Essential Travel Gadgets


There are many who believe that bringing gadgets on a vacation can detract from the overall enjoyment of the experience. While we certainly understand the rationale behind this belief, we believe that gadgetry can be a great way to enhance one's traveling experience, not detract from it.

Every once in a while we will highlight new gadgets that we believe will make your traveling experiences easier and more interesting. In this post, we will talk about gadgets that we have found particularly useful on our travels throughout the world. 

For us, the essential technology and gadgetry that we regularly rely on while traveling include the following:

Digital SLR Camera
A digital SLR camera is a must-have for travelers wishing to capture great pictures. Digital SLR's are perfect for capturing fast-moving subjects, portraits, wide-sweeping landscapes and people.Not all SLR's are bulky and quite a few are very portable and light. A terrific site where you can get all sorts of reviews and information is run by Ken Rockwell who offers expert advice on everything a consumer and prosumer could want to learn about when it comes to photography. For the novice and family photographers we would recommend the following: 
  • Nikon D40/D90/3100
  • Nikon 35mm AF-S f/1.8 DX lens (or standard kit lens will do)
  • SB-400 flash

Nikon D3100 (image: Ken Rockwell)

Pocket Digital Point and Shoot Camera
It is always a good idea to bring a backup camera. It is also very useful to have a point and shoot camera that you can bring with you to places where a digital SLR might not be as convenient. Really, any point and shoot digital camera will do. It is important to make sure that your digital point and shoot camera has a video recording option as we have found this to be quite adequate replacement for lugging around a digital camcorder. 30 second clips of video are excellent for creating a video montage when you get home and allow for much greater viewing enjoyment for both friends and family later on. 

We are huge fans of the Canon brand and particularly the Canon S95 which is possibly one of the best point and shoot camera's ever made. We have shot most of our pictures with Canon Powershot models but are thinking about moving to a Canon S95 in the upcoming months.

Nikon S95 (image: Ken Rockwell)

iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad
Sure, one doesn't really "need" to bring an iPhone, iPod or iPad on a trip but from our experiences doing so really does make traveling more fun and convenient. Each on of these devices have built-in WiFi which means that you can get connected online wherever you can find an paid or open WiFi source. Many restaurants, hotels and business establishments offer WiFi which makes using your WiFi enabled devices a breeze. While we're on the go we use our iPod Touch to check our email or to make notes. Many of the smart phones and Apple devices have useful Apps that make traveling easier too. We would err on the side of caution and suggest that you leave your iPad at home though as it is not very travel-friendly and could break fairly easily.

iPhone 4 (image:

Power Converter & Plug Adapter
Many of the electronic gadgetry that is being produced these days have built-in power converters that enable your gadgets to work abroad making only a plug adapter necessary. Plug adapters are typically very inexpensive and world-use sets can be purchased airports or pharmacies. Similarly, a power adapter can be purchased at airports and pharmacies too and allow you to use your gadgets that do not have built-in power converters to operate abroad. Always make sure that the electronic gadgetry you are using with the power converter is does not require higher amounts of energy then the converter can convert. Hair dryers, curling irons and other gadgets that require lots of energy should be carefully examined before use to make sure they are compatible with the power converter you have or are using.

Laptop Computer
Our family laptop has become a necessity for all of our family trips. We use our laptop (big wide screen) for many uses such as movies for the kids, storage for our pictures, a place to write about our travels and a way to stay in touch with our friends and family back home through skype and other useful programs. It is very possible to enjoy your trip without bringing a laptop but we believe that bringing one does enhance the enjoyment of your trip, especially if you have children.

Portable GPS
It is possible to rent a portable GPS from a car rental agency and we suggest that you do so if you don't already own one. However, purchasing one before you go on your trip might be a better idea as the cost of the GPS rental basically amounts to slightly less then if you were to buy one of the lower end Garmin or TomTom GPS models (which are perfectly sufficient to get you around). We prefer models that speak the names of the streets (helps to keep your eyes on the road) and that have traffic service alerts bulit-in (to make quick detours).  Many places throughout Europe do not have physical addresses (instead using a P.O. Box at the nearest town) but do have GPS addresses (longitude/latitude) making having a GPS really handy as you can simply plug in the coordinates.
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