Electronics and Travel: What to Pack and What to Leave Home
When you travel, your world needs to be at your fingertips. While it’s nice to unplug and relax during a trip, you also need the ability to stay in touch when and where you want without overloading your suitcase. Whether your trip is for business or leisure, having the right electronics is crucial. What should you pack and what can you ditch?
The Essential Electronics
There is little doubt that your smartphone is the most essential device to keep close at hand. Not only can you use it to make phone calls and read emails, but it’s the most effective tool for organizing travel plans, calendars and boarding passes.
During your travels, you can also use your smartphone to make your hotel stay even more memorable. The Accor app gives you exclusive access to your Le Club Accor membership information. The app helps you explore the area around your hotel and makes it easy for you to book future visits. Some hotels also have individual apps that make it easy to navigate the property. For example, at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, you can download the Princess Navigator from either Google Play or the iTunes App Store, then use it to get everything from restaurant reservations and directions around the resort to valet services and 3-D images.
Should You Travel with a Laptop?
While having your laptop might be beneficial, especially if you are traveling for work, you might be able to lighten your load by bringing a tablet instead. While laptops can easily weigh more than two pounds, many tablets weigh a fraction of that. Today’s tablets can have screens almost as large as a laptop, and they also give you access to great entertainment, including eBooks and movies, while you travel. And if your tablet is the same brand as your phone, your charging cables are interchangeable, which means fewer accessories to pack.
If you do need to travel with a laptop, many Fairmont rooms have flat-screen televisions you can use with your laptop. At The Plaza in New York, every guestroom functions as both your private retreat and your office while on the road, with wireless internet and iPads already loaded with newspapers and periodicals.
Electronics for Your Lifestyle
Along with the basics, some electronics can simply make travel more enjoyable. It’s worth spending a few moments to consider what will help you have the best away-from-home experience.
For many travelers, a great pair of headphones is essential, whether for taking phone calls, watching movies without disturbing those around you, or listening to music or podcasts. Deciding between larger, over-the-ear headphones and earbuds can be a difficult choice.
While noise-canceling headphones are a great way to drown out the noise, especially on long flights, over-the-ear models can be bulky. If you fly in the premium cabin, most long-haul flights include noise-canceling headphones, so you might want a more travel-friendly alternative. High-quality earbuds are a perfect solution for listening on the road. These are small and easy to carry and have great noise reduction capabilities. Newer models let you control everything with a simple tap and can recharge in their own carrying case. Earbuds are also ideal when working out at the hotel fitness center or taking long walks or hikes.
Many people travel with external chargers or battery packs. These are useful during airport delays or on long days when you might not be able to recharge your phone. If you use smart luggage, you don’t have to pack a separate charger. Today’s smart luggage includes a battery pack that you can easily snap out, in case you need to gate check your carry on bag. Because they are easy to eject, you can use the battery while on the go without having to pack an extra one. Check out this one from Away luggage here.
Taking photos helps you extend your travel memories, but deciding whether or not to travel with a camera is a more complicated question than it used to be. With the power of today’s smartphone cameras, many people find that a dedicated camera isn’t necessary. If you’re a photography enthusiast who wants to carry a higher-powered camera, you might consider a compact digital model. They offer greater photo quality than your smartphone without the weight and bulk of a larger camera. One great example is the Leica D-Lux 7 digital camera. This powerful camera is stylish, takes beautiful photos, and is the perfect size for travel.
Electronics for International Travel
If you’re traveling to an international destination, you might want to include a couple of special items, such as a travel adapter that fits the wall outlets in your destination country. Many adapters come with regular electrical plug-ins as well as USB connections, allowing you to power multiple accessories with a single device.
If you never want to get the time wrong while you traverse time zones, you might consider bringing an electronic watch like the Apple watch that shows international times. These are also great for tracking your activity, getting messages on the go and keeping up with your calendar across time zones.
Electronics to Leave at Home
It can be tempting to pack some things “just in case,” but there are some items you can comfortably leave at home.
While it’s important to travel with an adapter, you probably don’t need a converter. An adapter allows you to plug your electronics into local outlets; a converter actually changes the voltage. In North America, most electricity is 110 volts, while most of Europe uses 220 volts. However, most newer electronics, including cell phones, laptops, cameras and tablets, are now multi-voltage. That means you need an adapter for the plug, but your device automatically adapts to the correct voltage. If you have any doubt, check the label on your electronics.
We all love walking into a room and feeling at home. For some people, that means playing music from your custom-made playlists. While there are some great portable speakers on the market, they still take up valuable space in your suitcase. Fortunately, most Fairmont hotels offer modern systems, such as iHome radios, that let you dock your phone and listen to your own tunes.
While the decision to take or leave the laptop is a personal one, there is one accessory you can definitely leave behind for your business trip—that bulky projector. In the past, if you needed to make a presentation, you had to bring your own equipment. Today, most hotels have wired their rooms so you can simply plug in your laptop to the hotel’s audio/visual system. Fairmont hotels have an Event Technology Concierge Service to help you find specific answers to your technology needs before you ever leave home. All meeting rooms have the technology you can use without having to haul extra equipment.
If you do forget one of your essential travel electronics, be sure to speak to your concierge for suggestions on how to find what you need wherever you travel.
Susan Lanier-Graham is a freelance food, wine and travel writer based in Arizona and Texas. She wanders the world looking for wow moments. In three decades of writing, she has filled a few passports, loves connecting with people, and enjoys discovering the soul of every destination.
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