I can’t even imagine what travel must have been like years ago when the original, hardcore backpackers blazed the trail without internet, phones, portable music and digital cameras. On one hand, I think that would be a very liberating and exhilarating feeling. On the other travel before electronicshand, it would be nerve-wracking to be cut off from the rest of the world. Can you imagine sending a letter home from Africa, only to have it arrive after you did? What if there was an emergency at home, how would anyone contact you?

working abroad with travel electronics
Great place to work!

Not only is contact with the “real world” now completely accessible by way of internet and cheap long distance calling, but all of these advances in technology have made it easier for the modern nomad to work while being completely location independent. Gone are the days of sitting in a cubicle! Bloggers, freelance writers and people with other online professions are now able to move around the world with nothing more than a laptop and a backpack, giving them complete freedom.

Of course, not all travel electronics are a necessity for the modern nomad, some are carried around purely for enjoyment!

In order to help you decide which travel electronics are necessary for your trips, here is a list of the electronics you’ll find in our backpacks:


For us as Travel Bloggers, this is a must-have. Many people are able to travel the world using just a smartphone or an iPad for their source of internet. Others have a small, lightweight, compact laptop like the MacBook Air or an Acer Aspire Netbook. During our first trips, we travelled with the Acer netbook and found it completely adequate for sending out emails and for watching movies at night. The best part was how small it was and how easily it fit into a backpack.

We are now working on our computers for about 25 hours/week, so we each have a full-sized laptop. We also prefer the larger screen for watching downloaded movies and tv shows!

travelling with electronics
Full sized computers are a necessity for us

Nowadays, Nick uses a 13.3″ Apple MacBook Pro which is very practical for video editing with Final Cut Pro, plus he loves the functionality of this laptop. The charging cord is a bonus because it comes with three different interchangeable plug-ins. One for North America, one for Europe and one for the UK. The only downside to the Macbook Pro is the cost. This laptop is about $1,200, but at the end of the day, it’s worth every penny.


  • Functionality
  • Ability to customize the trackpad
  • Clarity of screen
  • No viruses
  • Versatile wall plug-in
  • Can turn down the screen completely to save battery
  • Illuminated keyboard option
  • High quality webcam
  • Pre loaded apps including Professional Quality Video Editing in Final Cut Pro


  • Doesn’t stay running if screen is closed
  • Expensive (but worth every penny)

macbook pro travel electronics


I carry a 15″ Acer Aspire One laptop. This computer meets every need that I have with blogging and emailing. A big bonus is the cost, which is significantly less than the Mac.


  • Sleek, slim design
  • CD drive
  • 3 USB outlets
  • Affordable cost
  • Very Fast


  • Clarity of the screen can’t compare to that of a Mac
  • Can’t turn the screen off (only goes dim)
  • No illuminated key pad

acer aspire for travel


It’s a “PC vs. Mac” situation and in terms of quality, functionality and ease of use and the Mac clearly wins.



travel film camera

Even though the two of us take videos and pictures, we just have one camera. We’ve gone through a few cameras in our travel days. Everything from a basic point-and-shoot Canon to a 25x zoom Panasonic Lumix. Today, we carry the newest version of the Sony Nex-6, which was our Christmas present to each other. The size, weight and the ability to take quality photos is what initially drew us to this camera. When travelling, having items in your backpack that weigh very little is a high electronics to pack

The Sony Nex-6 is a mirrorless camera that creates the same image quality of that of a DSLR, yet it’s incredibly compact and lightweight. With the built-in wi-fi & flash, HDR feature and 1080p HD movie capabilities, we knew this was the camera for us.


