Top Travel Gadgets For the Thrifty Traveller


If you ever saw the high-tech African safari movie Congo, you probably know where the state-of-the-art in travel gadgetry is – tent air-conditioners, laser detectors to catch animals roaming too close, and so on. There is another way to go about traveling too, and that involves roughing it. You set forth into the wild with nothing more than a couple of sticks to rub together to make a fire, and maybe a tube of mosquito repellent. But for now, for the rest of us, let’s go the other way – with travel gadgets that cost no more than $50, ones that we’d really need if we weren’t Crocodile Dundee.

You can find travel gadgets at your regular travel store that range from your ubiquitous iPods tricked out with noise canceling headphones, to Olympus’ Tough range of indestructible digital cameras and wearable GPS trackers. The thing is, these gadgets need a certain amount of babysitting – they are heavy, you need to carry them around, and you need worry about how to power them. And of course, these are expensive to buy, and easy to drop (not that it would matter to those Tough cameras). What we’re talking about here is stuff for the frugal traveler – one who doesn’t have a tribal carrying his rucksack behind him, one who needs to do everything himself. For those self-reliant travelers, here are the top travel gadgets you’ll need, ones you won’t need to break the bank for.

Let’s start out with what it takes to pack for a trip. You have your standard 22-inch carry-on piece of luggage, and you have a week’s worth of clothes to pack into it. How do you do it? By using Travel Space Bags, of course. What these bags do at about three dollars a pop is, they let you suck all the spare air out of your clothes bags so you can fit more in less space.

Now that you know what to pack your stuff into, let’s go into what you can pack. Most travel gadgets happen to be electronic, or happen to be very clever. Here’s one that’s neither, but is still extremely useful. It’s an all-in-one tool, a Swiss Army knife. When you’re out there on the Himalayan foothills, and you ride sputters out, you’ll probably kill for one of these. Look at the Leatherman series for some great action when you need it. Some of the models come with pliers to help you strip electrical insulation off, a screwdriver to help you fix the handle of a broken suitcase, a pointy point to help you press a Reset button, and so on. The best part is, they’ll cost you no more than $50 at Amazon, if you go for the top-end stuff.

When you travel anywhere, in the Third World or the First, you simply need to carry a bunch of cash that needs to last you your whole trip; but what about when the pickpockets strike? You don’t want to be marooned in the middle of nowhere with no way to pay for your next drink, do you? Get a money clip; I’m sure there are thieves who know how to outwit this one, but I’ve never personally had a robbery ever since I switched to one of these. If you buy one of those newfangled ones with a built-in flash drive, you’d have a little extra preparation on your hands as well. And while you’re securing things, why not get a nice cable lock to lock your suitcase somewhere, or anything else. The Kryptonite R4 is a great choice, because it gives you not just your standard cable lock with a 3 foot extension cable, it also gives you a flashlight all built into the body. After all this, you’ll spend no more than $20.

Now you need to babysit the few pieces of equipment you do have – phone, camera and so on. Simply buy yourself an adapter that will allow you to plug your stuff into a foreign receptacle; but how many of these can you carry? Grab a mini power strip that also supplies power out a couple of USB ports. Belkin has a great range here. You’ll need a little folding tripod like the one from GorillaPod too. They make it so that you can balance your camera just about on any surface, even on a tree. And of course, let’s not forget that you need some babysitting yourself; grab one of the several medical kits they have on the market – like the Adventure Medical Kit with a bunch of perfectly cute ready-made first-aid stuff. So there you go, all things you need, to keep you safe, and to keep you going.

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