Essential Travel Companions (Part 1 of 2)

First and foremost, I really dislike material possessions and view them as evil and modern slavery.  I find it extremely tacky how some use it to portray or falsify their economic status.

I am a type of person who likes to go by unnoticed and love being able to walk the streets without being stopped.  Now, the things I buy are out of pure necessities (i.e., essential travel companions), make my life easier (i.e., travel gadgets), add value to my life (i.e., cultural experiences) or for the pure experience (i.e., traveling and dining).

I find material objects very burdensome.  It takes up room in your house and I regret a lot of my past purchases.  It’s true.  I can’t justify buying a pair of $300 designer or even a $25 pair of Levi’s at Marshall’s.  However, I justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on a camera, headphones or anything I could make my traveling easier.  Unfortunately, a pair of jeans doesn’t cause I always pack shorts and t-shirts for easy mobility.  With that said, these are the items I recommend for traveling light and making your travels much easier.

Major Electronics Trifecta


Android vs iOS

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone these days.  The two most popular platform are Google’s Android phones and Apple’s iOS iPhones.  There are benefits to both platforms. The most essential thing about is a smartphone is to make sure it’s unlocked, so you could pop in a different country’s SIM card and be on your merry way.

  1. Android – I lean towards Google’s Android phones and specifically Motorola.  In my opinion, Motorola makes solid phones, give a pure Android interface and I get reception almost everywhere.  However, LG, HTC, and Samsung make solid phones.  For my own personal use, I like customizing my phone to fit my lifestyle.  I use Google’s App widget to preview my calendar, email, notes, daily news reader and Google Now for updates.  
  2. iPhone – On the other hand, the iPhone is a great or even better smartphone depending on your lifestyle.  iOS is a lot smoother than Android, but there is no customization.  It’s a beautifully design phone.  It’s sleek, clean and has a premium feel to it.


Who doesn’t have a tablet?  It’s synonymous with having a smartphone and even some smartphone are becoming the size of a tablet.  Everyone has their favorite e-reader or tablet.  People usually tend to stick to the same ecosystem as their smartphone.

  1. iPad – iPhone users will get an iPad and Android users with get an Android tablet.  The benefits and cons are pretty consistent to their smartphone counterparts.
  2. Amazon – There’s always the Amazon Fire, which is a pretty solid tablet too.  The major benefit of the Amazon tablets are it’s price point.  It’s super cheap compared to Android and iOS tablets.
  3. Android – I prefer Google’s Nexus 9 tablets cause it fits my needs.  I have the Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Note 10 too.  However, I always reach for my Nexus 9 for my travel companion.  It’s light, thin and the perfect size.  It fits my needs for reading and browsing the web as I wait for my flight or sit on a plane.


The third and last electronic of the trifecta.  Laptops have evolved like the original brick Motorola phone.  There are cheap, fast, hold more space and extremely light now.

  1. MacBooks – The best laptops on the market are MacBooks.  The external design and software are amazingly gorgeous.  Hands down.  This is coming from an avid Android user.  However, Apple MacBooks come with a premium price.  There are other laptops on the market just as good without the premium price.
  2. Chromebooks – Google has it’s Chromebooks and they come with a SSD (i.e., Solid State Drive).  The Chromebooks are neat concepts in that it uses Google’s storage service to store most of your data.  It frees up a lot of your local hard drive.  Lastly, it’s dirt cheap.  It’s like 1/5 of the price of a MacBook.
  3. Windows – I enjoy using my Lenovo Ideapad.  I got mine about 7 years ago and it’s still kicking up a storm.  The only thing I had to replace on it was the hard drive, which was a few months ago.  Let me put it this way.   My initial investment was about 500 USD.  The replacement 2TB hard drive was about 100 USD.  As of today, it has only cost me 7.14 USD per month (i.e., 500 USD + 100 USD = 600 USD / 7 Years / 12 Months = 7.14 USD) to use.  Therefore, I’m a strong advocate of Lenovo laptops.

Capturing the Moment


Do you remember the song when you had your first kiss?  How about the song that defined your college years?  The song playing when you met your current partner?  I never leave home with my headphones whether it’s for work or travel.  I look like I’m in the studio making the next Billboard #1 hit with my headphones.  Headphones are essential on any trip especially on the plane.  It helps tune out the sound of the jet engine, rude passengers, snoring single serving friends, and crying kids who can’t help but cry.

