Updated: 7/2/20 | July 2nd, 2020
It’s surprisingly hard to find travel gear that delivers. There’s the tiny solar charger that took five days to half-charge my phone, the wind-up flashlight with a handle that snapped off the first time I used it, the travel mouse that chewed through batteries in a week, and the countless others I’ve tried and discarded over the years.
When space in your travel backpack is limited, your gear really has to work hard to justify its place on your packing list.
To start with, they have to be able to go the distance. Getting dirty, wet, jammed into backpacks, dropped, knocked around, and plugged into terrible electricity supplies are all par for the course when it comes to travel. If your gear can’t handle life on the road, it’s just going to be wasted money.
Gear also needs to be small, lightweight, and genuinely useful. It should be something you use frequently and that improves the quality of your trip.
With criteria like that, it’s no surprise there aren’t many tech gadgets I personally recommend for travel. But, now and then, I do come across something that bucks the trend and hits the sweet spot in terms of price, function, weight and reliability. Here are my current favorite pieces of gear for the tech traveler:
1. Anker PowerCore
If you asked almost any smartphone owner what they want more of, it’s battery life. When you’re off the grid hiking, stuck on a bus for ten hours, or simply staying in a hostel without lots of power outlets, having extra battery life means having a better trip.
The Anker PowerCore is one of the most popuar external batteries on the market, balancing affordability and function. It’s durable, small enough, and can charge your phone a couple of times over before needing to be recharged.
You can usually find them for $30-70 USD depending on the version you get. They’re worth every penny if you ask me — especially if you’re using your smartphone as a camera and want to ensure you have adequate battery life for pictures as well as maps, translation, and everything else you need your phone for.
2. Corsair Flash Survivor USB stick
A USB stick is useful for travelers as it’s the easiest way to share video files or lots of photos, and to get things like boarding passes printed out without logging into email on dodgy computers in hostels and internet cafes.
The Corsair Flash Survivor is a shockproof, waterproof, dustproof USB stick that is my personal favorite.
However, any USB stick will do the trick. These days, they’re incredibly cheap and can easily store upwards of 250GB while still being caffordable. That’s plenty of space for music, movies, photos, and everything else you’ll need!
Bringing a USB also means you won’t need to carry a separate portable hard drive, which often break and take up a lot of space in your bag (and they’re also much more expensive than USBs).
3. Travel Power Strip
These days, most of us travel with a lot of technology. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-readers, external batteries — chances are, you’ve got at least a couple of these in your bag when you’re abroad. And, if you’re like me, you probably rush to start charging them as soon as you get to your accommodation.
That can be a challenge sometimes — especially if you’re a budget traveler staying in hostels — because there might not be enough outlets.
The solution? A travel power strip. They don’t take up a ton of room and make charging your devices as hassle-free as possible.
A travel power strip will also allow you to charge your devices without needing multiple adapters, saving you money as well as space in your bag. Most new models also include USB ports too, making them incredibly convenient for anyone with more than one device.
4. Chargers, Adapters, and Cables
When it comes to travel adapters, there are a lot of overpriced junk ones out there. I’ve seen country-specific adapters going for as much as $25 USD at airport stores and they looked like the kind of thing that wouldn’t last a week.
Unless you know for certain that all the countries you’ll visit on your trip use the same plug type, buy a universal adapter.
I’ve been using a super cheap model ($4 USD on Amazon!) for four years.
I also like multi-part adapters — they’re more expensive but tend to have more options. Some models also includes a USB socket, which is a nice touch.
It’s also worth packing a USB charger. If your phone or tablet didn’t come with one, a decent dual-port charger will set you back around $10-15 USD — just be sure that at least one port is rated at 2.1 amps so tablets will charge properly.
The key thing to remember when picking travel tech is don’t get carried away. It’s easy to end up with far too much in your luggage. Pick a few accessories that combine two or more different functions into one device. Look for things that will save frustration, time, money, and space in your bag.
If you do, you’ll have an easier, more enjoyable trip — without carrying 20 pounds of electronic junk in your backpack!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.