The 11 gadgets and tech accessories I used the most while traveling abroad
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Taking in a new city, especially one in a different country, is an amazing cultural experience.
Packing for an international trip is, well, an experience.
It is a source of stress for many people, myself included by david falor.
For my most recent trip to Edinburgh and London over the holidays, questions like “will my hair dryer work abroad?” and “should I buy a power adapter or voltage converter, or both?” were top of mind while I was putting together a packing list.
Below are the specific tech gadgets and accessories I used on my trip.
Some allowed me to recreate my favorite creature comforts from home, while others let me get some work done in my Airbnb.
A portable battery
Being able to keep your phone charged no matter where you are isn’t just a convenience in 2017, it’s basically a necessity.
Prior to traveling to the UK, I already owned a couple Anker batteries I used all the time. They proved even more essential on my trip, since Google Maps and Trip Advisor were constantly open on my iPhone. I’m recommending Anker’s 5,000mAh portable charger for its excellent blend of power and compactness. It served me well.
A smart carry-on suitcase
Speaking of portable chargers, this carry-on I reviewed last summer comes with a removable interior 10,000 mAh battery and two USB ports, so you can easily charge up your phone and other devices before a long flight.
Beyond its handy built-in portable battery, Away’s made a carry-on with a very considered design. The inside has two compartments, one designed for clothes, the other for shoes, toiletries, and other hard objects. The outside is an impenetrable shell that has some give to it so it doesn’t break. I have only good things to say about it.
Extra-long charging cables
I never knew I needed these, but after I lost my original iPhone charger, I ended up buying a few of these six-foot chargers from Anker, and they’re absolutely amazing. They reach all the way to my bed super easily. They’re lazy, sure, but convenient.
I like my Anker cables for a couple of reasons beyond their length, too. I like that they’re bright red (Anker makes them in four colors), so I’m always able to spot them, and I like that the cables are coated in a thicker braided nylon material, instead of the usual hard plastic. They’re a little more expensive than some of their competitors for these reasons, but they feel great, work reliably, and, most importantly, hold up over time.
Chances are you’ll end up using them every day — well beyond the length of your trip.
An iPad keyboard case
I opted not to bring my laptop on this trip, bringing just my iPad instead to answer any urgent work emails and watch Netflix here and there.
That decision was made easier by this keyboard case Incase recently sent me to try out. Apple’s software keyboard is great, but it takes up half the screen, which is less than ideal if you’re looking to get some work done.
The case has a fully QWERTY keyboard, and a smart hinge that automatically activates the keyboard in typing mode and turns off the keyboard in view mode. It’s a little bulky and adds some weight to your iPad, but if you’re looking to cut down on the electronics in your suitcase, it essentially turns your iPad into an miniature MacBook.
A portable Bluetooth speaker
I own a handful of Bluetooth speakers, but this one from Anker is the one I use the most. While a speaker might seem like a superfluous thing to bring on an international trip, it was actually one of the most versatile gadgets I packed. I used it to help me sleep (see the next slide for more on that), liven up my showers (because it’s also waterproof!), and for some entertainment when I was relaxing in my Airbnb at night.
It’s well-constructed and sounds excellent, which are the two most important considerations when picking a speaker.
A white noise app
It may sound hyperbolic to say this white noise app has changed my life, but it has. I’ve been using Noisli every night for about two years now, and I wouldn’t go anywhere without it. Thankfully, I never have to since I can access it from any of my iOS devices.
Right before I’m ready to go to bed, I pair Noisli via Bluetooth to my sound bar when I’m at home, or my portable Anker speaker when I’m away.
I primarily use it to help me get a better night’s sleep, but you can also use it to help you to focus while working or relax while reading. It proved particularly helpful during the London leg of my trip; my first-floor Airbnb was located on a busy street and Noisli helped drown out the traffic outside.
A power adapter
Per the recommendation of Insider Picks’ tech reporter, Brandt Ranj, I picked up this travel adapter from LOOP that comes with an outlet and two built-in USB ports so you can charge up to three devices simultaneously. It was perfect for charging up my phone, tablet, and laptop.
If you travel with lots of gadgets and want to charge them all at once, this accessory is a no-brainer. Whether you’re traveling to the US, UK, European Union, or Australia, you’ll be covered.
Note: This travel adapter is not suitable for powering high-voltage electronic appliances, like hair dryers, curling irons, or heating pads. If you want one that is, check out my following pick.
A voltage converter
Bed Bath & Beyond
While the LOOP adapter is ideal for charging multiple gadgets at once, Samsonite’s adapter is perfect for converting the wattage of US appliances to conform with foreign outlets. So if you want to use your Drybar hair dryer overseas (like I wanted to), this kit’s your pick.
It’s bulkier than the LOOP adapter, but it 100% pays to pack a voltage converter if you plan to use high-voltage electronics.
I brought both adapters since they served different purposes, and I’m glad I did.
An instant camera
This one’s a fun, albeit probably superfluous, addition to your suitcase.
If you’d like to make the act of photo-taking a little more personal on your next trip, Fujifilm’s instant camera is a relatively affordable way to do so. The Instax Mini gives you a throwback way to document your favorite moments and see them instantly. I toted mine around Old Town in Edinburgh and snapped a few nice photos of my boyfriend and his parents.
The iPhone’s camera is far superior to this one’s, but that’s not the point.
If you don’t already own a pair of over-ear headphones, you’ll want them for the plane. Over-ears — noise-cancelling pairs or even just regular ones — drown out so much noise; it makes a huge difference on long international flights. I’ve been using Master & Dynamic’s MH40’s for about three years now, and I’ve yet to try a pair that bests them in sound or build quality.
A selfie stick
This is the one thing I wish I packed. Selfie sticks look silly, but they serve a practical purpose on vacations. I get it now.
This one from Fugetek can handle smartphones, GoPros, and digital cameras, and extends out over four feet — way further than your arm. Reviews of it are very positive for the most part, with most people praising its durability and the fact that accessories, like a carrying case, are included.
This article was originally published on 1/10/2017.
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