11 must-have gadgets for better travel
I’m an optimiser. I love making my life easier and simpler, and over my travels, there are some things I simply just can’t travel without.
Many of these items are “basics” when it comes to travel – power banks, headphones, adapters etc. But I’ve also spent a lot of time finding the best of these things that are high quality, last a long time, have multi-purpose functionality, and are reliable to travel with.
I’ve tested all of these things on many trips, constantly evaluating their performance and swapping things out if I can ever find anything better.
So, here we go.
The best airplane travel pouch
Something that makes my life so much easier when flying is having a good travel pouch that can hold things like my passport, a pen, travel sim, sim pin, powerbank, charging cables, a microfibre cleaning cloth, earplugs, sleep mask, face wipes, pocket camera, kindle and noise cancelling earphones. You know, the essentials.
As someone who has a big, heavy camera bag as their carry on, having and carrying all these little necessities onto the plane and separating them from your carry-on luggage is one of the best travel hacks I’ve personally found to make your travelling experience smoother, especially on long flights.
I always make sure to have a carabiner clip attached to it so I can quickly attach it to my backpack as I’m boarding the plane and detach it when my backpack is stowed. I can then use it to clip on to the seat in front of me and have everything all in the one place. Nice and tidy.
It’s great because it has so many different dividers and pockets. It has zippers and secure compartments. It opens the entire way through the middle. And it has an outside compartment where I can easily store my passport and boarding pass.
It also fits all the previously mentioned items, too. With enough space left over! Highly recommended.
The best travel tablet
Whenever I’m on the go, even though I’m out in the field experiencing the world, I always feel the compulsive urge to edit images in my downtime.
Maybe it’s routine, or maybe I just love the work. Whatever it is, I always carry an editing device with me when I travel.
The Surface Pro 6 is what I travel with now when I need something super lightweight and portable. It breezes through Lightroom edits, plus I get to use a stylus while I do it too! Bonus!
Plus, it comes in black. Huge win in my book 😇
The best universal travel adapter
It’s a travel adapter. There’s not much to it. But it’s a crucial piece to bring along with you for every international trip.
What makes this one so good is its build quality, and its 4 fast-charging USB ports. That’s essentially 4 USB power adapters you don’t have to bring along with you. So awesome.
Plus again, it’s black.
The best multi USB charger
Simplicity and speed right here.
If you have a lot of devices and need even more USB charging ports on your travels (and I’m ashamed to put up my hand here), this charger is a space-saving and time-saving miracle. Unlike other multi-USB chargers, this one is a powerful 60W fast charger that charges all your devices quickly at 2.4A per port, just like the Tessan travel adapter.
The supplied USB-C port charges many laptops too including a 13” Macbook. Unfortunately it’s not quite powerful enough to charge a bigger 15” Macbook Pro (which requires 87W), it’s good enough to keep it going for a very long time on a slow drain, and it’ll still charge your laptop up fast enough when you’re not using it.
The best power board solution
I love this thing for it’s compact size and space savings.
Rather than bringing a big power board with you for all the power outlets, this little cube has 4 power sockets, one on each face of the cube, and the remaining side has 2 extra USB ports.
It saves so much space in your bag!
Plus, it’s a surge protector too, so you know your devices are going to be safe plugging into wall in a foreign country you’re not sure of.
The best pocket-sized power bank
Another Anker plug right here – not sponsored, they just make really great power products.
The Powercore 10000 is a teeny powerbank that packs a big punch for its size. Not only does it use Qualcomm Quick Charge to ensure the fastest possible charge time for your devices, but it also has enough juice to charge most phones (I currently use an iPhone XS Max) 3 times over. More than enough for a couple of days.
It also comes with a nice little pouch which I also use to carry lightning and micro-USB cables with it so I never forget.
The best ebook reader
I’m a voracious reader.
Because I read dozens of non-fiction books every year, I’ve had to relinquish my love for paperbacks with something a little more pragmatic. It’s not uncommon for me to read a book or two a week while travelling, and carrying that around with me is space-inefficient and heavy, so turning to ebooks has been a godsend for me.
Although it’s super pricey, I love my Kindle Oasis. It’s super light, very ergonomic, bright, and looks as sexy as an aluminium device could look.
It’s not for everyone because of the price, so for most people, I’d recommend the standard Kindle Paperwhite – that’s still a great device. But if you love reading or the pursuit of wisdom as much as I do, treat yourself – it’s one of the only areas of life where it’s more than fine to splash a bit of cash (in my opinion).
The best noise-cancelling headphones
I used to be an audiophile. As in, I cared about the minute and intricate details of the quality of sound and how it’s reproduced.
