By Joshua Zimmerman
With winter vacation right around the corner, many an ALT are spending their time trying to figure out what to pack in order to survive in the harsh world of international travel. If you’re like me, you’re probably going to pack quite a few fun-filled, and expensive, gadgets.
But wait! Think carefully about traveling with your gadgets. There are a lot of questions to consider. What to buy? What to pack? What not to pack! Oh the humanity! Relax. Take some tips from a well-traveled gadget geek and put your mind at ease.
Here, I present to you my Dos and Don’ts of traveling with gadgets.
1.) Buy a world travel kit.
If you’re traveling for more than a day, chances are you’re probably going to have to recharge at least one of your gadgets. For the most part recharging stuff abroad is super cheap and easy, as most modern gadgets just need a plug converter for the country you’re going to. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you can buy one abroad. You can, but why take the risk? You can just go over to any Deo Deo or hardware store and buy a world travel kit of some kind for under ¥1,000 and have some peace of mind. If you have an official Apple iPod wall power brick, Apple does sell a world travel kit just for the power brick and is worth buying.
2.) Bring extra batteries — lots of them.
Something else you should keep in mind are batteries for your camera. If your camera takes regular AA batteries, bring some with you. Bring a lot. If your camera uses rechargeable batteries, buy an extra one. The last thing you want to do is run out of battery power in the middle of nowhere.
3.) Take your camera and extra memory cards.
A good small digital camera is the best travel buddy you can ever have. If you don’t have one, get one. If you have one, buy more memory cards. I bought a 2 gigabyte SD Memory card for ¥700 last month. That’s an extra 360 photos I can take at the highest setting. Take photos at the highest settings and buy more cards. What you should never ever even think of doing is taking your laptop along so you can unload photos onto it. Memory cards are cheap; your laptop isn’t.
4) Keep an eye on your gadgets.
I love Japan because I can leave my cell phone on a table, go to the bathroom, and come back to find my cell phone is still there. You can’t count on that in other countries, though. Always have your bags close to you or attached to you. If you have a little camera bag that hangs around your neck, keep it around your neck.
5) Make a little travel box.
Go to the 100¥ store and buy a small plastic bento box, one with layers if possible. Put all your gadgets in it. Add some 100¥ bubble wrap if you’re extra worried. Think about this for a second before calling me insane. It’s waterproof. Contains all your valuables. Won’t get squished during transit. Plus you can always put food in it once your trip is done.
1) Don’t take anything you’re not willing to part with.
S@%# happens and it will probably happen to you. Theft is the biggest issue to worry about on your trip. Every year someone I know gets a camera, iPod, or cell phone stolen when traveling. Nothing is worse than losing all your photos at the end of your trip.
2) Don’t bring things you won’t use.
Your cell phone won’t work in Thailand. Don’t bring it. Don’t bring your laptop. There are a million reasons not to, and only a couple flimsy possible reasons why you should.
3) Never ever think of putting valuables in checked luggage while flying.
Always carry on valuables when flying. Most people I know who have had gadgets stolen have had them taken out of checked luggage.
4.) If you’re going to go out partying, don’t take your camera along.
It’s hard to be 100 percent careful with expensive equipment after you’ve imbibed a few beers. Besides, do you really need another set of drunken party pictures of people you don’t know?
So those are some gadget travel tips from a pro. Just be smart about your gadgets and they should be fine. The last thing anyone wants is for a camera to go missing, and a Facebook profile picture to go unloved.