My Technology Travel List: What to Take When Traveling Abroad

by Brian Carroll on November 8, 2012

From the outset of my travels I made a conscious decision to pack really light. In fact, I've probably packed lighter for months of travel abroad than I have for 3 days of vacation in the states, say to Las Vegas. Currently my luggage consists of a 46L backpack (Osprey Porter) and a 16L collapsible backpack (REI). It's really not that much space, especially when accounting for the fact that I'm 6'2" and my shoes alone take up a lot of space. All that said, as I've traveled through the South Pacific and now South America, probably 1/5 of my overall space is dedicated to technology items, much of which I think has been indispensable in my travels.  So here's my list: Iphone (or Ipod Touch): This has probably been the most important piece of technology for me. While I have turned off my phone plan and keep it in airplane mode at all times, the prevalence of wifi as one travels makes it easy to stay on top of travel reviews, booking tickets, using maps and really anything else you can imagine. Today, it's never been easier to be across the world visiting a place like Machu Picchu and within 10 minutes of leaving, be tapped into the internet to get reviews on places to eat, hostels to stay at or anything else you might need to do. IMPORTANCE:  10 out of 10 Netbook PC: Before I left, I contemplated taking my Macbook Air or purchasing an Ipad. Instead I spent some time researching netbooks and purchased a used HP Mini which has been great. It's extremely compact, more functional than an Ipad (i.e. Writing blog posts, connecting to usb devices, etc...) and while it's important to me, I'm not as neurotic about it as I might be had I brought a significantly more expensive apple device. At most places one travels, a computer is accessible in a hostel/hotel, but I highly recommend bringing one as it is obviously portable and much more convenient than having to wait for someone to finish up their time on a public computer. IMPORTANCE:  8 out of 10 Camera (DSLR): My feelings on the type of a camera to take have changed since I first started traveling. In my initial ventures to Australia and New Zealand, I relied on a Canon Elph (pocket camera) and my Iphone 4 camera/video. While these devices were functional and MUCH more compact, after traveling with a friend who took pictures with her DSLR and comparing the quality among the photos, it wasn't even in a contest as to how much better her pics were than mine. Some of that might be due to knowledge (which I am a newbie on) but even without knowing much about cameras, the auto settings on a DSLR completely blow away those of a compact camera. And at least for me, I'd like to blow some of these pictures up after my travels for my place back home. The downsides of the DSLR camera are clear: It is bulky, noticeable, and more expensive (equals more "prized" by a thief) and thus this makes the camera more of a burden overall. Despite such downsides, if you want to get the most out of your experiences and pics, I recommend trying to figure out how to make space for a DSLR. IMPORTANCE:  7 out of 10 Kindle: My kindle touch was something I decided to get for the specific purpose of using while traveling. Once I decided that packing light was a priority, that meant leaving Lonely Planet guides and other books behind. And to be honest, it has been a great decision and gotten me to read more books this year than I've probably read in the past 5 years combined. And one great trick I learned - I can check out ebooks online from my library back in LA and access them directly on my kindle at no cost! I basically have had an endless supply of books to read because of this trick (Note: It can sometimes take a couple weeks to get a book off the waiting list, but that''s why I try and get on a waiting list for 10 at once and over time, they all trickle in). IMPORTANCE:  8 out of 10 Ipod: As I write, I'm currently listening to my ipod. My ipod is a bit redundant to my iphone (though it can store a ton more music) and while I have used it regularly on long flights/rides, if I was more proactive in loading my music to my Iphone, I could probably do without this. IMPORTANCE:  6 out of 10 USB Wifi Antenna: While most places I've stayed at have wifi, the quality of the signal, especially depending on the room you sleep in, can vary. This means that sometimes when I'd rather lay on my bed and surf the net, I'm forced to go into some common room that isn't as comfy. As a solution to this, I purchased a usb wifi antenna off Amazon, which essentially increases the strength and range of the signal I receive. It has come in handy a number of times but is not vital. IMPORTANCE:  4 out of 10 Other than chargers and plug adapters, that pretty much exhausts my technology tools I use while traveling.

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