Tech Trippin | Essential Travel Gadgets

Here’s a quick list of gadgets I think is essential for travel.

I’m a techie geek and not ashamed of it. When I’m traveling, I probably carry more gadgets than I should… but for good reason. Some (or many) of you can relate.

Last week when we gave away a Touchpad, we asked, ‘what’s the one gadget you can’t travel without?’ Most of you said your iPhone or Android smartphone. Others, your kindle or e-book reader. A few even cleverly responded, the Touchpad you’re giving away. Lol. It got me thinking about my gadget packing list and more importantly, what devices do we need to bring on our upcoming trip?

nikon-d90 Nikon D90

I considered not bringing my DSLR because I really wanted to pack light and was concerned about theft abroad. But then I reminded myself why I bought this camera in the first place — to take better photos while traveling! It’s coming with me along with an 18-105mm and 50mm prime lens.

Tip: Newest version of this camera is the Nikon D7000

Canon S95.

Canon has always been my go-to camera for compact point & shoot. The S95 is probably best-in-class that works really well in low-light settings. Why a second camera? So Q can take pictures of me taking pictures of her of course. Also, Q often shoots amateur videos on the point & shoot while I take the majority of the photos on the D90.

Tip: Newest version is Canon S100

kindle Kindle Touch 3G

Can’t wait for this baby to ship in November! It’ll be my first e-reader and I plan on loading it up with some Lonely Planet guidebooks and other travel guides. Some great features include long (up to several weeks) battery life and a non-glare screen, the best feature is how much weight & space it saves without needing to carry actual books!

I paid more for the 3G because 3G data works globally over 100 countries.

Any suggestions on e-books we should have on our Kindle? 

iPod Touch 4g

No introduction needed. It’ll be my go-to device for music, Angry Birds, Skype, language translator and social deflector.

Tip: Newest version is iPod Touch 4s


I use a 13″ macbook at home, but I prefer something lighter while on the road. My notebook purchase is currently tentative as new PC models are coming out later this year. But I’m looking at the Toshiba Portege r830 because it’s a 13″ powerhouse that weighs in around 3 pounds. With a 500GB hard drive, I won’t have to carry around a backup external HD. Another option is a 10″ or 12″ netbook.

Help! Should we consider an external hard drive. Yay or nay? 


I’m not bringing an iPad on this upcoming trip since I need a full-productivity machine like a laptop. But I did bring it to my last trip in South America and it worked as great alternative to a laptop or netbook. So I still would recommend it for more casual trips. You can also backup your photos on it using the camera connection kit.
11 Views of 2 Devices

Mobile Phone
Droid Incredible 2 

We typically don’t bring a cell phone with us on our trips so we can really disconnect. But since we plan on couchsurfing, it’ll probably come in handy reaching hosts. And since this is Verizon phone is global-ready, we can just buy a prepaid SIM card in the country when need to make some phone calls (if wi-fi isn’t available).

Final note:

Even though technology can help you in many ways on a trip, remember to turn the tech switch off so you can soak in your moments abroad because your time there is precious and should be spent interacting with different places & cultures.

Any other helpful travel devices I’m missing from this list?

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41 Responses to Tech Trippin | Essential Travel Gadgets

  1. Allison November 3, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    I’ve recently been thinking about what gadgets to take for upcoming long-term travel, so this is perfect. I too was thinking of ditching my Nikon DSLR and just using a point and shoot, but then realized the whole point of my DSLR was to take amazing pics! I knew I’d regret leaving it behind.

    I have a Nook that I’m going to download a ton of books on before I go, and a 13″ Macbook. I’ve been thinking about investing in an iPhone to use as both my iPod and P&S camera, to combine a few gadgets and have the opportunity of picking up a SIM card in each destination to use the phone/apps, but I’m still on the fence with that.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 3, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      The new iPhone 4s wouldn’t be a bad idea. It has one of the best mobile cameras out there. And I’m speaking as a non-iPhone user. Another plus the iPhone will have is that it can be used as a GPS tool since GPS can still function without a data connection. So you can simply use Google Maps w/ offline caching or buy another GPS navigation app for iOS. Thanks for trippin’ by!

