Having the right gear on you makes travelling all that much easier. I struggle to see how people travelled around before using a smartphone. People had to use real maps and figure stuff out using intuition…imagine that. Truth be told, you can travel without any of the stuff here but the experience is straightforward when you have them. There is a very good chance that if you are reading this only a few months after I’ve written it that there may well be a million other options now available.
Now space is at a premium in your backpack so don’t go loading up on drones and bulky equipment. Instead go for small, light, compact and durable. Here are a few tech suggestions:
These are small cameras built for outdoor use and on the go. There are many brands such as Go Pro that have become very well known and extremely popular with travellers. With accessories to add screens, floats and waterprook cases coupled with an easy to use editing tool, it’s a great way to make a professional looking video of you adventures. There are plenty of cheaper looking options so make sure to shop around.
You can take all the pictures you like on your phone but getting the quality you get with a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) is just difficult to find. I brought mine, not sure whether it was worth the space I gave it and it’s now become my favourite thing that I own. It takes a little practice and a few online tutorials to learn a few neat tricks you can do with it but definitely worth an investment.
Digital Camera with internal zoom
If you feel you are the clumsy type and feel deep down inside that a DSLR will last 5 minutes before you get drop it, then you can go for the fool proof option. Look out for a digital camera that is waterproof and an internal zoom. This means dust won’t be too much of an issue and knocking the lens won’t send it into a fit.
Your smart phone going dead when you are lost in the middle of nowhere and can’t speak a word of the local language is never any fun. Having a backup power bank to charge your phone or other devices won’t take up much space and can really save you.
No good landing in somewhere only to realise you can’t plug anything you own in. Grab a universal one before heading to the airport or they’ll charge you a crazy price. If you are only going to one country, get a specific one to save even more money. Some hostels will rent you one via deposit. If you are buying one, get one with USB ports for charging your smaller devices.
When you have a 15 hour bus ride or a 22 hour train along the length of India, you’ll be pretty happy you brought something to entertain yourself with. However, piling books into your bag that weigh you down is a thing of the past. E readers have screens that are easy on the eyes, don’t suck up too much battery and have an almost infinite library. They’re super cheap and there is plenty of free books available online to keep you going. Nurture your mind as you travel. It makes your conversations much more interesting
I know it may seem like a lot but if you are travelling for a very long time, you’ll be glad when it comes to things like getting some work done, booking flights and making reservations. The amount of people that asked to use my laptop while travelling was insane! Not every site works well on mobile and deep searching for flight savings is a real pain on your phone. If size/weight is a worry, a tablet with plug in keyboard might do the job for you. Definitely worth getting it insured if it’s a pricey machine but there are some cheap netbooks out there that will do everything you need.
USB Keys/SD Cards
Out travelling in a group and don’t have a camera? Get someone to put the photos on a USB you have and use them later. Trying to get people to send photos to you after you leave can be harder than it sounds. Us backpackers can be flakey or internet is scarce. Also, USB’s are a great way of storing copies of your passport, bank card and other documents should you need them in emergency.
If you are into trekking or at least want to give it a try then this is essential. Catching a sunset and walking back in the dark or starting off in the middle of the night to catch a sunrise will mean you won’t twist an ankle or slip providing you can see where you’re going and have both your hands free. I tackled Mount Fuji with no light and let’s just say that although I got to the summit, I’m never doing it again…ever
Phone battery can be a rare commodity and on long journeys, you can be bored to tears. However, get a head phone splitter and take turns using phones to keep music playing for twice as long albeit with less choice.
When you’re diving, snorkeling, showering, jumping off cliffs and white water rafting… you’ll thank me!
There are surely plenty more but these are the ones I’ve stuck with to get me by. Yet, gadgets aren’t the only life savers on the road, there is plenty of software out there too that has helped get me out of some tight spots and I don’t know what I’d do with out them. So before you head off, hit your app store and download the following:
App is very much like the website but has a hangout option that lets you hang out with other couchsurfers staying in the area.
Most important app on the road. You can download areas of maps that you can then use offline as even with data off it will still track your location. It’s wonderful for searching for nearby chains like Mc Donalds with wifi or popular attractions with reviews. Best of all you can save locations so when you land in somewhere you can ramble through a city ticking them all off as you go. Drop a pin of where you hostel is to make sure you can get home. This app has rarely ever seen me wrong. Some countries that don’t allow google (China), there are alternatives like maps.me or local map apps that you may need to look into.
A practical and easy way to learn languages step by step in an easy to use interface. Allows you to practice speaking words, listening to the spoke version and goal orientated to keep you interested.
A simple way of getting what you want. Also allows you to download a language offline so you can use it when your data is off, or you are saving it. It also has a nifty feature to translate any text that you have highlighted while online.
Your bank will most likely have an app that you can use to make transfers, check you balance or see your transactions. Very useful when your card stops working and alarms start going off in your head
Although I highly recommend a laptop or desktop for booking flighst and searching every known search engine, route and date known to man, having an app like skyscanner on you phone is great for a quick reference or emergency flight.
This is a novelty but so good. Sending postcards is a great way to show someone you are thinking about them when you are on the road. However, figuring out the local post system in some countries can be harder than counting stars. Either of these apps allows you to upload a picture from your phone, stick it on a card with a custom note and they’ll send it for you.
Now you can actually google search the conversion and the result will pop up for you but having an offline converter will come in handy. There are millions to choose from so take your pick
Evernote will allow you to paste in anything you need and you can make bullet point summaries of the things you did and people you met along the way. There are some tailored log apps that you might like to use but evernote has huge flexibility
Find my iPhone
The fastest way to keep your information safe if your phone is lost or stolen. It allows you to track your phone, put an alert on the screen or wipe the date from it entirely. I managed to get a phone back that was stolen from me in Bali when it was bought by someone else who was looking for the unlock code. A simple reimbursement and a helpful friend before it landed back in my postbox. If you are using android, there are equivalents that you can look into.
Hiding yourself has many benefits. Booking sites don’t know where you are booking from and in some countries, sites like Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Instagram and Twitter are banned. For this reason, using a VPN will allow you to use servers in countries where these sites aren’t an issue and you can go about your business as usual.