When you’re planning long term travel, it means that inevitably, you’re going to be bringing a gadget or two alone with you. At bare minimum, it’s probably going to be your cell phone. However, depending what your goals are while abroad, you might plan on a lot more.
We knew we wanted to film our entire trip, so we basically took a studio with us. Think “more tech, less t shirts”.
So without further ado, this is all the tech we brought along on our year long trip along along with why. (And yes, this is way too many electronics. It’s nonsense, and a lot of things were sent home along the way.)
[Videos are more fun. You can watch this content below... or... if you're at work, shhhh we won't tell]
Winner of the Cheap, Simple, and Best Gadget if You're Going to Buy Anything on This Page award...
Kikkerland Universal Electric Travel Adapter- We lucked out and chose the best electric socket adapters. Sounds like a really simple thing to shop for but the crazy amount of options makes it super convoluted and overly complicated. Here is what's great about these travel adapters-modern electronics have chargers that help regulate the power they are getting. In the past, you needed an actual voltage converter so you didn't ruin your gadgets. Now, most (if not at all) charging cords have that feature built into them. That meant we were able to charge our drone, laptops, iPhones, and cameras everywhere from New Zealand to Vietnam to Cyprus using only these VERY simple adapters. Buy It Here.
GoPro & GoPro Accessories
GoPro Hero4 Black- Bought on the road because our GoPro Hero3 started acting wonky. We chose the Hero 4 Black because the recording specs (resolution and frame rate) are higher than that of the Silver. The Silver however has a LCD screen so you can more easily see what you're recording. It really comes down to preference. As this was written in 2017, the Hero 5 is now available, but we're still very happy with the performance and improved battery life of the Hero4. Buy It Here
GoPro Hero3- We've had this camera since it was released. While it still occasionally acts up in the heat, we can't complain about the longevity of the camera. We used it daily and beat the piss out of it for a couple years and now its our “stunt” camera. That means that the if we need to do any shot where there is a decent chance of losing the camera forever or damaging it, we'll pull out the good old Hero3. Buy It Here
GoPro Chesty- I fought bringing this the whole time. It’s bulky. You look stupid wearing it. It's hot. However, if you can suck it up, it makes for great POV shots on a motorcycle/scooter as well as when you’re hiking. Downside? You have to be that guy wearing a chesty. Buy It Here.
Feiyu Tech G4-QD 3-Axis Gimbal - One piece of tech we wish we had from the beginning of the trip. Read more about it here. Watch our video review here. If you don't buy this specific gimbal, do yourself a huge favor, and at least get a gimbal. A complete gamechanger and surefire way to better footage. Buy It Here.
Movo External Microphone for GoPro- Exactly what it sounds like- a small microphone that attaches to GoPro via mini USB. The sound is EONS better than the standard internal mic on the GoPro. We also picked up some fuzzy windscreens to eliminate wind noise. Buy It Here.
GoPro 3 Way Mount- A bit of a dilemma here... the GoPro branded three way mount is WAY too expensive at $60. Plus, if you lost a screw for it, they give you a hell of a time to just order a new one. (We managed to lose two screws). On the plus side, the mount is built tough and stood up to plenty of abuse. On the plus PLUS side, there is a great knockoff version for less than $20. Buy the way overpriced version here. Buy the cheap version by searching for "generic gopro 3 way mount" on eBay.
GoPro Dive Housing Case- An absolute must have. The waterproof case made it an easy decision to bring the Hero3 or Hero4 with us everywhere. A waterproof case is necessary, especially if your travels take you to South East Asia where if its not raining, you're likely playing in water in the jungle, at the beach or in a pool. Buy It Here.
GoPro Orange Floaty- If you’re using a GoPro in its waterproof case, you might as well have the orange floaty attached so that when you inevitably drop it, its not gone forever. For example, if you were on a sailboat island hopping trip in Thailand and your name was Allison, you could very well mistakenly drop a GoPro without a floaty in 25 feet of water and just hope your husband is a skilled enough free diver to retrieve it. Buy It Here.
Drone & Drone Accessories
Drone Carrying Bag- I've written about this bag at length. It's ugly as hell. I hate looking at it. It also did a tremendously great job of protecting our drone during its 10 months on the road. It wasn't amazing comfortable to hike all day in, but then again, what drone bag is. Read more about it here. Buy this stupid bag here. Or don't-it's stupid.
Phantom 3 Professional- Back in my day, when you wanted to travel the world with a drone, you took this huge ass one with you because ya didn't really have a choice. These days there are more choices than ever. However, at the time of writing, GoPro has recalled all their Karma drones because they kept falling out of the sky and Kickstarter projects like Lilly have been canceled. If I had $1k burning a hole in my pocket I'd probably go pick up a DJI Mavic. However, I still love our Phantom 3 Pro and they can be picked up for less than half of what I originally paid. Buy It Here.
PolarPro DJI Phantom 3 Lens Filter- When it comes to shooting pretty video, we're about as knowledgeable as a couple monkeys smashing rocks together. Really. If you've ever seen anything pretty on our site or videos, its completely by mistake. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. We quickly discovered that filming with the drone without a lens filter on it led to consistently over exposed footage. We also learned that if we shot in AUTO mode that our footage would end up changing color as we moved about. The only solution was to buy a set of filters for new light conditions and then shoot in MANUAL mode. If you're buying a drone, buy some filters. There is no real way around it. We like the screw on filters as we lost the slip on ones before during a flight. Buy It Here.
