Need to travel with some gear and are wondering what tech gear is best for travel? Congratulations! You’re a flashpacker.
The term “flashpacking” has crept in to our everyday travel vernacular but essentially just refers to digital nomads and those who need gear to travel.
Want to incorporate some tech into your travel pack? Here is the best tech gear for flackpackers, and some great tips on how to shop and pack.
But first, a general rule of thumb:
Lighter and Smaller are Always Better
We are living in a great time for technology. Technology is getting smaller, lighter, faster, better and competition helps provide lots of options and keep costs low.
Unfortunately, lighter and smaller often mean more expensive.
So what’s a budget traveler to do? Easy. Shop second-hand!
Search Facebook marketplace for your tech needs before you leave. Put a call out on Craigslist to find your preferred tech. The secondhand prices are usually up to half off of what you would pay in retail.
Now, you’ll need a few things for sure:
Your Music-Playing Options
When this article was written 9 years ago, we had things like MP3 players. These days you’ll probably just use your phone for music. Download your Spotify playlist to listen when you’re offline and you’re golden!
If you’d prefer to bring a less valuable gadget on your journey, my favorite alternative to the Apple monopoly is the SanDisk Sansa Clip. Small, powerful and cheap, it boasts a 15 hour battery life, belt clip, a memory card slot, FM radio, voice recorder and fun color options to add a personal touch.
The Best Digital Camera Options
There seems to be thousands of camera options on the market today, and it can be overwhelming to try to sort through all of the specs of varying megapixels and shutter speeds. Here are two options to get you started:
Option 1: You may not be the next Ansel Adams, but you want to be able to take some simple point and shoot shots without breaking the bank.
Try the Nikon Coolpix B500 . At around $300, it’s a very affordable option. It is a simple camera to use, with very few settings and a large screen for photo review. Truly point and shoot, it’s perfect for the beginner photographer, or twenty-something backpacker.
Option 2: You take photography a bit more seriously. You don’t want to bring your high end camera, but you’d still like to come away from your adventure with quality shots.
Try the Panasonic Lumix FZ80. At $399 it’s definitely pricier, but it is very compact and comes with a number of great features. It takes photos quickly, has a 12x zoom lens and a nice-sized screen, can take 720p HD video and it has 27 pre-set scene options to help you get the most out of different environments like the beach, sunset, night, scenery, snow, food and fireworks (just to name a few).
Pick up a smaller laptop
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a laptop along for the ride. You will often have to pay for internet time at hostels, so save money in the long run by having a simple laptop where you can compose your posts, emails and videos offline so you’re ready to go when your precious internet time starts.
When I was traveling with a laptop, I got a cheaper and smaller unit that was perfect for travel. I didn’t want to risk my $1200 macbook, so I picked up this little Asus Chromebook Laptop for just over $200.
It’s tiny, takes up hardly any space and is spill-proof and bump resistant. It’s like it was made for travel!
Select Your Video Gear
Ah, YouTube. How I love thee. There’s nothing like putting together a video of one of your amazing backpacking experiences, uploading it to YouTube and sending a link to all of your friends and family back home.
And it’s just so darn easy.
But before you can post your jealousy-inducing videos to YouTube, you need the camera.
These days there are cameras made specifically for vlogging. You could totally use your DSLR camera and invest in a microphone or wind sock, or, you could choose this vlogging camera with dual-facing camera.
You’ve never had more options!
How to Stay Connected to Home
Apple phones let you facetime or imessage any other Iphone for free with just the internet. So skip the fancy cell phone with the costly roaming fees and do this, or sign up for a Skype account.
With a variety of different calling plans, you can choose to purchase time by the minute (as low as $.02 cents a minute!) or monthly plan (as low as $7.99/ month).
A common misconception is that you need a video camera to Skype. Not true!
While it’s fun to have video to video calling, you can call from your hostel computer to any phone line. All you really need is an internet connection and a headset.
Most hostels are fully prepared for this and have all of the equipment you need. Just go to Skype.com to sign up for an account and then you’ll be chatting with the folks back home in no time.
The Downside of Flashpacking
You will have to be a little more watchful of your possessions. While I’ve never had problems with any of my equipment on the road, it would be prudent to ensure that you either have a lock for your backpack or put your valuables in a locker during the day, just in case.
Also, it’s really easy to get swept up in all this technology.
People back home can get used to the regular correspondence and the pressure to communicate (whether through regular blog postings, emails or Skype calls) can at times become akin to a chore and even detract from the welcome isolation that comes with being far, far away from home.
The key is balance.
Use the newfound ability to plug in to your advantage, but be sure to set boundaries with yourself and your loved ones. Done right, high-tech flashpacking can be used to enhance your time abroad and help you hold on to the memories of your experiences for years to come.
*Remember to pack that universal plug adapter/converter for long journeys to stay charged!
What are your thoughts on flashpacking? What gadgets make your packing list?
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