We admit that the tech gear we carry on our travels is in a never ending cycle of updating. I went back to look at a post we'd done three years ago about the tech stuff we carry on our travels and just shook my head. Of that list of several gadgets, we're still carrying only one, the Bose noise cancelling headphones. And they've been updated by Bose, but we just haven't bought the new versions ourselves.
So, for late 2018, here's what we're currently lugging around. Actually lugging isn't the right word, because we've used newer technology to pare down what we're carrying, and with it the weight. So, modernize with us, and save yourself at least a little weight. When you put on as many miles as we do, it's worth it.
So, here are our favorite tech travel accessories.
The phone, with apps
First on all tech lists, of course, is your smart phone. We're both carrying the iPhone 7. I have the 7+ and Kris has the plain old 7. We'll undoubtedly update them sometime in the future, but for now, they're paid for, and that's a big advantage. The cameras, especially in the 7+, are still outstanding.
The phones are only as good as the apps you can use. Here's an abbreviated list of the ones I use:
Google Maps. It works almost everywhere.
Google Translate works with every language we've run into.
I use the Booking.com and Hotels.com apps for booking hotels on the road.
Tripit Pro is simply the best app for keeping track of all our travel reservations. Hotels, planes, trains, you name it. And it's an invaluable aid for helping you rebook if a flight is delayed or cancelled. Well worth the $40 per year fee. There's also a free version that has fewer features.
Here's a more detailed post about all the travel apps we use.
I read the newspapers, New York Times, Washington Post, and The Guardian, every day. I also subscribe to Bloomberg Business and The New Yorker. None of those are essential for travel, but I'm kind of a news junkie.
The various social media addictions, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are also satisfied by the phone.
And of course, there's my music library, a flashlight and an alarm clock.
One more thing, if you travel outside the United States (and are based in the US,) T-Mobile is the carrier for you. It works seamlessly in more than 120 countries. I just took my phone out to the remote bush of Malawi–and it doesn't get much more remote than that–and it worked there for phone and 3G internet. I was amazed.
I have a separate post on my camera equipment, but I'm going to make note of two smaller travel cameras here–cameras that fit the light weight and easy-to-carry mantra, yet still deliver outstanding results. I carry the Sony RX-100-III, and Kris has the RX-100-V. They are essentially the same camera, but the V model shoots 4K video, which we don't use much. We should have saved the money.
The other camera that Kris carries and really likes is the Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera. It doesn't shoot RAW, which is a bit of a drawback, but it's waterproof to 30 meters (100 feet.) When you're paddle boarding, kayaking, or snorkeling, that's a must. And, you don't need a bulky waterproof housing.
Tech for charging
We used to use separate plug adapter, a power strip, and have to carry all the charger blocks for our phones, Kindles, Fitbit, etc. Now we've switched to this all-in-one plug adapter which has included USB ports. That means no power strip and no charger blocks. Needless to say, a big improvement.
And, after getting tired of all the crappy cables that come with your electronics (yes, Apple, I'm talking to you,) we started buying these braided cables from Amazon. Much better, believe me. I also like they come in longer lengths. (They also come with all connectors, btw, so search for yours, if it's not Apple.)
Even with pretty great coverage between T-Mobile date roaming and tons of Wi-Fi spots around the world, there are inevitably those places and times that require personal connectivity. We checked out the KeepGo Portable Travel Wi-Fi recently from the middle of the woods in the middle of Sweden and, voila, we were able to secure a good connection and complete the task at hand. The KeepGo offers easy set-up and secure logins.
I’m all for seeking out and respecting zones where we can experience pure living without electronic devices. But I’ll keep this mobile hotspot packed and charged for those long bus trips or times when we just might need to connect with civilization from the wild.
How many times, when your phone battery is low, have you realized you have your charger but neglected to bring your power cord along to make the connection? Enter MyCharge HubPlus Universal, the charger that features built-in Apple Lightning and USB-C cables. A two-prong wall plug is also built in (handy, but meaning I need to deal with this separately from my USB power strip). This might be a tad bigger than my previous charger at 7 ounces (2 ½ x 4 inches), but the battery life is much greater. MyCharge boasts extra protection to prevent overheating and overcharging, too. Instead of carrying two chargers now, this is my one and only. MyCharge gets bonus points for the fact that I made a new friend–someone with no charge cord–when I lent my charger to him.
Finally, don't charge in a public space (yes, that means cafes and airports, and even your hotel room) without using a data blocker. The bad guys can alter USB charging stations to plant malware on your phone or computer, or steal your data. If you use one of these, they let the the power through but don't allow data transfer. Be safe.
Tech for reading
We're both converts from the iPad to the Amazon Kindle when it comes to reading on the road. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is the Kindle Paperwhite displays black type on a white glare-free background. Like a book. It's much easier on the eyes than reading on an iPad. Also, the battery lasts much longer. The new ones are waterproof. And finally, it's lighter.
Tech for listening
As I mentioned above, we both love our Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. They aren't cheap, but they're the best at both sound reproduction and noise cancelling. And when you're on a plane for about 24 hours, like I was last week, that noise cancelling is essential.
And, while we're speaking of hearing, I've added Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs to my kit in the last year, and they can be life–or hearing–savers when you're in a loud environment. They reduce the sound pressure and background noise, but still allow you to hear the person talking next to you. I love them, and never go out of the house to a restaurant or bar without them, even when we're home in the Twin Cities.
You can see a shopping list of a lot of the gear we use all in one place here on Amazon. If you buy something from this list, Travel Past 50 receives a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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