Technological progress continuously changes the face of modern travel – in fact, it did so for ages. But there’s one thing that remains unchanged for centuries – or even longer – every travel starts with proper preparation. Although, probably the exact act of such preparation looks different than it did a decade or a century ago, a little – or not so little – packing was always involved. So what are the key things to pack for a modern traveller? Here is a list of the indispensable trip companions, essential go-ahead travel gadgets and recent technological solutions no one should forget while packing for the next big trip.
1. Travel Adapter
The thing we have in mind here is a plug adapter which ensures that you will have access to electricity no matter how compatible with the local socket the power supply system in your laptop, phone charger, shaver, hairdryer or any other such device is. There are numerous solutions available on the market with a lot of far-more-than-universal options, which provide not only a safe way out for the users of electronic devices in an unfamiliar region on a strange continent far away from home, but also adds much more functionality to routine facilities such as charging docs or power stations.
While you usually can ask for a simple plug adapter which will elementary lead the way for your wall plug straight into the local power socket at almost any hotel, the most manageable solution in some cases can bring even more trouble if you’ll face any issues, related, for example, to voltage difference. If your device is designed for use in North America or Japan, trying to plug it as normally into a wall socket while visiting almost any other part of the world, can cause major inconveniences. This is emphatically applicable if you are meant to use an appliance, which requires a relatively high amount of power – such as electric kettle, hairdryer or even a shaver.
The whole problem here is hidden in a single detail – while the majority of modern countries have developed a 220/240 V electrical infrastructure, a few exceptions are found. Such exceptions are namely the United States, Canada and Taiwan – along with a few other countries, where standard voltage is 110-120 V (or even 100 V, as in the case of Japan). Under such circumstances, a single-voltage electrical appliance designated for use in North America will probably not be able to withstand any provisional plugin. With the absence of a label, referring to a device as a dual-voltage appliance (the mark should indicate something like AC 100-240V) on either end of the power cord, you are most probably dealing with something which is not meant to work in every part of the globe – at least without a proper voltage converter. It is extremely common with above mentioned wattage-hungry devices like hairdryers, curling irons or electric blankets.
The solution? All-in-one travel adapter and converter definitely sounds like one. Nowadays it isn’t that bulky – nor heavy or expensive – as it was at the end of the last century. It is not only extremely affordable – you can also easily find a wide range of different yet extremely functional – adapters in any major online marketplace.
A single device will be able to match any plug to any socket, usually unifying a range of power supply infrastructure systems used in more than 150 countries across the globe. It will not only let you forget about voltage – or receptacle-related differences between various countries and regions, it also should help your devices survive power surges when encountering any spikes, produced on the infrastructure while visiting the areas that are still dependent on household power generators. Not to mention still persistable problems with wiring, faced even in the most developed areas.
2. Portable Power Pack
Of course, all of the abovementioned problems are not relevant at all if you are travelling so far from civilization that even the electricity itself has yet to reach such distant places. While there is a special kind of frequent travellers, who prefer to choose their portable devices almost solely on the basis of their battery capacity and energy-savvy performance, even those folks are not protected against inevitable battery wear.
Nonetheless, if you are not one of such globetrotters – and can not survive even a short break with a single device as your fellow travel companion – an additional battery is a must. With an overwhelming variety of portable chargers to choose from, buying a new one can be a really difficult task even if such power pack are affordable as never before. Still, there are certain criteria upon which you can choose the right one – depending on your personal needs, individual travel habits and the set of devices you cannot live without while on the move.
A few modern advanced examples apart, external batteries designated for charging devices via USB port usually will not be suitable if you are planning to have a fully functional laptop computer or even high-performance tablet while on the road. If even the most ancient power packs still can charge mobile devices which require an output of no more than one amp (an equivalent of five watts), a new smartphone will need at least two times more – especially if you’ll want to fast-charge it. And for laptops or tablets, even that wouldn’t be enough – you’ll probably succeed in charging a modern energy-efficient computer via USB-C with a few years old portable external battery, which can provide an output of, let’s say, 2,1 amp, but it can take much much longer than your patience – not to mention the individual time limits – can allow you to wait.
So if you need a home-like set of devices while travelling, think of the power bank that can produce at least an output of three amps, then think of the maximum capacity which is available from your set of choices. If you are not familiar with the traditional battery capacity of such devices, keep in mind that it is usually measured in milliamp-hours (mAh). The battery volume range of the most popular smartphones ranges from about 1820 mAh for a new iPhone to 3550mAh, which is the capacity of the new battery in Huawei P30. Some of the phones with the most long-lasting battery can even have 6000 mAh to 10000 mAh power units and last for a week or so – but it’s still not forever.
