30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 21: Packing and Protecting Electronics

Day 21: How to Pack and Protect Electronics

Welcome to Day 21 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Travelers are bringing more and more electronics on their trips, from iPhones to laptops to e-readers and everything in between to capture every moment and keep themselves entertained. This adds to your packing list because not only do you need to keep electronics protected from the bumps and turbulence that come with travel, but also from from theft.

Take Only the Electronics You Need

Electronics can easily weigh you down, and it means you are responsible for a lot more “money” being toted around in your luggage. Not only that, but having too much expensive gear on your travels can help to make you a target in certain situations. So, with that in mind, you need to consider what will be absolutely necessary on your travels.

Some benefits of packing different devices:

    • Laptops or Netbooks: Good for blogging, keeping in touch with friends and family back home, personal entertainment, scheduling and organizing your travels, and never having to wait for shared hostel devices. Great for when you’re working on the road.
    • Phones: Also good for keeping in touch with friends and family around the world, updating social networks (if you have data on the phone) and possibly for taking photos and videos. Check out these iPhone add-ons and see if they might be a good addition to your packing list. A good travel app (or 20) on your phone can also benefit your travels.
    • E-Reader: A Kindle or other reading device allow you to save space in your luggage when it comes to the number of books, if any, you carry.
    • iPad or Tablet: These make for more compact ways to access certain apps, access the internet and keep in touch with friends. These will not be as robust for editing and backing up photos as a laptop.
  • Cameras: Point and shoots, DSLRs, or video, these devices help you to capture your adventures.

When choosing your devices, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

1) Can you pack items that serve multiple purposes? Instead of a video camera, a phone and a iPod, can you just take an iPhone get all the features in one device.

2) Will you use the item to its full potential? Packing a video camera to be used once or twice probably isn’t going to be worth it. In the same sense, packing a laptop when traveling to remote destinations without Internet or maybe even proper electricity is unnecessary.

For Your Smartphone, Tablet and E-Reader

Smartphone cases – Pack a case for your iPhone or smartphone that will keep it protected from bumps, drops and scratches. Trust us – those iPhone screens were made to crack! If you’re going to be active or near water, try a case from Lifeproof or Otterbox.

protect your smartphone

Backup battery– In addition to your phone charger, you can pack an extra battery pack that plugs into your phone and recharges. Other versions are solar powered.

E-Reader and Tablet cases– If you have a tablet or Kindle Fire, you might want to try a case that stands up so that you can watch movies.

ipad cover and screen protector
Protect your tablet or iPad with a cover and screen protector.

Screen protectors– Whatever product you bring, it should have some sort of plastic cover to protect the screen from getting dirty or broken.

For Your Laptops and Netbooks

Whether you’re packing a full sized laptop or a travel-friendly netbook, bring a padded case that will survive the bumps of trains, plans and automobiles. Back up your documents and photos with a USB drive or external hard drive.

Tom Bihn's Cache with Rails
Tom Bihn’s Cache with Rails secures into the Synapse backpacks. You can slide the case out of your bag for security without detaching or removing. The sleeve provides an unobstructed view for scans.

For Your Camera

Whether you’re packing a DSLR or a simple point and shoot, your camera is an important item to protect while traveling. Bring a lens cloth to clean of dirt and grime. Camera bags should firstly protect your camera while also being versatile enough to carry other items in it. Tripods are another item to pack for stable photos.

Chargers and Universal Adapters

Don’t forget to pack all the chargers that go with your electronics, along with a universal adapter for your chosen destination. Make sure that the voltage lines up because an adapter is not the same as a converter. You can try one plug that changes for different countries or buy a set of multiple adapters. A surge protector is also good to bring so you can charge many things at once.

protective pouches for the win

Organizational Tools and Other Essentials

Grid It– Keep your cords and chargers organized with a Grid It’s bands and zippered pocket.

PacSafe bag– The SlingSafe is a great bag for electronics as if has a sleeve for a small laptop or tablet and is lined with mesh to keep it from getting slashed.

Insurance– Any time you bring electronics, and every time you travel anywhere, you should have some sort of insurance coverage to protect you against theft, injury, baggage delay, flight cancellations and every other form of mishap.

Waterproof pouches– You can purchase waterproof cases for your camera, phone and tablet so that you can take underwater photos.

Lock– If you’re storing your valuable electronics in a locker at your hostel, it’s better to bring your own lock, either combination or key, rather than counting on having them provided.

How to Pack Your Electronics

Priority number one for packing your electronics is to make sure you have them cushioned, dry and temperate. How you place these items in your luggage will depend on your luggage style. Our biggest tip, however, is to keep anything important and expensive on you at all times. That means placing your big cameras and laptops in your carry-on luggage if at all possible. Not only does this ensure your items will not get jostled around, it also means they won’t get lost if the Bermuda Triangle should swallow your suitcase.

Have a separate pouch for your cords and cables to keep them organized. When flying, have your laptop in a case that is easy to get out for security screening.

Take Action: Protect Your Electronics
Think about the different situations your electronics might be exposed to on your travels (rain, cold, getting tossed around) and get the gear necessary to protect it.

* Big thanks to Tom Bihn for supplying products for these comparison shots.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Jennifer Bradley says

    I’ve designed and made a pouch like a jewellery roll to carry chargers. I travel with phone, small laptop, kindle and camera and found both hotels and friends tend to be short of power points. So my pouch holds chargers for all and a surge protect four point power cord (plus adapter for overseas). This way my husband and I can happily keep our equipment charged as we travel.

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