Deciding what tech gear to pick when traveling is a problem for many travelers. They’re expensive, fragile and prone to theft and can easily take away from your experience.
Here, are some of my recommendations for tech gears that will make your packing stress free. For this post, I will focus on the main tech gears (smartphones, tablets, and laptops)
A smartphone is easily the most important technology a traveler can bring along. It is an all in one device that can replace multiple devices to reduce space, weight and cost.
+ Replaces the need for multiple devices (camera, navigation, web browser, calculator, flashlight and many other)
+ Easy to connect to the web
+ Plenty of useful traveling apps that can be used online or offline
+ Small and portable (less weight and space)
– Battery life can take a toll especially when it is your device for everything from camera, maps, Wi-fi, music player, etc.
– Although phones are getting bigger every year they are still not ideal for entertainment purposes (tablet or laptop would be more ideal)
– Limited to the amount of stuff you can do on a smaller screen
Here are some recommended smartphones from $250 to $1000 depending configurations.
Budget: Under $300
Moto G5 Plus is the best cheap phone you can buy.
+ Premium metal body design
+ Fingerprint sensor, fast charging, microSD, 32-64GB storage
+ Great value
– Camera could be better
– Not the most appealing design
Mid-Range: Under $500
LG V20 to me is underrated especially for the price point.
+ Great build quality
+ Removable back/battery
+ Expandable storage
+ Fast and responsive, great camera and display
– Almost a year old (but still a great performer for most users)
– LG’s UI is not the nicest or smoothest
+ Excellent display
+ Great camera
+ Excellent build quality
+ Fast performance with expandable storage
– Weird fingerprint sensor location
– Semi weak speakers
+ Great camera
+ Fast performance
+ Excellent build quality and display
– No headphone jack.(Requires an adapter to plug in your headphones which is included)
– Same design for a couple years (still a great design though)
Again most of the recommended smartphones listed here might not be for everyone. There are just way too many options available and they continue to grow every year. Pick the right one for you depending on your needs and budget. You don’t always need to have the latest smartphone every year. I would recommend even some smartphones that have been out on the market for a year like the iPhone 6/6S, Samsung S7 and many others as they are still great performers and more or less similar to their newer models. Also try to keep your current smartphone at least 2 years unless you really need a major upgrade. Reason being is that every year newer models will be faster and better but that doesn’t mean you should get them when your current one already does everything you need it to do. Don’t try to impress your friends by getting the newest technology especially if you don’t have the budget for it.
They are becoming less and less popular apart from the iPad however; they can be a companion to your smartphone when you need the bigger screen and battery life. I consider tablets optional to bring along with you when traveling. Depending on how long you plan to travel or need to occupy yourself for a couple of hours during layovers, flights, etc. then definitely bring one along if you already own one. I use to like tablets due to their portability but laptops particularly ultrabooks are becoming lighter while doing more for a similar price point. Now I would recommend getting a good ultrabook and using that instead if you really need a bigger companion during your travels.
+ Screen size, battery life, faster
+ Lightweight + Plenty of apps on your phone are also available on your tablet
– Can take up a lot of space if you plan on traveling light
– Not good for photos if you plan on using it as your main device
– Can be frustrating to type on without a keyboard. Can use a Bluetooth keyboard but it will cost money and extra weight to carry around
To be honest, I feel that Android tablets are decreasing rapidly every year for a couple of reasons: 1) 2 in 1s are starting to be more popular and affordable 2) slightly expensive especially when it’s not capable of running windows applications. 3) performance on Android tablets seem to deteriorate after a year of usage (based on my experience). I personally would not recommend an Android tablet, but here is a good one if you do decide to get one.
Samsung Tab S3 is the latest tablet offering by Samsung.
+ Premium design
+ Excellent display for gaming and media consumption
+ Fast performer
+ S pen included which is nice to have
– Not to many tablet optimized apps on Android
– So-so battery life
Apple tablets are still really popular especially among children and adults. I see people use iPads on a daily basis as their portable device for work, school, traveling usually with a bluetooth keyboard.
+ Price is not bad considering you get a well-built tablet
+ Great battery life and performance
+ A lot of apps are optimized to Apple’s ecosystem
+ Overall Apple’s UI is easier to use for majorities
– Most recent model does not have major improvements from the older model
– Screen seems a bit outdated (good but it’s been the same for a couple years)
Any of the Kindle E-reader will be great depending on what you want. These devices only serve one purpose and that is to be a portable e-reader that does the job really well at a very affordable price.
+ Super lightweight
+ Week long battery life
+ Can hold thousands of books
– Strictly E-reader (but a damn good one)
– Boring design
There is no replacement for a laptop when you need to do work on the go. However, for most casual traveler, I would not recommend bringing a laptop when traveling since they can take up a lot of space and would take away from your traveling experience. But depending on your situation you may or may not need to bring a laptop with you. If you’re traveling for the weekend and not work related, leave it behind. For weeks or months long travel it might be handy to have a laptop with you around for downtime purposes. For now, I will just recommend the most popular laptops for Windows and Mac. For future blogs, I will recommend what I think are the best budget, mid-range and high-end laptops.
The Dell XPS13 has been most popular Windows laptop over the couple years.
+ Nearly bezel-less display that fits a 13” screen into an 11” body
+ Well built with an attractive design
+ Great display and keyboard
+ Fast performance with lots of configuration options
– Average battery life
– Ok prices that dramatically increases depending on the configurations
The Macbook Air is a popular laptop, but since there hasn’t been a new model in a while, I would wait until Apple refreshes the model. Then there is the most recent MacBooks/Pro which has been a disappointment for a lot of users. Design-wise I still consider it one of the best, but in terms of features it is lacking. The 12” MacBook has a slow processor and only one USB-C port that is also used for charging. The fact that Apple decided to take away old fashioned USB ports and SD card slots and only include USB-C ports on the newer Macbook Pros is definitely a downgrade. You will end up carrying a bunch of dongles in order to connect multiple accessories. Another downgrade is the new keyboard design. It has little to no travel when pressed, which makes it uncomfortable to type on. If you can find the older version of the Macbook Pro (2015) then I would definitely recommend those. Like what Bert Lance says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
+ Well built with an attractive design
+ Beautiful display
+ Pretty good battery life
– Really expensive starting price at around $1299 to $1999
– Flat keyboard, lack of ports
– Will be a downgrade for many existing MacBook Pro users
REMEMBER: The more electronics you bring with you the more you will have to worry about theft. Sometimes less is better.
Stay tune for Part 2 where I will go over accessory recommendations to go with your smartphone, tablet or laptop.