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Practically Packed: Electronic devices

Last month, while travelling on a train through the stunning Norwegian fjords and beautiful Swiss Alps, I noticed that, other passengers of my generation had their eyes glued to a tablet/phone. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

For me, holidays are about enjoying your time away, soaking in your surroundings, absorbing the culture, the scenery and experiencing what you’re unable to experience at home. It seemed a shame that their gadgets were taking them away from this.

I admit, with technology becoming increasingly accessible, I’m finding it harder and harder to part with my electronic devices.

And while I don’t spend my time watching movies on an iPad, I am beginning to accept that a portion of my joy while travelling, is being able to share my experiences with my family and friends in real time, rather than in retrospect.

This dependence upon ‘smart’ devices means that I’m now dependent upon access to electricity and the internet. Thus, I’m not just carrying the devices, but also their accessories.

These devices are embedded in our everyday lives, but how practical are they for travel?

Traveling with gadgets

The idea is to pack light, while remaining as practical as possible. Last year I had my check-in luggage misplaced on my way to South America, as a result, I now split my packing into two categories: essentials and optionals.

Essentials are items that would dramatically affect my travel enjoyment if they were to go missing, and optionals are items I can do without if necessary.

So this is how I pack…

Essentials (carry on luggage/travel bag) 

  • Camera (Canon G1X) + charger, memory cards, spare batteries – 900g
  • Phone (iPhone 3Gs) + charger – 220g
  • Universal adapter plug – 90g
  • External hard drive – 180g

Total weight = 1.4kg

Optionals (check-in luggage)

  • Laptop (Macbook) + charger – 2.33kg
  • Power board – 250g
  • Universal adapter plug – 90g
  • Portable luggage scale – 80g
  • Travel sized hair dryer – 430g

Total weight = 4kg


Essentials (carry on luggage/travel bag)

  • Camera (Canon G1X) + charger, memory cards, spare batteries – 900g
    • A major part of my travel enjoyment comes from the ability to visually document my journey. So I rarely travel without it.
    • Memory Cards + Spare Battery – avoid the pain associated with “Memory Card Full” and “Battery Exhausted”
    • Charger – my camera is pretty much useless if I can’t recharge it. I won’t risk my charger being lost by baggage handlers.
      • In some countries, you may have the option of buying a new recharger – however, last year, when our luggage was lost on a flight to Brazil – we were unable to find a Sony NEX camera battery charger, anywhere in Copacabana/Rio De Janeiro.
  • Phone (iPhone 3Gs) + charger – 220g
    • Apps – are becoming a normal part of travel eg. mobile boarding passes, maps, language translation etc.
    • Connectivity – most airports now have Wi-Fi, so while in transit, I like to have a quick scan through my ‘news feed’, check flight statuses, emails etc.
      • For your own security – make sure you connect to an official airport Wi-Fi network.
    • Charger – my phone is nearly half a decade old. It needs constant recharging.
  • Universal adapter plug – 90g
    • Convenience – rather than buy an adaptor for each region I’m going to. I just take this with me, and I’m sorted no matter where I am in the world.
    • Recharge your devices – most airports will have a charging station or power point, so it’s handy to have a universal adapter with you.
      Some flights now have power points on the plane (even in economy) – e.g. LAN has a power socket, British Airways and Singapore Airlines have a USB port for recharging purposes.
  • External Hard Drive – 180g
    • Portable back-up – I usually throw my laptop into my check-in luggage, so I need a back-up that I can keep with me, in case my bags get lost.

Total weight = 1.4kg

Optionals (check-in luggage)

  • Laptop (Macbook) + charger – 2.33kg
    • Speed up security screening – the security check ritual is long enough without having to take out my laptop too.
    • Back up my photos – I’d hate to lose my photos because a memory card was misplaced or damaged – I back-up every night.
    • Remove personal information – It’s stripped of personal information (and it’s over half a decade old), so although I’d rather not lose it – I can live without it.
    • Photo editing – I like the option of quickly touching up my photos before sharing them with my friends and family.
  • Power board – 250g
    • Convenience – plug all your gadgets into one place.
      If your devices are expensive, bring one with a surge protector.
      Also, this saves you from carrying multiple universal adaptors (and most hotels only offer about 2 power points).
  • Portable luggage scale – 80g
    • Practicality – I like to shop – so it’s handy to know whether my bag will comply with airline weight requirements (and if I need to redistribute my stuff).
  • Travel hair dryer – 430g
    • Vanity – when you look good, you feel good 😉
    • Comfort – not all accommodation have hair dryers, and when they do – the quality’s not great.

Total weight = 4kg

Earlier this year, while planning my European adventures, my beautiful travel advisor, Krissy, said something that now echoes in my head.

“Make the only device you use on your holiday, a camera.”

Maybe one day, this will be a challenge I can accomplish.

What devices accompany you on your travels?

This post is dedicated to Krissy, an inspiring ray of sunshine.
And Ani, for the motivation to write.

Previous travel entry: Choose your own adventure: Plan a holiday

Next travel entry: Norway: The land of the fjords


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