The great thing about overseas travel is that you are required to live temporarily on fewer possessions than you would in your normal life (I think it’s great anyway). Everything needs to fit in a manageable bag. Therefore, the best travel planning tools you select to accompany you needs to be durable, versatile, and really handy to make the cut. I have fabricated a list of the top eight gadgets that make the overseas trip that much easier, safer, and more fun. Let’s see what we have (It’s really hard to actually rank these things, but I did so for the added drama of a countdown):
1. Awesome Watch: Even though in many developing countries people are less concerned with time than we are in the West, it would be good for your sanity to have an epic travel watch. Currently, I’m smitten with the Casio G-Shock GW-2000. This watch is ideal for travel in that it is radio controlled from atomic clocks throughout the world for complete accuracy; it’s solar powered; it’s sporty and durable; and it’s water resistant to 200-meters. The luminescent paint on the wide hands is convenient along with the multiple time zones feature. A must have.
2. iPad: The iPad is handy because it’s thin, compact, and can temporarily take the place of your home computer. Whether on the plane or in the hotel room or hostel, the iPad can function as a music player, movie screen, e-mail sender, directions looker-upper, and general connection with the outside world. Ideally, you could just take your iPhone and knock out a few of the other items on this list (a.k.a. the global phone and GPS), but I have heard that the charges for keeping your data plan active while overseas are much higher than just diversifying your gadget pack can be. Plus, unless you have an Otter Box, the iPhone wouldn’t be durable enough to lug along with you everywhere you may be. The iPad can stay in your hotel room.
3. Power adaptors: This should go without saying. There are at least half a dozen different outlet shapes, along with different voltages, used in electrical outlets all throughout the world. You should never assume another country will, upon finding out that you are coming, magically provide you with only American outlets in your hotel or workspace. The Kensington Travel Plug Adaptor is the most compact and nifty one out there in my opinion. All of the adaptors are encased in the unity and are released by simply pressing the appropriate button. This is much handier than the plastic pouch of loose adaptors that I’ve used in the past.
- Global phone: A global phone may be a better bet than using your own smart phone for a few reasons: a) They are typically much more durable, b) the absence of extra data capabilities keeps the cost lower than would be the case otherwise, and c) unlike the iPhone and other related smartphones, most global phones are GSM operational and unlocked to enable you to purchase a local SIM card for local use upon arrival. Motorola, Sony, and Samsung offer a few great varieties.
- Handheld GPS: The GPS is great for travel into the unknown, whether it be in the U.S. or Calcutta. The Garmin Nuvi 205 is a great buy whether on foot or in the car. With downloadable maps of any country, currency converter, and turn-by-turn directions, it’s a lifesaver (well, at least a time-saver) while traveling.
- Swissbit 1 GB Swiss Army Knife: As long as you don’t try and carry it on the plane, this little guy is ultra nifty. Nowadays, it’s just as handy to have a flash drive with you as it is to have a utility knife (even more maybe), because most travel documents, directions, and general information is now electronic. The flash drive detaches for on-flight travel.
7. Camera: Why go overseas if you can’t brag about it later…with pictures? “Yeah, that’s cool you traveled to Alaska, I was in Nepal last month…yeah…Here’s a picture of me with a Sherpa.” The best options for travel cameras are digital (for advanced photo storage), lightweight, compact, sturdy, and high resolution, so you fully capture the images you want to preserve. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 is one example of a high impact camera. Not only is it light, compact, and has a GPS and HD video feature, but it also has the zoom capabilities of a much large camera (16x)
8. SteriPEN Water Purifier: This really depends on where you are going, but I put it at number one because it really could be the difference between life and death. This device uses ultra-violet light to exterminate up to 99.9% of all creepy things found in your glass of water that you may not have the acquired immunity for. If you are heading to a developing country, it’s a must.