Meanwhile, most external batteries range in their capacity from 2000 mAh to ten times more, but it’s not unusual to find the one which is labelled as the 50 000 mAh power bank – even in the relatively small consumer electronics store. It is still extremely affordable, considering the prices that may vary from a few euros for an older 1500 mAh unit to approximately thirty euros for the 50 000 mAh battery with the cheapest online stores advertising offers for almost half of that price.
There are also a few more things to consider. First, do not forget that the most voluminous power packs also are the less portable ones as both Lithium-ion and Lithium-polymer battery technologies which are used here to store the power for later, tends to increase physical weight and measurements of the power bank as its initial capacity goes up. And second – if your laptop computer can not be charged via USB-C, you may think about buying a little bit more sophisticated external battery pack – the one that can be hard to find at the nearest store. But that won’t be a huge problem if you’ll consider looking for such at any bigger online marketplace. Just start by typing something like ‘MacBook Air power bank’ – or the respective model of your computer into the eBay search box and you’ll be surprised by the variety of solutions for the most popular of the already ageing machines.
3. Solar Battery Charger
These eye-catching gadgets have been around for a relatively long time – but did not become as popular as one could expect… namely because of the unfortunate fact of not meeting the consumers’ expectations. Consider the initial price which was ten – or even more – times higher than it is today, limited market adaptation (no one will contemplate buying such device during the polar winter season in the far north, nor anyone would think about it when packing for a north-bound journey in early January) and low performance indicators related to the obvious technological issues – and you could even be surprised by the fact that such invention survived to the present day.
However, nowadays solar battery chargers aren’t hitting the markets without a reason. But, of course, the main reason it still attracts that much attention isn’t the same that it was at the beginning of this century. For most of us, such technology isn’t any novelty, but a solar charger – or even a portable battery pack which can be charged that way – is much more affordable than it ever was. Add to this an improved technical performance along with additional functionality – and you’ll understand why it’s a must-have travel accessory, especially if you are willing to spend at least a part of it far away from any electrical socket. Speaking in numbers, the price and technical specifications of such gadgets are very similar to the ones of the power banks mentioned above. Just add a couple or a few euros of the overall cost for the photovoltaic element and consider that the battery modules which are attached to aforesaid devices are usually not as voluminous, as in modern battery packs, designated to be charged via wall plug only.
4. Smart Backpack
Of course, almost every packing for a trip starts with the most basic – and undoubtedly the most essential – member of your caravan: the suitcase or a backpack, while, of course, most travellers prefer to pack both of them. And if the satchels and suitcases are usually the symbols of short and long journeys respectively, almost any wouldn’t pass without a simple backpack.
The present-day backpack is not an exception for all the things that are constantly trying to become smart – and just like in the case of smart-homes, smart-phones, smart-tv-sets and everything else, smart backpacks are trying to be a substitution for more and more stuff that they once were supposed to carry. The smartest of the modern backpacks can also serve as first-aid kits, have built-in compasses, RFID protection units, can be tracked via GPS, locked and unlocked with your fingerprint – and of course, charge another smart device of yours.
5. Autonomous Communicating Device
Even not-so-sophisticated Walkie-Talkies can be a great help while hiking far away from civilization or exploring such remote areas where the 4G mobile network is not the only thing you can forget about – and where a total absence of cellular coverage can give you a real thrill. But the ancient two-way radio solution is not the only option to consider anymore.
Both owning and using a satellite phone isn’t as expensive as it was a decade ago. What is more, nowadays such devices are also much more technologically advanced than they were back then – and the great improvement in their functionality is more than obvious. But if you are travelling with a group and need to communicate with each other rather than with the outside world, a satellite phone for everyone could seem like a huge excess.
Luckily, there are a few very modern solutions, which are both technologically advanced and cost-efficient. Consider, for example, two-way mesh devices, which can connect to virtually any smartphone via Bluetooth and create a pop-up network for up to 6 different devices which then can communicate between each other, up to more than 6 kilometres in point-to-point range.
No matter how far you and for how long are you planning to go for your next trip, even the most proper preparation can not save you from one of the most common scourges, which could lie in wait for each traveller: flight disruptions. But if you’ll ever face one, do not worry: you can claim up to €600 in flight compensation for your disrupted flight. And if you already have experienced a flight disruption, contact Skycop – we are dedicated to helping you get the money you deserve. Fill our claim form now to find out if your flight is eligible for compensation – it’s completely free.