“Too Much Carry On” – 10 Essential Travel Gadgets for Long-Term Travelers

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My Travel Gadgets Addiction

I’ll never be accused of being a light packer. While I’ve not yet graduated to the point where I pack a dozen pairs of shoes and enough make-up to run a stable of courtesans out of my hostel room, I’m definitely guilty of packing a few too many t-shirts every time I go away.

My real addiction when it comes to over-packing is my travel gadgets. In this digital age, they’ve all become as essential to me as the passport and enough pairs of underpants to avoid doing laundry for a week.

Whether you’re packing for your own big trip or looking for travel gadget gifts for your budding traveler, here’s my guide to the ten essential travel gadgets.

10 Essential Travel Gadgets for Long-Term Travelers

#1 – Smartphone

Ever since I first got an iPhone back in the summer of 2010, I’ve been shamelessly addicted to the little bastard.

I’ve gone through a pair of iPhone 3GS, an iPhone 4, iPhone 6, and the new love of my life: my iPhone 8 Plus.

A good smartphone is one part camera, one part navigation tool, one part communication tool, and one part entertainment device. They’ve become an essential part of how we work as a society, and it’s especially true of travel.

My iPhone gets a whole hell of a lot of use on the road. Whether I’m checking in on Swarm or updating the world on my every thought via Facebook or Twitter, it’s on hand.

I use apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, and Skype to keep in touch with people at home and abroad.

I download local tourism apps to be used offline if I get lost or stuck. I load it with music so that I can zone out on a plane or train.

If you’re looking for travel app suggestions, I’ve got you covered in my handy essential travel apps post.

A much younger Aussie on the Road all packed up with nowhere to go.
A much younger Aussie on the Road all packed up with nowhere to go.

Essential iPhone Accessories

It would be remiss of me to write about how important my smartphone is to me without also mentioning a few must-have accessories.

I’ve seen far too many phones damaged or cracked in my travels to go without one of these.

Whether you’re looking for something lightweight and fashionable or something sturdier like a LifeProof case for hard use, it’s essential that you protect your phone while you travel.

  • Flexible iPhone lenses

Smartphone cameras have improved in leaps and bounds, but there are always ways to get just a little more out of your humble smartphone.

There are a variety of smartphone lenses out there that turn your camera into a wide angle, fisheye, or macro photo machine.

Some clip on and others attach magnetically, but they all combine to add a little extra grunt to your phone’s camera.

#2 – Kindle (or similar eBook reader)

An ex-girlfriend bought me my first Kindle, and I’ve not been without one in the eight years since. I’ll never completely move on from the world of books (and that new book smell), but it’s infinitely more convenient to have a single, slim device in my back pocket rather than a number of bulky novels crammed into my checked luggage.

I cram my Kindle with novels to keep me occupied during long layovers or when I’m sleepless on a plane and I can’t bear to watch another romantic comedy.

I also like to have the occasional Lonely Planet or Rough Guide for the place I’m headed loaded onto it. You never know when you’ll need a restaurant recommendation or address and can’t find a WiFi hotspot!

quokka selfie rottnest island

#3 – Camera(s)

A good camera (or a pair of cameras) is every bit as essential as a smartphone to the modern traveler.

Sure, you could just remember that you’ve been there and be happy with it, but isn’t it better to have a collection of unforgettable photos from your travels to reflect on?

I travel with a Canon SX60HS and a little Sony Cyber-Shot.

The Canon takes amazing photos and is remarkably easy to use. It’s a bridge camera – meaning it isn’t quite as powerful as a true DSLR – but I like that I don’t need to worry about switching out lenses. There’s no time for that when you’re on safari!

The little point and shoot is for those days where I know I’m going to be working up a sweat. Tucked away in my back pocket, it’s on hand for when I need to photograph my Great Wall hike or my gorilla trekking adventure.

#4 – Video Camera

Most digital cameras worth their salt have the capacity to work in place of a video camera, but the quality isn’t always as good as what you’d get from a dedicated video device.

These days, the GoPro Hero 7 is the obvious choice when it comes to durable video cameras, but they have a distinct ‘look’ to their video that might not work for all walks of life.

I’m by no means an expert on this subject, however, so let Jarryd and Alesha from Nomadasaurus guide you in how to find the best travel camera.

#5 – Laptop

When you work on the road like Richelle and I do, you can’t get around the fact that you’re going to need your laptop in your carry-on luggage.

I’ve gone through a bunch of laptops in my time and recently splashed out on the Acer Predator to replace my dying Dell.

Given the amount of photo editing I do and how I sometimes enjoy a wee game of Skyrim or World of WarCraft in between assignments, this powerful piece of hardware is my second favorite thing in the world after Adventures Around Asia.

