Going through some travel sites recently I was drawn to an amazing array of gadgets available for travellers these days. An odd washing machine contraption which takes one t-shirt at a time because “what is hand-washing?”; a tiny vacuum to draw air out of your luggage, so you can fit more in; a sand-less beach mat, because the last thing you want in the beach is, sand… Who even dreams up these things?
Most likely on your ‘must have’ list are a go-pro camera, portable solar panel, or battery to recharge your stuff, laptop/ipad/ tablet, smart phone, GPS, drone, Bluetooth speaker, and a huge amount of cable to go with everything. With that amount of expensive equipment in your bag you might also want some good insurance and a sturdy padlock.
While spending so much time in the house these past few months, I had a bit of a cleanout of old drawers and found my stash of ‘must have’ travel gadgets from 30 years ago. The year 1990 was when I set off for my year-around world trip. I might not have gotten around the world, but the ‘trip’ is still going.
I had four, what we can call gadgets. One (a camera) snatched from my hands in Indonesia when travelling with my mum around 25 years ago, one currently in daily use, and two found in that dusty drawer.
The one still used daily is a travel alarm clock. It sits by my bed and until the advent of smart phones, came with me on any weekend or longer trip. Made in Germany by Braun, the tiny light and seconds hand do not work anymore. It was a very expensive clock I seem to recall, which I bought in John Lewis in Edinburgh. It used to have a front cover which had a table showing comparable times around the world, but that has long been lost. But 30 years on and still going strong that clock has been worth every penny.
My mother gave me a gift before I left home. When asked what I wanted I chose a pair of binoculars. Japanese, Minolta brand, also not cheap I guess. These were used a lot in various conservation areas and national parks around Asia but were last used from the back row at the Bryan Adams concert in Dasharath Stadium.
My third travel item was something I had anyway, an AWIA walkman, the must-have of everyone in the 80’s! I just checked and yes, it still works. It’s a pretty impressive one with bass, treble and super bass buttons as well as a radio and ability to record. I see it has a belt clip on the back. So I must have looked very cool with that strapped on my waist. My best memory of the walkman is sitting on a train in India watching the country listening to Tracy Chapman. A ‘must do’ of every traveller.
Have you noticed that it is the young folks who are travelling with those other (soft) gadgets? Such as horseshoe pillows on flights, noise-cancelling headphones, travel blanket, sleep mask, travel hair dryer, etc? Whatever happened to the universal sleeping bags, earplugs and (this being my first week out until I realized no one cares at all!) standing under the ceiling fan to style ones hair?
Now like everyone I travel with my phone, which acts as camera and music player. Sometimes I travel with a very small and light laptop. Those wires and having to recharge, and finding the corresponding multi-plug for each country, are such a pain. How do other people handle all that technology, all their gadgets, on the go?