Remember the days when travel was as simple as a dream and a backpack full of everything you needed? With the move to the technological age, travel is now easier and more relaxed, so take advantage of the gadgets and be sure to throw some of these essentials in your bag.
Besides being a day to day necessity, a smartphone is a real travel need even if you never connect to your cellular network while travelling. Whether you are using an iPhone or Android device, there are plenty of apps and maps (Google maps works really well, especially when paired with your phone’s GPS signal) you can download over wifi without incurring network roaming charges. Using some apps, your smartphone can also work as a translator, a GPS, and even as a camera, with results that might even rival a camera, at lower resolutions.
Noise Canceling Headphones
Being in a confined space with screaming babies and kids or loud talkers who just don’t seem to have any etiquette are just a few reasons why a pair of good noise-canceling headphones is travel necessity for military personnel, especially when flying. Drown everything and everyone out in delightful silence or enjoy your own music without interference. Try the Bose QC15 or Harman Kardon NC.
Tablet or E-reader
It wasn’t too long ago when military travelers looking for some reading material were stuck with lugging heavy magazines and books with you, just to have something to read to pass the time. The tablet (either in the 7” or 10” configuration – try the Nexus 7 or Galaxy Note 10 or iPad) or e-reader (such as the Kindle or Nook) has relieved travelers the world over of the weight of reading material and now you can simply load up your device with the reading materials you require for your trip! The Internet capability of most devices allows you to make full use of free wifi in airports and at various destinations throughout your travels. Military families can also download some movies onto your device and keep the kids occupied.
Converters and Adapters
While most devices are dual voltage, you will likely still need an adapter that allows your device to fit into the foreign plugs. When traveling to a country that uses a different voltage and your device is not dual voltage (or you just aren’t sure), you’ll need an adapter as well. Before plugging in your devices, be sure to double check, as a dual-voltage device can be damaged by using a converter. You can find many choices at your local electronics store prior to leaving for the airport. Most airports today also include kiosks where you can purchase last-minute necessities right at your gate.
Sometimes, it is tricky to find multiple outlets in a hotel room which are available for you to plug your devices into. Military families might face an even bigger challenge given the number of devices brought along to keep the kids occupied. One cheap solution for the budget conscious is to pack in a power strip. While there are more high tech alternatives, the power strip is an easy way to get the job done. Pick one up with a surge protector if you want to protect those precious devices from blowing up.
If you find that you just can’t bear to leave the laptop at home, be sure to pack away a portable mouse and portable speakers. While most laptops these days come with reasonable options, nothing beats using an external mouse or having the ability to broadcast a movie in the hotel room for traveling military families with kids.
Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot
For military personnel not wanting to pay the high fees hotels sometimes charge for wifi or if you just don’t trust the security of the free internet connections, you can bring your own wifi hotspot no matter where you go. Most cellular networks have wifi hotspots which can be used for multiple devices. Be sure to check with your cellular provider as to the roaming charges before you start streaming.
Although many use the cameras on their smartphones, a camera is still an indispensable device for military travelers who prefer to record their memories in high resolution. Depending on the activities planned for your travels, you can add accessories like underwater housing (to take shots of marine life while snorkeling), portable tripods (especially useful when travelling alone), and protective cases for those accidental moments.
Extra Memory Cards
When using your camera, it is easy to run out of space. You can either stock up on additional memory cards or bring a memory card reader with you to transfer the photos to your laptop or tablet. You can also use your laptop or tablet to transfer the photos to the cloud. Services like Google Drive and Dropbox will store your photos for you and you can even create an album to share with loved ones at home.
This one is just good ol common sense, but with all the high tech devices we have these days, we sometimes forget the flashlight. Useful in an emergency situation like a blackout or simply use it to see what you’re doing without waking up your roommate. Find one that uses movement or solar energy as its power source and won’t have to worry about packing batteries. You can also try the flashlight app on your smartphone.