Travel Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos
Ever wonder about my favourite gear, gadgets, and gizmos that I take with me whenever I travel?
I’ve been travel blogging now for about 6 years. When I started, I would never have believed it would take me on such an exciting journey to places like Arctic Norway, Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest and the Caribbean.
While away, I need to collect photographs, video, and written notes about the places I visit, posting to social media as I go. I need equipment that I can rely on as well as the means to charge multiple gadgets at once so that my phone, laptop, camera, GoPro, as well as spare batteries and my power bank (for charging devices on the road) are always ready to go and won’t conk out on me at a crucial moment.
I’ve put together a list of my favourite travel gear that I feel confident to recommend to you. I’ve left out products that I’m not totally convinced are the best for the job, such as my power bank, which doesn’t work as well as it first did. I am sure there are better ones out there.
Some of the links, but by no means all, are affiliate links, so if you click on them and then buy a product, I will get a small commission which goes towards the cost of running this blog, at no extra cost to you.
I’ll be adding to this list as I come across new products that I love and that I am confident won’t let me or you down.
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The following gear and gadgets come with me on pretty much every travel blogging trip I go on. These are the items I rely on to help me get the job done.
Lowepro Event Messenger Camera Bag
I’ve been using Lowepro camera bags and backpacks for over 20 years and they have never let me down. This particular bag is the one I currently use the most. It’s got room for my camera with lens attached, my GoPro carry case, my iPhone, power bank and leads, business cards and a small purse. There’s also a padded internal pocket which is perfect for an iPad. And I love the pocket at the back, as I can keep my notebook in there and quickly take it out and pop it back again when I’m making notes on a press trip without having to open the bag itself. Likewise with the side pockets for my iPhone (although if I’m anywhere where I think there may be pickpockets around I keep it inside the bag itself).
My bag now looks like this, having been hand painted in Thailand a few months ago. You can currently buy an unpainted one on Amazon for £47.40. If you’d like it painted like mine, then you’ll have to take it to Thailand!
4 Port USB Plug Charger
With interchangeable US, UK and EU adaptors, this little beauty is a godsend when I’m travelling and have multiple gadgets to charge. I have had this one for over a year and I’m delighted with it. Currently costing £13.99 on Amazon, it’s an inexpensive solution when I want to charge my iPhone, iPad, Power Bank and TEP (mobile WiFi hotspot) all at the same time.
Tep, portable WiFi
With this mobile hotspot, I can access the internet wherever I travel to around the world. I’ve tried using a locally bought sim card in a country I’m visiting and it was quite a palaver and I remember >being very nervous that I might lose my original card. With Tep I can just turn it on and go. I don’t have to wait to get back to my hotel to publish social media posts. I’ve even used it to do a live Periscope and Facebook videos.
Samsung Galaxy S8
A while back I defected from Apple to Samsung and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I’m so happy with the camera on my new mobile, I even left my camera behind on a recent press trip and relied on my phone alone. You can see the results here 24 hours in the New Forest and a stay at the historic Bell Inn.
All the photos in that post were taken with my Samsung S8. I was particularly surprised by how crisp and sharp close-up almost macro photos are. I’ll soon be getting the chance to try out the S9 so I’ll let you know how I get on.
The only disappointment is when I zoom in, so for any wildlife shots, for example, I still need my bulky Nikon D700 and 200mm plus long lens.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Bridge Camera
While I used to use a professional level Nikon camera, I found it very heavy and carrying it around with a number of lenses was taking it toll on my back (I’m no spring chicken, after all!). In 2016 I took the plunge with this Lumix Bridge Camera and I totally love it. Nearly all the photographs published in this blog since then have been taken with this camera. It’s lighter, the one lens covers a huge range 25mm to 400mm and it has WiFi so I can send photos to my phone when I’m out and about and post them to social media there and then.
The only thing I’m not completely happy with is when I use the zoom for wildlife pictures. they just aren’t up to scratch so I still need my Nikon D700 and a long lens for that.
GoPro HERO4 SILVER
This is the GoPro I have, and the quality of the video it produces is amazing. The video below was the first I shot with it back in 2015, and when I watched it on my smart TV, I was seriously impressed with the professional quality of the video. The still photographs featured were taken with my Nikon D700, a superb (if heavy) camera.
