When you start to do a lot of travelling you realise that most of the junk that you bring with you is just that; junk. You don’t need 95% of the clothes you bring with you, nor do you need all those pairs of shoes, the jewelry, straighteners etc. One thing that people always question me about is the technology they need to bring with them. Now I know that travelling should be all about being involved in the culture of the land you are in and not worrying about what technology you have with you, but technology is now such an important and integral part of people’s lives that you do need to be aware of what are the easiest things to take with you.
So here is a run down of the things that I think are the most important and required pieces of technology are. These are all things that I use on a day to day basis as well as a few tips about how to make the best out of each piece of equipment.
For me I use a MacBook Prob as my day to day laptop. It does everything I need it to from word processing, playing music, photo and video editing and it has a great HD camera that makes Skype feel as though my friends are in the room. Not only this but it also means that I have something to use at the hundreds of WiFi enabled places around Thailand and Asia. Asia does have Internet cafes everywhere but they are becoming fewer and far between, I also use a MacBook Pro as I do a lot of blogging (obviously :D) and I need somewhere to save all of my information, something that I can’t do at an Internet cafe.
For people that are long term travelling, a laptop of some kind is an essential piece of equipment, however if you are only travelling for a week or two then you can probably do without having a laptop with you. If you are considering taking a laptop with you then you need to make sure that you get one that has these features;
Small – space saving and weight limitation is paramount to travelers.
Robust – a laptop will get knocked about in your bag whilst traveling, so you need to make sure that the one you choose to travel with is strong enough to stand up to what you can, also make sure you get a good protective case, trust me when I say they make a HUGE difference.
Keyboard – if you are planing to be blogging a lot, like I do, then you need a keyboard that fits to what you like, for me that is any Mac keyboard, they are all perfectly spaced and so easy to type on.
Operating system – always make sure that you have an up to date operating system whether this be Lion on Mac or the latest update of the Windows operating software.
Battery life – you need to have a battery that last a decent amount of time, the longer the better really.
Memory – the larger the memory the better, it means you can store more photos, videos and documents. This can be pricey so make sure when you look for the right laptop for you, that you get one with as much memory as you can for your price bracket.
After a laptop I think that another valued piece of equipment is a camera. I am in no way a professional photographer, I do have an active interest in photography though and know that it isn’t always the camera but the person taking the pictures that makes them extraordinary. But having a Canon over an ASDAs own, will make a definite difference.
When looking into a camera to buy or bring with you whilst you travel I would look for a camera with the following features;
Size – as with laptops you need to make sure you get a smallish sized camera, the huge big professional ones do take amazing pictures but they are very bulky and difficult to travel with. You can get smaller sized versions of the bigger cameras, I myself have a DSLR Canon that is an average size and it takes beautiful pictures.
Zoom – for me the zoom lens is the single most important piece on a camera, the actual picture taking technology is all the same no matter what type you buy, but it is the lens that makes a camera what it is, so try and get a good lens for whichever camera you get.
Video – footage is always a great way to capture moments that sometimes a single shot can’t get, for example I know volunteers that have filmed their bungee jumps and skydives, something that a single shot wouldn’t give justice to.
I personally really love my Canon DLSR and I am very loyal when it comes to brands I like, so would always recommend a Canon, obviously they are pretty pricey cameras so anything by Lumix, Nikon or Fujifilm all do a beautiful job as well. Just make sure you get a protective case to store your camera in so it doesn’t get damaged with travel, it is also an idea to get several back up memory cards incase your standard one becomes full.
Everyone knows I adore Apple products so for me the best phone for travelling is my iPhone 5. It has become such an indispensable part of my every day life that to have a different phone would just not work in my life. It covers everything from my music player to my calendar, I can check flights, pay bills, sync with every other product I own as well as providing me with a means of communicating not only here in Thailand but with my friends and family all over the world, it also has games on it and we all know how partial I am to video games 😄
Skype on my iPhone is possibly the easiest place for me to use it, if I happen to stumble upon a WiFi spot when I am out and about and my own signal isn’t too great I can jump onto the WiFi and Skype anyone. I don’t carry my Mac around with me everywhere so if I didn’t have a phone this wouldn’t be possible.
Just make sure that you contact Apple or your phone provider to get your iPhone, or whichever brand you have, and get it unlocked. If you don’t unlock your phone you won’t be able to put another SIM card in it so you will be stuck with a phone that won’t be able to make calls or texts. I know some companies also don’t unlock their phones so you need to make sure that you always have your phone on flight mode, otherwise you will get charged for being in a different country, not only that but smart phones are desperate to hook up to the Internet so if you don’t turn WiFi on you will be charged through the nose!! Nobody needs that bill when they get home.
You can never go wrong with this Bad Boy!
If you can’t get your phone unlocked or you just don’t fancy taking your expensive phone around with you anywhere then I would suggest that you pick up a local phone from any of the vendors that are on the streets of Surin or from Big C. I have a brick phone as my work phone which I got from Big C, it isn’t the end of the world if I loose it and they survive everything from Songkran to pretty insane nights out 🙂
No matter if you choose to have a Kindle or an iPad, I would always recommend to have an E-book reader, they not only reduce the weight in your rucksack but they also mean that you can have several books instead of just one, for half the weight as well.
I do have to admit that I do miss the feel of a real book though. There is nothing that compares to the smell of books as well, whether they be the really old dusty ones that have that musty smell or the glue smell of new books; the smell of either always brings back memories of reading until the early hours of the morning when I was a child.
Kindles are much cheaper, smaller and more light weight than iPads. They are also incredible to use in daylight whereas an iPad is heavier and much more expensive. I use my iPad for more than being an e-book reader which is why I chose it over the Kindle. However if you are just wanting an e-book reader then I would go with the Kindle, though I do love the hugely interactive screen that iPad e-books have; but like I have said before, I am a big Apple FanGirl.
As with everything though, make sure you get a good cover that will not only provide protection but will also hide the fact that you have an expensive piece of equipment on your persons.
Backup is one of the most important but most overlooked pieces of technology that people need to bring with them. Not only do pen drives and external hard drives give you somewhere to back up the thousands of pictures you will be taking but they are also a great place to store movies for those quiet evenings or afternoons when you don’t fancy going for a wander around. Sometimes hearing an English speaking voice other than your own is a hugely welcome addition, for example, I love learning Thai, speaking and listening to it are a huge learning experience but sometimes it is nice to have something to listen to and watch that I don’t have to think about.
Other Bits And Bobs
Adapters are the single most forgotten piece of equipment of volunteers. People know they need to bring them but they always seem to forget haha For Thailand you need to have a two pronged plug, a US converter plug is the best one I can recommend as it fits in everything and it works better with the voltage here.
Power boxes, you know those things where you can plug in more than one thing? Those are amazing when traveling, I know that whenever I go to Bangkok I always take a power box with me so that I can charge my phone, iPad and my 3DS all at the same time instead of having to do one at a time after I unplug the fridge; they just save time and are invaluable, pretty much worth their weight in gold as far as I am concerned.
And that is it.
You might think that this is a very small list of things that you would need to bring with you but you really don’t need all the stuff you are thinking you do, if you combine this with my previous ‘What Would Wendy Bring’ post, then you really are set with what you need to bring with you. Just remember that once you pack your bag, unpack it and then get rid of about 90% of it; I assure you, you won’t need it.
Now that you know what you should be bringing with you when you travel, you need to decide on which project you are wanting to do, so take a look at the Starfish Website and Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to begin your adventure.
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto