You don’t want to be left stranded in a foreign land.
Hilary Clinton once said life is too short, time too precious and the stakes too high to dwell on what might have been. She may have bigger things in mind than taking a vacation but hey, to us the stakes are high as well right? Especially when for some of us, it’s all that we have to look forward to, made rarer because we only have 14 or 21 days of leave. Time for us is precious too so we have to be well-prepared and well-connected for Murphy (You know, his law).
The single most indispensable piece of tech would of course be our mobile phones, an almighty multi-hyphenate that is our camera, computer, map, travel agent and more all rolled into one. To keep this device alive, we need another host of things. Here’s a list of all the essentials you need to survive on a holiday.
If you’re a power user, you would need a proper power bank that’s of a reliable brand and is at least 10,000 mAH to sustain all that Gramming and surfing. You wouldn’t want to find out that your power bank has stopped working because of a faulty USB port when you have just a little juice left. We’ve been pretty comfortable with China’s Xiaomi power banks for many years now. And they’re very affordable as well. On paper, Xiaomi’s 10,000 mAH power bank is good for 2.4 full charges on the Mi 4. But if you’re sharing with a group, they do have a 20,000 mAH variant which can charge two devices at once.
A good USB cable is as important as a reliable power bank. For this, we would fork a bit more as well for the USB cable from US brand Anker. These cables have a higher bend tolerance than your regular pasar malam cables and therefore, are more long-lasting. They are also fully compatible with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge so that we can get that bit of juice quickly – very useful if we’ve forgotten to charge our devices the night before.
We’ve travelled with a lot of different people and we’ve yet to see a single person who packed in a desktop charger. When we’re holidaying, we usually pack in Anker’s PowerPort Speed PD 5 Ports. It has three full-speed USB ports and 2 Qualcomm Quick Charge ports, delivering charges up to four times faster than standard charges. During one trip, one of our Taiwanese friends who used the PowerPort was actually surprised at how fast the charging was. A lot of times, we stayed at places where there just weren’t enough sockets to go around for everyone to charge their devices. This PowerPort saved our skins more than once.
Mogics’ Bagel power strip, something that came out of Kickstarter, is another item that you’ll always find in our packing list. Operating as a travel adaptor and a power strip, the circular design can hold up to five plugs (four Universal (UK, EU, AU, US) AC Sockets and one US AC Socket) — even with a Macbook power brick — and two USB ports. The bagel ensures a couple of things: It neatly circumvents the problem of fighting for sockets (first world problem!) and also maintains portability as it’s quite small.
This clip-on LED light from Remax comes in handy when you need to pull a late night back in your hotel room but your buddy is already asleep and wants the light off. It is charged via USB and allows you to adjust to different lighting intensities so it can function as a night light too.
Flying can be a very draining experience for some so it’s important to get some shut-eye. This pair of Audio-Technica ANC33iS earphones is an improved version over the already popular ATH-ANC23. Powered by an AAA battery, it features noise-cancelling technology that can drown out the plane’s droning and ensure a peaceful sleep. At over a hundred bucks, it’s also very affordable.
Apart from the hardware, another essential item to prepare for is to preload your phone with the relevant apps before you fly. Standard travel apps include XE Currency for calculating forex transactions, a calculator app, Google Translate and Google Maps with offline maps downloaded for the area you’re travelling in. Other recommended apps include food and transport apps (taxi and subway) for the country you’re visiting, such as Yelp for US and Openrice and Octopus (Hong Kong’s equivalent of EZ-Link) for Hong Kong. You can also try travel itinerary apps like TripIt and TripAdvisor — a crowd-sourced guide to hotels, restaurants and attractions worldwide.
By Nathan Ng, February 2019 / Updated by Muneerah Bee, May 2019
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