When was the last time you traveled without any electronics? If you’re like me, who carries three cameras, a drone, and a laptop everywhere I go, then your answer might be "like, when I was like seven years old?"
Most of us need technology these days to survive, or at least, to live comfortably and connected with family, work, or the rest of the world. Naturally, we want to take this comfort and connection with us while traveling, so this brings us to some pretty common questions. How to travel with all these electronics? How to pack them? What to carry? How to take care of them while traveling?
Here I’ll answer these questions, and more, to make your trip with electronics as stress-free as possible.
How you pack your electronics is one of the most important things to consider. Do your best to fit all your electronics in a carry-on bag, since placing them in a checked bag will make them prone to damage or theft.
Additionally, make sure your electronics are carried in a well-padded bag, preferably designed for the electronics you’re carrying. Today, most daypacks have a padded laptop sleeve and some even include a dedicated pocket for your smartphone and DSLR camera. If the bag is not padded, try covering your electronics with padded covers to avoid scratches or hitting them with hard surfaces.
If you’re traveling by plane, security and TSA officials will make you remove your laptop and any major electronic (DVD players, drones, etc.) out of the carry-on bag and place them in a separate bin. Make sure you can easily access each of these electronics without having to search through the rest of the bag. Unless the bag is specifically designed with dedicated pockets for each device, try packing these on the top of the bag for easy access. This will not only make it easy for you but also speed up the whole process of removing and repacking.
Cameras, laptops, smartphones, and tablets and the most common electronics people carry these days. Drones and electronic games are pretty common now too.
Then there are the mostly unknown electronics, like the ones specially made for some industries (like some antennas, thermal readers, and such) that could raise a red flag when scanned through the X-ray machine. Should this happen, you could be questioned by a TSA official about this item, its purpose, why you’re carrying it, and more. In my opinion, it’s best to avoid this questioning.
Have you checked what socket types are available at your destination? Are they like the ones in the USA? If they are, do they have the same voltage?
There are currently 15 types of electric outlet plugs and electricity voltages in use, so make sure you know which combination is used at your destination to be able to charge your devices. Luckily, today several universal plug adapters are not only small enough to pack but are also inexpensive.
Make sure the adapter works for the voltage your device is designed for. For example, most American devices are designed for 110 volts (60 Hz) while most European devices work on 220 and 240 volts (50 or 60 Hz). If your trip is short and your device doesn’t pull much energy while plugged, it’s possible you could get away without a voltage converter (without affecting your equipment). On the other hand, if you have a powerful device (like a hairdryer), you will need a voltage converter. Otherwise, you will ruin the device.
Universal adapters come both with and without voltage converters.
Cables get tangled quite easily, especially when just thrown inside a bag. Keep them neatly organized in their own Ziploc bags, with a rubber band, or stored in their dedicated cable space to make it easier for you to find them (tangle-free) and speed through TSA when flying.
Have a tablet and an eReader? Pick one that could do the job of both devices. Have several devices that can be charged with the same cable? Take only one cable and charge them one at a time. Carry the least possible and only the essential.
Airplane mode was designed to allow you to be able to use your device without it emitting electromagnetic waves that could interfere with the plane’s navigation and communications.
Additionally, airplane mode will help you avoid those high roaming charges from your phone company if you don’t have an international plan. It is common for people just to hop on a plane and continue using their phones abroad without realizing that the service there will be substantially more expensive. If you don’t have an international data plan, just stick to using WiFi while abroad, or buy a local SIM card if your phone is unlocked.
If it’s not an official WiFi signal from the airport, stay away from it. You might see a "free WiFi" signal when at the airport, but if it doesn’t take you to an official portal or terms of service page when you connect to it, then it could be a hacker signal. Hackers know people love to stay connected while waiting for their flight and create these fully functioning "free WiFi" signals that give them all your data like passwords and usernames to every website you visit while connected. If you’re not sure about the signal, better wait until you get home or to your destination.
Do you have experience traveling with electronics? What else would you recommend for this list?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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