Long gone are the days of paper maps, internet cafes and pay-by-the-minute phone booths. Today, nearly everyone is connected wherever they go. There are multiple industries revolving around travel tech. There’s WiFi on Mt Everest! Although the extra bit of gear might be considered cumbersome or unnecessary to some backpackers, to the rest, it’s part of the evolution of travel. Whether you’re working remotely or just curious as to what electronics a travel blogger requires, here is our digital nomad electronics packing list!
E-Readers – Kindle & Kobo
It took me a long time to hop on the e-reader bandwagon. I like to hold a book and turn physical pages. Our book collection is one of the few things we didn’t sell before leaving for this trip. However, books are heavy. And when you’re packing for long-term travel, the last thing you need is a bunch of extra weight.
I picked up a Kindle Paperwhite and Kylee went for the Kobo Aura. Both are fantastic. If you’re travelling with another person, we suggest going this route because you have access to two stores (Amazon and Kobo’s Indigo).
The overall selection is the same, though they both have incredible sales at random points throughout the year. Being able to take advantage of both can save you a ton of money in the long run.
Misc Hard Drives
We have three between the two of us. For photos and video, this stuff is irreplaceable. And the longer we’re on the road, the more we’re going to have. The reason we chose three drives rather than one high-capacity drive, is to spread them out in our luggage.
Each of us has one in our carry-on, and another is kept in my main pack. Having extra copies is just an extra level of protection if one goes missing.
Currently, we use:
We’ll likely be updating these to larger-capacity drives this summer.
Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
We use this mighty speaker almost on a daily basis. In the morning, it’s our exercise soundtrack, while we’re working, it’s chilled-out background music. When we’re cruising along the coast on a beat-up old motorbike or downhill biking in the mountains, it’s always along for the ride.
The Wonderboom bluetooth speaker charges via USB and lasts for 10 hours straight. And, because it’s waterproof, it’s perfect for bringing to your hammock office over the water. So when you fall out and destroy your computer, your speaker will survive!
Seriously, do people actually do this?
Two competing worlds here. I like my Mac, while Kylee is a Windows person. This can be a little troublesome when sharing documents but otherwise hasn’t been much of an issue.
I use a 13″ MacBook Air. I chose the air over the Pro simply due to the cost. Thankfully I didn’t sacrifice anything important. So far it’s done everything I need it to, especially when it comes to some of the heavier software I use for the website and photo editing.
Kylee uses this Lenovo Yoga. It’s a powerful computer, at least for what she uses it for, but it’s the extra features that really sold it. It has a touchscreen that folds completely around the back, allowing you to use the laptop as a tablet. This feature is incredibly useful on bus or plane rides. Even when there is a tray, It’s almost impossible to use my laptop comfortably.
NoteAlways buy the extended warranty. When we were housesitting in Epsom, Kylee’s laptop had a screen issue, a freak issue where the plastic hinge for the screen cracked. Because she had a warranty, a repair technician came to our flat and replaced the entire screen the next day.
This was another cost-saving decision that looking back, we’d probably do differently. When we left on this current journey, we didn’t know how handy having a smartphone would be. Instead of buying unlocked iPhones, we opted for much cheaper iPod touches.
The reason is that we only really needed them for music and photos. And considering WiFi is so common, any online features would be accessible at some point or another.
The truth is, the camera on the touch is pretty shit. And being reliant on WiFi to get online can be a pain in the ass, especially in less-connected destinations.
It didn’t take long to realize a phone would be handy. So when we passed through Canada last spring, we picked up one of our old ones. Now we’re able to stay connected at all times. I don’t yet know if this is a blessing or a hindrance.
SIM cards are so ridiculously cheap in most countries. Especially when compared to the outrageous prices we pay in Canada.
Although the phone we use has a much better camera than the iPod, we’ll be upgrading this summer. It’s nice to be able to take food photos without bringing out the DSLR.
Hootoo Tripmate Titan
The Hootoo Tripmate Titan is a multi-purpose gadget that’s been a lifesaver on several occasions. Primarily, it’s a WiFi extender. This is perfect in many situations, like when your hostel room is the furthest from the main router, or you want to work on the rooftop in the sun. Even better, when you don’t have WiFi, but the coffee shop across the street does.
A really nice feature is that, unlike many signal boosters, the Hootoo has an ethernet port. So it can actually act as the main router as well. In a world of WiFi-everywhere, this might seem unnecessary, though we’ve needed this feature more than once.
At one AirBNB we stayed at while visiting Ostrava, in Czechia, the listing mentioned internet was included. It wasn’t until we arrived that we learned they didn’t have WiFi, only an ethernet cable hanging from the wall. Though rare, it happens, and we’re glad we had the Hootoo.
As well, it’s also a 10400mAh battery bank, so you can charge your smartphone up to three times.
In the digital world, most of us are using our devices on a fairly constant basis. Yet battery life hasn’t quite caught up with our demands. That’s why digital nomads are always carrying around backup power.
Although our Hootoo does the job most of the time, we also have a couple of generic battery banks. The ones we currently use are fairly simple models that we received in a swag bag at a conference. They don’t have a ton of juice, but they’re perfect for a long bus ride when you just need that extra hour or two of juice.
We’re planning on picking up a couple more this year, hopefully one strong enough to charge a laptop. We’ll let you know how they turn out!
Too many devices, not enough plugs. This might be the single most common issue encountered by digital nomads. Sure, the co-working space is usually well-equipped to handle the situation, but everywhere else? Hotel rooms, hostel common areas, restaurants and airports. If you have more than one or two devices that need charging, you’re going to have a tough time.
Even in the case that you have multiple outlets if in a foreign country, you probably only have one adapter. This is what makes having a power bar so handy.
Now, for a long time, we’ve been using the Belken SurgePlus. It’s often recommended and used by many travellers. However, though it doesn’t say so online, this product is technically only rated for 120 volts. So really, it shouldn’t be used internationally, at least on systems with 220-240V. We only just learned this, so we can no longer recommend this specific brand.
We’re picking up the MAKETECH travel power strip next month, and will let you know what we think!
Probably used the least out of our gear, but it comes in handy when we need to transfer large files between computers. Rather than uploading to Dropbox or sending an email with 200 photos, we simply throw it on the stick and pass it over.
Lock it all up in a PacSafe Safe
I used to see these things hanging in travel shops and thought they were for paranoid people. The wire-mesh bag looked bulky and, more importantly, heavy. Not worth the trouble for me. Those were the days before I travelled as a full-time blogger, with all of this expensive gear.
Finally, out of curiosity, I went to the shop and actually picked one up. I was shocked at how lightweight it was. Not just that, but when empty, it flattens to under a centimetre thick! Since then, I’ve carried the Pacsafe travel safe with me on every trip.
Simply throw your important gear in the bag and lock it to something sturdy in your room. The bed frame, sink drain or radiator pipe work perfectly. Throw on a lock, and you’ve added a significant barrier between your stuff and any potential thieves.
The price tag is worth the peace of mind alone.