If you're like many young students graduating from high school or college, you're probably planning a little time off -- perhaps a trip abroad in that great American tradition of backpacking. But stuffing whatever you happen to have lying around your room into a bag is a terrible idea for such a journey. You'll want to be properly prepared, and, if you're anything like us, that means making sure you've got the right tech tucked away in the deep recesses of that brand new 70-liter pack you picked up. Here are our suggestions for the essential equipment and gadgets you'll need to survive your travels, while making sure your nights in the hostels are entirely pleasant experiences.
Unlocked Nexus One
If you had to choose just one gadget to accompany you while globe-trotting, make that single tool a Nexus One
. Unlike an iPhone, it can easily be purchased unlocked, which will avoid ridiculous roaming fees abroad. In some countries, you'll be able to purchase pre-paid SIM cards (for minutes and data at local rates) that you can easily swap in and out. Android's top-notch integration with Google Voice also means you don't have to worry about constantly changing phone numbers as you move from country to country.
Of course, the Nexus One does more than make calls. Thanks to Google Translate and Google Goggles, it can translate both spoken and printed words. Plus, the included GPS, in conjunction with Google Navigation and Google Maps, ensures you'll never be lost as long as you've got a cellular connection.
Acer Aspire One 532h
It might be tempting to take your MacBook Pro with you as you trek your way across the continent, but its price and weight hardly make it the ideal backpacking PC. Instead, go with the Acer Aspire One 532h
, which is cheap enough that if it gets lost or stolen you won't feel compelled to chuck yourself from the top of one of those tall monuments you'll be checking out. Plus, it weighs in at under three pounds, so it won't be a burden as you hoof it up yet another set of cathedral steps. The Aspire One boasts a 10-hour battery life, just in case you don't come across an outlet for a while.
A good rule of thumb when traveling abroad: don't drink the water. Though the locals may seem fine cooling off with a nice glass from the tap (or well), that doesn't mean a cup won't make you deathly ill. The SteriPen
uses UV light to kill off most bacteria and viruses you'll find in drinking water. It's faster than chemical treatments, and doesn't have the unpleasant taste of iodine or chlorine.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
As backpacking is all about the unexpected, you'll probably want to capture all those thrilling moments for posterity, so make sure your digicam is up to the task. We love our SLRs as much as anyone, but they can be a pain to lug around, especially when you factor in extra lenses and accessories. The 14.1-megapixel Lumix TS2
takes top-notch images, is impervious to water, dust and careless drops, and will impressively function in temperatures well below freezing. It can even record HD video while fighting off the elements -- a must for documenting monsoon season in Southeast Asia or freak dust storms in the Middle East.
Travel Smart TS1875CK Voltage Converter Set
Since travel gadgets are worthless if you can't keep them charged, pick up some adapters, so that you can plug your phone and laptop into all of the strangely shaped outlets you'll encounter. Just as important, though, is protecting all your gear from the globe's countless voltage standards, any one of which could fry your gadgets. Travel Smart's Outlet and Voltage Converter Set
will take care of both problems at once.
Leatherman Juice XE6
Not every problem you encounter can be fixed with a wireless data plan and a pile of pixels. Sometimes you'll need a screwdriver, a pair of pliers or a knife. A good pocket tool like the Leatherman Juice XE6
packs all these tools and more in a package that can easily share space with the previously mentioned Nexus One in your jean's pockets. It's an absolutely essential travel companion, almost as versatile as a good smartphone, and can pop a Sancerre
for a French fille