  • Lightweight
  • Compact size
  • DSLR quality photos, without the bulk
  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Wi-Fi capabilities
  • HDR feature
  • Panorama feature
  • Built-in flash
  • 1080p HD video
  • Automatically switches between viewfinder and screen view
  • Wall or micro USB charging ability


  • Minimal zoom (3x)
  • Video button hard to press
  • Viewing screen doesn’t flip around 180˚
  • Not a touch screen
  • Slow on start-up

sony nex 6 for travellers



  • A camera case is a must have. We purchased the genuine leather, hard shell case for the Sony Nex-6, which fits snug on the camera.
  • Protective Hoya 40.5mm UV Filter. Not only does this filter help with photo quality, it protects the lens.
  • There are many interchangeable lenses on the market for this camera. We just have the kit lens.
  • Protective, clear display screen cover. It’s difficult to put on, but definitely helps prevent scratches on the display screen.

iPod Touch (32GB)

iPod Touch for travel
Look at all of the great Apps the iPod Touch has!

We were both really on the fence about whether or not we should get an iPhone (or another type of Smartphone), or if we would be just fine with the iPod Touch. Ultimately what made our decision was the cost of the iPhone vs. the iPod. We spent $299 on the iPod 5th Generation 32GB and we think that it serves all the purposes that we were hoping it would.

We always carry it with us because it fits easily into a pocket or purse. With a 5 megapixel camera, panorama capabilities, flash and 1080p video recording, it has everything we need.

For social media, having this type of travel electronic has really made things more streamlined for us. We just tap on the photo we want and upload it straight to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also use the iPod for music, messaging with family & friends who have Apple products (for free) and for Facetime and Skype.

The noticeable differences between the iPhone and the iPod are the cost and the fact that one is an actual phone. You need to have a wi-fi connection in order to use the iPod, but for us, we’re glad we chose the iPod.


  • The cost
  • Slim style, easy to put in pocket
  • Great camera (5 megapixel)
  • High quality video (1080p)
  • Downloadable Apps
  • Free messaging with other Apple users
  • Many styles and types to choose from
  • Portability


  • Need to have wi-fi in order to use the internet
  • It’s not a phone
  • Screen shatters easily
  • New power adapter, can’t charge with old cords



ipod touch travel electronic
Click the picture to purchase from Apple



  • Clear, protective screen cover. These covers help prevent scratches on the screen as well as the buildup of dust. They’re very easy to install.
  • Belkin protective case. This case is very slim, flexible and form-fitting. We’ve dropped our precious iPod a couple of times and this case protected it.


When we were preparing for our trip through Mongolia, the Stans and Iran, we decided to invest in a Kindle Paperwhite rather than lugging heavy books around with us. It turned out to be a great decision. If you’re going on a trekking, hiking or camping trip and you’ll be carrying your backpack for hours on end, having a small e-reader rather than loads of books is a smart idea.

kindles for travel
We’re glad we had our Kindles when we trekked for 8 days in Mongolia!

The best part about the Kindle Paperwhite is that the screen isn’t an LCD screen. It has E Ink Carta display technology, which makes it feel like you’re reading a paperback book rather than looking at a computer screen. We use this electronic not only for novels, but for guidebooks as well. The new Kindles even have wi-fi!

travel with a kindle
Enjoying Kindle reading in Belize


  • Inexpensive
  • Thin
  • Lightweight
  • Practical for travelling
  • Battery lasts for weeks
  • Easy to read
  • Not hard on the eyes
  • Wi-fi
  • Charge via USB
  • Ability to highlight words and show meaning in dictionary
  • Built-in light


  • A bit slow at “turning” pages
  • It’s not a book!

kindle paperwhite for travelling



Each of our Kindle e-readers have a special protective, hard, leather cover which snaps shut with a magnetic clasp. Just by closing the cover, the Kindle turns off.


These definitely aren’t a necessity when travelling, but for us, we love having a set of compact speakers! We recently bought the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox when we were back in Canada. These Bluetooth, wireless speakers are fantastic. We connect our iPod Touch via Bluetooth to the speakers and are able to listen to music wherever we are. We bring these portable speakers to the beach and picnics and we also use them for better sound quality when we’re watching movies on our laptops. We love the compact size (it’s basically the size of a can of food) and the great sound  that they give off.


