Sometimes it’s nice to leave all the devices at home. But other times, it’s important to have the right equipment to document travels. Here are our favorite travel electronics.
Main Travel Electronics
Like most people, we always have a phone everywhere we travel. Unlocked iPhones through AT&T are our standby. And we can use our phones normally in the US, Mexico, and Canada without additional charges. T-Mobile is another good option for international travel, especially ourside of North America. If AT&T doesn’t cover us (or charges exorbanent fees) we stick to wifi-only or buy local SIM cards for a fraction of the cost.
It’s hard to find a better travel and action camera than a GoPro. They’re small, versatile, tough, shoot amazing footage, and have a million widely-available accessories. We have the Hero 5, along with the 3-way grip/arm/tripod, dive housing, jaws, and other accessories as needed for the trip. We have two 64gb micro SD cards, which usually gives us more than enough space. The Hero 7 was just released and it’s stabilization technology makes it our recommended choice if you’re looking to buy.
Mirrorless cameras have changed the travel electronics world. The choice between a bulky DSLR or a small point and shoot is nearly obsolete. The body of mirrorless cameras are now a comparable size to most point and shoots, but with much more versatility. We went with the Sony a6000 Mirrorless, an entry-level model, and haven’t looked back. Having a telephoto lens helps you get those amazing scenic shots, as well as excellent wildlife photos. Microphone, tripod, and lens filters are always in the kit. Backup batteries and memory cards too.
Tablets and computers aren’t necessary, but a small tablet is great for a plane and a computer helps get the real work done. When needed, we’ll carry one iPad mini and a MacBook each. Sticking to Apple devices allows us to not worry much about reliability, on top of connecting and sharing with the most ease.
Last, but certainly not least, is our drone. Getting the aerial viewpoint is something we are truly excited about and can’t wait to share with you. We went with the DJI Mavic Air because it offers a great balance between size/portability while also taking professional-level footage. The DJI Mavic Pro has been around for years and is revered by many enthusiasts. DJI just released the Mavic Pro 2 and Mavic Pro 2 Zoom. It’s a tough call between the Air and Pro, and basically comes down to personal preference.
Travel electronics wouldn’t be complete without backups! Batteries, memory cards, and external hard drives (and cloud storage options) are always with us. Having at least one extra battery for each camera means you can shoot and charge at the same time. Don’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime shot due to no battery or memory! Our Pelican case keeps all of our SD cards protected.
A solid battery backup has saved us more times than we can count. We went with an Anker PowerCore 13000mAh. It’s a beast in terms of performance, but tiny in our bags. Can charge two small devices at once.
We don’t leave home very often without our Kindles. Getting the version with cellular service means we can download books on the go, basically anywhere in the world with a cellular signal. It is a device meant to be included in travel electronics.
Toys, Safety, and More
The Bluetooth stereo is usually one of the first toys to go in the bag. Ultimate Ears makes a few different versions of water and dirt resistant speakers that are small, but powerful, and loads of fun. We have the UE Boom 2, but the WonderBoom seems to be their new travel hit.
Solar lanterns are amazing. MPOWERD’s Luci Lux lanterns are inflatable, saving packing space, and they can fill a large space with diffused light. Perfect for lighting up a camping table or tent. Headlamps and water-resistant, powerful flashlights are also a must for camping.
Wireless travel routers have been becoming more popular. They can boost that crappy hotel wifi into a fairly stable, slightly more secure network. HooToo’s TripMate Titan, which has a built-in battery, also acts like a bit of a server when we connect our external hard drive to it, since we can then wirelessly download/upload files from our computers. Transfer speed is less than ideal, however.
Bluetooth keyboards can turn any phone or tablet into a great device to get some writing done. iHome’s version has been in my travel electronics bag for years.
To use the Macbook’s USB-C, we use a USB hub with 2 traditional USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, and an HDMI port. Popping the SD cards directly into the USB-C allows for rapid download speeds.
Navigation and Additional Power
When heading deep into the backcountry, away from help, having a designated GPS device with satellite communications capabilities can be the difference between life and death. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of adventurers don’t carry these, but consider it if you’re far away from help for long periods of time. Garmin’s InReach Mini is an amazingly tiny but capable device. These can be pricey, and so is the monthly service.
For hiking GPS and maps, Gaia GPS is a fairly standard smartphone app that comes with the ability to download offline maps, with topography, water, trails, and almost any other layer you could think of. It’s essentially replaced the GPS-only devices. I also love CalTopo for map-making on my computer before trips.
Installing a second, or “house”, battery in your car or truck is a great way to add some serious capability to your rig. When your car is off, you only use the second battery. You can drain it completely, and still start your car and leave safely. Perhaps an in-car refrigerator, multiple floodlights, stereo, or entertainment system are in your future.
Adding solar panels to your second battery system only takes a solar panel and a power regulator. Then you can go for days off grid with cold food and drinks.
How many of these items to bring along is a choice we have to make each trip. Sometimes we go very lightweight with just the GoPro and Kindles. Other times we’ll bring almost everything on this travel electronics list. Regardless of where you fall, bring what you need and get Off Path!