Whenever I travel, a general rule I have is to keep all the trappings of modernity at a bare minimum. Many tech gadgets are not only anti-social, but also rob you of the rich benefits of travel. Some gadgets such as smartphones can connect you to people thousands of miles away, yet ironically isolate you from the ones seated right next to you.
There are other advantages of keeping gadgets at a minimum, such as lighter luggage and fewer valuable items that can be stolen. That being said, everything in moderation. You can never completely run away from tech. You will need gadgets to make your experience worthwhile. Here is a list of the technology tools you will want to have with you at all times.
1. Universal Plug Adapter
Adapters are one of the modern traveler’s most notorious pains. Thanks to different international standards of wall socket design, going to another country can get incredibly frustrating. Yet, even with the emergence of all-in-one adapters, the problem has never seemed to go away. For example, some wall outlets are recessed meaning you require an extender for the adapter to work.
In other instances, the adapter doesn’t correspond to the design shown on tourist guidebooks for the country. Sometimes, it all comes down to the quality of the adapter with some coming apart after just a few days’ use. Many of these challenges are now in the past thanks to the availability of a wide range of high quality and versatile adapters. Many have a built-in extender if you ever need one.
2. Noise-Cancelling Earphones
I talked about how certain gadgets can make you anti-social and create distance between you and the people around you wherever you go. That’s largely a negative for your travel experience, but in some instances, isolation is actually what you really want. Whether you are on a train, plane, bus or resting in a hotel room, noise-canceling earphones in particular can come in handy.
It’s the way to go if you want to shut out the noise and sleep or relax. A chatty passenger or crying babies can really drive you up the wall. The earphones not only block out the din, but also signal to those around you that you want to have some time alone. Before you head out on your next trip, find great noise cancelling earbuds, trust me.
3. USB Flash Drive
Cloud storage solutions have been available for several years now. Free or low cost services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive have made it much easier to store and retrieve files from anywhere on the planet. This has in turn significantly negated the need for travelers to carry a thumb drive with them.
That being said, cloud storage solutions have one critical dependency: internet connectivity. Whereas this will not be an issue in most parts of the world, there will be places and circumstances where a USB flash drive will be more convenient. For example, if you want to share a document with your hotel’s front desk staff, you can do it quicker with a USB drive.
You can use a flash drive to store your travel photos, a copy of your passport or any other file or document. The catch with USB drives is that you have to be careful about where you use them. They have a knack for transferring malware between computers. Make sure you scan the flash drive with a reputable antivirus before you reintroduce it to your computer back home.
4. Car Phone Charger
It would be great if you could leave your phone behind when going on vacation just to get away from it all. The realities of life, though, mean this is unlikely to be a practical choice for most of us. Friends and family may need to reach you on short notice. If you carry your phone, it goes without saying that you’ll need a phone charger.
A standard charger will do, but if you’ll be renting a car, a car charger will come in handy too. Unlike wall sockets that vary from country to country, car chargers are pretty standard and will work in virtually any vehicle. That gives you great flexibility and ensures you do not get constrained by the unavailability of suitable sockets in your hotel room.
A car charger will make it easier to use your devices to map your route, distract your kids seated in the back or play a podcast.
5. Weatherproof Phone Case
When you think about leisure travel, what usually comes to mind is a sunny tropical destination where much of your time will be spent getting a nice tan on the beach. This is pretty ideal though. Even in a tropical paradise, abrupt weather changes are not uncommon. So if there’s a sudden downpour, you want to be sure that none of your electronic items is damaged.
Waterproof gadgets are great, but not everyone has them. The next best thing is a waterproof case especially for your phone. Whereas there’s a wide range of cases on the market, you want to choose one that’s easy to use and that doesn’t impede any of the phone’s features such as the camera.
6. Smart Suitcase
Smart suitcases may not have caught on yet, but they’re certainly an idea whose time will soon come. The ability to monitor your bag’s location, its weight and whether or not it has been opened all from your smartphone makes a compelling case for smart suitcases. Some even have a USB port that you can use to charge your portable devices.
Other than purpose-built smart suitcases, you can also place lower-cost tracking devices in your luggage that can serve a similar purpose without going all the way. Few things can deflate the fun of going on a vacation faster than lost luggage. Smart suitcases and tracking gadgets allow you to have peace of mind and concentrate on making the memories that truly matter.
7. Tablet or Kindle
Bringing over a tablet as well a smartphone may seem like overkill. A growing number of smartphones have a fairly decent screen size. Nevertheless, tablets still have an advantage if you want comfortable reading. You can download a book or magazine that you can read on the plane, the train, the hotel room or the beach.
If you consider yourself an avid reader of books, you’ll probably want to carry a Kindle instead. It’s easier to read outdoors where there’s strong natural light. It also helps that a Kindle is lighter and smaller than most tablets.
In conclusion, the gadgets you should carry come down to your reason for travel, your destination, your budget and how long you’ll be away. The ideal combination of devices will vary, so be prepared to leave out some depending on your circumstances. Overall, gadgets can make your travel experience unforgettable.