GoPro Hand, Wrist, Arm, Leg Mount
I particularly like the hand mount for my GoPro and I’ve used it a lot when kayaking and zip lining. I love that I can turn my GoPro around in 360° without having to remove the mount and that it’s usable in the water. I’ve had it for well over a year and I feel very confident when I’m using it that it won’t fall off.
It’s made by GoPro and currently costs £49.95, which is a bit pricey, but I think it’s worth it (I’ve bought cheaper non-GoPro branded mounts before that have let me down).
Smartree Spare Batteries and Charger for GoPro HERO4
I bought this package over 2 years ago and I have been completely happy with it. I love being able to charge these two batteries plus the one that came with my GoPro all at the same time. I know I won’t run out of battery power when I’m on the road. Please note: This is not compatible with the HERO5 series.
This Smartree charger and batteries currently cost £14.99 on Amazon.
Travel Clothes, Gadgets, and Accessories
While the following products aren’t necessarily taken on every trip I go on, depending on where I’m going and my luggage allowance, they are items I regularly use myself and love.
Lava BrightSounds 2 Bluetooth speaker | Power Bank | Lantern
I’ve only had this item a couple of months but I love it, whether I’m using it as a light, to charge my phone or to play music. or all three at once, at home or abroad. The rechargeable battery lasts an impressively long time. You can read my full review and enter my giveaway here. If you can’t wait to get your hands on one, Lava BrightSounds are currently offering Travel With Kat readers £5 off with the code KAT5 if you order before the end of August 2017.
Vionic Floriana Sandals
I first bought these sandals over a year ago in teal and loved them so much that I bought a second pair in gold. The design supports the arch of your foot, relieving the pressure from the heel and ball. In other sandals, the balls of my feet start aching after just a relatively short walk, whereas in these I can walk for miles without my feet aching at all.
These Vionic Floriana Sandals currently cost around £50 on Amazon. They’re not cheap, but they are worth it.
I’ve lost count of the number of these shrugs I have. They are a travel essential for me. They never crease, no matter how much you crumple them up, and they’ll squeeze into any little corner of your suitcase or backpack. They also dry really quickly should you need to wash them on the road. I have shrugs in turquoise, teal, pale blue, purple, peach, green, white and black, and probably a few more colours that have slipped my mind!
These shrugs cost around £10 on Amazon.
Travel Gadgets Wishlist
While I’ve not tried out any of the following items yet, they are things I’m either saving up for or planning to buy when it’s time to replace something. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Best Power bank
I’d like a fast, sturdy, compact and light power bank that has a big capacity, can show me how much charge it has left, can charge more than one gadget at a time and doesn’t break the bank. Not much to ask for! Any suggestions?
Best Travel Laptop
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 12.3 inch Tablet with Pen (Intel Core i5-6300U 2.4 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, Integrated Graphics, Windows 10 Pro) – Silver
I currently have an Acer V55 Aspire It’s great and I’d happily recommend it as a laptop for the home, but it is big and heavy and awkward to use on a plane so I sometimes also take an iPad for watching films during the flight. However, I struggle to keep within my hand luggage allowances when I’m flying, and even when I’m just popping up to London for the weekend I’m tired of lugging around my current laptop.
Having looked around, I’ve almost settled on the Surface Pro 4 as a smaller, lighter laptop to take away with me. Being a 2 in 1 laptop (that is to say, it can be used without the keyboard as an android device or with the keyboard as a normal laptop), it should be perfect for watching films or writing articles on a plane. The i5 processor will handle beefy apps like Photoshop with ease. The storage is big enough to temporarily store photos while I’m away, but I’ll be backing them up to my OneDrive account which will then sync with my larger storage capacity Acer laptop when I get home. And it’s a touch screen monitor which I love.
However, with the cost of the keyboard on top, it will come to over £1,000.
Lenovo Ideapad 710S Laptop, Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD, 13.3″ Full HD, Silver
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S Laptop, however, currently costing £699.95 from John Lewis, is a viable alternative coming in at over £400 cheaper! It is slightly bigger but weighs about the same and has the same processor, RAM and storage capacity. No touch screen but I can live without that.
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