For anyone whose parents ever told them to put down the electronics and go play outside, you have a lot to unlearn. Improving your hotel WiFi range is something you'll often need to do, and what about backing up your digital pictures?
Technology has changed how we travel; whether you’re heading out for a short weekend trip or an extended vacation, the modern traveler really can’t go out to play without a few essential devices.
The trick is to avoid over encumbering yourself with needless bits and bobs, and focus on the items you really need.
Today, that’s exactly what we’ll focus on: a digital travel essentials list and nothing more.
However, if you’d like a longer list of devices to bring along, check out this useful tech essential checklist.
For a short day or overnight trip, consider limiting your devices to this travel essentials list:
- Small flashlight or headlamp
- Durable headphones (preferably noise blocking if you’re taking a flight)
- Phone (ideally with a VPN) and charging cable
- Any necessary adapters
- Flash drive or similar with key documents
- Backup memory cards or flash drives
- Spare batteries
Right at the top of the list you’ll find one of most important packing tips for travel in general: never, ever forget a flashlight. You never know when you’ll find yourself fumbling for an important document during the dead of a red eye flight, navigating foreign streets while it’s still dark, or just can’t find the weirdly placed light switch in the hotel room when you arrive.
Even a small keyring LED can be a lifesaver in dark times, though a headlamp is usually the most practical option.
Meanwhile, any important documents should be backed up both on a secure cloud service and on a flash drive that you can carry yourself.
Ideally, the drive should be encrypted.
Long Weekends (3 day trips)
3 day trip packing list includes all the above devices, plus the following;
- External hard/solid state drive
- Power bank
- Travel laptop /tablet and charger
- Mini photography tripod
- Bluetooth tracker
- E-reader or similar
- Portable wifi with VPN
For a slightly longer trip, seriously consider including a portable power bank, in case you ever need juice on the go.
A portable wifi drive or similar service should certainly be part of your digital checklist if you expect to be relying on internet throughout your trip.
However, you’ll get more out of your wifi if you use a VPN, which protects your online identity and offers you access to content from both your home country and the rest of the world.
It’s an essential on your digital checklist, especially if you get a craving for American Netflix while traveling in Europe, need to access Google Drive from China, or need access to any other geo-restricted content.
Extended Travel (4 or more days)
Finally, consider adding these extra tech items for a 4 day trip packing list or longer (these are other 10 items you should take on any trip. I created this list 25 years ago and still maintain it). Along with everything mentioned previously, consider adding;
- Flash drive with an OS
- Foldable keyboard
- Portable power station
- Back up burner phone
Most of the extra items listed above shouldn’t be necessary for a short fling, but longer trips mean more investment in comfort and sustainability.
If you expect to be working during your trip, a cheap silicon folding keyboard can easily be rolled up and shored alongside a phone, tablet or small laptop.
Of course, it’s not just about getting work done when you’re supposed to be traveling. A Google Chromecast device can likewise be tucked in with your flash drives, and can turn a hotel room TV into a streaming hub with all the services you use at home.
You can also use it to run calls through a TV, making video conferences easier while saving your phone’s battery power. Of course, all these extra additions are going to eat through energy, so you might also want to seriously think about swapping out your power bank for a larger, portable power station.
For example, the EcoFlow River comes with a mini solar panel to augment its 288Wh battery, meaning you can effectively set up a portable office anywhere.
At the end of the day it all comes down to knowing what you will really need and what you think might need while keeping your luggage weight and volume low. A flashlight, external hard drive and a VPN are some of the things I always bring, but you might prefer others.