      • Mike Howard November 3, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

        Gerard, can you speak to the iPhone as a GPS tool without a data plan? Lets say i am walking around Lima, Peru after leaving my hostel how will my phone get new maps without data? Do i somehow cache the whole city over breakfast? Debating bringing my iPhone 4.

        Also, i can only drop a SIM in there if i jailbreak it right?

        Anyone have a favorite app for offline translations?

        • Allison November 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

          I would like to hear more about this, also. I’ve always had basic phones (like minutes and texting, not even Internet!) and have no clue what the iPhone is capable of, especially in regards to travel. If you have info on how to use it in other countries – both for calls/data and GPS without data, I’d love to hear everything you’ve got.

        • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

          Sure. Your iPhone has a standalone GPS that map apps are able to utilize, but you need to have the maps downloaded before you head out of course. Google Maps just recently allowed for offline caching on Android phones, but not quite yet for iOS.

          I’d recommend using OffMaps or Gaia (for hiking). The Digital Trekker also has some other recommendations:

          Thanks for trippin’ by!

  2. suki November 3, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I love my iPad for navigation, as well as looking up places to eat! :) I need a new camera, but I don’t know if I want to shell out for a mirrorless.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

      Photography sure is an expensive hobby. You must be a yelp addict like Q & I are. We almost have to yelp every place before we eat there.

      • suki November 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

        I wouldn’t call it an addiction. It’s more of a starting point for any place we go. How else would we have heard of the restaurants in the area? :)

  3. Mike Howard November 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    We are on the exact same page as you guys. Ipad at home, bringing the DSLR and a P&S as well (Add in a water proof case for me). Bringing the iPhone and another phone that can take a sim card in each country. And ironically we are also shopping for a ultra light netbook at the moment. Make sure you include the battery and cord in your weight calculation.

    What do we need to be under for a checked bag? 50 pounds? Man, Anne wont be happy carrying that :)

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

      Good point, those chargers can be bulky as hell sometimes. You figure those PC makers would know how to slim down a silly charger by now eh? I’m trying to stick with a notebook within the 3lb range. We need to stay within 22lbs for some of our international flights… This will be tricky

  4. Anonymous November 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Just preordered my first Kindle as well–the Touch 3G! Looking forward to seeing how it works and not always having to worry about carrying around books to last me, particularly in non English speaking countries!

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

      Ahh.. you so you did end up waiting! I think it’ll be a life-changer. =)

  5. Anonymous November 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I’m debating on whether to get a kindle or ipad for our up and coming adventure. We already have so much tech equipment though. Decisions… decisions…

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

      That’s a tough decision. Most would say iPad if it falls within your budget. But if you want a sexy reading machine, go kindle. It really sucks trying to read an ebook outdoors with an iPad or any other tablet.

  6. Nora - The Professional Hobo November 4, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Yipes! That’s a lotta technology – with a lotta chargers, cords, cables, and paraphernalia that you’ll also have to lug along. (Having said that, I’m not far off this list myself, so I’m one to talk)!

    A few suggestions if you’d like to streamline:

    1) Combine the iTouch and Droid phone (and possibly the point & shoot camera) into one device. iPhone has some great camera power, and can do everything the iTouch can – as well as be a phone (that you can unlock and use pay-as-you-go SIM cards around the world with). (I currently carry an iTouch and crappy unlocked cell phone, but I’m waiting to lose/break one of them to replace with an iPhone.

    2) On that note, beware of thinking you can rely too much on your iTouch for language translation. Maybe I haven’t found the right program yet (or maybe you have to buy language-specific programs instead of universal ones), but I’ve yet to find a decent translator that I can use offline (or even online for that matter).

