What Electronics Should You Pack?
Trying to decide what kind of electronic equipment to bring on a long-term adventure is a first-world problem of the highest magnitude, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. With all of the devices that we deal with in our everyday lives it’s difficult to pinpoint what you will need on the road and what will be extraneous crap that you’ll never use. There’s no right or wrong packing list; everyone’s personal preferences will vary. However, I’ve compiled this article to help you sort through deciding what to bring home and what to bring.
One of the best questions to ask yourself is this: are you planning on being a net generator of content, or a net consumer of content? If you decide to keep up with a travel blog you’ll want to pack much differently than if you only want to be able to post photos to Instagram and scroll a Facebook feed. Probably the biggest question is whether or not to bring a computer, and my advice is this: if you plan to acquire and distribute a large selection of media based upon your travels (photo editing, video editing, writing, working remotely), then bring a computer. If not…you’re probably best leaving it at home.
As long as you don’t have the ethos that you want to travel by compass and map, which is a wholly admirable pursuit (that probably also means you aren’t reading this blog), then bring a smartphone. It’s stunningly easy to get a new SIM card, and quite cheap considering how much value you’ll get from it. It will eliminate the need for an iPod, a camera and a computer. It’s not a top of the line camera, e-reader, word processor, internet browser or music player, but it does all of these things well enough that you can easily get away with just having a phone and no other device.
Should You Bring an iPod?
Unless music is your passion and you want to have a large selection of artists to choose from, leave the iPod at home and bring a smartphone. Less is more.
Should You Bring an iPad?
Only bring an iPad if you are NOT bringing a computer and have an obsession with browsing the Internet and watching movies. An iPad is a great device, but it’s also flashy and liable to be stolen if you aren’t careful. Easy to break as well, it will not add much value to your travel experience and is likely to be only a liability.
Should You Bring a Kindle?
Personally, I am a huge advocate of Kindle reading when traveling. As someone who reads a book a week, it was unrealistic to expect to be able to acquire and carry that amount of reading material on the go. I hate being without a book when traveling, and having a Kindle means I can always have one—or 350. If you are a voracious reader and considering buying one, I’d highly suggest doing so. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite almost two years ago, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sure, you can read books on an iPad or other tablet device, but you won’t be able to see anything in the sun and it is a general strain on your eyes to read off of a screen for an extended period of time. Kindle is the way to go.
Should You Bring Speakers?
If you’re a music lover and want to be able to rock out on the go, a small (key word: small) set of speakers is a great addition to your travel list. Personally, I’d recommend getting a pair that are battery operated and plug directly into your music player. Speakers that need charging or Bluetooth capabilities don’t work well on the road.
Should You Bring Nice Headphones?
I used to have a pair of Bose QC15 Noise-cancelling headphones, which I loved dearly. However I sold them off within 2 months of traveling with them for the following reasons: they’re BIG, they are flashy, and I didn’t use them as much as I thought I would. Bring a small pair of ear buds that can be stored simply, and you’ll be just fine. Leave the expensive headphones at home.
Should You Bring a Camera?
This is a tricky question to answer…the answer lies in whether or not you are bringing a smart phone, and how into photography you are.
If you are bringing a smartphone it will likely take better photographs than any point-and-shoot camera you’re thinking about bringing.
If you are not bringing a smartphone, bring a camera. You will surely want one.
If you are an amateur photographer and have a DSLR, it’s up to you to decide…you’ll get the photos of a lifetime, but you will have to carry around a very expensive, very bulky piece of equipment. It all depends on how many photographs you’ll be planning on taking, and how comfortable you are carrying it around all the time.
The bottom line is this: bring less. Whatever functions you can condense into one device, do it. The less you bring is the less you have to physically carry, and the less you have to worry about being broken or stolen. Whenever I was packing my bag, I’d run through a mental list of all the **important** things I had: passport, credit cards, kindle, phone—and reducing the number of **important** things you carry will give you peace of mind and allow you to travel in a streamlined and leaner fashion. Less is more. Just don’t forget your converter cables and charging cords!