When it comes to picking and choosing your travel essentials, there are two types of travelers: there are those who travel light just bringing the bare minimum, and then there are those who pack everything but the kitchen sink.
No matter which category you fall into, the “Goldilocks zone” of packing for travel — where you’ve got everything you need, but aren’t spending the majority of your time lugging around several heavy suitcases — is a precarious balance, especially when you’re traveling abroad. Many seasoned travelers have humorous stories about forgoing their hair dryers and cell phone chargers for the duration of their trip their because their American plug wouldn’t fit into a European outlet.
To help you make the most of your travels, here are 5 gadgets that everyone needs when traveling to Europe.
Whether you’re an Apple fan or a staunch Android loyalist, one of the most useful, handy gadgets for traveling — to Europe or anywhere else in the world — is a smartphone. A world-capable GSM smartphone will allow you to continue making and receiving calls with loved ones, or perhaps important business contacts, while in Europe. If you want to avoid paying high international rates with your carrier, you might consider buying a SIM from a local prepaid cell provider wherever you are staying, then putting that SIM into your compatible phone.
Additionally, today’s smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6, have fantastic cameras for taking pictures of landmarks and exotic locales. The high dynamic range (HDR) function that’s available on most smartphone cameras ensure that you return home with the highest quality snapshots of your vacations even if the photos are taken in harsh, bright sunlight. When you also factor the plethora of useful apps and the GPS for navigating unfamiliar places, it’s easy to see how a smartphone could be the most important gadget for international travel.
Portable Battery Charger
These days we have many different devices that we have to keep charged. Phones, tablets, and now smart watches each contain batteries that will drain faster with additional use. Especially if the device is one you will be using frequently, a portable battery charger is a great peace-of-mind investment that will help to keep you from losing precious time with your gadgets while you travel. Some models boast a battery capacity upward of 10,000mAh, which is enough to charge an iPhone or small tablet at least a handful of times or more.
Power Converter and Adapter
As mentioned, if you try to plug an American appliance into a European electrical socket, you’ll find that the two won’t be compatible. Another essential gadget for travel to Europe is one that will allow you to use the hair dryer and device chargers that you’ve brought from home in a European outlet. Since most modern appliances are dual voltage — which means they can be used both in the US and abroad — you’ll probably just need an adapter that will allow you to plug your appliance into the foreign outlet. Of course, being able to convert the voltage is a good option to have just in case. Something like an all-in-one universal converter and adapter would cover just about anyone.
You’ll notice as you’re traveling that the global populace can be kind of noisy, especially during those times when you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed and need to retreat for a little personal time. Noise-canceling headphones will be a life-saver, especially on long plane rides with crying babies. They don’t necessarily have to be super expensive to get the job done; however, if you’re willing to invest in brands like Beats or Bose, you’ll have headphones that not only block noise out, but also lock in superb sound quality.
Portable File Storage
Traveling involves taking astronomical amounts of pictures. Whether you’re using the camera on your smartphone or tablet, or an actual digital camera, you’ll need a place to store all those valuable memories. Not only is it safer, but you might find yourself running out of storage space on your devices if you don’t store those photos externally. Many extrenal hard drives and high-capacity flash drives can be used with smartphones and tablets with a simple adapter. It’s a very convenient system that keeps your priceless trip photos safe and secure until you return.
When you’re traveling abroad, it’s important to plan ahead. Don’t wait until your plan is landing overseas to figure out how you’re going to charge your iPhone or what you’ll do when you run out of storage for photos in the next seven days. These devices serve the purpose of giving you peace of mind so that you can better enjoy your travels, and you may continue using them regularly after you return home.