you’ll have to charge them. And if your travels take you abroad, you’ll need an adapter to fit the local power outlets. Fortunately, a lot of new hotels, especially in Asia, provide universal power outlets, or have adapters at the front desk, but I’d still bring the needed adapters or you might be stranded without the phone or camera you brought. You can find universal adapters that work in most destinations on Amazon or electronics stores.Keep in mind that the quality and price vary greatly, so check reviews before buying! You can save some space by buying an adapter that also has USB ports, so all of your stuff can be charged in one outlet! If you live in the US or Europe, you are lucky and a much smaller adaptor can cover much of the world for you. You can find the adaptors you need for each country here!
Even if you charge your gadgets every night at the hotel, especially your phone might run out of battery power before you get back, so you want to carry an extra battery. The easiest way is to buy a powerbank that allows you to charge all your different gadgets while you are on the go: your phone, camera or whatever else you carry! They come in lots of sizes, shapes and prizes – so check reviews before you buy! You can find some options on Amazon or in your local electronic store!
Anything you can do on a tablet you can pretty much do on your smartphone, too. There are a few things a tablet is much better suited for than a phone though, due to the screen size. One is reading: I have not bought a paper guide book in years and now download all of them electronically to my tablet. While that’s possible on a phone, too, it’s really hard to read a map on the tiny screen or flip through endless little pages to find the information you want. I also like to relax with a good book – and in times of limited carry-on (and expensive check-in) luggage, I save a lot of weight by leaving a stack of books at home and relying on Kindle eBooks! So, while not as essential as a smartphone, a tablet is next on my list for most travelers. If you have to do some work that involves creating content, you might want to add a small keyboard to your list.
And here is a bonus, not a gadget, but still an electronic tool:
- Cloud Storage
Having important information stored online is important when traveling – it doesn’t help you much to have it sit on a harddrive at home or on your office computer. Today, you can stay lots of information online for free or for pennies – from your favorite music to photos. I also have important travel information online, for example copies of my passport and other government documents, travel itineraries, medical documents as well as financial documents. Just imagine what you’d need in case all your belongings were lost on your trip – a copy of your passport and your credit card will make your life a lot easier, if you can get to them from the next internet shop!
I have gone through many different options for all of those tools in my years of traveling and found some not so obvious pros and cons along the way. I’ll review a few of them in following posts and give you recommendations what to look for – come back to check or sign up for our newsletter, so you won’t miss them!