    3) The Kindle rocks! And the 3G access is awesome…for those times when you have no wifi and NEED to check your emails or do something online.

    4) For notebooks, I’m thrilled to pieces with my Macbook Air 11″. I got the souped up version, so it has lots of computing power, the battery lasts a long time, and the flash drive is much hardier to the rigours of travel with no moving parts. Oh yeah, and it’s paper thin and very light. Snazzy, in fact.

    5) YES bring an external hard drive! How will you feel if/when you lose your laptop or the data is damaged due to anything from theft, to climate damage, to wear & tear, etc? I guess it depends on how long you’re on the road, but I back up my data regularly to my external hard drive – that way if my laptop falls down a hole at least I can keep running my location independent business relatively smoothly.

    • Mike Howard November 4, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      Great tips all around Nora. Check out this app for offline translation (note: i have yet to try it, but thought it sounded good)

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 4, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      Great tips indeed! I was considering consolidating my iPod touch with my Android phone, but there are more handy travel apps on iOS apps that still hasn’t made it to Android yet.

      LingoPal has about 44 languages and has worked pretty well for me. While of course not accurate 100% of the time, it’s fun having the locals to guess what you’re trying to say with that app.

      I was thinking the macbook air as well… I wish the 11″ had an SD card slot! ugh. Maybe I’m also paranoid about the extra attention is might catch as a target of theft.

      I still am considering the external HD, so there’s still hope!

      Thanks for trippin’ by Nora and congrats again on finishing the UTC!

  7. Fidel Hart November 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    I just got my first ITouch and I love it! Add to it, the E Mobile wifi connection I have, an I take my ITouch everywhere now. It will definitely be my new travel accessory. I am debating about whether to purchase the new Kindle Fire. I’m not sure I will need it since I have the ITouch now and already have a netbook.
    The hard part about traveling with my DSLR is that I can’t just bring one lens. I need my external flash and 3-4 lenses to really capture the images I want. So my load is always heavy. Plus, when I travel solo, I bring my tripod or monopod with me.
    I think you covered most of the required tech gadgets. Even when I try to travel technology free, there are simply things I can’t leave home without.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      I’d say the Kindle Fire probably isn’t necessary considering you have the iPod Touch & netbook. I feel your pain on the camera gear weight, it’s a pain… We’re looking to bring a small gorilla pod maybe too. Thanks for trippin’ by!

  8. Glenn Dixon November 6, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Great. I just wrote a big-ass post over on BootsNAll about this, and now I find out I should have just asked it here! LOL

    So here is my problem – love the iphone, but the wife has the 3g and I have the 3gs – Starting in January we’re going to be outside of the U.S. for at least a year, so there is no way I’m getting a new contract with AT&T or Verizon. And we almost never use voice. Any future voice calls we can do through Skype. But if I want to use GPS for maps, I don’t think that works with just an iPod Touch. No GPS if I am correct. And yet to buy an iPhone 4S without contract I’m looking at around $650. Ouch! $650 seems like a lot of moolah just to wander around Buenos Aires with my head down.

    I guess I could just keep my 3GS? *sigh*


    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

      The 3GS should work fine as a GPS device when traveling. Another option would be to buy a used Android smartphone off Craigslist and use it as a backup phone / GPS device while abroad. They go for much cheaper than iOS devices in the resale market.

  9. Anonymous November 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Nice one! Our top 3 favorite reading so far is listed here:

    As for external hard drive – YAY!

    Other devices? Noise cancelling headphones. We have the audio technica and it works perfectly. It’s on every checklist for our trips.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 8, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

      Noise-cancelling headphones would be great. But with our limited space for this trip, we’ll probably bring those along for shorter trips in the future. Thanks for reminding me to buy a cover for the Kindle! Hopefully they’ll have a case ready when the new one ships out.

