These work great, are inexpensive, robust, reliable and make travel a better experience in some way.
1. Smartphone. A perfectly usable unlocked smartphone costs less than $250, and a prettY good one for under $400. An unlocked smartphone has many uses:
a. Maps. Navigate anywhere especially off the maps in your guide book or tourist map
b. Camera. The one in most phones is good enough for most snapshot travel photography.
c. Podcasts and playlists make long travel days pass more quickly, while still leaving your eyes free to gaze out the window.
d. Apps. Look at “Travel Apps” for a partial list.
2. Kenu’s Highline. For those with an iPhone, use this bungee cord to attach it to your daypack or purse so you don’t ever drop it on the ground again. It’s got a tough safety lock that firmly grips the phone and a Kevlar cord. Their new Highline case for the 5S fixes the problem created by the smaller new charger by housing their Kevlar cord along with the case.). Prevents phone theft too.
3. International Multi-USB Charger. Battery life on smartphones is often poor. Long travel days can leave your phone and other gadgets gasping for power. Now no more rationing screen time and keeping the phone in flight mode just to nurse it through the day. Most charge a phone a couple of times plus a Kindle, GoPro or tablet. But who has only one device that needs charging on a daily basis? The latest innovation in portable battery technology is smart batteries that can deliver charge to multiple devices at once. Use the clip-on plug attachments for most countries in the world. The combined output of the charger is 4.8amps so it would not charge 4 tablets at once.
4. Charging Cables. With many different gadgets, the cable situation gets to be a mess – different plugs and dedicated chargers. Start again: get rid of all non-home country plugs and replace with a North American version, a few good quality USB cables and a universal adapter. Have a spare and some different lengths of each. One a few inches long can be used for charging your phone from a laptop, or that portable battery in your pocket. The rest are longer than average, so they can reach comfortably from a power socket halfway up a wall, or behind the bed.
5. Travel Adapters. As a global plug standard is an impossibility, everyone needs an adapter. They all seem inperfect with loose connections, low power USB ports and high cost. This is more about finding one with the fewest flaws than anything else. A reasonable one is the Insten. A smaller, lighter and somewhat better version, is the Flight 001. Ceptics also makes one. I use the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit.
6. Travel-Sized Power Strip. Allow the need for one plug adapter with as much cable length as you can manage. Belkin’s Mini Surge Protector is tiny so doesn’t take up much room.
7. USB Octopus. For those of you with a serious amount of USB charging required, it has 7 USB ports in one tiny gadget.
8. Poweradd solar-powered bar. For warmer, sunnier climates opt for this for battery-charger.
9. Western Digital 500GB My Passport Drive. 500GB drives are very small nowadays, and use it to back up your photos as you go. Also use cloud storage like Mozy.com to back them up into the cloud, just in case.
10. Bluetooth Speaker. Prices have come down and the quality up. THE speakers on Smartphones and tablets aren’t meant for listening to music but these give high quality sound in a very small device. They last for about 4 hours on a single charge and re-charge within 60 minutes.
11. Macbook Air 11″ notebook. If doing freelance work and photography, you might need to upgrade your computer to something with more processing power (and a screen that’s a little larger too). Or if you simply want the best, smallest computer, I the Air because it is lightweight and fast. And use Time Machine to back up on the road. It Syncs with your iPhone.
12. Alfa WiFi Extender. Fast downloads, reliable connections and crystal-clear video calling are difficult to find in most of the world. Hotel rooms are just far enough from the wireless router to ensure a shitty connection.
The Alfa AWUS036H doesn’t look like much, but is seriously great. Turn an unusable WiFi connection into one that’s strong and solid. Only the newer models support the latest Mac versions. Plug into any USB socket, the light on the Alfa flashes for a few seconds and a second wireless network card shows up in the Network and Sharing list. Call it whatever you like to distinguish it from the inbuilt one (WiFi card), but it’s not too hard to figure out which one is which — the one with the much stronger signal. Use the mini-USB cable that came with it, or an equally high-quality one, others may not work.
A better connection for my laptop is great, but the Alfa doesn’t help get my other devices connected — you can’t plug it into a tablet or phone. For that, combine the range extender with a piece of software called Connectify Hotspot (Windows-only) and turn any wired or WiFi connection into a hotspot for other devices to connect to. The paid versions offer more options, but even the free one will get the job done.
You can even share your VPN connection, using three different bits of technology to turn an unusable, insecure network into a reliable, secure way to get online with all your devices.
If you work from the road or otherwise need to be connected on the move, this cheap plastic range extender does exactly what it’s supposed to, reliably and well, for very little money. Don’t travel without it.
13. Calibre as your library manager on your laptop.
14. Boingo Membership. Wifi is not always free in airports and hotspots around the world. Boingo affords access to the many membership hotspots in bigger cities like London when used with their free iPhone app, good for when you don’t have a local SIM and need email to coordinate meetings. Great for long layovers. Expensive for budget travelers, but for those who roam and need constant access when working, it is a good option. 600,000 hot spots around the world.
15. GPS. GPS is amazing. GPS in your smartphone or tablet will work even when you don’t have a local SIM card and aren’t online. Tablets that are WiFi-only, such as the WiFi-only iPad/iPad mini, usually don’t have GPS built in.
Use GPS combined with the many simple but powerful apps (go to “Travel Apps”).
16. Cheap Android Tablet. Children need to be entertained on long-haul flights and car journeys. They often love cartoons and interactive games on tablet computers. Tablets are available for little money.
Use MX Player Kids Lock (plugin) to stop all the other features from working.
17. Noise Cancelling Headphones. Planes are a noisy place. There are two methods of cancelling noise, passive and active. Passive noise cancelling involves padding in over-the-ear headphones. Active headphones cancel the noise via a battery powered microphone to listen to external sounds and output the exact opposite wave-forms in to your ears. It works with in-ear head phones. Cancelling noise makes a huge difference in your ability to relax.
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