Figuring how to travel light with travel tech takes some planning and some evaluation on what you really need for your travels. What's essential technology for one person is simply not a key item for someone else.
What is key in deciding whether something gets packed or not is, "Can I live, survive, do my job without it?" AND "Does something else do the job?
To carry or not to carry, that is the question!!
Deciding what technology to travel with.
It's up to each traveller to decide what they need to take travelling. What I would take (which is pretty minimal) may seriously not work for others.
Learning how to travel light with technology is not about a list of things to take, but rather following the principles of travelling light.
So, I don't want to tell you what to take, but here are some things to consider that will guide you when deciding on what to pack:
- Why are you taking it?
- Can you travel without it?
- Does something else do the job?
The answers to these questions will depend on what you do and how you travel.
Smartphones, charging cables, cameras, power banks, power adapters, earphones...the technology available to us all is immense - but lugging it around is not so much fun.
If travelling light is something you want to embark on, then you have to give some serious thought into what you are lugging around and why.
Cameras and travelling light.
If you are a serious or professional photographer - then camera gear is essential for you. And you'll probably carry 5 kilos of camera gear! (Some serious photography experts will be nodding to this.)
But I'm not one of the above. My phone does the job I need for snapshots. However, that doesn't stop me from having phone envy when I see some of the amazing close-up shots of birds and animals, or architectural close-ups of buildings when I see them on Instagram. Oh, how I would have loved to have a zoom on the Chrysler Building in New York!
I can still get some great pictures and have fun with photo app filters. For me it's the close-ups I miss.
But when packing your camera gear the same questions as above apply. Probably the question, could something else do the job is the real key question here.
Oh to have a mega-zoom camera at this moment!
Earphone or headsets for travel?
My kids travel with noise-cancelling earphones. You know, the big head phones like safety muffs that weigh about 500g. I travel with the tiny earphones. Sure, there's no noise cancelling, and maybe the sound quality isn't as perfect but for the time I'm travelling they do me just fine.
Simple, light, compact...suits me fine.
Travelling with a power bank.
If I am hiking while travelling then a power bank is crucial for me. I'm often checking maps, taking photos, and even with offline maps - six hours of hiking can chew through my battery. I like having the peace of mind that a power bank gives me.
I often travel solo, so I don't have a travel companion to 'borrow their phone' if my battery dies. Safety is paramount for me when travelling by myself.
My power bank is actually quite grunty - it will recharge my phone three times...the downside is that it is relatively heavy. We also have a small lighter one at home that will charge my phone once. In reality this is probably a better option for me (see...even I analyse and rework my packing items!)
On a trip to Chicago and New York I didn't even take one. We were in accommodation each night where charging wasn't a problem, and we were always near cafes or places that we could plug in our phones. Not that we ever needed to. And I had a travel mate I could rely on too for data!
I'm walking the Camino De Santiago this year. There is a high demand on charging plugs in the pilgrim hostels and a reduced pack weight is crucial - I'll definitely be taking the lighter version.
My power bank saved the day when I was getting lost in Italy and chewing through the battery on my phone!
Covers and protectors - what weight do they add to your luggage?
Look at what your technology is protected by.
Does your laptop come in a shock absorbent padded pocket that then goes in a similar laptop protection area in your bag? Do you need that extra padding?
I have my phone in a phone wallet - it carries essential cards, a small amount of cash, ID and most importantly it protects my phone. BUT it is extra weight. The key point is that it works for me and what I do - but for others that's not needed at all.
My power adapter came in a protective bag with a hard case as well - but I simply don't need them, and certainly not both of them. I can wrap it in anything in my bag to keep it safe - like a sock!
You've got to make this paring down work for you and your needs.
To cover or not to cover - maybe that's the next question!
Packing charging cables when travelling.
Why is it that every item that needs charging has a different USB port???
Or that the warranty is null and void if you use a different charger than the one provided!!!
I have spent a lot of time sussing out which chargers to take and what charger can be used on the different technology I'm taking. But I've made sure it works for me and what I'm doing. It's hard to take just one cable if you are charging a camera, a phone, a laptop, a GPS, or any other devise you are taking.
Label your cables.
One thing that helps me when I'm untangling my charging cables is to have them labelled. This can be as simple as writing on a piece of tape which devise they charge - or you can use a fancy label-maker. But it does make it easy.
Again ask the question - is there something else that can do the same job? You really don't want to take two things that duplicate each other.
The best power adapter for travel.
The best power adapter is:
- One that works! (I kid you not!)
- Adapts to work in different countries and regions
- Has a fuse (and a spare) in it as not all countries work on the same voltage
- Has a couple of USB ports.
I stayed in a hostel with four beds and one power outlet - the hero of the room was the traveller with a power plug that we could all plug our devises into - not all at once, but three of us at a time.
Potentially so much travel tech to pack.
These are the basics, but then I know people who wouldn't travel without a video camera, or binoculars. And I know bloggers who travel with a collapsible keyboard - which if you are blogging on the road would definitely be an important item.
Again, if these are important for you then by all means take them.
Learning how to travel light is a work in progress for all of us (yes, that includes me too!) There's always new ideas, new technology. But don't fall into the trap that "maybe I should take that too". You may well have something in your technology arsenal that will do the job.
The rules or principles of packing light apply to your technology, clothing, shoes, toiletries, cosmetics, first aid kit, and so on...
Put all your travel technology on a table. Have a good look at it. And ask yourself -
- Am I doubling up on things?
- Can one item do two or more jobs?
- Can I survive without it?
You'll be surprised what you end up taking out of your gear.
Happy light travels!