While I’m a big believer in not spending your entire semester or trip behind your iPhone screen or camera lens, there are some pieces of tech that can not only improve your time abroad, but can also prevent some less-than-great situations from happening and just make your life easier. Check out these eight pieces of tech to get before you travel abroad.
1. Dropbox plan
Back up your stuff! Dropbox is free, and is what you should use to back up your school work and your travel pics. If you plan on taking TONS of photos while you’re traveling, then consider investing in a Dropbox Pro account. Just incase anything happens to your laptop or smartphone, you’ll want to back up your travel photos somewhere so that you don’t lose them for good.
2. Expense-splitting apps
You’ll find yourself out to eat a decent amount while you’re traveling, whether with your study abroad friends or that group of fun Australians that you met at your hostel, but most restaurants around the world won’t split the bill like they sometimes do in the US. Download Plates to help you sort out who owes what so you don’t get stuck with paying way more than you’re supposed to. If you have friends who you are splitting things like bills with, booking hostels together, or are often picking up rounds at the bar, then use Splitwise to keep track of who owes what— it even sends reminders to the roommate who hasn’t squared up yet, and all in your chosen currency.
For those days when you want to cure your homesickness with a few episodes of Orange is the New Black or by watching your favorite NFL team play at home, IPVanish will let you change your IP address so it appears that you’re back US soil and therefore can use Netflix, ESPNGo, and other streaming sites. Read more about how to do it here.
4. Kindle Paperwhite
Reading a book is such a good way to pass the time while traveling as well as a great way to get ideas and inspiration for your next destination. But books can take up a lot of room in your luggage and much of your weight allowance too, meaning you might be forced to ditch your expensive books if your case if overweight. Get yourself a Kindle Paperwhite and download all of the books you could ask for onto it and you’ll save yourself SO much room, and it’s so lightweight.
5. Laptop lock cable
Not exactly a piece of tech, but something to protect it while you’re traveling. You can use this lock to secure your laptop when you’re away from your apartment or when you’re keeping it in your hostel room. If your laptop has a Kensington Security Slot, then it will work— all Apple MacBooks do, but make sure to check that your laptop has one before you purchase.
6. Currency converter app
If you’re traveling to different countries every few days (such a tough life, isn’t it?) then it will be hard to keep your currency conversions straight in your head. Make it easy and use this currency converter app so that you’re getting the most current rates and so that you don’t mess up your math and get ripped off.
7. Portable charger
We’ve included the Anker Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger in a few of our recommended travel items lists, and for good reason. It’s easy to find yourself with 2% battery on your iPhone, right as you need to navigate your way to your hostel or tell Mom and Dad that you’re safe and sound, and even if you feel like you had a full battery just hours ago. Have your portable charger with you and you’ll never get stuck again.
8. Wifi Finder app
For times when you need to Skype with Mom and Dad or just need a spot to get your paper done away from your rowdy roommates, the Wifi Finder app will show you where you can pick up both paid and free wifi connections. You can even save a map to use offline so that you can still find a spot even when you aren’t already on Wifi or have a data connection.
Are there any other pieces of travel tech that you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments.