Electronics- Necessary Evils: The Electronics We Take On the Road With Us

Lisa T

I've been guilty of walking out the door with no shirt besides what was on me. I've left all of my toiletries behind and had to brush my teeth with a rag. My Google search history actually contains "underwear Oxford." But I've NEVER ever shut the door without an abundance of electronics, sometimes way more than I need. This is the reality of the modern day traveller; a life bound to chargers and WiFi and various apps to make our lives just a little bit easier, and our baggage just a little bit heavier.

There is a delicate balance between what we need, what we want, and what we MIGHT need. These things are heavy. Pack an extra pair or two of underwear and you'll never know it. Pack a charger or electric converter...you've got a different bag altogether.

We all have different needs, to be sure, but I'm going to show you what I carry, and when necessary why I carry it, in the hopes that you can at least build an editable checklist from there.

First, here are the contents of my electronics packing:

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All told, that lot weighs about 6lbs.  Let's break it down:

CORDS

Depending on how many devices you have, cords that will stretch far enough or be short enough to convey the charge are essential on the road. This doesn't sound very important, but walk into any unfamiliar hotel, AirBnB, coffee shop, or train, and guaranteed, if you have only one cord, it won't be long/short enough. I always carry three iPhone lightning cables here UK/here US with me (they're not heavy enough to warrant worry): 10ft, 6ft, 3ft. These will cover the longest distances from the outlet to where I want my phone to be as well as the shortest for a non-tangled charge. On any given trip, I use all three of these interchangeably.

In addition I bring a few micro USB cords here UK/here US for charging my speakers, Kindle and the like. I don't use those while they're charging so the length isn't as important to me.

CHARGERS

I always always always carry a portable charger. Always. Too many times outlets will either all be taken or there just won't be one anywhere. And it's THEN that I run low and need a charge. As you can see, I use a heavy duty and slightly outdated Anker, my preferred charger (lighter powerful ones here UK/here US). It holds a charge for hours, is lightweight, charges quickly, and I've used and abused it more times that I can count. Did I mention I ALWAYS carry it along?

When there's actual electricity, Lord knows what form it will come in. That's why I always carry this CE universal travel adapter here UK/here US. These lightweight little boogers adapt from and to any country's outlets and I use it daily for my American-purchased laptop as well as my British hairdryer when in the US. The conversions go on and on. These adapters also include a few USB ports so multiple devices can be charged on one adapter. I carry this one in my pocket when boarding the train as it takes care of all my charging needs for long trips, even if I don't have to convert international electricity. Genius.

CAMERAS

Who in the world would go on vacation and not take pictures? That's what vacations are for! I love photography and one day I hope to be good at it, but in the meantime I practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately my DSLR, various lenses, and tripods won't go with me without hiring a Sherpa. So on the road I'm stuck with my iPhone. And smartphones correctly used, stuck is not something you will be. The good ones do the trick so I'm very satisfied carrying a very nice but lightweight iPhone 7 Plus versus 8+lbs worth of equipment. Buy the best smartphone you can with the best camera you can or buy the best portable digital camera you can afford and run with it. The big gear can wait until you return and used wisely, you won't be the least bit disappointed in the results.

MEDIA WATCHING/LISTENING

Look, we slow travel. That means not every day is a go-til-you-drop day. And even if you're traveling hair is on fire, sometimes you just need to chill in your own language with your own familiarities. For that, we have two essentials: a traveling Roku and a decent Bluetooth speaker. The Roku here UK/here US is great for us because we can watch actual television versus just Netflix but an Amazon Firestick here UK/here US is also a handy device to have around, if that suits your needs better and you already pay for Amazon Prime. Whatever your choice, plug in, play, and relax. And you don't need to travel to enjoy this device; it's a wonderful complement to your current home video options.

We listen to a LOT of music and podcasts. A LOT. For that, a good Bluetooth speaker is a must and for a good one, be prepared to spend a few bucks/quid/euro. We travel with the JBL Flip4 here UK/here US and, while a bit heavy, it's also a terrific speaker with excellent charge life. A lighter option would be the Oontz Angle here UK/here US, a nice little speaker with less robust sound and bass support but it still does the job beautifully and with quality.

READING

Look, either you read or you don't and if you do, either you prefer the feel of a book or you can get by without it.  We're not hear to convince you of anything.  Lord knows that these are personal, sacrosanct preferences.  We won't touch that.  Instead, if you can get by without having the feel of a book in your hand then an e-reader is going to be able to carry your library. Period.  Any you prefer will do.  I carry a plain old Kindle UK/US and I've got a good 2 years worth of reading to get through, all at a whopping 5.7oz.  I've beaten the hell out of it but I still have a book at my fingertips whenever I want.

Being on the road doesn't mean you have to take everything with you but it does often require that you are well plugged in without being weighed down. These options fit easily in my backpack along with my personal necessities.  Even my underwear if I can remember them.