Travel and Tech: What Gear Do You Really Need?

Wondering which tech gear to take on your trip, or how to keep it safe? Unsure how to back up your photos, or when to put the phone away? Here’s what you need to know about tech and travel.


Photo © Brian Rapsey

Do You Really Need All that Tech Now?

It’s common to carry laptops and expensive cameras around the world – but do you really need them?

Typically, no. If you’re not working online while traveling, leave the laptop behind. An iPad or tablet still offers everything from research to Facebook, watching movies to Skyping grandma, and it’s cheaper, lighter, and has better battery life.

Similarly, unless you’re a serious photographer, don’t lug a DSLR around. The quality of smartphone cameras – especially on high-end devices – is now remarkably good. I’ve retired my camera for all trips except those where a long-zoom lens is vital.

Keeping Your Tech Safe

The best way to keep your tech safe is to leave it at home! Otherwise, simple precautions go a long way.

Don’t flash it around, especially in poorer countries. That’s especially true for phones – it takes seconds for thieves to grab smartphones from distracted tourists, and happens regularly.

Make sure your luggage is lockable, or your accommodation has secure storage, and use it when heading out. Nothing’s foolproof against a determined thief, but even minor obstacles push them towards an easier target.

Carrying lots of gear means checking in extra luggage. Photo credit: Brian Rapsey

Backing Up Memories

Backing up is boring, but losing all your trip memories is devastating. The answer? Make it automatic so you don’t have to think about it.

If you’re taking photos on your phone, it’s easy. Just enable photo backup in iCloud, Dropbox or Google Photos, and if you’ve got decent Wi-Fi access fairly often, you’re set.

When shooting on a camera, a portable drive with a built-in card reader makes the process almost as simple. For more information on backing up your photos without a laptop, click here.

Either way, a little effort up front makes a huge difference. Don’t let a corrupt memory card or stolen phone ruin your trip!

When to Put the Camera Down

There’s a place for technology when traveling, but there’s also a time to put it away and live in the moment. Don’t get hung up on perfect photos or flawless Instagram posts – travel is about more than social media likes.

The conversations with strangers, the streets you accidentally turn down, the memory of a perfect night on the beach with new friends – these are the memories that stick around long after your travels are done. The less distractions between you and spontaneity, the more memorable your trip becomes.

Ultimate Tech List

So, which tech items are essential for travelers?

Smartphone – if money’s tight, the Moto G series does most things well. For the best photos and performance, choose the latest Apple and Samsung Galaxy models.

Tablet or Kindle – if you love to read, the Kindle Paperwhite has great battery life and a light that won’t wake other people up. Otherwise, pick an iPad or Asus Zenpad 10 with plenty of storage, or just use your phone.

Multi-USB Adapter – finding power sockets is always hard, so pack a two or four-way USB wall adapter that charges multiple devices.

Extra-long Charging Cable – speaking of sockets, since they’re never where you need them, an extra-long charging cable makes all the difference.

Noise-isolating Earphones – finally, a pair of good noise-isolating earphones or headphones are invaluable in noisy dorms and on overnight journeys.

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1 Comment

  • J said

    One suggestion. If you are going to bring a laptop while traveling, bring a 3’ HDMI cord too. It’s great to hook up to your accommodations tv and relax with a movie on a proper screen.

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