  10. Chris Walker-Bush November 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I try to take most of the above, although I’ve got a humble generic Kindle Gen 1 and I don’t see the point in taking an iPhone and an iPod. Very jealous of the iPad though!

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 10, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Don’t worry. I don’t have an iPad either. With the crazy # of handy iOS apps out there, the iPhone or iPod touch can become indispensable.

  11. Peg and Brian Peter November 10, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    So far we’re still without any kind of tablet computer, or an unlocked smart phone. I’m looking into an Android tablet but haven’t decided yet. For now we bring my laptop, my Kindle, my mp3 player, my DSLR, my point & shoot and Brian’s Blackberry. Yes, I am the tech geek, he would happily travel with no tech at all and just wing it. I need my cameras, books and internet connections! His Blackberry is his work phone and we can use it if we need to make phone calls, for all other communication we use the laptop. It’s a bulky Toshiba though, so I’d LOVE a Macbook air. Thanks for the info, it’s given me something to think about while sorting out my wish list!

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 10, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      Looks like you got your essentials. Yes, those extra 2-3 lbs from carrying a bulky laptop weighs on you after awhile. Toshiba just launched the Portege Z835, which is their version of the Macbook Air, but much cheaper. Maybe that’s worth checking out.

  12. Nomadic Samuel November 11, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    You’re well equipped in the gadget department. I especially like your choices in cameras – great dSLR and p&s to take with you.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 11, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      Thanks Sam. Our cameras are great, I wish we were able to take the newer models with us instead. :)

  13. Micamyx|Senyorita November 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    To be honest, i have a love and hate relationship with technology LOL but i have my LX3 with me and i also bring my bulky laptop with me. Thinking of buying a notebook to increase my blogging productivity and so that it wont occupy much space in my backpack when i travel. This is a good list! :D

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin November 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Having a more powerful and lighter laptop makes all the difference while traveling… Thanks for trippin by!

  14. Dianatluong November 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    These are almost the same gadgets I am taking with me on my 6 month travel. I’m still deciding if I should take my iPad with me since I’m bringing my MacBook. Im selling my s95 for the new s100 :) love that camera!! Plus, taking my canon slr. I need a good laptop, camera bag. Any suggestions?

  15. karen ettinger December 15, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    Books on Kindle to read, The Hunger Games (trilogy), State of Wonder, Unbroken (all excellent well liked ) book club members books.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin December 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

      I keep on hearing about Hunger Games. It must be the new Da Vinci Code or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I just might have to give that series a try. Thanks for trippin’ by!

  16. Thai Chu December 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    The smartphone is probably the greatest invention ever for world travelers. I took it this last trip and it replaced a point and shoot, a laptop, a watch, a dictionary, an MP3 player, and an e-reader. I don’t know how I did without it before.

    I’ve traveled everywhere with the DSLR and it’s not as great a liability as you think. Just be smart with it and don’t whip it out in sketchy places. You’ll be fine. I’ve carried it every second of every journey and wouldn’t have my best pictures if I didn’t. And as I always tell people who ask if I get lonely traveling by myself, “I’m never alone when I’m with my camera.” Can’t wait to see the shots!

    P.S. Bring more memory cards than you think you need for storage and backup. It’s more convenient and easier to hide than an external hard drive. Take advantage of good internet connections and upload your pictures to Dropbox or some online storage.

    • Gerard ~ GQtrippin December 21, 2011 at 12:23 am #

      Cool. Thanks for the tips Thai. My has 50gb and good thing my smugmug has unlimited photo storage! Would you bring your DSLR on crazy nights out, like say a Full Moon party in Thailand? I’m debating whether it’s worth it. I always have my P&S.

      • Thai Chu December 21, 2011 at 12:32 am #

        For me, if I’m not getting submerged in water, my DSLR is with me. Skydiving, snorkeling, salsa clubbing, zorbing (yes, ZORBING!, but they didn’t let me take it inside), natural thermal springs, ziplining, mud festival. Haha, try me.


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