The Top Tech Tools to Stay Connected While You Travel

Whether you’re exploring within or outside of your nation’s borders, it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re prepared. Today, being prepared means something completely different than it did decades ago—technology is our best friend, especially when we’re trying to get around unfamiliar places.

Of course, you don’t want to pack tools you don’t actually need. I’m an avid traveler, and I’ve narrowed down which gadgets make my life on the road a lot easier. Consider these items—some big-ticket items, some smaller investments—when you’re thinking about your next trip.

1. Camera, camera, camera

Though a camera is a must-have for any trip, there’s no one camera that’s the right fit for everyone. Choosing this particular piece of technology really comes down to personal preference.

The two main camera categories to keep in mind when selecting the right option for you are digital SLR bodies vs. mirrorless bodies. DSLR cameras are tried and true, giving the user lots of flexibility with a ton of lens options, but they’re certainly bulky. Mirrorless cameras pack a punch while cutting down on size and weight, but, in turn, can be quite costly.

Options for buyers: If you’re reading this, you’re probably not too confident in the world of cameras. Nothing wrong with that! Check out 2018 comparison lists for both DSLR and mirrorless cameras to find the best fit for you and your travel profile, and talk to friends who know cameras to get their recommendations, too.

2. Lightweight laptop

For travelers who spend long periods of time on the road, having a fully functional computer is essential, especially for those who work remotely or consider themselves “digital nomads.”

While smartphones and tablets are great for some tasks, they’re not a perfect equivalent. However, if you’re going to add a laptop computer to your load, it’s imperative that it not weigh you down.

Options for buyers: Check out this great comparison list for the best ultraportable laptops on the market in 2018.

3. Noise-canceling headphones

For lots of people, having headphones on hand, even for a walk to the grocery store, is a must. But taking the leap to invest in a pair of nice headphones for travel makes a world of difference.

Two important factors to think about when picking up a nice pair of headphones:

  • Their noise-cancelling abilities
  • If they’re wireless/Bluetooth capable

Some better brands offer both qualities in one.

Options for buyers: Here’s a great comprehensive list for buyers interested in wireless headphones (at all price points), as well as an extensive list comparing the best noise-cancelling options on the market

4. Wall chargers for all situations

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. The moment you cross international borders, wall outlets become a lawless game. Thankfully, having one easy tool on hand makes all the difference. Cover your bases by picking up a universal wall adapter. On top of being an international travel MVP, it won’t cost you too much.

Options for buyers: There are plenty of travel tech items worth spending big dollars on, but this is one you don’t need to splurge on—at the end of the day, they all get the job done equally well. Try this universal adapter or a similar model; it won’t steer  you wrong.

5. A reliable power bank

A backpacker, as seen from behind, with a solar power bank hanging from his backpack. Rewire PBS Living Tech Tools
This backpack could fit at least five lightweight laptops inside.

The power bank market is exploding with great options for travelers. There are various tech specs to look for when buying a power bank, the most important of which are:

  • The ability to charge multiple devices at once
  • Various port strengths for charging different types of devices (some are large and strong enough to charge computers)
  • Lightweight and slim design

A solar power bank is also a great option for more remote travel (whether it’s a multi-day hiking trip or a desert adventure). By simply laying out the solar bank during the day, all of your electronic devices will gain a power source, no outlet required.

Options for buyers: Mophie produces popular power banks, and there are plenty of great competitor brands with similar qualities and pricing. If you’re interested in a solar bank, here’s a more expensive and a less expensive option to check out.

6. Luggage scale

Have you ever paid an exorbitant fee for a slightly overweight bag? It’s annoying and far from ideal (think of all the other places that money could have been better spent during your trip). Luckily, there’s an easy remedy to this pesky problem: a luggage scale. These scales are specially made to be packable so they can live in your bag without taking up valuable space.

Options for buyers: The luggage scale market offers a variety of options, some of which are quite straightforward, while others include additional tools, like built-in thermometers. Check out this helpful list of 2018’s best luggage scales to give you a better idea of what’s out there.

7. Portable Speaker

Music can make travel even more awesome and lets you set the tone for every moment throughout your day. While it might not be considered a travel necessity, having a travel-friendly Bluetooth speaker can add to the quality of your day-to-day and will come in handy when you least expect it.

Options for buyers: Ultimate Ears and JBL make critically acclaimed, action-packed, bite-sized speakers that make for perfect travel companions. For the quality, you absolutely cannot beat the prices.

8. Travel Pouch

Staying organized while traveling is incredibly helpful, and having additional help with this can be invaluable. If you can’t find a way to keep all of your cords and small gadgets organized on your own, find a travel pouch that will help you achieve this goal.

Options for buyers: The TechAway Travel Roll bag is both aesthetically pleasing and affordable.

9. Smartphone SIM cards

Logistically, international travel can prove to be pretty stressful. When you don’t have cell service, it’s even tougher to coordinate.

Thankfully, using a country’s regional cell service is a much easier and cheaper strategy than signing up for an international plan with your U.S. carrier. Almost all airports have stands with prepaid SIM cards for sale—simply buy one and insert into your phone. This gives your phone a new number (native to that country) and provides access to data and local calling.

While traveling with your international SIM card, use Apps like Viber, WhatsApp, FB Messenger and, on iPhones, iMessage to keep in touch with friends and family back home instead of placing calls through your foreign number.

Kylie Fitch

Kylie is an East Coast gal who currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, for work and play. She’s traveled to 24 countries and spent time living and teaching in Thailand and Bali before settling into her career. Kylie deeply enjoys food, music and the outdoors in the presence of good company.