  • Compact size
  • Lightweight
  • Great sound
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • USB chargeable
  • Battery lasts around 10 hours
  • Easy to press volume controls on the top of the boombox


  • Sometimes the Bluetooth connection cuts out

travel electronics


Portable External Hard Drives

travel with a portable hard driveWe have thousands of photos and videos from our numerous trips around the world. Rather than jam-packing our laptops with these files (which would severely slow down our computers), or trying to upload them to the Cloud or a dropbox with slow internet, we have two portable, external hard drives. Not only do we use these hard drives for storage and back up of our precious memories, but we have also downloaded thousands of movies, tv shows, documentaries and music albums.

Our two portable hard drives include the 1TB Iomega Prestige with metal shell and the 1TB WD My Passport Ultra Portable with plastic shell.


  • Save space on our computers, making them run faster
  • Lightweight
  • Thin
  • The size of a passport


  • Delicate and easily broken
  • Each uses a different USB cord for connecting to the laptops


  • A protective cover for these fragile items is a must. We have an HP zip on case that opens like a book. It actually fits both of our hard drives inside.

Mobile Phone

We started carrying a phone towards the end of our first trip in order to contact hostels and guesthouses to book a room. We still have our very basic, unlocked Nokia phone that we bought when we were travelling in India! We prefer to have a durable, cheap phone that we know we can bring to the beach and use in public without worrying about someone stealing it. We buy local SIM cards in each country we go to and top up the airtime minutes as needed.

travel with a mobile phone
You may need to call a tow-truck!

Especially if you are renting a car or going out trekking, we recommend having a phone with you. In the most remote places, we still see people on their phones, so coverage is usually pretty good. If you have an emergency, a flat tire, an accident or are lost, having a mobile phone can be your lifeline to safety.


  • Durable
  • Reliable
  • No one wants to steal a basic Nokia phone
  • Can charge with USB
  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Battery lasts a long time
  • Unlocked. Can use around the world


  • No internet
  • People with nicer phones make fun of you

phone when travelling


Odds & Ends

There are a few smaller electronic items/accessories that we also carry with us.

  • Earbud Earphones. We each have a pair which we use for listening to music, having Skype conversations, watching a movie on a plane and for video editing on Final Cut Pro.
  • Lens Cleaner and Soft Cloth. We try to clean our travel electronics as often as possible to avoid the build up of dust, salt and dirt which can all damage the products.
  • International Travel Adaptor. All of our electronics charge with a North American, two prong plug-in. When travelling in other parts of the world, it’s necessary to have an adaptor in order to charge everything in a wall socket.
  • Memory Cards for the Camera. We have 3 San Disk memory cards with us – 4GB, 16GB and 32GB.

Final Thoughts

We try to buy high quality products that are lightweight, affordable and easy to pack. Apart from our laptops (which are a necessity), everything else is small, compact and weighs very little. Travelling with electronics seems to be the norm these days. Rarely have we been in a hostel, on a bus or sitting in a cafe without seeing someone on their smartphone or laptop.

We live in a modern world where social media and internet are an inevitable part of the day. We try to be on our laptops for a reasonable amount of time before shutting them down. When we’re out for a meal or enjoying the day together, we don’t update our Facebook page or message with people. One of the great things about not having full-time internet access with the iPod Touch (as opposed to 3G with an iPhone) is that we have a break from social media and from being connected 24/7.

It’s nice to unplug once in a while and really enjoy the moment.

Do you think travel electronics are ruining or improving the way we travel these days? Any gadgets you would add to the list? Share with us below!

Note: This post includes affiliate links. However, we would never recommend or endorse a product or service that we don’t find useful. We receive a small commission for purchases made from this page but you will not be charged extra.

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A Guide To Must-Have Travel Electronics for the Modern Nomad

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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32 thoughts on “A Guide To Must-Have Travel Electronics for the Modern Nomad

  1. I would like to invest in a better camera (currently just have a Canon point and shoot), but it’s not a huge priority right now and there are (always) other things to spend money on…like travel! Zab has a Jawbone portable speaker which he absolutely loves (it even does surround sound!). It’s interesting to me that you chose to have a separate iPod and phone, rather than having an iPhone. I used to do this, until Zab convinced me otherwise, and it now means only carrying one device and charger instead of two of each…though of course it works out overall more expensive and means that I usually have to cut local SIMs down to fit in it and that if I loose it, I’ve lost a device that performs two functions, which would suck. I like that you mention that “people with nicer phones make fun of you” as a con for a having a cheap phone – this never bothered me personally, but it gave me a chuckle!

