A Simple Guide to Backpacker Travel Gadgets

Posted July 9, 2013 by Matthew Barby in Blog

We’ve all been in that frustrating situation of making a decision on what to pack in our backpack and what to leave out. I often find myself stuffing my backpack with loads of stuff that I’ve deemed as ‘essential’ to then find that I’m emptying everything out about half an hour later. With this in mind, I’ve put together a simple guide to traveling with tech that can help you quickly decide what you need to bring with you on your journey.

Managing Power

There are loads of different types of plugs and varied voltages across the world, so it’s really important to plan how you’re going to charge up your beloved tech items while you’re on the move. Do a bit of research before you leave to find what plug converters you’re going to need in advance – this will save you spending a fortune at the airport.

Image source: found here.

One item that I always take with me is my USB solar panel charger. It cost me about $15 from eBay and can charge my tablet, smartphone, Kindle and camera while I’m on the move – not bad! If you’re going to get some plug adaptors then your best bet is to get them online before you travel so that you can get a bargain.


With the increased appearance of WiFi hotspots throughout the world, more and more of us are looking at bringing a laptop with us while we travel around. I use my little netbook all the time to write up what I’ve been up to, upload images from my camera and to Skype my friends back home. Here’s what you need to look out for in a laptop that’s suitable for backpackers:

  • Lightweight

If you’re packing your laptop into your backpack then you don’t want it to be taking up too much of your weight allowance. Not only this but it’s a real pain having a heavy bit of kit that you have to lug around with you. Ideally you want to be looking for something in the region of 1.5kg (about 3.3 lbs).

  • Durability

If you’re going to be dumping your backpack onto planes, boats, coaches, tuk tuks and taxis then you’re going to need something that can take a bit of a knock. Investing in a protective sleeve or case can be a life-saver here and well worth the small investment in the long run.

  • Battery Life

This is normally top of my list when looking for a new laptop. The last thing you want when charging points are scarce is a device that needs charging every couple of hours. Look for a model that has a battery life of at least five hours – anything less isn’t really travel-friendly. If you keep your power settings to a minimum, including your screen brightness then this should also help squeeze an extra bit of life out of your laptop.

  • Storage

The minimum you really want here is 256GB internal storage but that should be more than enough. I always look for 500GB because it’s better to have too much than too less because increasing your internal storage can be a nightmare to do retrospectively.

One thing that I would also recommend doing is using cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive. This allows you to store anything important on the cloud so that if your laptop is stolen, damaged or lost you won’t lose any of your important files – remember this because it could save you a lot of trouble.

  • How Much to Spend

Don’t overspend on your laptop because the likelihood is that it’s going to take a few knocks whilst you travel around. Buying yourself a brand new MacBook Pro is only going to end in tears! You can easily pick up a laptop that fits all the criteria above for under $800.

Tablets and Smartphones

I’m pretty biased here as I own both an iPhone and an iPad but whichever model you choose can be a great alternative to needing a laptop at all. I won’t go into too much detail about all of the different models that you could purchase but instead, here are a couple of great travel apps that you can use on your smart devices.

  • The Kayak App

An awesome app that I sing the praises of to anyone that I meet on the road. From booking flights and hotels through to managing your trip itinerary and sorting out car rental – the Kayak app does it all. Get it downloaded and make your travel planning that little bit easier.

  • Postagram

Another amazing app! Postagram lets you send real postcards with your travel photos on them and a personalised message from anywhere in the world. I’ve send quite a few of these beauties to some of my friends and family and they were really well received. Considering how much of a nightmare trying to post out a postcard from the other side of the world is, Postagram does a great job of doing the hard work for you.

Staying Connected Abroad

With all of the devices that you’re going to bring with you, an internet connection is often needed to get the best out of them. Personally, I never fork out for international 3G data because it costs a LOT. Instead, I look out for WiFi hotspots to connect up to the net. Even some of the most remote places in the world seem to have WiFi hotspots in them now so it makes sense! You can easily find places that offer both free and paid WiFi using the JiWire iPhone app.

Hopefully this has given you a place to start when it comes to choosing your essential travel gadgets.

I’d love to hear your personal recommendations for the items that you always pack first into your bag. Let me know in the comments below! 

About the Author

Matthew Barby

Matthew Barby is a technology-loving travel junkie from the UK. Matt shares his adventures, writes travel reviews, backpacker tips and features travel photos from around the world on his travel blog, Melted Stories. He's always looking to hear from fellow backpackers so get in touch with him on Twitter or Google+..

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