Travel Technology Today, What's Your Gear List?

Brian Welsh
Nov 23, 2010
Updated • Dec 1, 2012
Mobile Computing

What is the best travel technology to bring with you when you are going abroad? It's a difficult question to answer since the needs of different travelers tend to be different. For example, a businessman who is heading to Japan in order to win a new client will have very different requirements from a backpacker who is simply filling in a gap year and spending his time drinking and taking adventure tours. The needs of the one might be very strict while the needs of the other would probably be more free form. The truth is though, even this seemingly simple comparison can fall apart since the technology needs of a backpacker might actually be more exacting than that of the business man. To understand why, let's take a look at four possible examples.

Tom is a business man who works in die casting and case hardened steel manufacturing. He needs to travel around the world on a regular basis to meet with clients, deal with situations that arise in his product lines, and to prospect for new business. His technology needs could be either simple or complex depending on his personal temperament. If he is a die hard old fashioned kind of guy, chances are that at the least he will need a phone to stay in contact with his home office and his clients. To go along with the phone, he will of course need a charger and since he is traveling abroad, he will most likely need a travel adapter for outlets. Tom could settle for buying cheap and easily available adapters from each country he needs one in, or, on the other hand, he could plan ahead and get a universal adapter complete with voltage regulator and all the necessary plugs for any country he might visit. In terms of email and printing documents, since he is an old fashioned guy, he uses the computers at the hotel business center and prints things out there or from shops like FedEx or Kinkos. So much for Tom.

Peter, on the other hand, is a thoroughly modern businessman who deals in technology. As such, it is important for him to have all the latest gadgets and gizmos so that his clients don't make the mistake of thinking that he has anything but the very best of technology. As such, he has an iPhone 4 and of course a universal adapter. furthermore, he is traveling with the latest Vaio laptop complete with all the peripherals for it. He carries an inkless portable printer, a DVD burner, an external 2GB hard drive, and a laser pointer so that when he is making Powerpoint presentations, he is able to easily highlight the selected areas he wants to emphasize. Did I forget to mention he has a portable prjector so that he can project his screen onto any light colored wall? Does he need a truck to carry all this gear? Nope. It all fits in a normal sized briefcase and weighs less than five kilos in total. Is it cheap? No, but that's not really the point. Peter is out to impress with his technology.

Mike, on the other hand, is a backpacker who is filling his gap year with a trip around the world. He is traveling light and fast, but that doesn't mean he is technologyless. He carries a Samsung Galaxy WiFi phone which allows him to check Facebook, answer email, and make calls from anywhere on the planet. He has a few extra things with him such as his iPod and a digital camera. He carries just one travel adaptor with him in addtion to a 2 GB flash drive which he uses in cyber cafes. While not a techno-minimalist, he is certainly not traveling heavy and for most of his needs he can either use his phone with a local sim card or he can go to a cyber cafe.

Louise is a completely different story. She is traveling with an Acer Aspire One netbook, a portable 500 MB hardrive from Sanyo for storing her favorite films and songs, plus a heavy duty Olympus professional digital camera. In addition, she carries a number of devices that she needs to fulfill her role as a professional travel blogger. These include her PDA, a hefty Blackberry. Also she has a CD/DVD burner which she uses to burn disks for clients and friends she meets along the way and wants to share her photos with. Because she is often traveling outside of places where electricity is readily available, she carries a solar powered backpack charger with which she can not only carry her gear, but also charge it as long as there is a decent amount of sunshine. Add to this a multi function water filter, power cords, and of course her electric travel toothbrush and you might begin to understand why Louise is carrying more weight than backpacker Mike! Of course, all of her technology gear comes in at less than ten kilos and that includes her travel speakers which hook into her iPod or netbook and provide Dolby Surround Sound .

Every day, travel technology is changing from Google Maps to Google Streetview to the latest phones which allow you to use GPS anywhere on the planet. There really are no restrictions on what you can or should do while you are on your journeys whether they are for business or pleasure.

So, what do you need to travel with? It really depends on how far you intend to travel and what you intend to do. There is no one size fits all solution but if you look at the gear lists of the travelers above, it should give you a pretty good idea of what is essential for you.


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  1. ameyer13 said on December 31, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Absolutely cool new technology now available through the DISH Sling Adapter. I have an iPhone and was so excited when I learned from working at DISH network that I would be able to watch live TV from my phone just by downloading the application for the phone! Everyone needs to check this out!

  2. Crodol said on November 24, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Jonathan, you seem to know your gadgets… which GPS are you carrying or would you recommend?

  3. Jonathan said on November 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Traveling for pleasure:
    cell phone
    gps (w/20-23 hours of runtime and built in 2GB sd)
    camera ( & charger)
    HD camcorder (& charger)
    450W (or more) car inverter
    USB cable to charge cell phone
    usb cable to download pics from camera
    2TB external hdd (full collection of music,pictures and videos)
    outlet strip
    external speakers
    3 sets of ear buds
    splitter for ear buds
    universal converter if going out of country.
    Adapters to converter laptop to TV to watch shows from external hdd
    (Don’t ask how long airport security checks take)

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