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Travel Tech Essentials: Newly Updated with Practical Travel Gifts Sure to Please

(Last Updated On: November 22, 2020)

Our travel tech essentials list is newly updated for practical travel gifts sure to please frequent travelers, business road warriors or holiday weekenders.

Technology can enhance or hinder a quality travel experience. For us, travel tech essentials need to be dependable, versatile, lightweight and save space. For the practical traveler tech is asked to perform multiple functions and stand up to heavy use without sacrificing quality.

In accessories, we look for well-made, durable items which can stand up to heavy use. With so many other things to worry about while we are traveling, practical travel gifts should be reliably functioning day after day, easily accessible, and intuitively designed.

Disclosure: Travel tech essentials recommendations in this post contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. This post is part of our Travel Shop series – check out our luggage and packing recommendations, passport security covers, and unique bag tags.

Fortunately, today’s tech landscape offers lots of options to satisfy the needs of different types of travelers. Business road warriors and holiday weekenders have overlapping needs in travel tech essentials. Our list of suggestions includes essential tech items for travelers which we currently use and recommend, planned purchases because we know they’ll perform better than what we currently use, and one item to which we aspire. Each and every one is appropriate for any kind of traveler.

Reader or Tablet? Practical Traveler Tech Gets the Story Straight Either Way

travel tech essentials

No list of practical tech gifts would be complete without options for reading. Two distinct choices exist for travelers: the tablet that doubles as a reader, and the reader which doubles as a tablet.The iPad Mini and Air models are tablets first, readers second.

The Kindle, on the other hand, we think of as a reader which can also be used as a tablet. While the two attributes seem interchangeable, your expectation as a user will ultimately determine how happy you are with your device.

If you’re an iPad fan like we are, you probably have the Kindle app as well as Apple books. If you’re like us, you’ve added the Nook app from Barnes and Noble, too. When I got my iPad Air, I felt as though every one of my wishes had finally been granted.

1. iPad Mini. Fans of the iPad mini prefer it to the Kindle because it interfaces with other Apple products they already have, such as the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iPhone. They also cite its faster browsing capabilities. While many see the Mini as a shrunken full-size iPad, it occupies solid ground in functionality for those who prefer a mid-size screen. Available in wifi and wifi + cellular configurations.

2. iPad Air 2. Apple’s classic flagship tablet got a recent makeover, slimming its profile as it shed a pound. This makes a big difference in user experience. This newest version connects, synchs, downloads and browses noticeably faster than its predecessor. I couldn’t be happier with my 64GB wifi version.

Once you’ve selected your iPad model, don’t forget to select a protective case. For a unique, personalized experience, you may want to consider designing a custom case with Their intuitive interface makes for a great combination of creativity and functionality.

Kindle users are just as excited and loyal about their devices. Rather than start a war, we’ll give you a reasonable discussion and you decide which is best for you. (And yes, we do realize there is an entire other subset of travelers which uses Windows tablets; we’re conveniently ignoring them in this post.)

3. Kindle Paperwhite. Billed by Amazon as a “next-generation reading experience” due to an exclusive new font and typesetting engine combination, the Kindle Paperwhite offers comfortable lighting and brightness to eliminate eyestrain in any reading environment.

It can easily be read in bright sunlight (a noticeable and annoying fail beach and pool-loving users decry on the part of regular tablets). A single charge of this elegantly simple reader can last up to six weeks depending upon your usage pattern. It seems to us as though the Paperwhite would offer the best alternative to a traditional paper book experience.

4. Kindle Fire.
Kindle dominates the e-reader niche and for every good reason you’ve heard from every possible source. Amazon set the standard and blew other competitors back to single digit presence (including my beloved Nook) in the competitive marketplace.

Now the Kindle grows up from a reader to a tablet, with a microSD card slot to render storage expandable to up to 128GB, rugged durability, free apps and updated user interface.

Kindle also offers an offline video subscription streaming for Amazon Prime members.

View Finders – Travel Tech to Get a Better Look

travel tech: selfie stick binoculars mirrorless camera LED flashlight

Up to date travel tech essentials enable us to take a better look at what we’re seeing. Remember the old “view finder” toys with the disc of sequential photographs? Grown-up view finders such as our picks help us discover, compose and focus in on the vistas we encounter, whether we choose to remain in the moment, or record it in the form of a photo or video for sharing and ongoing enjoyment.

1. Selfie Stick. Love it or hate it, the Selfie Stick is here to stay, and this one is sleek and stylish while loaded with the features you want: A tiny 7 inches when retracted, it extends to almost 30 inches, and weighing less than 5 oz, it takes up little space in your tech bag or slips into a pocket. Seamlessly connect your Bluetooth, compatible with all smartphones.

2. Binoculars. There’s nothing worse than getting there and not being able to see what you came for. We’ve often wished for a pair of compact binoculars which wouldn’t compromise high-quality viewing. Pentax has risen to the occasion with the UP 8-16×21 model. The single housing synchronizes eyepiece movement and minimizes the opportunity for moving parts to fail. All parts of the field of view are bright and sharp, with reduced glare and flare. At only 1 pound, this model is easy to use, and positioned perfectly at the intersection of price and quality.