Tools for Phantom 3- I brought along assorted electronics screwdrivers that fit my Phantom. You might want to do a bit of research to find out what size and shape of driver head you will need if you need to do repairs in the field.
iPad Mini 2: We had a friend deliver this to us while abroad because it was just too difficult to fly the drone using the tiny screen on our phones. iPhone 5 doesn’t work with the Phantom 3, and even the iPhone 6 was incredibly difficult to use. An upgrade to an iPad Mini 2 let me more easily see any sort of obstacles that could cause mid air disasters, including wires and angry seagulls. I’d say it paid for itself ten times over by helping me avoid what would have been some amazing crashes. Buy it Here. Watch my drone fall out of the sky here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBRdHF1s0Go
Other Cameras & Camera Equipment
Samsung NX2000 Mirrorless Camera- We wanted a still camera that was better than what our phones were packing. This was more compact than a DSLR, was easy enough for us camera newbies to operate well, and shot decent video for us. Would recommend an alternative option though, as despite having an accessory shoe, Samsung no longer sells a compatible external mic for this camera. Buy It Here.
Canon Vixia HF G10 Camcorder- While obviously higher quality footage than shooting video on an iphone we were a bit more concerned with how it would stand up to a daily beating of hiking, surprise rain storms, and driving down rough roads. That, mixed with zero space left in the day bag We mailed this home 2 months into the trip and now just use it for shooting videos inside. Buy It Here.
Telephoto Lens- (compatible with Samsung NX2000) We brought this with us, only to quickly determine that we didn’t need it. This lens takes beautiful pictures, but we found ourselves constantly conflicted on whether it was worth throwing in our day bag.. We needed the shorter lens to film most of the time, and between the Samsung still camera, a GoPro, a drone, and an external battery pack, the telephoto lens just seldom seemed like it was worth carrying along. We could see how anyone who was really into still photography wouldn’t leave home without it though. Don't buy one.
Tripod: A $20 impulse purchase at an electronic store in Vietnam was carried with us for the rest of the trip. Mostly used so that we could shoot product review videos during our motorbike trip. The other thing that it ended up being used for was time lapse photos with the Time Lapse accessory attached (below).
Timelapse/Panoramic Camera Mount- Basically a glorified egg timer that you mount your camera, GoPro, or iPhone on. You can then shoot a timelapse while you get a smooth rotation of the camera. Allison found hers on Amazon for less than $20. Initially skeptical on bringing such a single purchase gadget, I think the shots that we ended up getting with it made it well worth it. Buy It Here.
iPhone 6- Allison's phone (but really an additional camera). High quality video and the ability to do slow-mo. Also, used to fly the drone for the first half of the trip. Amazingly, it never had a battery above 50% the entire trip but that might have been (definitely was) user-error. Due to an American Telephone contract this phone could not be unlocked, leaving us with only Tim's phone (below) to add a SIM card to. You already own one of these.
Iphone external Mic- Used with a deadcat so that we could record audio that didn’t sound like steaming garbage. You can only film so much before you get fed up with wind noise over your interesting banter. Buy It Here.
Other Tech Items
Iphone 5- Tims iPhone. Old enough to be out of contract so it was unlocked. That meant we could pick up cheap SIM cards overseas. You don’t get any magic points for making travel hard on yourself, and the ability to at least use the internet let alone make a call while you’re out doing daily activities is even more valuable when abroad than at home. You already own one of these.
Otterbox for Iphone 5- Tim loves to drop his phone. Loves it! But at least he can admit it. Though an otterbox can be clunky, it offers great fall protection and makes it at least a little water resistant for that unplanned rainstorm you’ll get caught in. Buy It Here.
Lenovo Yoga Pro- Bought on ebay used. These things were easily one of the best choices we made for our trip. Inexpensive enough that it wouldn’t be devastating if one was lost or destroyed. Really lightweight, compact, and powerful enough to edit video. Also, as someone who thought touch screen laptops were stupid...the touch screens turned out awesome. This is what we edit all of our video on. They are also awesome on the airplane/bus/train/ferry because they rotate around for different tablet-style screen use. Check out our full laptop article if you're looking for more info.
Earbuds- You can listen to stuff, or use them to not pretend you’re somewhere else. Don’t bring your $100 Beats earbuds. Bring cheap ones-you can pick up a new pair almost anywhere. You already own these.
Headphone-splitter- A must if you’re traveling with someone else. Also a great way to make friends on planes and trains. In our specific case, Allison hates to charge her phone and computer, so she was always VERY interested in whatever movie I might be watching during our longer flights. Buy It Here.
Small USB Battery Pack- You know you’re gonna need some power because someone always forgets to charge the cameras. Buy It Here.
Big-ass USB Battery Pack- You’ll probably need even more power because someone always forgets to charge the cameras. Or their phone. Or the GoPro. Just don't forget to charge THIS. Buy It Here.
Shitty day bag- Lumping this in here with electronics- Don’t carry your things around in brand new, electronic manufacturer branded bags. You aren't doing yourself favors by letting everyone know you have a Canon DSLR in a Canon speciality backpack. Bring a cheap day bag or buy a crap looking knockoff while abroad. Try your best to not advertise how much money is sitting in your backpack. Also, two straps, so that any would be thiefs can’t simply yank it off a shoulder. Go look in a dumpster.
Bestek Power Inverter- Yes. Tim lugged this stupid thing around the world for almost a year, just so we could have it to use for a two week road trip in Europe and then 6 weeks in New Zealand. He stands by his decision. We were able to charge a laptop, a drone battery, and two USB devices at the same time. This thing was built to withstand abuse and we’re still using it in our car back home to run crock pots at football tailgates. Buy It Here.
Travel curling iron- Seemed like a great idea, but never ended up using it. Allison mailed it home after 5 months and never touched it once. Don't Buy One. Seriously.