15 Essential Travel Gadgets and Accessories
Travel, at least for me, is about immersing yourself in new countries, experiences and cultures and seeing how you stack up. However travel doesn’t also have to be a hardship. In answer to what I consider my must-have accessories and gadgets when travelling. The below items have proven invaluable for me over the past year, so in no particular order…
One device, all your adapters covered. This universal adapter allows one of four plugs: UK, USA, EURO, AUS to be adapted into four plug socket outlets: UK, USA, EURO, AUS, which can then cover more than 150 countries in the world. It doesn’t convert voltage, which just means that some in some countries electrical devices take longer to charge than they might at home.
For me, always a must-have, especially when you forever associate that song or that band with that awesome experience because you heard it there the first time. Useful for creating your own soundtrack on planes, trains and buses, and generally just making you feel cooler in your own head. I like sports headphones as they are a bit more rugged (and actually stay in my weirdly shaped ears).
I also have some noise cancelling headphones with me as I spent a good portion of last year on aeroplanes, and so I thought these might protect my ears a bit and allow me to get some sleep onboard. Hmm, I would probably leave these ones behind in the future. The benefits – they do what they say – are outweighed by the fact they are bulky and stowing them for the extended ground leg parts of my trip has been difficult. They have to go at the top of my day pack as they could get broken otherwise, and they take up a lot of space, even folded up.
Because lord knows, when you have a massive heel blister, those little plastic ones they sell in Mexico and South East Asia will not cut it. Find and include in your first aid kit a couple of large strips of the fabric bandaids you can cut to size with scissors. Don’t forget scissors or a pocket knife as well.
Bought for $2 in Shanghai, I use a door stop when staying in low budget hotels or places where I just want the extra peace of mind. I have found you can also wedge a doorstop into louver windows to keep them a slightly open, instead of the binary fully open/fully shut options these types of windows generally offer.
The Swiss army knife of clothing. Use it as a sarong or cover up when you are at the beach, or a skirt, pillow, shawl, or a makeshift towel elsewhere.
Brilliant for warmth on planes, in the evenings in tropical places when it starts to get chilly, as a pillow, belt or to try and disguise the fact you are in the same clothes as the day before, and the day before that. If you are heading to temples or mosques a scarf can be wrapped around your head and shoulders so you look respectful. Keep this in your daypack as a staple.
As a bibliophile I hated the idea of not holding a paper book to read and was super resistant to getting an e-reader. However when you are on the road, carrying around extra kgs of your favourite books just doesn’t work.
With an e-reader you can take all your favourite books to reread, some crappy beach reads, your bulky lonely planet guides and those inspirational writers you now have time to read on long plane, train and bus rides.
I download books from my hometown library via the internet from wherever I am so I don’t even have to buy new books unless I want to. And if you are buying, electronic books are cheaper than their paper equivalents.
Buy several sizes of padlocks to take with you, and you will always find a use for them. I like the combination ones as the last thing I need is to try to remember where I put the padlock key. Every time you travel and your bag is going in its own compartment, ensure you have locked all the zippers together. It is also sensible to lock your daypack zippers when travelling on primarily tourist transport (especially on city buses and trams in Europe). Some youth hostels (like HI Boston) also provide personal lockers for your stuff, and all you need to do is supply the padlock.
At the risk of sounding like MacGyver, duct tape will fix everything; from holes in your pack to broken flyscreens and sandals, to ensuring handles stay on things, to identifying your stuff easily and from a distance. My duct tape is fluoro yellow but it does come in subtler shades as well.
A power bank is a small portable battery you can use to provide a back up charge for your gizmos in the field or on buses, in airports, or wherever you are and a wall socket is not. My one recharges via USB and comes with a variety of plugs so it will fit everything else I carry with me. The actual power bank charge lasts 3 months so just don’t forget to recharge before that big trip.
External hard drive
I have a My Passport 2 Terabyte hard drive with me – reinforced plastic case chosen for its durability) – and use it to back up all my travel photos on a weekly basis.
Before I left home I stocked it with my favourite films and TV series and included new ones I thought I might like, so if I need a break (quite possibly from my Spanish homework…) or I am gearing up for a long journey I will transfer movies and TV series to my iPad to watch on the road.
You can buy this in pharmacies in the States, but it needs a prescription in New Zealand and Australia, so when you see it, stock up. Take 2 tabs before bed in your new time zone and it will assist you to adjust so you are not waking up raring to go at 2am and exhausted by 3pm. I have also found melatonin to assist me with sleeping when I start lying in bed with my mind racing stressing and planning for my next trip and the myriad of details that involves.
No Jet Lag
I swear by this stuff, in conjunction with melatonin for avoiding jet lag. It’s homeopathic and available at health stores and pharmacies in NZ and Australia and in most international airports, but you can also get it elsewhere. You chew a tab on take-off, every 2 hours whilst in flight and one again when you land. If you are asleep just pick up your dosage (within 4 hours). Also change your watch to your destination time as soon as you sit down in the plane an work off that time.
Bring a variety of sizes as these are indispensable for storing bottles containing liquids (especially useful for the TSA checks at the airport), to quarantining stinky clothes in your pack, and a million other things. Buy the ones with the plastic zips on top rather than the 2 lines you press together.
Whilst at the airport in Melbourne I picked up this bag at one of the shops there. I probably could have got it cheaper had I not been at the airport, but this bag is amazing and is very useful. I took it to the Greek Islands with me which was handy when my backpack got held for ransom back in Athens. An extra bag allows you to take a break from daypacks and look like a local, and at the other end, they give you a couple of extra options for weekend trips or carryon luggage – especially when you have gone mad before your final flight…
Not mentioned but still vital: smart phone, iPad and/or laptop, Swiss army knife.
I will add to this list as I find new gadgets that I love. As I do travel with a smart phone, I will do another post with the apps I use all the time on my journeys – both in general and country specific.
Do you have any gadgets you recommend when travelling?
(This is not a sponsored post, all opinions expressed are my own).