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.
When 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).
Before 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.
I 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
I 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.
Books 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?