All the travel tech you’ll need

… as of 2016 anyway.

I’ve booked another trip to New Orleans. Last February, we went during Mardi Gras with a couple of friends. Let’s just say that it was a four-day floating trip of parades, beads, and endless booze. This time around it’ll just be Chris and I and we’re going for the food and the sights. We had a sampling of excellent food the last time we were there but I feel like we only scratched the gustatory surface that NOLA has to offer.

I consider myself a moderate when it comes to tech. I’m definitely not an early adopter since I don’t see myself spending ungodly amounts of cash for new tech. But I like to have the toys when I need them. Now traveling with tech can be tricky. They’re collectively  heavy and bulky (depends on what you have) and luggage space and weight is precious. Over the years, I’ve learned what to bring and what not to bring. Here are some recommendations.

E-BOOKS

If you’re a voracious reader like me, buy a Kindle or something similar. Not the fancy Kindle Voyage or even a snazzy Fire. Just their cheap, small, light and perfectly serviceable e-reader that costs around 50-70 USD. Aside from the above mentioned qualities, the battery life of a regular e-reader is phenomenal. With normal use, it can last weeks! It’s also impervious to glare so you can read while chilling on a white sand beach during a nice sunny day.

“But I’m a physical book kind of person.”

I am, too. But trust me on this. I’m the type who used to lug around three to four paperbacks around before but traveling with a Kindle changed my life.

CAMERA

I recommend buying a dSLR but only if you know how to use one or would like to take the time to learn to. It can provide the kind of image quality that you only see on magazines, major news and travel sites, and hardcore travel bloggers. The downside is that they’re expensive and blocky and some people think that walking around with a massive camera screams “Tourist!!!” (Look, everyone will know you’re one so you can get over that.) I have a Canon dSLR which I’ve had for years and it takes gorgeous pics.

But if you’re an Auto-mode person then a dSLR would be a waste for you. Do some research and buy a good quality point and shoot instead. Some say that their cellphone has a perfectly nice camera but a midprice small digicam still takes better pics and has a longer battery life. Imagine your phone dying while you’re walking the rim of the Grand Canyon. You can use your phone to do more important stuff like updating Facebook and calling your mom. Of course, cellphone cameras are better when it comes to social media photo updates (think Instagram or Snapchat) but still use a regular camera for the bulk of your vacation pics.

Besides, a digicam with video capability can take better quality videos than a cellphone when you’re drunk and singing Bon Jovi’s Always in some karaoke bar in the middle of somewhere.

Optional: Go Pros. Divers and other athletic types say they’re necessary. I don’t dive and don’t have much use for a Go Pro that can’t be done by my regular cameras. We went snorkeling with whale sharks once and a small underwater camera proved to be more than enough for the job. I also took a few pictures of Nemo while island hopping. I would say that it’s good to invest in a Go Pro if you’ll often engage in activities that would need one.

LAPTOPS

Some people forego this but I personally like taking a laptop along. Ideally one that has a screen 14″ or smaller. A lighter and thinner model is also much better. As for price, it really depends on how you use one. Some need a powerful machine for multimedia needs and some are casual users that need something basic. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Why would you need a laptop? Well, it can be for a number of reasons. It’s essential for someone who has to work remotely or prefers the versatility and power that a computer provides over tablets and cellphones. And, if you’re like me, it’s just so much easier to use a keyboard.

However, if you just don’t think a computer is necessary, then consider bringing a tablet instead. Also, see note on hybrids below.

TABLETS

For shorter trips that are a week or less, I skip the laptop and take my tablet instead unless I have to work or have schoolwork. I very rarely bring both at the same time.

Why bring a tablet? I find it more useful to keep my phone on hand while doing stuff like surfing the net, video chatting with family and friends or watching Netflix on sleepless nights. The battery lasts longer and you can use it for a longer period. If you have kids or annoying little siblings (**cough**Sofia**), you can always hand them the tablet to play with instead of giving them your precious smartphone.

There are computer and tablet hybrids like the Surface. That’s so much better than carrying a laptop if you don’t want to deal with the weight but would prefer to have more versatility than a regular tablet or cellphone could provide.

SMARTPHONES

This among everything is absolutely essential. You can skip everything but not this one. It’s the machine for EVERYTHING. Aside from its obvious necessity, it can be a lifesaver when you’re lost and need to look something up asap and you’re not in your room.

Of course, a smartphone or tech equipment is nothing without —

CHARGERS AND ADAPTERS

Buy a quick charger that can power up your cellphone or tech faster than a regular cheap one. It’s worth the extra expense. Newer cellphones already come with one. And while we’re on the subject of chargers, don’t forget a travel adapter or converter. Get at least a couple. Different countries can have different plugs and voltage and having a travel adapter will make your life so much easier.

Portable chargers are not a necessity but are highly recommended. I thought I didn’t want one but quickly realized that I did when my phone was saved several times during a multi-island trip by my mom’s powerful portable charger. Hers had enough juice to power up three dying cellphones.

CASES

Not often mentioned but absolutely important. Make sure your precious tech are properly encased to prevent damage. I prefer to have them in my wheeled carry-on because I’ve had my luggage lost once. There are tons of trusted brands that provide a variety of protective cases for your electronics. Don’t forget a good case and tempered glass screen protector for your cellphone as well.

WHAT NOT TO BRING

PS4, XBOX or any other gaming systems. Because if you think you’ll need them then you may as well stay home. It’s ok to take a break from Witcher III or Dragon Age sometimes and breathe some fresh air.

***

That makes up my list of travel tech. My husband feels that some of the bigger stuff are unnecessary until he asks me if I brought the tablet. :p

 

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