    1. Hey Sam,

      You’re correct in basically saying that it makes no sense to carry two devices (iPod and phone), but for us it makes sense. We had just bought the new camera, which at the time was almost $800 and we were in the middle of a redesign on the site and we were heading off to travel, etc.!! The cost of the iPod was what we could afford at the time. Even looking back though, we feel that the cheap phone is sufficient for us. We like to be unplugged from the internet when possible and not having the temptation to use internet like on the iPhone really helps us to just enjoy the moment 🙂

      Oh, and we don’t actually care what people say about our little Nokia, it was meant to give you a chuckle and I’m glad it did! haha.

      Cheers Sam.

    2. If you like the Jawbone (one of my favorites) I can also recommend the Braven BRV 1 as a great rugged outdoor speaker. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but the sound is great and really does last even if you don’t look after it that well.

  2. Great list! As travel bloggers we certainly need light and small laptops, a camera and kindle to read our favourite books when on the road :-).

  3. Dariece and Nick, that really is a great list of travel electronics you’ve put together. So far I have used a very small 9” netbook which was great for writing, but not that good for photos. While the size was certainly unbeatable, now that it finally broke, I am looking into slightly bigger options and the Acer seems to be worth a consideration. The Kindle I didn’t like very much as it turned out to be completely useless for guide books. I could never flip back and forth between maps and text, plus for reading I actually still preferred picking up local books rather than buying the standard stuff online. But I am totally with you about the iPhone. I never had one while travelling and it really seems to be a great quality when you are completely off the grid sometimes… 🙂

    1. Hey Dennis,

      I do like the Acer, especially for the cost. Ideally, I would love a MacBook, but it just wasn’t in the budget at the time. I too love exchanging books when on the road! There are some gems to be found 🙂 The Kindle is ideal for trekking and camping trips though where you have to carry your backpack around. I do prefer real books though, there’s just something about them!

      Thank you for the comment Dennis.

  4. Great post! I started making a list of what we’ll be using on our upcoming travels to blog about too. We just bought an underwater camcorder so we’re interested to see how that works. It was on sale at Costco. We have so many electronics I’m not sure what we’ll be taking on each of the trips. We had discussed not taking a laptop to Honduras but I just don’t think that will work for TWO weeks.

    Love the idea of taking the portable hard drive, that might save Kev from having to take his laptop to either destination. We’ll see! Great info.

    1. Hi Angie,

      It’s amazing how fast the list of electronics adds up! An underwater camera is definitely on our list of things to buy – well, actually a GoPro is.

      A portable hard drive is most definitely a great space-saver and if you were only bringing the second laptop for space, then I would definitely go for the hard drive instead!

      Cheers and happy travels 🙂

  5. I am curious about the wireless speaker. We have a small one that we connect to our ipod or computer to play music or watch TV or a movie. It works pretty well. But, I wondered about a better quality wireless speaker, and what happens when you have shoddy internet, which is a problem all over SE Asia. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Amber,

      The wireless speakers that we have actually operate on Bluetooth, so you don’t need to have internet 🙂 I like it because we can have our computer or iPod inside the house, but be using our speakers outside. Same with at the beach, iPod can be locked in our backpack, but speakers are out.

      They have great sound, but for some reason with the MacBook Pro, the bluetooth cuts out? With the iPod and my Acer, it works great.


  6. Great recommendations! My wife gave me her old kindle when she got a new one for Christmas and now I never leave without it. It’s much better for reading than on my iPad.