3. Mirrorless Camera. While we travel with our iPhone cameras, our iPad cameras and Pete’s “big boy” DSLR, we’ve discussed whether a step above point and shoot would make sense for those times when we want a high-quality digital product out of a compact, lightweight housing. The Samsung NX3000 Smart Camera would fill the bill. We like it because its vintage design is at once familiar and intuitive, but its contemporary features such as wifi and NFC connectivity expand sharing and allow for smartphone-activated remote control. The 16-50mm power zoom lens, flip up display and full HD video recording capabilities, customizable lens function control, programmable shortcut keys , and included Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 make this camera a little dynamo. It might even replace the DSLR altogether!

4. LED Flashlight. We often rely upon our iPhones’ built-in flashlights, but occasionally we’d have been much happier with a more intense, longer-lasting option. Weighing less than 5 ounces, Capstone Lighting’s chargeable light might be a good option. Whether you’re navigating dim streets back to your Airbnb, dealing with an unexpected power failure, or venturing down a wooded path for a night of stargazing, this would be a great assist.

Little Helpers Make Very Practical Travel Gifts

grid of tech products

The biggest challenge with tech while traveling is keeping things organized and accessible. Whether it’s having a sufficient number of outlets or ports, adapting to different configurations, or distinguishing between cords and cables that all look the same, these little helpers have been specifically chosen to make life on the road easier.

1. Little Monster Power StripSORRY, SOLD OUT!!! The little “Monster” Outlets to Go portable power strip gives you four AC outlets in an ultra-compact, ultra-flat design which includes cord management for even better space saving. In a new hotel room, this little guy is exactly what you need to get powered up reliably and conveniently.

2. Universal Adapter. Adapters of some sort or another are a necessary evil when traveling with electronics. One similar to this caught our eye in an airport lounge, where everyone is anxious to recharge as many devices as possible between flights. The dual USB ports make it a more versatile piece of gear than other all-in-ones we’ve seen.

3. USB Hub. If your notebook is short on USB outlets, you’re going to want this 4-peripheral hub to be your port(s) in the storm. We travel with cellphones, iPads, thumb drives, card readers, and one of us uses a corded mouse. This is an inexpensive little workhorse which can support low, full and high-speed data transfer. The connections are solid and the blue LED indicators show power status for each port. Note this unit will only sync an iPad, as opposed to charging it.

4. Handy Mesh Bags. Keeping tech organized includes some sort of method to avoid tangling cords and cables. One of the more rad tech gifts we’ve seen: color-coded mesh bags, which are perfect in a backpack or briefcase, with a diagonal zipper ideal for easy access. Use a bag to corral small electronics for airport scanning purposes, pens and pencils, laptop and camera accessories, chargers, cables, etc. Clip it into a binder or inside a handbag. A reviewer said these were “organizational crack,” and it’s easy to see how we could become addicted to using them.

Which travel tech essentials do you already travel with or plan to add to your packing list?

Pinnable Images:

travel tech essentials
12 travel tech essential for every traveler desktop smartphone tablet

Tips for Trip Success

Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using Kayak, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.

Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to Expedia.

You Need Travel Insurance!
Good travel insurance means having total peace of mind. Travel insurance protects you when your medical insurance often will not and better than what you get from your credit card. It will provide comprehensive coverage should you need medical treatment or return to the United States, compensation for trip interruption, baggage loss, and other situations.Find the Perfect Insurance Plan for Your Tripimage 9133145 14418597

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Thursday 6th of October 2016

Great list Betsy. Personally I preferred to use compact items while I am travelling to reduce the weight and number of items. But last time (I was travelling to Nepal) I forgot to add flashlight in my travel pack and I have to heavily depends on my iPhone flashlight which reduces my phone charge too fast. My suggestion is every traveler must add multi-color flashlight which can be used in different situation like UV light can be used to detect insects, Blue light can be useful to read map more accurately etc.

alison abbott

Monday 28th of March 2016

So timely for me! I'm in the market for a Mac Book Air, my Pro is just too heavy to keep crying around with my camera. Makes the carry on too much! I do have a MYCHARGE battery boost that I love-and it always seems to have enough juice to power anything I need. I would be thrilled to find a tablet to be able to travel with that would get me through a two week trip, but I can't seem to find one yet that allows me to write as productively as lugging the computer.

Betsy Wuebker

Monday 28th of March 2016

Hi Alison - Glad this helped! I agree with you, the iPad slows me way down.

Denis Gagnon

Friday 25th of March 2016

Thanks for a most helpful posting. I have not used selfie sticks ... yet so am probably behind the times. I also consider global hotspots and lightweight battery chargers to be essential.

Betsy Wuebker

Saturday 26th of March 2016

Hi Denis - Yes, the battery chargers are a life-saver. We have our favorites and those will be grouped in a different post we have planned. :)


Thursday 24th of March 2016

Great list Betsy! One of our heaviest items always seems to be our electronics bag! We have tried to purchase items that use the same charging cables, bought the "air" versions of our fave Apple products, and find mutli-use products as well. I think I have given up and will take one less outfit to make sure the electronics make it! I love the mesh bags as I am all about organization and making it easier to pack, find, and make sure nothing s forgotten.

Betsy Wuebker

Thursday 24th of March 2016

Hi Cheryl - Yes, the electronics are the heaviest. I don't think I could lug a MacBook Pro around now that I've gotten used to the Airs. It's an ongoing challenge, though, as the items keep multiplying. :)


Tuesday 22nd of March 2016

Oh I like the little monster power bar! Thanks for the great list, I'm bookmarking it for when I need some travel gadgets.

Betsy Wuebker

Thursday 24th of March 2016

Hi Nat - Glad we could help!

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