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Travel Essentials: Electronics

Things that light up, beep, make noise, and therefore require electricity for power are often essential to having great travel experiences. They help us stay connected and well-informed. They help us capture special moments on our trips. And they help us to maintain productivity, and share with the world. On your next trip, I recommend that you take along these ten essential electronics.

1. Adapter

A good, compact wall outlet adapter is key to keeping your devices charged. Be mindful that an adapter only enables you to plug your device charger into outlets with configurations that differ from those in your home country. They do not convert voltage.

2. Portable charger

Chargers are about as common as the devices that they power. Having one on hand at a moment's notice can be the difference between having enough battery power to make it thru a day trip, and carrying around cool, but useless electronics.

3. Unlocked Smart Phone

In the age of social media sharing and the need to always be prepared for emergencies, having a functioning cellular phone on the road is a must. I recommend buying an inexpensive unlocked smart phone before departure, and purchasing a SIM card from a local telecom provider once you arrive to your destination. If you want to avoid roaming charges and possible lack of connectivity, this is the way to go. Simply buy airtime as you go. You'll even have your own local phone number.

4. Earphones

Nothing is more annoying that having to endure someone else's music or speakerphone conversation. Don't be that person. Invest in good quality, yet inexpensive earphones for the road. Or be like me and happily take the free one's provided by the airlines.

5. Tablet

I mostly use my tablet for researching and building my travel itinerary and editing photos while I am on the road, and I hardly even take it out of my hotel or accommodations. That said, if making time for work and productivity will be a part of your travel experience, don't be afraid to carry that tablet along. I recommend investing in a protective cover, screen protector, and a compact Bluetooth keyboard.

6. USB Cord(s)

There are several types of USB cords that facilitate faster charging, data transfer, and they are sometimes brand-specific. Make sure to pack the right one---or two.

7. Charging block

You'll be plugging this into your adapter, if needed. If you forget to pack one, they are easily found in local markets and stores.

8. Extra battery

Travel photographers know the importance of having one or more spare batteries ready to be swapped out at any moment. Don't miss that amazing urban streetscape, or capturing yourself against a jaw dropping landscape all because your battery died. Spare batteries do the jobs that portable chargers can't.

9. Lenses & Accessories

If smart phone photography just won't do, anticipate a dynamic array of photography opportunities, and the equipment needed to take advantage of amazing shots. Unless you're a National Geographic travel photographer on assignment, two lens and a tripod should do. As soon as I get back to my room at the end of the day, I put my camera batteries on the charger.

10. A GOOD Camera

I prefer using my compact mirrorless camera as a primary photographic device, over a camera phone. The ability to more precisely adjust camera controls such as aperture and shutter speed provides more versatility and usefulness as I attempt to document trips that present myriad shooting conditions and subjects to be captured. FYI--a mirrorless camera is a full step above a point-and-shoot camera, and a half-step below a DSLR camera in terms of price and function.

Packing light does not mean that your great travel experience needs to leave you disconnected, and neither does it mean that you should sacrifice the comfort of having access to electronic devices that would help you document your trip, or keep up on work during down time. Create a checklist and pack whats necessary. Research voltage levels available at your destination, and anticipate what your needs will be ahead of time. The ten devices listed above will help you document and share your great travel experiences--as long as you remembered to charge them the night before!

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