  1. Beats by Dre – Dr. Dre has become the first Hip Hop Billionaire and he did it with Beats by Dre.  Also, there are those extremely obnoxious fitness addicts with the headphones on at the gym.  I know. It’s a total turn off; however, it is one of the better headphones on the market.  I bought Detox Edition when it first came out in 2010/11.  It still works like new.  The sound doesn’t leak and I can barely hear things around me.  The Beats by Dre are really bass heavy on other headphones.  I like a lot more bass in my music, so it fits my taste.
  2. Monster – Monster was a wire company before it went into business with Dr. Dre.  The headphone’s quality are very similar to Beats by Dre and the price is a bit lower than Beats by Dre.  Some might even argue the Monster headphones are better than the Beats By Dre.
  3. Sennheiser – Sennheiser has a strong reputation within the music industry for producing quality headphones.  The price points range anything from the novice to the professional music producer who needs to hear every bell and whistle.  I have a pair which I bought close to 2007 or 2008.  It still provides a solid sound for being almost 10 years old.  It’s much less bass-y than my Beats by Dre.  In addition, it doesn’t leak.  In other words, people can’t hear what I’m listening to if they stood next to me.
  4. Bose – Bose is a strong reputation in producing high quality and premium home entertainment systems.  The sounds are clear and it isn’t overwhelmed with bass.  Bose’s headphones give a crisp sound and a premium price tag.  It’s more of an investment for your ears.

MP3/Music Player


Why would you need a separate MP3/Music player when you have your smart phone?  Well, it’s simple.  Battery life and space on your smartphone.  I personally don’t like to drain my phone’s battery with the music player or streaming service.  In addition, I take a lot of pictures on my phone, so I need the storage on it and don’t want to fill it with MP3s.

  1. Classic – The iPod Classic is a vintage iPod with the most storage on it.  160GB to be exact.  I have two in my possession.  One for my daily use and the other as a back up for when my daily use one crashes.  I bought my daily use one back in 2008 and it has held up extremely well.  I still only have to charge it once or twice a week depending on my usage.  It’s durable and I take it on all my travels.  I absolutely love it.
  2. Touch – The iPod Touch is a solid MP3 player.  It has wi-fi connection, apps and pretty much an iPhone without the making calls capabilities.


GoPro – The GoPro HERO4 Silver has a very special spot in my heart.  It’s the perfect device to point and shoot.  I travel alone a lot and the selfies give a different context compared to a smartphone.  I take it everywhere on my travels.  It’s compact, provide quality pictures, and the wide lens isn’t like anything else on the market.  It gives a mix of a fish eye and panoramic output (i.e., wide lens).

DSLR – The professional cameras are making its way.  The one that I own is the Sony A6300.  It a mirror-less digital, LCD display, removable microSDHC storage, takes great photos, the lens are easy to interchange and it’s extremely lightweight for travels.  Also, the Sony DSC-RX100 IV is a great camera too.  It’s lightweight, 20MP, 4k video, point-and-shoot, takes fantastic photos, and built-in WiFi/NFC to travel pictures to your phone.  It’s pretty amazing.

Arco di Costantino Rome Italy
GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition picture quality

Extra Aid

Streaming Devices

  1. Google Chromecast – The ChromeCast was pretty revolutionary when it came on the market.  It’s able to stream media from your Android or Apple smartphone/tablet and Windows laptop.  It was the first product on the market to play nice with other ecosystems for a mere 35 USD.  Furthermore, it was the size of a USB memory stick.  I bring my ChromeCast on all my travels for lazy or rainy days in the hotel.  It’s essential, so check it out here.
  2. Amazon Fire TV Stick  Fire Stick is Amazon’s competitor to the ChromeCast.  It’s basically the same thing but with a remote. It works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.  If you don’t have Amazon Prime, it’s a definite must have for the free 2 day shipping, unlimited video streaming, ad free music, unlimited photo storage, access to the Kindle library, and comes with a 30 day free trial.  Check it out here.
  3. Roku – The Roku is the priciest of the three streaming sticks, BUT it plays nice with both Amazon and Google’s ecosystem.  It gives you access to more than 3,000 channels delivering 300,000+ movies and TV episodes.  That’s a lot of GoT and Breakfast Club replays.  Check it out here.

External Hard Drive

In this day and age, it’s essential to back up your data.  I’ve had many near death encounters of losing all my data on my devices.  It’s nerve wrecking.  To be honest, I don’t care about the device (i.e., Laptop, Tablet, or Smartphone) itself.  It’s the data (i.e., pictures, itineraries, music, movies, to do lists, etc) on the devices I hold close to my heart.  The devices are replaceable but not the captured past memories on the devices.

