I’m a big believer in not spending your entire study abroad semester behind your iPhone screen or camera lens. But there are some pieces of tech that can not only improve your semester, but can also prevent some less-than-great situations from happening and just make your life easier.
But before hopping into it…
Make sure you protect your stuff while studying abroad
It’s very important to have some type of insurance to cover all of your tech and other important items while you’re abroad. Your best bet it likely to be to get a multiple month, multiple country travel insurance that covers your stuff no matter where you are. It’s quite common for tech to break or get stolen while studying abroad, so having insurance means you won’t have to pay out of pocket to replace your laptop or iPhone when something happens to it.
If your study abroad semester doesn’t cover health insurance and insurance for medical emergencies, then you’re going to need to get travel insurance anyways. Try World Nomads if you need a recommendation, and also
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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, in case your laptop completely dies or gets taken.
If you plan on taking TONS of photos while you’re traveling, then consider investing in a Dropbox Pro account. You’ll want to back up your travel photos somewhere so that you don’t lose them for good. It’s also a good place to offload all of your photos and videos from your phone so you can avoid the annoying “you’re out of memory” message from popping up in the middle of your visit to the Louve.
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.
Instead of having to bring multiple plugs to charge your devices at the same time while you’re traveling, bring a multi-device charging station. You and your travel buddies can hook up your devices to charge at the same time while you’re sleeping or getting ready in the morning. It will help avoid having to choose between charging your phone and your Kindle…
4. Kindle Paperwhite
Reading a book is such a good way to pass the time while traveling, and 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 luggage 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. You’ll save yourself SO much room in your bag, plus 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 a special 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— most laptops 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 (that study abroad life) then it will be hard to keep currency conversions straight in your head. Make it easy and use a 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 phone charger
We’ve included the Anker 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.
Trying to figure out what to pack for your study abroad semester? Check out our comprehensive study abroad packing list.