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Our favorite travel accessories and gadgets

by Michael on October 16, 2011

Travel Tips:

Since we’ll be in the road for a year choosing our travel accessories is important. To make it into our suitcase the top gadgets have to be light, functional and add to the enjoyment of the trip. Here are some tips for our top travel gear:

1) Unlocked smartphone –  Michael no longer has a cell phone and is loving it. No voicemail to check! Larissa ended her contract and unlocked her phone.  She can buy a prepaid SIM card in each country and make local calls cheaply. Plus she can still access all the music stored on it so she didn’t bring an MP3 player.

2) JBL portable speaker – We love listening to music but there are times when ear buds don’t quite cut it, particularly for sharing. About the size of a cupcake, it packs a powerful sound and has an MP3 slot.

3) Amazon Kindle – Michael the Luddite resisted this one mightily but now he’s glad he joined the 21st century. Instead of carrying reams of books he just brings the lightweight Kindle. With 3G access he can download books practically anywhere and even check e-mail.

4) Moleskine Weekly Notebook – Okay, in this area Michael is still a Luddite. He’s never figured out how to keep a calendar on any type of electronic device and places his trust in plain old paper and pen. It’s also fun to put stickers on it from each country. Just like our six-year old niece does.

5) SONY 14.1 megapixel Cyber-shot camera – 99% of the pictures and video on this web site have been taken with this handy pocket cam. It’s small and reliable. We considered getting a separate video camera but opted to carry less. We’re glad we did.

6) Apple MacBook Air – We are a mixed marriage, Larissa is Mac and Michael is PC, but we somehow manage to make it work. Larissa loves this nifty little device and it is incredibly light. She also brings a Cisco USB/Ethernet adaptor since the MacBook Air doesn’t have an Ethernet port.  In some countries where there is no Wi-FI it is handy to be able to plug in.

For those who care about such things, Michael uses a Toshiba Portege which is also sort of light. It’s just not as cool. (But it does have an Ethernet port and DVD player to watch movies.)

7) Klipsch earbuds with microphone attachment – Excellent sound quality for music and the mic enables it for phone use too.  It comes in handy for Skype calls that are in a somewhat public place.

8) International electrical converter/adaptor – The key here is that it is a converter AND an adaptor. Don’t get a device that just does one.  It needs to convert the voltage (the converter part) as well as enable you to plug your home devices into any type of outlet (the adaptor part).  Otherwise you run the risk of frying your equipment.  Ours is compact, lightweight (about 6 oz.) and has a nifty design that switches plug styles for any country in the world.  We purchased it at the local AAA office.

9) Timex Expedition watch – Michael purchased this watch over ten years ago for about $22.  He’s worn it just about every day since then and it’s never failed. There are dual time zones, a chronograph and an alarm. Apparently it’s also water-resistant for 100 meters but he wouldn’t know, he’s never swam that far. But he can keep it on for washing dishes.

10) Theraband exercise straps – Those multi-colored straps that are familiar to anyone who has undergone physical therapy. Incredibly light and functional as a portable gym. They might even get used before the year is out.

11) Charmin To Go – Emergency mini-roll of toilet paper. You know how you carry an umbrella to guarantee it doesn’t rain? Same thing with this item. It’s still unused and we’d like to keep it that way.

Little Rocky with new friends in Sydney

12) Miniature Rocky Statue –  Dual purpose tool that is not only a great icebreaker in crowds it is also a most excellent backscratcher. Don’t leave home without it.

What gadgets do you bring on trips?

You may also want to read Larissa’s perspective on packing for a year.

John Discepoli October 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Keychain mini swiss army knife that Ray bought for me way back when. Pack in luggage for less hassle at airports. Extra pair of glasses or at least the Rx. Deck of cards.

Michael October 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I bring an extra pair of glasses too but have never needed them. But I know the first time I don’t bring them guess what will happen? Deck of cards is good to pass the time.

MissElaineous October 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Curling Iron & Straightener are a must. Just TRY to take me camping… Not happening.

Michael October 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Larissa will be writing about a post about stuff to bring for “maintenance.” It will be short because she doesn’t bring much.

jerry October 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Theraband exercise straps? Whatever happened to pushups and situps?
Cheaper and take up less space!

Michael October 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm

For those who may not know, the above comment is from my brother, also known as the cheapest man on earth.

Karen in Blue Bell October 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

Riss, it’s water resisitant for 100 meters of depth, not distance! 🙂

Larissa October 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Well he’s not that deep either.

beach holidays blog November 3, 2011 at 7:34 am

has to be the ipad for me! music, films, tv, internet – all in one!

Michael November 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm

We see more and more people traveling with ipads these days but have not tried one out yet. What do you do about memory with it?

Mike November 4, 2011 at 12:28 am

Have to have my trusty Nook. Where there’s wifi it is a lifesaver. It is much smaller than a laptop. I have downloaded all the maps, language aids, and my bookmarks. I cant leave home without it.


Michael November 4, 2011 at 6:09 am

I might take a look at one of those. Thx for checking in.

Phebe June 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

YAY for the MacBook Air!!!! Mine is only 2 years old but has been to Spain, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico – I LOVE this computer!!!!!!

Larissa June 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Right there with ya, Phebe. I used to have the original 13″ version but upgraded/downsized to the 11″ for this trip. Anything else seems clunky to me now.

Fatimah December 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I’m currently exploring most of your entries & I have to say what a great pleasure it is to read. I never travel without my trusty unlocked Blackberry phone – picks up WiFi very easily so you at least have access to BBM, Whatsapp & your email. Its also capable of acting as mobile hotspot(at cost to your airtime) – this is handy in places that don’t have WiFi access for my iPad [WiFi only]. Sunglasses & a hat is a must. My new thing is to carry one of those plastic ponchos for rain cover instead of an umbrella, especially when a good wind can turn your fold up one into nothing! At least 2 spare sets of cheap earbud headphones & a solar charger for quick recharge where plug points aren’t easily available. Like John, I recommend a Swiss army knife or some multi-tool packed onto your checked luggage & for ladies, a nail grooming and travel sewing kit.

Richard Needham October 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

Extra pair of glasses reminded me of an incident where having them was a godsend. As my train was coming in to the Beijing main station, I reached up to get my suitcase and in the process knocked off my glasses, which hit the floor and both lenses popped out. With the help of passengers, I got all the pieces together, but could not get the lenses back in the mangled frames. Rather than tie a string to a lens and try to pass it off as a monocle, I unpacked my suitcase on the (incredibly crowded) train platform and found my spare pair, which I had just begun to pack for overseas trips.

Michael October 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

I have been traveling with a spare pair for over 25 years and have never needed them. But you know the first time I forget them I’ll have an experience like yours. Thanks for checking in. BTW, we didn’t find any donut places like the one in Shanghai.

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