With that said, external hard drives are essential part of my life now.  I’ve gone to the point of backing up my backup. I know.  It’s pretty extreme.  With all technology, external hard drives have evolve from a few years ago.  It started out clunky, awkward, limited and heavy like the first Motorola brick phones.  Now, it’s portable, fits in your pocket, massive storage and automated backup.

  1. Western DigitalWestern Digital makes solid portable hard drives.  It’s the size of a deck of cards, 2TB, and under 90 USD.  It’s my everyday storage and main travel companion.  It fits perfectly in a slot in my backpack and doesn’t take much room.  Long gone are the days of book size external hard drives.  Check it out here.  My UK readers should check out MyMemory.  They provide great storage options.
  2. SeaGateSeaGate is my backup for my backup and backup my backup every two month or so.  The main difference between SeaGate and Western Digital is SeaGate provides portable 4TB hard drives with no frills at relatively cheap prices.  It works perfect as my backup for my backup.   I liked it so much that I bought another one.  Check it out here.
  3. SD Cards – Essential if you have a GoPro, Smartphone, or a DSLR.  These micro storage units are impressive these days.  They run up to 128GB for less than 70 USD and the size of a computer chip.  My loyalty lies with SanDisk cause I have found them more reliable than other brands.  It processes better with 4k video recording on my GoPro.  This is the one I have here.

Extra Batteries

Extra battery units are another essential for heavy smartphone users.  I use my smartphone heavily when traveling due to the number of apps I’m dependent on when I’m roaming the streets of a foreign city.  Mainly, Google Maps.  Navigation apps drain your battery like negative people.  Luckily, we both can recharge.

  1. RavPower – RavPower provide the best quick charging power banks on the market.  It’s a bit pricier and feels a lot more solid than Anker.  I have two RavPower packs (i.e., 26,800 MAH and 13,000 MAH) I usually switch off between them when I’m traveling.  I’ll use one during the day as the other charges at the hotel.  However, the 26,800 MAH usually last me a few days but I always have a backup when it charges in the hotel.  I’m a bit extreme but I do things out of convenience and I like having my options.
  2. AnkerAnker provides solid power banks for less than RavPower.  I got this one as a backup for both my RavPower for fractions of the price.  I don’t usually carry it around the city as much because it tends to charge a bit slower than my RavPower ones.  However, it still a decent option I use to charge my phone at night in the hotel.  Check it out here.

Electrical Outlets

There were too many times during my travels where my electrical plugs wasn’t compatible with the outlets.  I had to run around the city at night looking for plugs to charge my devices.  Hence, the reason I have multiple battery packs when I travel.  The electrical outlets are all different in each region.  It’s annoying as heck.  For example, China’s outlets are compatible with the US plugs but Hong Kong’s outlets aren’t compatible with the US or China.  Australia and Europe is totally different.  It’s totally frustrating, but luckily there are companies out there that make adapters for cheap!

  1. Ace – Ace is easily the best power adapter on the market and less than 25 USD.  I wish I discovered it before my trips around the world.  It would have saved me a lot of money and heartache.  It’s on sale now on Amazon.  Check it out here.

As you can tell, a lot of my electronics have been with me for at least 2 years.  I don’t like to upgrade for the sake of upgrading.  It’s not my style.  I’m a big advocate of quality products you can run down to its bones.  There are some places to pick up your travel companions.  I personally don’t like leaving the house unless I’m going to work, having a meal or catching a flight.  Furthermore, Amazon offers a lot of discount products and free shipping.  Therefore, I order a lot of my stuff from them.  Here is a summary of the links to help you out:

Things To Do In Portland, Oregon (Downtown)
2014 Motorola X picture quality (Android)


iPhone on Amazon 

Android Phones on Amazon


iPads on Amazon 

Android Tablets on Amazon

Amazon Fire on Amazon

Kindles on Amazon


MacBooks on Amazon

Chromebooks on Amazon

Lenovo Laptops on Amazon


Beats by Dre on Amazon

Monster on Amazon

Sennheiser on Amazon

Bose on Amazon

MP3/Music Player

iPod Classic on Amazon

iPod Touch on Amazon


GoPro HERO4 Silver on Amazon

Sony A630o on Amazon

Sony DSC-RX100 IV on Amazon

Extra Aid

Streaming Devices

ChromeCast on

Amazon Fire TV Stick on Amazon

Amazon Prime


Portable Hard Drives

Western Digital on Amazon

Storage Devices on MyMemory

SeaGate Portable Hard Drive on Amazon

SD Card On Amazon

Extra Batteries

RavPower on Amazon

Anker on Amazon

Let us know what you decide to pick up and how it’s working out for you in the comment sections!

Click here to read Essential Travel Companion Part 2.