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When I think about the fact that I’ve been on the road since April 2010, I realize that that’s an incredibly long time – next spring it will be half a decade that I’ve been roaming the globe!
While most of the things in my backpack haven’t changed all that much (I do pick up a new shirt or some pants every once in a while, but other than that, the contents of my pack still look pretty much the same they did in 2010). One thing that has changed considerably over the past few years though is the content of my travel technology bag, which now even contains some things that weren’t on the market yet when I left London! Some gadgets even revolutionized the way I travel and I can’t imagine not having them with me. The only thing that seems to get bigger is my camera equipment – while Jill Starley-Grainger mentions in her travel kit for the luxury traveler that she didn’t even bring a camera on her last trip because her smartphone camera was sufficient for her, I seem to add new lenses, filters and other gear regularly, but I just don’t feel like a camera phone produces images that are good enough to be published here and in the other publications that I write for.
When I started my round-the-world trip, I was carrying four or five heavy books, for example. These days, I carry a slim, light-weight Kindle that holds 3,000 books. I stated out with a Netbook which felt like the neatest thing compared to my clunky, heavy Toshiba laptop. While the netbook was fine in the beginning, it couldn’t cope with the amount of work I did on it over the months to come. Luckily, laptops got considerably slimmer, smaller and lighter, and when I went back to a laptop, it didn’t make all that much of a difference to the weight of my bag. I left home with a tiny MP3 player, happy about how little it was, but soon discovered that an iPod Touch, only a little bit larger, was not only a gadget to play music on, but allowed me to download podcasts, take photos, scribble down notes, access maps even when I was offline, connect to the internet wherever there was Wi-Fi, and had enough room for a myriad of apps to keep me entertained on long bus and train rides.
I can’t even imagine my life without these things anymore, and this past year, I’ve added two little electronic gadgets with a large impact on my travels:
When I first picked it up, I couldn’t understand how I survived so many years on the road without this tiny device because my batteries were always about to die. With this charger you can charge any USB-powered device: iPod, iPhone, Kindle and even some cameras. Since I picked it up, I haven’t had the problem of ‘my phone ran out of battery anymore. I even added a second charger recently which also serves as a flashlight – gotta love a 2-in-1 gadget!
Flash drives with the capacity of a hard drive
I remember how amazed I was by my first USB stick – which held 128 MB… basically nothing! This year, I picked up a USB stick that holds 128 GB – what a difference! I love how modern technology is able to make everything smaller and smaller these days! For a traveler, that’s perfect. A USB-sized hard drive doesn’t only hold thousands of the photos I take (and other things I want to back up) without taking up as much space (and weight) as an external hard drive, but it’s also easier to hide. And not only do these devices get smaller – but they also get cheaper.
As for non-electronics, my favorite additions to my travel gear have been:
This might be not important to some people, but I will always choose a company with a strong focus on social responsibility over a company that is all about profits. LSTN is one such company with a strong social focus: for every pair of headphones sold, LSTN helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
But let’s talk about the headphones themselves, which are one of the few rare headphones that are made of wood. If you are a music lover then you’ve probably heard of the acoustic benefits of wood housing. The sound quality of the headphones is excellent, and even though they don’t claim to be noise-cancelling, I’ve successfully cancelled out traffic noise, cafe surroundings and other noises in public spaces, all while not disturbing strangers with the latest Taylor Swift CD, since the headphones don’t let any noise through until a very high volume.
The headphones are very light, which I as a full-time traveler truly appreciate, and look divine with the wood housing (you can choose between ebony, cherry and beech, by the way). At $99, they are also very reasonably priced. You can buy them on Amazon.com.
These foldable, light-weight goloshes were perfect for my summer in New York, and my trip to Niagara Falls! While I couldn’t just slip them over my flip flops (supposedly you can just wear them over your shoes), they were a life saver on many occasions, when a sudden downpour – or more like: heavy rains – relieved New York City from the summer heat and humidity for a while. I just took of my flip flops and changed into my go-gos and was good to go! They are so light and small that I didn’t even feel them in my tote. When I went on my trip to Niagara Falls, they proved useful once again when I got soaked on the Hurricane Deck.
A tote bag
I don’t know why I didn’t think of picking up one earlier but tote bags seem to be perfect to travel with! While I usually use my backpack when I head out to explore a place, sometimes it just feels a bit out of place. A tote bag is a little more stylish, yet sturdy and resistant, and it doesn’t add any weight to your luggage – and it doesn’t take up any room. You can just roll it up or put it flat on the bottom of your bag – perfect!
For a full list of things I am traveling with, check out my digital nomad packing list!