Long-term travelling has changed over the past few years. It all began with the humble Backpacker, a traveller with a backpack who stays in budget hostels. They try to see the world as cheaply as possible by sleeping in mixed dorms with shared bathrooms and cooking their own meals. Some even find work in hostels in exchange for accommodation and food.
Then the Flashpackers came along. A Flashpacker is a Backpacker with not only more money but more of a willingness to spend it. They have all the latest gadgets and carry their backpacks to more upmarket accommodations, such as high-end hostels or luxury hotels. They sleep in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and eat out at different restaurants for all meals.
The newest generation of traveller is the Techpacker. They are simply Backpackers travelling on a budget but with many of the latest gadgets. They don’t mind mixed dorms and shared bathrooms as long as the hostel has WiFi and free internet. Free breakfasts are always a plus too.
While I began as a Backpacker, the more I’ve travelled the more of a Techpacker I’ve become. The items commonly carried by Techpackers fall into the following groups…
Cameras are perhaps the most essential tech that travellers carry. In exotic places a camera is the perfect means to capture your favourite memories. There are many types from the simple ‘point and shoot’ cameras to the Digital SLR with its multiple lenses. Then, with so many great places to dive or snorkel, there are underwater cameras for those great underwater shots.
I began travelling with a simple ‘point and shoot’ camera, but when it stopped working, I bought a non-DSLR camera with a longer zoom and more features. I’ve also recently purchased an underwater camera.
With most digital cameras and smart phones capable of taking video, the standard video camera is not commonly seen these days. Instead a device called the GoPro is filling the gap. The GoPro is a very high-resolution video camera in a very small package. Instead of being handheld it is designed to be mounted to things and has been seen attached to animals, scuba gear, motorbike helmets, sports umpires and even babies.
While I don’t travel with a video camera, the GoPro would likely be my choice if I ever had need of one.
There are many reasons to carry a laptop while travelling: the full keyboard, fully featured operating system, the storage capacity and the ability to watch movies. Working on the road is much easier with one, be it writing, programming, web design or language translation. For reasons unknown, MacBooks are more common than Windows laptops among travellers.
I carry a Macbook because the full keyboard is easier to write with but I also use it for watching movies, surfing the web or even playing the occasional game. I wouldn’t travel without it.
Tablets, especially iPads, are becoming more popular with travellers. For people who don’t need the full features of laptops, tablets are the perfect answer. They are great for the internet and all offer skype/facetime. But with the ability to watch movies, listen to music, play games and so much more, they are nearly more common in hostels than laptops. I’ve even seen many people using them as cameras.
E-book readers and Kindles fall into this category as they are specialised tablets designed for reading books. The main advantage of having one of these devices is they use little battery power, so once all the other devices have run out of juice, you can always read an e-book.
To help with editing my blogs, I have recently purchased a 7” Samsung Tablet. No doubt I’ll find a myriad of other uses for it than just writing. I also carry a Kindle as I find it especially good on long hikes as it doesn’t often require recharging.
Perhaps one of the most handy tools for the traveller, these mini computers are useful for so many things it’s almost silly not to have one. While not so useful as phones when travelling, they can access the Internet, Skype/Facetime, are music players, e-book readers, cameras, and video cameras; all in a package small enough to fit into your pocket. While iPhones are popular smart phone on the road, the cheaper Android devices are rushing up to join them. Some iPods fall into this category as the new ones are simply iPhones without the phone.
I find my iPhone one of my most useful devices. It’s easier to check something quickly with it than to get out the tablet or laptop. It can take notes, is my primary music/podcast device and is a useful backup camera.
There are an assortment of other devices with more specific purposes useful on the road, here are a few examples:
- Hard drives. When carrying a laptop, additional disk place is useful for storing photos, music, movies, backups and the like. I’m carrying a 3TB HDD filled with everything digital I could need on the road.
- Memory sticks. From USB flash drives to SD cards for cameras to MicroSD cards for phones and tablets, I have many different capacity memory sticks for every purpose.
- MP3 players and older iPods. Useful devices for listening to music without having a fully functioning smart device.
- GPS. Most useful when hiking out in the wilderness. I have one for exactly this purpose.
- Charge packs. Because smart devices and cameras tend to run out of battery life at the most inconvenient times, having a charge pack is useful. I have a small solar device with my charge pack to top it up when I’m hiking.
I cannot discuss Techpackers without mentioning Anti-Techpackers. These are people who go travelling to get away from all technology, although I think you’ll be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t have a iPod or Kindle tucked away somewhere.
Until next time,