Our RTW Tech Travel Essentials
In the travel world, we’re considered “flash-packers” – not quite extreme backpackers, but not quite luxury vacationers. Budget conscious travelers with tech? With Minh’s IT background, we had our share of gadgets to help us stay connected digitally during our RTW trip. We chose tech gadgets to help us capture the amazing memories, make it comfortable and easier for us to travel, and, of course, all fit comfortably in our carry-on bags.
Here’s a list of some of the Tech Essentials we brought along with us on our trip:
While many hotels & hostels have a computer for use in their lobby for guests, being able to have our own laptop with us to use at our own disposal made things much easier for us. Since we were constantly planning while we were on the road, having a laptop allowed us to thoroughly research transportation, accommodations, things to do, and – of course – what to eat at each new destination! In addition, we would use our laptop to upload all our photos and videos, as well as update our website while on the road!
An unlocked smartphone is one of the most useful devices we brought with us on our travels. I can’t stress enough how Google Maps has saved us many times from getting lost. In addition, there are numerous travel apps that also made our lives easier during our travels such as Uber, Google Translate, Weather, TripAdvisor, Email, and much much more (Post with the most useful Travel Apps we used coming soon). Make sure the phone you bring is unlocked for international use, so that you’re able to purchase a data sim in each new country and take advantage of internet on the go.
Camera & Video Gear
Newest version: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 RII Digital Still Camera
When researching which camera to get before our travels, the thing that was most important to us was that it have the best image quality for its size. We didn’t want to carry around an SLR with us, as the camera was too big (and screams I’m using an expensive camera!), and a micro 4/3rd camera was small and portable, but the image quality wasn’t the best. We found our Goldilocks “just right” camera in the full frame Sony RX-1, which, for its size had an amazing image quality. The size was perfect for us and it looked really discreet so it wasn’t a huge concern for us to bring it around and use it. We’d have to admit that this camera is pricey, but we felt that the quality and amazing pictures it took definitely made it worth it. We’re amateur photographers at best, and this camera managed to capture lots of incredible images.
Newest version: GoPro HERO5 Black
We received the GoPro Hero 4 Silver as a gift not long after telling Tiff’s sister and brother-in-law about our RTW plans. It was the best gift, as we used it almost every day (thanks guys, we love you! <3). Any RTW traveler should bring a GoPro with them as it’s such a portable and durable camera for photos and videos. It’s pretty simple to set up the various camera settings, and the wide angle lens provides great shots when you need to capture a lot within the frame – from natural to urban landscape. Being water proof also was great because we didn’t have to take out our primary camera when it rained or when we wanted to get some shots at the beach or during the world’s largest water fight. In addition, it was great for selfies and timelapse videos!
We’ve since upgraded to the Hero 5 Black which has even more cool features such as a built-in waterproof housing, LCD screen, and voice commands.
This mini tripod was very helpful with getting some great shots of us when we didn’t have anybody around to help us take a photo. It works for both our GoPro and our Sony camera as it has a standard tripod thread. With flexible legs that can wrap around a pole, tree branch, or stand on top of a hard surface it was very useful for us throughout the trip to get some great photos and videos.
GoPro P.O.V. Mount
This was a really cool accessory for the GoPro as it provided hands-free recording with the GoPro. This was great for recording our walks throughout local areas as it clipped perfectly on to my backpack strap and recorded my POV (point of view) discreetly. You can see some of our hyperlapse videos of our walks through some cities and areas which we used this to mount the GoPro on to. Having a handsfree GoPro mount meant we weren’t disturbing anyone with an obnoxious camera to the face, and also had the freedom to have both hands free.
Portable External Hard Drive
With Minh being in IT, having backups is very important. We would have been devastated if we lost photos/videos from our trip, so we made sure to load all of our photos from both the GoPro and our Sony camera to this portable external USB hard drive nightly. In addition to offloading our media to this hard drive which freed up space on our memory cards, we also had a Flickr account which automatically uploaded all of our photos and videos to the cloud for an additional level of backup in case our external hard drive got lost or destroyed.
Other Electronic Gadgets:
Wireless Travel Router
This nifty little device is definitely a must-have for the long term tech traveler going anywhere with unreliable WiFi. A miniature router that fits in the palm of your hand, you plug this little guy into the internet cord and it will broadcast your own WiFi signal for you to use on your phone or laptop. This has saved us a few times when the hotel room we were staying at did not have WiFi capability and only provided a cord for internet. Another handy use for this is when the WiFi in the room was too slow and there was an option to hard wire, we’d plug this in and get a really strong WiFi signal to us. It would also allow us to bypass any device connection limitations for our room – a great little device we used more than we expected to!
After having exhausted all the English language programs or channels in our hotel, we’d usually end up watching movies and shows off our laptop. To make things more comfortable, we’d hook up the laptop to the TV in the hotel room. Some tips – buy a flat cord for easy packing, and also a brightly colored cord (as we accidentally left our easily forgettable black cord in a hotel room, and ended up picking up a brightly colored replacement to ensure we didn’t forget it again!)
This has to be one of the most important gadgets we brought with us as it helped us through some really intense and torturous transit days. Having headphones in general are a good idea, but the noise cancelling capabilities of these headphones are amazing. These have the same noise-cancelling capabilities as the larger over-ear headphones, but take up a fraction of the space. Putting these headphones on in the train, bus, or airplane helped drown out any noise (screaming kids and crying babies, obnoxious passengers, snoring, etc) and made those gruesome transit days more bearable. You have to try it to believe it – highly recommend them!
Has since been discontinued and replaced with a newer version: EZOPower International Travel Charger
Traveling throughout the world you’ll encounter a plethora of different types of plugs and outlets. To power all our tech gadgets, we brought the EZOPower International Travel Charger. It was a great little device for all of our electronics because it doubled up as a power strip which gave us 3 outlets to charge and 4 USB plugs for our phones and other small devices. What’s also great about this is that it has a built in inverter which turns the voltage of most countries outlets from 220V to the American standard of 120V. This was especially useful to use for shavers and hair cutting tools (Minh cuts his own hair), and many of the hotels we stayed at did not have a special shaver outlet.
Having a portable USB charger was also important in our travels because it gave us a convenient charge to all of our electronics if we didn’t have access to an outlet. For days when we’d be out all day exploring or for those long transit days, these chargers gave our devices additional juice. We used this all the time for our phones and even our cameras which we were able to just plug in and recharge the batteries. The chargers we used had dual USB ports, so we could charge multiple devices at a time if we needed to.
The beauty of tech gear is that they’re usually small and portable devices that provide a lot of great uses without taking up a lot of space – perfect for carry-on travelers like us. While we did have tech gear with us, we made sure to use technology to assist in our travels and didn’t stress too much on being connected all the time. Most of the best parts about traveling is taking in the culture, food, and things you are only able to experience first-hand – usually sans technology!
Any suggestions for things we should add to this list for future trips?
If this list has helped you out at all and are buying any of the items through Amazon, please click through using our links above. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it helps add to our travel funds! A win-win! 🙂