Traveling abroad is only scary if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. After surviving your first trip, you can wear your experience proudly. Your second trip you learn from your first and so on. By the time you fill out your passport with stamps you look back and wonder how you were ever scared to begin with.
How do you get over uncertainty and focus on enjoying your trip? My recommendation is that you use technology to feel at home away from home. The following article showcases some of the technologies that I have discovered I cannot live without while traveling to 6 continents, 20 countries and 4 hemispheres. Use these technologies for convenience or just to feel like you are back at home.
Here are the 7 Technologies I Can’t Live Without Traveling Abroad
1) Power and Voltage Adapters
Power adapters for plugging in while abroad have been keeping Radio Shack in business for years. While you may choose to purchase an adapter for the specific country that you are visiting, I highly recommend that you purchase a package of adapters that includes plugs that work anywhere in the world. You won’t regret it!
I have a bag of plugs that I carry with me every time that I am abroad. In reality, I only need to use one kind of plug per trip (unless it’s a multi-continent trip), but knowing that I will be covered in any situation makes travel a lot more comforting.
Tip: Be sure to carry your adapters in your carry on so that you have them every step in your trip. If they are in your checked baggage, they will not be nearly as useful.
2) Tablet (iPad)
One of the biggest concerns people have with bringing their computer abroad is the worry that they won’t be able to keep it charged or that they may lose it/have it stolen. While these are valid concerns, it’s not something that I regularly worry about.
However, I do bring my iPad tablet with me every time I travel abroad because of the long battery life, access to email and applications like Skype. I also love the iPad as a reading device and for watching TV shows and movies.
Tip: Make sure that your apps are up to date before traveling abroad, because you may have trouble updating them in other countries. You should also download shows while on a fast Internet connection to make sure the full movie is delivered.
For years, I have been keeping track of all of my travel activity using an application called TripIt. This program keeps track of all of my flight, hotel and car reservations in a single place. All that I need to do is forward my itinerary to their email address and they do the rest.
They synchronize my trip data between my computer, iPhone and iPad so I can access information from anywhere. It also keeps track of how far you have traveled and how many cities you have visited.
Tip: The regular version of TripIt is free, but I upgraded to the pro version because it also helps me track frequent traveler points and flight refunds. Well worth the extra money for me.
4)WiFi Internet Access
We are in a fortunate time where most countries that you will visit have access to wireless (wifi) Internet access. While the speed of the connections may vary by country, I have yet to visit a place where I was unable to establish a connection.
Some countries will have a “metered” Internet where you can only use a certain amount of data bandwidth. Others may charge you for every minute or hour that you use. No matter how expensive it may be, wireless Internet is imperative to enjoying travel for the technology enabled crowd.
Tip: Try staying at hotels with Free Internet to save on costs. Elite travelers to hotel loyalty programs will often give free Internet as a benefit, so take advantage!
5) Credit cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees
We may not think of a Credit card as technology, but oh boy does it make travel easier – imagine life without them! While they may not be taken in every country and shop you visit, having a credit card handy can save you from having to carry around too much local currency (helping you feel safe) and also save you money when you choose a card with no foreign transaction fees.
When dining out and paying for incidentals when I stay in hotels, a credit card without foreign transaction fees is the only way to go. I highly recommend investing in more than one credit card with no foreign transaction fees (a Visa/Mastercard and American Express) to make sure your card is safely accepted at all establishments.
Tip: While this may not sound like a big deal to you, not paying foreign transaction fees is like having a 3-5% discount on everything you purchase abroad!
6) Digital Camera
While you may be able to take photos of your surroundings using your smart phone, I highly recommend that you use a digital camera to take the majority of your photos in order to make sure you have the highest quality possible. Since the memories from your trip will last much longer in photo form, you don’t want to cut corners by sacrificing quality.
A dedicated digital camera allows you to zoom in on your photo subject, can take higher resolution photos, and helps preserve your memories for the long haul. It may be another item to carry around, but you can get some excellent quality photos from cameras that fit in your pocket.
Tip: Read camera ratings and reviews to make sure you are getting the best camera for your money.
If you need to make international phone calls while abroad, use Skype to save yourself a significant amount of money over paying long distance fees. Skype allows you to call phones directly using an Internet connection and voice over IP (VOIP) technology for a very low price.
You can download the Skype application to your computer, iPhone or iPad to make either video calls to other Skype users for free or calls to telephones for a low rate.
Tip: Buy $10 in Skype credit for the pay as you go plan and it should last your entire trip. And probably your next trip after that. Use a Wifi Connection to make inexpensive calls right from your phone.