Listen, I can see you rolling your eyes already. (That’s because I kind of am, too). Travel and technology go hand-in-hand, and it’s a tired topic to be honest, but here’s the thing: there’s always something new!
Personally, I’m all about that digital detox experience. I still buy the odd paperback travel guidebook even. (Let’s be honest—it’s usually for an Instagram flat-lay photo.) But truthfully, technology is changing faster than any of us can probably imagine—and it’s had and continues to have a huge impact on how we travel.
Earlier this week I went to a media event hosted by the Consumer Technology Association and got a crash course in the tech world. And let me tell you: it’s pretty surprising!
According to the CTA, the most popular tech that people own is still a TV. With smartphones, laptops, and wireless routers close behind. But what do we need when we travel? It’s important to remember travel is a sort of escape from our current reality, but it’s also helpful to continue to stay in touch. The tech gadgets below are ones I’ve used (or will use) to make travel more fun and easier.
5 travel tech gadgets worth traveling with
It doesn’t matter where if I’m traveling to—the beach or a city—I always bring a small portable speaker with me. There are great wireless models, or even cheaper ones that have audio ports. I use the speaker when staying in hotels so that I can listen to my music loudly and proudly while running around in the morning getting ready for the day.
Sometimes hotels have their own Bluetooth-enabled speakers available in your room, but when in more moderately priced accommodation, it’s just easier to have your own. And for a beach holiday, honestly, portable speakers are essential. It’s the only way you can guarantee to hear your favorite music hits.
Roku streaming stick
American adults consume almost 11 hours of media per day. And because so many Americans own TVs (something I’ve noticed since moving back to America), it’s only natural that we’d still consume media while traveling. Even with the increase in digital detox holidays, I still make a point to be aware of the news while abroad. It’s usually all I’ll watch on the hotel TV because it’s usually all that’s available in English.
However, with the Roku streaming stick, you can bring your own personal TV with you. I had the chance to check it out, and every apartment I’ve been to in the USA has a Roku-enabled TV, but basically it works like this: the small, easily portable gadget plugs into any TV (anywhere in the world) through an HDMI port and connects using your settings. Through the Roku network, you’ve got access to your Netflix account (or in my case, my sister’s), your Hulu, your other subscriptions, and even the FREE Roku Channel which includes free movies and tv shows you can stream.
When you’re on a beach holiday and that afternoon rain rolls in (or a hurricane like during my last visit to the Dominican Republic), curl up in bed with your personalized TV—rather than whatever channels the hotel may have.
Portable power bank
Since smartphones have become ubiquitous, and pretty much the most essential travel gadget, portable power banks have become equally important. It doesn’t matter what any phone company says, your battery is going to die during a long day of travel adventures, but thankfully, with a power bank, you can always go on.
I’ve gone through about a hundred different power banks, some better than others. My most recent one, a gift, came from MyCharge. Earlier this month they released a limited edition pride-themed charger. While the rainbow logo is cute, the real benefit of the MyCharge portable power banks are the fold-out wall prongs that make this super easy to power up. It’s one less cord to have to worry about packing.
And bonus: 5% of the sales from the Pride Limited Edition charger go to the Trevor Project which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth.
Headphones (preferably noise-canceling)
Like most tech gadgets, I go through headphones very quickly. Either I lose them (ugh) or they break. I can’t tell you how many pairs of Apple iPhone headphones have simply just stopped working—it’s infuriating (and expensive!)
At the moment, I’m using a pair of Sony in-ear headphones. They produce a crisp and clear sound and they’re not too expensive that I wouldn’t scream if I lost them. But for those that travel more on the wild side, Sony just released the SP700 noise canceling wireless headphones. I had the chance to try them out and now they’ve been added to my Amazon wish-list!
An important thing to remember when buying headphones is to make sure they’re pretty resilient. They should be able to withstand all types of weather (especially wet weather—or sweat, even) and still work well. Because nothing is worse than when you’re on a trip and your only source of music dies on you.
An actual camera
Okay, this is a big one. For the past few years, and since I started my blog, I’ve always been traveling with a camera. I’ve gone through quite a few, including a Canon dSLR, the Canon G-series, point-and-shoots from Sony and Olympus, and about five different smartphones. Except this year.
Back at the end of 2017, I sold my last few cameras and opted to go all-in with my Google Pixel smartphone. The pictures are great, and I mostly love the phone, but I’m starting to regret that decision. Sure, my Instagram photos look good enough, but I miss the ability to really fine-tune my photography, and the ability to fully edit through post-processing and really.
Finding the right camera to travel with is an art in itself. I’m still looking for the perfect one. Needs to be compact and easy to travel with (the bigger ones just aren’t worth lugging around unless you’re a full-time photographer). Personally, I’m looking at mirrorless cameras but haven’t been able to commit to the cost just yet. But honestly: once you start taking photos with an actual, real camera rather than a smartphone, there’s a notable difference in the quality.
Note: Some (but not all) of the items above were provided to me for review purposes. Some of the photos above (2, 3, 4) provided by Techlicious.