By Joi Ito from Inbamura, Japan (whatsinyourbag) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If you have read our post on doing a test for safe and enjoyable travel, you will remember that we mentioned something about essential gadgets to bring along. As much as we would like to promote minimalist or light travel, there are other travel gear or accessories that we also advise travelers to take with them.
What we have here is similar to a recent travel blog post on Huffington Post Travel but we would like to focus more on the practical and modern-day context. Consider taking the following items with you as you enjoy various travel destinations around the world.
1. A Very Smart Smartphone
Smartphones are essential but getting a superbly capable smartphone may not be that much of a concern for most travelers. Yes, we would like to emphasize that part on being smart. As much as possible, you have to get a new smartphone with wide-ranging capabilities. Go for the leading flagship devices that offer a multitude of features. The smartphone you have to bring with you should offer a great combination of software and hardware reliability, long-lasting battery, full-range connectivity, an excellent camera (so you no longer need a point-and-shoot), and support for fast Internet connection.
There are smartphones that include sensors that can help you monitor health. There’s one recently announced smartphone, for instance, that comes with a thermometer, a heart sensor, and various health apps.
As much as we like the iPhone and the iOS ecosystem, we can’t really help not to point to the Android direction. If you need something that has greater compatibility across a multitude of devices, it’s better to use something that runs with an operating system that is used by more users worldwide. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking your iPhone or Windows device with you but it may not be as versatile as an Android device. The need for a proprietary charger, for instance, is off putting. Also, its connectivity is limited to exclusive ecosystems (i.e. iOS and Windows).
Besides, the Android operating system gets you closer to “all-seeing” Google that offers very useful services such as Maps and quick access to other useful travel information online. If you need to move or back up files, the Google Drive service is also very handy.
2. Multipurpose Power Cord or Adapter
If you are bringing multiple electronic devices with you, it helps having a power cord or adapter that can connect multiple devices so you can free some space in your luggage. Typically, an adapter that enables USB power connection along with some commonly used ports will suffice. Just be sure that it is of high quality to avoid damaging your devices or causing harm on yourself.
By Jose Camões Silva (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3. Different SIM Cards for Different Countries
If you are a regular traveler to certain countries, it pays buying different SIM cards for these countries. Doing so can cut your communication costs since it is usually much more expensive to rely on the services your home network provider is offering when you are using their service abroad. Prepaid SIM cards are not that expensive. They also have relatively long expiration periods. Plus, they can serve as good collectibles in case you no longer need them.
4. Portable 3G/LTE Modem
For many travelers, going online is already a way of life. It is an important routine that allows travelers to stay updated wherever they may be. Your smartphone may already have 3G or LTE data connectivity but if you want Internet connection for your laptop or non-3G or non-LTE tablet, having a portable modem will definitely be useful.
5. MiFi Terminal
MiFi terminals are mostly used to connect to non-US data networks. They can enable roaming on almost every data network as long as you have the right SIM card and configuration. They are replacements for the USB 3G/LTE modems you have if you are heading to some place where data connection standards are not similar to that of the USA’s.
6. Battery Pack or Power Bank (or Solar and Hand-Cranked Chargers)
Running out of juice on your devices is doubtlessly frustrating. To avoid this kind of problem, you can carry your own power bank so you don’t have to find an AC outlet to charge every so often. Just make sure that the power bank supports the voltage you need for your device. Power banks are not that big so there should be no issue carrying one with you.
You can also consider getting a solar or hand-cranked charger. These don’t cost that much. They will come handy in emergency cases when you are outdoors or in the wild and you run out of battery juice to take great photos, capture videos, make a call, or go online. These are great devices to bring if you visit places like Africa.
7. Flash Drive or Extra Micro SD Cards
You’ll never know when you will run out of memory as you take high quality pictures or videos during your trip. It helps having extra memory storage. They are not big and bulky so slipping them into small pockets in your big shouldn’t pose any problem.
By Phil Campbell (Flickr: My Digital Travelling Lifestyle Tech Bag) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A Forbes article considers some of the items mentioned above as essential travel gear. We tend to disagree since being essential for us means being something that prevents you from having a safe and comfortable travel. You can still travel safely and comfortably, bare bones, without the items on the list.
Nevertheless, you are bound to have a better travel experience if you can take these travel gear with you. Think of investing in them if you frequently go places. They are not basic things to bring; you won’t be inconvenienced not having these devices. However, they are sure to offer a considerably improved travel experience.