Top 5 Gadgets Found in a Girl’s Backpack

female traveler tech gear

Whether you pack them in your backpack, daypack, or carry-on bag, I can (almost) guarantee that you travel with at least one of the five most popular gadgets below – and for good reason! They make the packing list cut because they make traveling easier, lighter, more enjoyable, more memorable, or more social.


laptopWhen I first started traveling, most people dropped by an internet cafe periodically to check email and connect with loved ones at home. Fast forward a few years to day one of my year in Australia, and the first thing I noticed upon entering the hostel was that everyone in the common area was typing, surfing, or Skyping away on her own computer.

Packing your own laptop means you can book last minute deals, Skype, transfer photos from your camera, and connect with loved ones and fellow travelers via social media and blogs as often as you want, from wherever you want.

Companies now make laptops for almost every budget and need, helping you afford and pack exactly what you want. Lightweight, well-rated models are ideal for the traveler, ranging from my Asus netbook (read my review) to Brooke’s MacBook Pro (and of course the even lighter MacBook Air).


nikon cameraBefore I traveled with a laptop, I traveled with perhaps the most popular gadget – a camera.

Packing a camera (and laptop) means you can share photos via email, social media, an online photo album system, or a blog within minutes of taking them, helping you share your experiences and stay connected to people around the world. I often review the photos I’ve taken at the end of each day and then revisit them whenever I am on a long bus, train, or plain ride.

Cameras are such a popular travel gadget that some of us pack more than one! I love my D-SLR, but sometimes it’s easier to take a quick snap with my iPhone camera or pack my sister’s point-and-shoot when I’m packing super light.

Wondering what style of camera you would like to pack? Check out our pros and cons for traveling with a D-SLR, a point-and-shoot, or a smart phone with a built-in camera.

Smart phone

smartphoneI never thought I’d be a smart phone owner, but now that I have one, I can’t imagine going back!

Whichever brand and model you select, a smart phone helps you stay connected and informed on-the-go.

  • I’ve used the Maps app to help me navigate new places.
  • I’m able to connect with fellow travelers on Twitter to schedule Tweetups and chat about last minute changes to meeting spots or times. (Check out Twitter apps for Android on Amazon)
  • I counted on the Share-a-bill app to keep track of spending and “who owes what” when I road tripped around Australia with two friends for 10 weeks.
  • The FlightAware app, one of my new favorites, allows me to stay up-to-date on my own flights and also those of friends who I’m picking up from the airport. (Get FlightAware for Android on Amazon)

I’m fortunate that my phone came factory unlocked directly from an Apple store in Australia. I can take it anywhere and buy a micro SIM for the country I’m visiting. If your smart phone is locked, ask about if and when you can unlock it.

Portable media player

mp3 playerI loved my off-brand media player – until a friend let me borrow their iPod nano (4th generation). The 5th generation was released a few months later, and it became my first Apple purchase.

Music keeps me company on the plane when I’d prefer to pop in my ear buds and close my eyes. I jogged from the hostel to the Sydney Opera House and back using good workout songs to keep me going. When one of my first Aussie friends gave me an iTunes gift card, I set up an account on the Australia store and downloaded songs from Aussie artists I learned about over the next few months.

Whether you’re passing time on a 12-hour bus, train, or plane trip or simply love music, a portable media player can help keep your energy going.


kindleBooks rarely make my packing list, and when they do, I usually find room for only one guide book and one thin “for fun” book. It’s a shame, because while I love hopping online or listening to music, sometimes what I really want to do is read.

I don’t own an e-book reader – yet – but I’ve traveled with two ladies who do, and they have a hard time putting them down! When you’ve had a busy day of walking, sightseeing, and eating, it’s nice to relax and unwind at night with a book. With a lightweight e-book reader, you can read as many books as you wish (i.e., afford) without packing one. Packing more with less? What’s not to love?!

How many of these popular gadgets do you travel with? Which one tops your wish list?

Photo credit: 1 – tachyondecay; 2 – evilerin; 3 – freeintelpress; 4 – ataraxis; 5 – arianr.

Written by Heather

Heather Rudd Palmer is a 30-something with a love for travel, food, and healthy living. After short trips to Europe in her 20s, Heather left her job at 30 to live, work, and travel in Australia for a year. She visited every state and territory, embarked on two road trips, worked at an organic food store, and ate her way through Sydney. She's now a career counselor for university students. You can find Heather at There's No Place Like Oz and Healthy Life Heather.

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Gear We Use


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.


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.


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! – 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


  1. Runaway Brit says

    I recently travelled around South America with all of these items. The only one I didn’t use was the smart phone so I’d leave that behind next time. The e-book reader was by far the best, not only did I have hundreds of books on it but I also had all the guide books that I needed for my trip!

  2. Heather says

    I’m more and more tempted to buy an e-reader by the day! Another of my gal pals just showed me hers yesterday and she plans to get an upgrade soon. Maybe I’ll buy her old one…

  3. Kelsey says

    I am teaching English for a year in the FSU region. Do you think an unlocked smart phone would be a wise investment?

        • Brooke says

          oh yes! definitely! SIM cards can be picked up really cheaply in these countries. Check that you can get data because it will be helpful to stay in touch with emails/social networks when wifi is sometimes not prevalent.

  4. Andrea says

    I always travel with a camera (or two since 2009), both DSLR and point & shoot- which helps when you don’t actually want to look too much like a tourist but really want to get that shot.
    Up until this year, I never travelled with a laptop, still don’t, but have an ipad now, so this year’s local travels I have taken it with me, and it serves the same purpose. It’s become part of my everyday life, use it at work as well, it’s hard to imagine swoping it for a laptop.
    E-readers are definitely the way forward!!! I’ve always read, which I’ve missed while traveling, if I read it was one book, and I had travel guides. Since I got my e-reader, I’ve read more than I have in years, the access to so many books, free or not. Heather, I completely recommend you get one, it’s difficult to remember traveling without it, all books, travel guides in one easy access, LIGHT device, blows my mind constantly.
    Smart phones are great for the map function, and the apps available is incredible. They can also double up as a music player.
    I recently visited Cape Town, and hired a car, and while I enjoy listening to the latest music, to be able to plug in my iPod shuffle through the USB port made the car trips out the city and around the city more enjoyable, especially when you can sing-a-long.

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