Traveling – it’s the greatest. There’s nothing like packing your backpack, hopping onto the nearest plane or climbing into someone’s car (preferably someone you know), and just going. Sure, there’s something to be said about lazy Sunday mornings at home or long afternoons in the backyard in your comfortable corner of the world. But sometimes, the hunter-gatherer in you takes over and hears the call of distant lands. And when that happens, it’s time to go.
But there are worse things than rainy summer days and a Trump presidency – hard as that may be to believe. According to the very, very smart and informed people I asked at my local coffee shop, traveling unprepared is definitely aworse thing. You wouldn’t go hiking through the Andes without water. You wouldn’t ski in Colorado without gloves. You don’t go scuba diving in the Caribbean without, uh, scuba gear.
All those things are bad ideas.
And like the good product of the 21st century that you are, you wouldn’t leave your house to travel to the furthest reaches of God’s green earth – like, say, a glacial lake in Canada or Cleveland, Ohio – unprepared technology-wise.
Here are four must-have tech gadgets to bring on your traveling adventure – whether that adventure consists entirely of drinking beer in Munich or of seeing the sights of Saigon, doesn’t matter much.
Tablet, your traveling entertainer
Or Kindle, whatever floats your boat. Even if it’s just a weekend jaunt, you don’t want to be that person lugging around a whole pile of books or movies that you may or may not ever get to. And you’ll always pack more books or movies than you need – because how are you supposed to know how much is enough to get you by?
But maybe worse is if you don’t bring enough entertainment material. That early morning 8-hour train ride from Budapest to Zagreb starts to feel pretty uncomfortable when you get to the last page of Fifty Shades of Grey and still have four hours to go.
A tablet or Kindle (or both, with the Fire Tablet) is the perfect solution: you can have the world’s entertainment at your finger tips, all in your pocket. And you’ll save space in your bag for a couple extra pairs of socks.
Speaking of combining a lot of bulky stuff into a nice little device that does it all for you, bring a smartphone (but be careful about flaunting it in some parts of the world).
If you’re looking to travel light and take decent pictures, want to be able to check-in via email or Facebook when you access WiFi, and want to take advantage of prepaid phone services – among a million other things – your smartphone will be your best friend. Every camera and map left at home because you have a smartphone means an extra pair of socks in your bag.
(Seriously, bring a lot of socks.)
Your smartphone can do it all, in theory. But after a long day you’ll want to upload and edit your fantastic pictures, write about your experiences, and send long, meandering emails to friends you haven’t kept in touch with forever, because hey, crouching over your computer in a crammed 8-bed hostel room in Thailand at 2 am seems like as good a time to do it as any.
This might seem obvious, but you’d be shocked at how many people forget the obvious. Stop whatever you’re doing and go buy a universal adapter plug and buy it now. There are a number of different power outlet configurations used around the globe. You’ll want to make sure your American devices can charge everywhere. Your space-saving tablets, smartphones, and laptops are useless otherwise. You might as well bring lots of books and cameras and leave all of those valuable socks behind if you don’t have one of these bad boys.
Trust me, it’s happened before: you get off the brutal redeye flight in some God forsaken corner of the world. You want to charge your phone because the sketchy van driver didn’t show to pick you up and all you have is a number and no one in the tiny little airport seems to speak English or own a telephone. You find a wall outlet. But wait, you don’t have an adapter and you’re in a tiny Macedonian village without a Walmart in sight.
But by then, it’s too late. Before you left you should’ve bought a universal adapter, like this one, advertised as compatible for over 150 countries. It’s a lifesaver. Not literally, but you know what I mean.
In all honesty, you don’t really need any of these things to have a great time traveling. All you need is some ready cash and a passport and a perhaps unwise penchant for making friends with shady characters in dark, dank bars near the train station of small Eastern European villages. But they are useful – especially if you don’t want to crash on Pavel’s ratty couch in the gypsy for the night instead of a nice warm bed in a hotel in the city center.
So go out there. Travel. But be prepared.