Packing Guide: Essential Gadgets

This post is an edited version of an article that I wrote for the Avanti Travel Insurance blog. I write a monthly post on travel for their blog.

I am often asked what essential gadgets or kit do I take with me when I am travelling. The answer to that question depends on the type of trip I am making. I will always have a camera with me as it is an essential tool of my trade. Which one will depend on the trip I am taking and I will be covering this in a future post.

Apart from clothes and toiletries the following gadgets are usually somewhere in my luggage.

iStay Strap

Bags, cameras and laptops are all carried on straps over the shoulder. After several mishaps when straps slipped off the shoulder I discovered and bought an iStay strap (£). Clever design means it does exactly what it says on the packed – stays put. The strap avoids the necessity of hunching one shoulder to keep things slipping off and prevents unnatural body posture. For this reason it is approved by the Royal College of Chiropractors. Its swivelling clips make it easy to attach to almost anything. Initially I bought one with a case to carry my iPad. I now have one attached to my camera and my laptop bag.

A charger for… well everything

In these days of travel with technical gear everyone has a tale of battery failure at a critical moment. I avoid this by taking a charger or three along on my travels.

I always carry a small pocket size charger (£), no bigger than a stick of lipstick, that will charge my iPhone just once. This is handy for a city break where I have access to a source of electricity for recharging the power pack in the evening.

Power Pack 002
Handy size power pack for charging a mobile device

When in more rural or adventurous locations I often carry a more rugged high capacity charger (£) that will charge my iPhone upto three times. The one I have (pictured right) is virtually bombproof. It still works even after having been rained on, dropped on rocks, laid in the mud, buried in the sand and taken sea kayaking.

Power Pack 001
A rugged, waterproof power pack is ideal for all sorts of situations.
Power Pack 003
Portable solar panels for charging mobile phones

If I am going to be away from a source of electricity I will take a solar charger (£). These are at their most efficient when in full sun but also work on overeats days. You can charge your phone on-the-go anywhere. It also has the advantage the you can recharge a power pack when not using it for other devices. It is ideal for camping or hiking.

External Storage for Smartphone

Second only to running out of power is running out of space on your smartphone. The answer is to make certain you carry external storage. It is also wise to backup all those holiday snaps externally.

Relying on backing up to some form of Cloud storage is not ideal if Internet connection fails or if there is no wifi available. What external storage medium you use depends on your brand of smartphone. I use a Leef iBridge (£) external storage device for IOS with my iPhone which has been great in times of space shortage on my phone and/or iPad. Its clever design means it wraps around the back of the phone out of the way.

Leef 001
Some form of external storage for your smartphone is essential

Cable Organiser Case

BUBM Cable Organiser Case 006

The trouble with today’s technology is that it all needs charging and that means an array of cables. Apple have one type of connector, Samsung another and cameras of different brands have a third. Add in the e-readers and suddenly you need a plethora of cables that end up like spaghetti on a plate. The answer I have found is to use a cable organiser case (£). The one I use comes with handy cable ties, pockets for SD cards and even space for a small power pack.

Travel Reading

Kindle 003

There was a time when I took physical books with me on holiday. Today every book takes precious weight allowance. Fortunately, we have the option to take books in a digital format and can take a whole library that doesn’t even weigh as much as a single book.

E-books are increasingly popular and all you need is an e-reader. Kindle e-readers from Amazon (£) are by far the most popular and there are a number of choices. Now with anti-glare screens they are easy to read in bright sunlight. The Kindle Paperwhite with a backlit screen is the best to buy if you plan on reading in a darkened room.

The other form of digital book is the audiobook. All you need is an mp3 player something which comes as standard on most modern smartphones. Complete books can be downloaded and listened to from a number of sources. I personally use Audible (£) who offer a subscription based service as well as a one-off purchase service. This is ideal for when doing activities when holding a e-reader is impractical or when being totally inactive on the sun lounger.

One Last Luxury

I enjoy a decent freshly brewed coffee so when practical and when there is space I take my Kahvi Cafetiere Travel Mug (£) on my travels. Basically it is a cafetiere or French press that you can drink from. Coffee grounds and hot water are added and the plunger pressed down after four minutes. A seal keeps the coffee grinds at the bottom and you can drink a hot cup of coffee without a mouthful of grit. The Kahvi Cafetiere Travel Mug also keeps the coffee hot so you can have your coffee-to-go where ever you go.

Kahvi cafetiere

Trolley Backpack Bag

Of course all this needs to be carried? My go-to bag, baggage restrictions permitting, is the…

Cabin Max Lyon Trolley Backpack Bag

Although I take different luggage depending on the type of trip, my preferred bag is the Cabin Max Lyon (£); a roller bag-cum-backpack. This is a no nonsense piece of luggage which I have used both in the cabin and in the hold depending on what restrictions apply. I like the way it converts to a backpack when it is impractical to wheel it along.

There are many other things I take with me to make life on the road a little easier but the above are all pretty essential.

Please Note: There are affiliate links on this page. That means that if you click on them and subsequently purchase anything I get a small commission. This is at no cost to you. Affiliate links in the text are always followed by a ‘£’ sign in brackets – (£).

Both myself and my readers value my editorial independence and I will always recommend those things that I have used on my travels.

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Travel Unpacked is all about travel; from luxury to adventure travel and all related topics. There are reviews of accommodation, eateries, airlines,  ferries, books and much more. You will find stories, lists, hints and tips as well as experiences you might want replicate on your travels. It’s about travel as you want it