  7. Hey Dariece and Nick, great list and loving the blog! I just wanted to point out that the iPod Touch can double for communications with FaceTime or Skype–as long as you have wifi of course. We LOVE our MacBook Pro, but we also have a nifty little Bluetooth keyboard we share that makes our iPads double as notebooks. And finally, it’s not electronics per se but we think our little iPhone tripod will come in handy for taking videos and time lapse movies as we start out on our 6 month adventure in Europe next week (but ask us again in a few months if it’s proved worthy of its space in our luggage!)

    Happy travels, Chuck & Lori

    1. Hey Chuck & Lori!

      It sounds like you’ve got quite a few travel electronics with you 🙂 That’s a great idea with the bluetooth keyboard for iPads – but for us, we figure that iPads don’t make sense for what we would need, they don’t have very much storage space. A tripod for the iPod?! That’s cool. You’re definitely right, we use our iPod for a phone all the time – using Skype and FaceTime! It’s great.

      Enjoy your 6 month trip through Europe!

      1. Also started using a Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad and now Kindle Fire, thought it would be unnecessary but now can’t type without it. Never tried a tripod for and iPod before, seems a bit overkill 🙂

        Great list keep up the good work!

  8. Today, we already have portable chargers or so called “power banks” to keep the batteries on-the-go while traveling. This is very useful especially when traveling in remote areas where charging of batteries is not very accessible.

    Additionally, another new camera models are coming in such as “Go Pro” which is used for sports photography. But the good thing with this camera is that it is very small to carry than and SLR camera. It also designed to capture quality videos while traveling.

  9. Just wanted to let you know that I am one of those “Original hardcore backpackers.” We did not have a need for phones, or internet . Our days were filled with new friends and having to use our brain to address where we were or what to do next etc. For example, I spent 30 days in Belize went deep sea fishing, horseback to the ruins (where a helicopter tried to shoot at us)- hired a guide to take us into the caves, grabbed a local to boat us to the real Jungle. Met so many locals that within a week they told us where to go next and hooked us up with accomodations. I could not find all of that by phone or internet . If I had internet I would have found some of the tours I haggled for $20 to be in the hundreds on the internet . In fact, a local took us to a cave by boat where there were skulls everywhere. 20 years later, I saw on Travel Channel how they “discovered” this new cave- the same cave that we went to.Nothing is more fun than the experience of the unkown. And nothing is more fun than being taken to places that tourist have no idea they even exist. I was there when DDT was being sprayed into the streets with big tractors in the back villages where the tourists were kept away.Now, decades later grown child and grandchild. I going backpacking again for as long as my money takes me. Will I take the modern electronics with me this time? The answer is yes- the world has changed and so have I. I love travelling

    1. Wow! That would have been amazing to have been one of the original trail blazers 🙂 You’re right, the world is changing and just because we now “need” our electronics doesn’t make us any less intrepid!


  10. These are all important gadgets to stay connected in the online world, thank you for sharing the pros and cons of every gadget.

  11. I agree that these gadgets are the top must-haves for any traveler. I usually make sure to have my ext.hd with me so i can transfer my photos there if the memory is full. Plus, I take extra memory stick just in case.

  12. Hi guys awesome list and great site. I’m heading to india in a few weeks and your blog has helped so much. Just a quick question I couldn’t tell from your review but does your daypack have a laptop sleeve or section? Do you think you need it? I am looking for a new day pack ( to go with my osprey backpack :)) and wondering if I need then extra protection for my MacBook pro.


    1. Hi Sudeep!

      This reply is way delayed, I know. I was just looking at this article and noticed your comment went unanswered! I’m so sorry, I have no clue how it was missed.

      Nick now carries the Vanguard UP Rise II for all of his camera gear and it has a laptop sleeve in it. I have just a regular day pack, with no laptop sleeve – both work fine 🙂

      Happy Travels!

  13. A great piece of information. I think this is what I was exactly looking for. All tips in a single click. I would definitely try to follow these suggestions. I really enjoyed this post and I hope you will keep posting this kind of post in future.

  14. Being a retiree, under 65, who wants to travel full time I have a question about medical coverage. I was looking where to ask. I worked with companies outside of Canada and had coverage provided by them. How do you have coverage if more than six months out of a province. Is there an affordable company for travel? Your thoughts thanks.

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