If you’re not an idiot like me and want a more compact laptop, Mark Quadros has a great post on the best 11-inch laptops out there.

The Best Laptop for Travel

Is the Acer Predator a good laptop for travel? Hell no!

It’s a bulky beast that is at its best when it’s set up on a desk, but it’s what I needed.

Richelle swears by her MacBook Air for portability and function, while tablet hybrids like the Surface Pro and Acer Chromebook are more my speed.

If I hadn’t needed something capable of also playing the demanding games I love so much, I’d have gone with one of those.

My old point and shoot and beloved Camelbak 'Bite 'n Suck'. We were inseparable!
My old point and shoot and beloved Camelbak ‘Bite ‘n Suck’. We were inseparable!

#6 – Power Bank

With all of these power-hungry travel gadgets in my bag, you’d better believe I have a power bank or two with me everywhere I go.

Generally speaking, I’ll travel with one for pocket use and one for more heavy duty purposes.

A Pocket Smartphone Charger

The current power bank in my back pocket is the flexible and powerful Reeljuice All-in-One Power Bank. Not only does it hold enough charge for multiple recharges of my iPhone, Kindle, or Sennheiser headphones, it also comes with a retractable 48″ cord, a built-in wall charger, and an interchangeable lightning/micro USB adaptor.

best portable laptop charger

A Laptop Battery Pack

While the above gets the job done if my iPhone is running low on juice, what do I do when I need to work and can’t find an outlet?

When I’ve got my heavy-duty charging needs (such as feeding my power-hungry laptop), I’ve become a bit obsessed with my Novoo Portable Laptop Battery Pack. Not only can it fully charge my beast of a laptop, but it also has two USB ports in order to charge Kindles, smartphones, and the like as well!

A little larger (and a lot heavier) than a soda can, the Novoo is set up to charge up to three devices at once and holds more than enough power to go a few days between charges. It’s a Godsend if you work while traveling.

Want 15% off your Novoo Portable Laptop Battery Pack? Use the promo code: 5HD93M7G

#7 – Mobile Hotspot

When we were out hiking the Kumano Kodo Iseji, Richelle and I would have been lost without a mobile hotspot. With so much of our Iseji itinerary online, we needed to be constantly connected to make sure we were on the right path.

A mobile hotspot like the RoamingMan is a great way to stay connected when you can’t get a local SIM and don’t want to hop from hotspot to hotspot.

The ability to rent WiFi in more than 100 countries is a gamechanger for those of us who don’t want to have a pocket full of SIM cards and is much more flexible than a hotspot subscription through a company like Boingo.

#8 – International Power Adaptor

All of these groovy travel gadgets would be for naught if you didn’t have a way to charge them, so having a flexible power adaptor is a must.

Richelle still travels with a bag full of international adaptors, but I’ve long since upgraded to a more powerful international travel adaptor with the flexibility to plug into any outlet and accept any kind of plug.

Coupled with a few handy USB charging slots, it lets me keep my laptop, phone, and Kindle charged no matter where in the world I am.

guy working on laptop
I stole this laptop so I could take this photo.

#9 – Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I would be lost without my amazing Sennheiser PXC 550 Travel Headphones. Honestly, I don’t know how I survived long-haul flights and bumpy Southeast Asian bus rides without a good pair of wireless, noise canceling headphones.

They’re the perfect way to drown out the screaming babies and arguing couples you’ll encounter along the way and fold up nicely to fit into your carry-on.

I waxed lyrical about them in my product review, so go read that to see why I’ll never go back to earbuds.

Headphone Splitters

Another handy little innovation that Richelle and I love – a cheap set of headphone splitters lets both of us watch our favorite Netflix show on the same laptop without having to miss half the audio.

#10 – Bluetooth Speaker

It’s hard to get the party started when your iPhone’s tinny speakers aren’t really doing your jams justice.

A portable, durable Bluetooth speaker can be a great icebreaker for days on the beach or when you’re out hiking.

I can tell you, we’d have loved to be able to actually hear Hardcore History when we were hiking through the mountains of Japan huddled around my phone.

selfie with food
I wasn’t even hungry, but this photo is going to look sweet!

Your Say

What travel electronics do you take with you wherever you go? Do you have any favorite apps or gadgets that you think others should know about?

Have a question about any of the products I’ve mentioned above? Don’t hesitate to post below. I’m always checking back for comments and I’ll reply as soon as possible.

Disclosure

Chris Walker-Bush is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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3 comments

    • Haha, I was raised on Apple. My first computer experience came on an Apple IIe!

      I’m totally quoting you in my upcoming review of an iPad case, btw 😉

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