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Tips for Travelers 2019: Packing Tech for a Trip

Bow River near Banff, Alberta, Canada. Photo ©2019, Steven Sande

This is the second in a series of articles from the Rocket Yard to help you enjoy your tech equipment while you’re on a trip, either for business or (hopefully) pleasure. The series began with Tips for Travelers 2019: Apps You Should Install Before Departuree, a list of apps that can provide information, directions and entertainment during your travels. Today we’re looking at suggestions on packing your devices for physical protection, easy access, and security.

The Tech I Packed For My Trip

I just got back from a 17-day trip to Alaska and Canada, and as a professional photographer and writer, my tech kit includes not only devices to write articles while I’m enjoying the wilderness scenery, but camera equipment as well. There are also two items on this list that can be considered personal health devices — Oticon Opn Minirite+ hearing aids and a Philips Sonicare toothbrush. Both require charging, and the hearing aids are app-connected, so I consider them to be tech equipment!

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Logitech Slim Folio Keyboard (my “laptop”)
  • 9.7-inch iPad (my wife’s)
  • An iPhone XS Max (mine) and an iPhone 8 Plus (my wife’s)
  • A 6-port USB rapid charger (similar to the Sabrent 6-port charger)
  • A VR camera (Insta360 One X)
  • Two zippered bags containing extra SD cards, camera batteries, battery rechargers, and Lightning SD card readers (for backing up camera SD cards to iPads) — see image above this section
  • Two Canon DSLR cameras with zoom lenses and an extra telephoto lens
  • A small tripod
  • Bullet Mode handle and extending “selfie stick” for VR camera
  • Charger, cleaning kit, spare non-rechargeable batteries for hearing aids
  • Charger for the Philips Sonicare toothbrush (I didn’t need it; the toothbrush worked on the entire trip on one charge)

All of this was a tight fit in a 30-liter PacSafe VentureSafe Anti-Theft backpack. Pretty crazy, huh?

A More Reasonable Packing List for Apple Fans

Your personal list will vary from this custom list. Maybe you take “real” vacations and don’t do any work while traveling, or you don’t take photos with a DSLR or VR camera. In that case, a smaller bag with space for your iPhone, charging adapters, some Lightning cables, and earphones might do the trick. Here’s a suggested packing list for most people:

  • iPhone (for calls, games, maps, taking pictures)
  • iPad (for reading, games, watching video)
  • Apple Watch (for tracking physical activity)
  • AirPods or EarPods (listening to music)
  • A 6-port USB rapid charger
  • Charging cables for all
  • External battery pack for emergency charging (the iLuv myPower100 USB-C is a perfect choice if you have a USB-C device to charge, and can charge other devices with a USB-C to Lightning adapter)

This can probably fit into a much smaller bag like the TechTent Polyester Laptop Backpack rather than requiring the “barely carry-on” bag I lug around.

Packing Guidelines

With almost 40 years of international travel under my belt, I have tried to balance what I need to have with me against carrying too much. Trust me; it’s too easy to just throw everything into a bag, then regret the extra weight you’re carrying. Here are some guidelines that I’ve come up with:

  • Pack what you absolutely must have, not what you think you’ll need
  • Plan for the contingency of not having access to power
  • Consider using your iPhone as your sole camera/video recorder.
  • Always have at least one spare charging cable, as you’ll always lose at least one…
  • Use small zippered bags (or even ZipLoc-type bags) to keep small items from getting lost
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to pack, or you’re bound to forget something
  • Write a packing list (the Notes app is perfect for this), then go through it and delete those items you really don’t need. The list can be useful before and during a trip, particularly in making sure that you’ve re-packed all your gear.

When traveling to big cities in developed countries, you will be able to purchase items that you accidentally left at home. Going to really out-of-the-way places, you won’t be able to buy those items, so be sure to pack them.

For the photography I do, I need the variety of devices that I take with me on every trip. My wife, on the other hand, decided on this trip that the quality of photos she was getting with her iPhone 8 Plus were better than what she was getting with her somewhat dated Canon DSLR, so she’s decided to forgo carrying that camera with her on future trips. For me, I’ve decided that the one telephoto zoom lens I’ve lugged around just isn’t getting enough use to justify the extra weight I have to carry.

Coming Up Next

Over the next few weeks, this series continues with articles on:

  • Data plans, roaming, SIMs and alternatives
  • Physical security for your devices
  • Portable power
  • Backups on the road

Have any tips you’d like to pass on about traveling with tech? Let us know in the comments section.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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