Let’s touch on a topic every red blooded male loves: gadgets. There are a few things that are going to make your travels easier and more productive. Let’s start of by listing them (bold we feel is vital, others are optional):
1.) A netbook, lightweight compact laptop or iPad (I prefer a full laptop but to each his own)
2.) A camera that fits in your pocket
3.) A small notepad and a pencil (OK, it’s not very hi-tech but trust us you need it)
4.) An unlocked GSM cell phone (quad band highly recommended) GSM means a phone that accepts sim cards
5.) A musical instrument you can carry (if you can play it)
6.) A pocket-sized voice and/or video recorder (not necessary if your camera handles video)
7.) A backpack or duffel bag that can carry 3 or 4 days worth of necessities
8.) A Kindle or other ereader with decent battery life
9.) A cigarette lighter (even if you don’t smoke), a nice Zippo is preferred
10.) A quality unlocked GSM smart phone such as an iPhone or one of the HTC models can potentially replace 1, 2, 4 and 6, especially if you get one of those foldable keyboards
Let’s examine these items in detail:
A computer: Don’t leave home without it. Google and a few other select websites we will detail in a future post are your friend. You need a computer to do your research, add chicks to Facebook and communicate with them, keep your affairs in order at home (skype with people, pay bills, answer e-mail, etc.) and more. You can always use an internet cafe but that sucks, now that laptops are so cheap they’re getting harder to find and this trend will only continue. In Europe (especially Eastern Europe) the rapidly evolving trend is that every coffee shop, restaurant, bar and even gas station has free WiFi. You’re going to want to take advantage of this.
A camera that fits in your pocket: Let’s face it, chicks love pictures. You will love to brag to your friends back home about all the chicks you meet. You need a camera. I recommend a small lightweight camera with a fixed lens, good low light performance and a protective cover that can handle some bumps and bruises. I can’t stress the fixed lens enough, so many of today’s pocket sized cameras have that stupid telescoping lens assembly which is very fragile. Often one drop and it’s gone. Get whatever camera you like but the cameras that I find to be perfect for adventure travel are the Sony TX series of compact digital cameras. They have a fixed lens, the lens is covered with a metal cover when the camera is off, they have great low light performance (i.e. bars), they take panoramas (great for travel) and HD video. Chose whatever fits your budget but at a minimum I highly recommend the fixed lens and a durable cover.
A small notepad and a pencil: Not hi-tech, but trust us you need it. You are going to meet so many girls and other people you’re going to need to take notes to keep them all straight. Also if you’re in a country like Bulgaria where there are only about 20 different last names, 20 different first names and everybody is some combination of those you’re going to meet tons of people with the same first name as well as a few with the same first and last name. Georgi Georgiev is my favorite Bulgarian name (“Hi George George, how are you? I’m Bob Robert”). There are some other tips and tricks we’ll cover in future articles that you can use your notepad and pencil for – just bring it!
An unlocked GSM cell phone: In most of the places we like to travel you can buy a prepaid sim card for $2-$8. Even in Western Europe you can buy them for about $20. When you travel in Eastern Europe they’re so cheap they’re worth buying even you’re only going to be there for a weekend. Those $2-$8 sim cards even come with some initial credit which is usually enough to last your first few days. Nothing beats having a local number.
A musical instrument you can carry (if you can play it): We’re going to write a separate article on playing music and being artistic but for now, if you play an instrument that can be carried to a bar bring it!
A pocket-sized voice or video recorder: You can have a lot of fun with this. We don’t need to tell you how. Just be creative.
A backpack or duffel bag that can carry 3 or 4 days worth of necessities: You’re going to want to take side trips from home base. Transportation often leaves something to be desired in some of our favorite destinations. The last thing in the world you want to be doing is lugging around a large suitcase, or any suitcase for that matter. A backpack is a great invention, use it!
A Kindle: I am of the opinion that the Kindle is one of the greatest inventions of the 2000’s. I will write a future article on the importance of being well read, in general, but the best way to read now is by far the Kindle. Besides having access to a gigantic library that can be delivered for no extra charge over the cellular network of any developed country (or if not developed WiFi), it’s tiny, light weight, holds over 1,000 books and allows you to upload other standard e-books with no DRM, .pdf files, and word .doc files. It is the perfect way to keep up to date on your reading. Imagine if you met your dream girl on a beach in Thailand and she turned you on to a new topic you know nothing about but are interested in. You could go straight back to your beach hut, instantly download a book on that subject for a few dollars and then be able to converse with her intelligently about that topic next time you see her. Or imagine you’re stuck in an airport on a painfully long layover, nothing like a good book to make that time fly. Try finding a good selection of English books in a foreign country without a Kindle – good luck! It’s true you can read kindle books on an iPhone, iPad or other devices but there are 3 things you don’t get – a screen that’s just as easy on the eyes as paper, a 2 week battery life, and free 3G delivery of your books.
A cigarette lighter: Unfortunately in many of the best Single Dude Travel destinations most of the chicks smoke, something you just have to deal with. Since this is a given, offering a light can sometimes be a good ice breaker. If you do happen to smoke yourself, until you manage to quit that shitty habit, asking for a light is also a good ice breaker – just make sure you do it in the local language.
A quality unlocked GSM smart phone: A good smart phone can potentially replace nearly half the recommended equipment listed above. A good smart phone functions as a computer, a telephone, a camera, a video recorder a voice recorder and more. Not to mention the GPS and map capabilities of a smart phone are really nice to have when you’re traveling. The latest smart phones have almost limitless capabilities via all the apps you can download, many of them for free. Last but not least it’s super nice to be able to add chicks to Facebook on the fly – girls may turn you down for a phone number but almost nobody will turn you down for a Facebook. When the situation calls for traveling extra light give some serious thought to a smart phone.
These are the vital tools of the trade, bring them with you and you’ll be glad you did, trust us. Do you have some vital travel gear we missed? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you can’t leave home without and why, we may include it in a followup article.