8 Un-Sexy (But Very Useful) Travel Gadgets

by Anil Polat · 9 comments

mathematicianThere are devices like the iPhone, GPS, and eBook readers that are sexy pieces of technology to travel with. They perform a variety of functions and are great on the road but they don’t often get you out of a bind like some of the unglamorous cables and connectors every backpack should have a few of. These un-sexy gadgets don’t look very pretty or sparkle much but are more likely to get you out of a jam than an iPad.

  1. An Ethernet Cable – Aside from the faster Internet connection (over wireless) an Ethernet cable can get you online in some places for free versus paying for a wi-fi connection (I’m looking at you JFK airport).
  2. (More Than One) Universal Power Adapter – Power adapters are great, useful, and inexpensive until they break or get lost and you find yourself looking for a US to European converter in Bangkok. A good universal with one or two extras will come in handy for all of the major types of outlet, even ones you don’t think you’ll be using.
  3. USB Squid – Take a single USB port on your laptop and turn it into 4.
  4. A USB Stick – The amount of storage for the price you get these days is incredible, not to mention a USB stick is a good place to keep your important documents and pictures from your trip. You’ll greatly enhance the usefulness of your USB stick by loading these 12 applications on the USB drive, and by protecting the information using TrueCrypt hidden folders.
  5. short diy cablesStereo Audio Cable –  If you’ve got an iPod you might come across rental cars, televisions, and stereos with an audio jack to blast your favorite songs from.
  6. A Mini-Flashlight – The glow from your iPod can only get you so far when you’re rummaging around your backpack in the middle of the night trying not to wake up your hostel-mates.
  7. Retractable Lock – You can lace these through your backpack zippers or directly to your laptop. Any kind of lock is a good deterrent and these retractables give you a bit more flexibility for looping together multiple bags or items.
  8. “Double A” Batteries (Preferably Rechargeable Ones) – ThinkGeek also sells these neat USB AA rechargeable batteries.

None of these items are going to impress your friends until you break one out when it’s most needed. I travel with a variety of these in my backpack, none of which take up too much space or cost much, and they’ve bailed me out countless times. They’re the kind of gadgets that don’t get any love because they don’t have touch screens or the complete works of Shakespeare embedded on them – these un-sexy travel gadgets will just help you do other things – like charge charge everything else.

[photos by: FireFawkes, nickwheeleroz]

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara @ Hole In The Donut Travels March 2, 2010 at 15:12

Interesting – I’m traveling for 4 months as you know and I carry 7 of the 8 on your list. You couldn’t possibly be more right on with this list!


2 Anil P. March 2, 2010 at 16:10

I’ve literally kissed some of these items as I pulled them out of my backpack when they’ve come to save me. They come in handy but otherwise are hidden in some pocket and don’t get much love.


3 Shannon OD March 2, 2010 at 20:01

I agree with Barabara – the list is spot on and I carry a majority of them! 🙂


4 Anil P. March 3, 2010 at 05:33

Thanks Shannon – one thing I should have included is a way to organize all of these little handy gadgets!


5 Stephanie March 3, 2010 at 11:45

Even better than a mini-flashlight is a headlamp. Great in so many situations and pretty much the DEFINITION of unsexy.


6 Anil P. March 3, 2010 at 11:48

haha, I can’t imagine it possible to rock the headlamp without looking dorky. But hey, you’re right…at least you’ll be able to see!


7 axel g April 4, 2010 at 13:00

I prefer to travel light.

A netbook fits most bags and an adapter is a must for international travel…

Nice list.


8 Anil P. April 4, 2010 at 13:49

Yes, the power of the ugly cables 🙂


9 Lorene32Burton May 17, 2011 at 11:50

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