Wondering what to take on the road when it has to do with electronics? Walking to a hostel common room today, you would be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally stumbled into the local electronics shop. You are likely to be surrounded by notebooks and tablet computers, smartphones and DSLRs, and much more softly glowing Apple logos than you can shake a stick at.
Often unsure of what they truly want, people end up carrying far more tech equipment on the street than they ought to. After several years of traveling and working online though, I have figured out what works, what does not, and what you actually need.
With the disappearance of Internet cafes and the incidence of free Wi-Fi in places all over the world, a notebook is definitely worth considering for your next trip. It is the easiest method of staying in touch, backing up photos, and passing the time on those long flights or bus rides.
I use mine to operate from the street, so I went for something relatively powerful, but for more average usage, a thin and light notebook like an Ultrabook (e.g., Dell XPS 13) or a Macbook Air can offer whatever you want at a lower weight and (possibly ) cost.
If I did not work online, I would ditch the notebook and take a tablet instead. Smaller, lighter, cheaper, and with better battery life compared to a notebook, the most well-known example is Apple’s famous iPad (miniature or full-size).
While both of these will do the job for a traveler, the best value for money right now is in the Android variety. A Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is my recommendation.
To back up your photos, both Apple and Android devices allow you to plug in an external SD card reader, so select one of these up as well.
It has quickly become an indispensable item of travel technology, together with all my music, photos, programs, and entertainment stored on the microSD card, and it was cheaper and easy to edit.
I made sure to purchase the unlocked version of my phone, meaning I can use a prepaid SIM card anywhere in the world and benefit from considerably cheaper calling and data rates. Your cellular company in your home will charge incredibly high rates if you use your usual number abroad, which makes roaming calls and information prohibitively costly for most travelers.
Changing to a local mobile company when you arrive at a state can save you a small fortune. I personally know people who accidentally abandoned data enabled when on holiday for a week and came home to a charge of several thousand dollars. If you can not unlock your phone and have to use it while traveling, at least turn the data link off to decrease the pain.
I resisted buying an e-book reader for quite a long time. I am a physical book kind of guy. However, now that I have made the jump to a Kindle, I am quite delighted with it.
It’s incredibly small and light, more so than even just a tiny paperback, and can save hundreds of books, travel guides, and anything else I might want. I picked up the Kindle Paperwhite 3G, which costs more than the Wi-Fi-only variant, but the ability to get fresh novels from anywhere with mobile phone coverage is invaluable.
Many e-readers now include web browsers and the ability to download programs, which makes them more of a cross between a tablet and an e-reader. These versions usually are not as good to read on though because there’s a great deal more screen glare.
I considered a tablet rather than an e-reader, but for studying on the street there was really no competition. The battery life is measured in weeks instead of hours, the display is so far better in sunlight, and I will happily lie on the beach without worrying about it.
Thanks to a cheap case I purchased off eBay, it looks like a plain laptop if I want to pull it out on the road to check directions.