Over the dozens of audio devices I’ve owned over the years, from in ear, over ear, studio monitors, and a plethora of amps and audio solutions, I’ve become less picky, making tradeoffs for utility and practicality, but my ears are no less sharp.
And to block out those airplane noises and isolate yourself from the world, the Sony WH-1000XM2 is my pick.
Although the Mark 3 version is out now and has received overwhelmingly positive universal acclaim, the Mark 2 version still has some of the best, industry leading sound cancellation out there, while sounding fantastic, having a small, foldable form factor (remember, it fits in my inflight Peak Design Tech pouch), and is so comfortable you can wear it for a dozen hours without feeling any fatigue.
I actually use these as my home headphones all the time – living in the city, I’m constantly surrounded by people with engines louder than their mouths, random loud city noises, and drunk people late at night spilling their guts on the street after too much alcohol-fuelled karaoke.
I’d love to upgrade to the Mark 3 soon, but for now, these are still my top pick – even over the Bose QC’s (and I’ve owned both).
The best pocket camera
I mean, would you expect any less?
Not trying to be biased here – I’m loyal to great technology first and foremost before any brand. But Sony really do make the best compact camera on the market.
I use this thing every single day, and I never leave home without it.
When travelling, it makes a great B or C camera, the image quality is ridiculously good, the video capabilities are ridiculously good, and the zoom range (24-200mm) is insanely useful.
When flying, I always get a window seat, and I always use the RX100VI. Having the ability to go wide or to zoom far means I can capture just about anything that’s in sight, while the RAW image performance is so good that you can significantly dehaze through the plane windows and atmosphere without the image falling apart in post.
A top 3 “Must-have” for me. Easily.
The best global travel SIM
Since the switch to an international SIM card that actually works, and works well, I’ve never looked back.
No more buying individual SIM cards at overpriced airport telco shops, no more shopping around early for the best deals and researching the best networks to connect to in a foreign country.
Just one sim. One app. Done.
Knowroaming is what I use, and it’s by far the best service I’ve used. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s definitely alleviated a lot of stress for me.
They have unlimited 4G LTE data packages you can buy that are supported in over 200+ countries at a very affordable price.
Just load up some credit in the app, buy a package, and when you’re in a different country, the SIM will automagically connect to the most optimised carrier in that country.
Of course, it’s not a 100% experience. Sometimes the carriers take a little while to connect, and if that particular network doesn’t offer 4G, then you’ll be stuck with 3G internet like everybody else. But most of the time, it works. And it’s great.
The best travel hard drive
I’m very cognisant of speed and performance when it comes to my workflow, so I’ve switched 90% of my workflow over to SSD.
SSD’s are super fast, durable, generally smaller, and very very reliable unlike their disk-spinning HDD counterparts. The only thing to worry about is price.
And on that subject, I’ve found that the Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD is the best bang for my buck.
These drives are absolutely tiny. They’re rugged, and have excellent performance at 550MB/s+ read speed and just under 500MB/s write speed.
That’s fast enough for most hardcore editing applications, Lightroom, Premiere, Final cut pro, RAW files, PSD’s, 4K footage – you name it.
They’re not my normal working drives, for those, I use the faster (but bigger) Sandisk Extreme 900’s, but they’re fast enough for 99% of creatives out there.
They’re also tiny and have almost zero footprint, so they’re a great option for travel.
Okay, here’s a couple of just general things I can’t travel without. They’re not anything cool, but they make my travel better for sure.
Prioritise sleep quality over almost everything else when you’re travelling. There’s nothing that can ruin a trip like sleep deprivation. Without sleep, you won’t really be in the right frame of mind to experience the place you’re in.
Whenever I’m travelling, if I’m ever sleeping in any place aside from a hotel, I use earplugs and a sleep mask to ensure every night’s sleep is restful and I’m good to go for a new day.
I’ve tried a bunch of ”specialised” earplugs, but they’re all bad. Sometimes they are uncomfortable sleeping on your side, sometimes you worry about the stem coming off leaving the bud in your ear when you take them out, sometimes you worry about how to clean them on the go.
Forget all that. The ones I keep returning to are Mack’s Snore Blockers. They’re super cheap for you to buy a ton of and keep around in multiple places (I have a few pairs in my inflight bag, a few pairs in my camera bag, and a few pairs in my suitcase) and they provide significant noise reduction – 32dB! Enough to sleep next to a heavy snorer.
Suitcase packing bags
An organising life saver!
Keep all your things together and organised with packing bags. Just make sure the ones you buy are somewhat see-through on at least one side, so that you can easily see what’s in them.
I have a set I got from a DJI promotional event, but any brand will do. They’re all the same.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading, and I hope you picked up a few tips here and there to make your travelling easier so you can make your experiences richer.
Header image by @ritchieollie