Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"What's in your suitcase?" Wednesday: Electronics

So I did a lot of research on RTW (round-the-world) packing before setting off on this adventure. Most travel blogs tell you mostly the same thing about clothes, luggage, and toiletries. However, I never found consensus on the topic of electronics. Some people travel with multiple items, all needing different chargers. Others have nothing but a cell phone.

I decided to strike a happy medium, but your decision on electronics for travel largely depends on what you actually plan to do while travelling. You have to be honest with yourself. Will you really have time to take million dollar shots with a fancy camera and multiple lenses on that rugged backpacking adventure? Do you really need to play a computer game that requires lots of memory (and more bandwidth than rural Ethiopia has even heard of)? Do you really have to carry your entire music collection in tow for the time you're spending away? Probably not.

My basic rules in making these types of decisions are:

  1. Before even thinking about what to pack, decide how much you are willing to carry on your travels. The best way to do this is to choose your suitcase first and commit to only its packing capacity.
  2. Only pack something if your use of it during the trip will be worth more than the loss you would incur if it was stolen or misplaced.
  3. Even if its worth is justified in this regard, only pack it if the space it will occupy cannot be filled with something more valuable to your travels

This is not at all how I used to pack. Before this trip, an item was included if there was even a chance that I would want it. That is the biggest road block to packing light. If you can shift your thinking from sentimental to economical - balancing worth and loss - you will amaze yourself with your ninja packing skills.

It's pretty great when all of your electronic accessories fit into a small bag like the one on the left. Those are the types of items that slowly creep up on your packing restrictions, so the more consolidating you can do, the better! I also highly recommend finding a small bag to hold all of these items - helps with organization.

Based on my needs for this trip, I knew I didn't want to carry a heavy laptop. I have certainly been grateful for this decision when I'm staying at a hostel without lockers and I have to carry all of my valuables with me during the day. This led me to search for the perfect tablet that would be affordable, lightweight, but still powerful enough to meet my needs.

Though a non-Apple product would have been cheaper, I valued the compatability of the iPad with my iPhone, which I was planning to use as both a phone and a camera. Speaking of, if you're not a professional photographer and have a phone with a decent camera, I recommend leaving the fancy Nikon and lenses at home. The other reason I chose an iPad was because I could use the same cords to charge both of my electronic devices by sticking with Apple. You can get some great deals on refurbished iPads, and with ample cloud storage available through OneDrive and Dropbox, you don't have to splurge on the gigabytes. I haven't once regretted the choice to go with an iPad, but you definitely have to take stock of what you value in a device like this.

Now for the always important accessories. I wasn't originally planning to invest in this type of all-in-one adapter kit that you see below, but when my iPad arrived late, Apple offered them for free as an apology (great customer service is another plus). Now that I have them with me, I would absolutely buy them if I had to do it again without the free gift! With this, you can travel to any country without having to worry about buying an adapter for your Apple product.

The extra set of cords in the picture above is for my keyboard - which has been a lifesaver. If you plan on using a tablet as a replacement for a computer, I highly recommend investing in a keyboard. I use the Logitech Ultrathin Folio, and it has been wonderful... after they fixed a part that consistently broke and sent me the new model for free (another company with great customer service). The new model comes without this issue. Best Buy sometimes has sales on this product, so keep an eye out there if the $99 price tag is a bit too high for you (as it was for me).

My decision on electronics is one of those that I congratulate myself for regularly. When I pick up my backpack and don't buckle under the weight of a laptop; when I need to pack up quickly and taking stock of my cords and plugs only takes a minute; when I can plug in my devices immediately at a new destination - I am so grateful. And to be honest, sometimes you need those little things to be grateful for when traveling the world alone with your life in a suitcase.




No comments: