Towards the beginning of this year, I jetted off to Mexico to spend just under 5 months solo backpacking through Central and South America. Figuring out what to take with me was no easy feat, but eventually, I made my decisions and off I went.
Thankfully, I chose pretty wisely, especially when it came to which devices I took along with me and which I reluctantly left at home. Now looking back, there are 5 tech essentials that I was very grateful to have packed.
1. A cheap smartphone
Day-to-day the most essential bit of kit I took with me was a phone. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided not to take an expensive flagship device. Sure, the best phones will have the best camera system to snap all my memories on, but because I was travelling for such a long time I was concerned about losing, breaking or someone stealing my smartphone especially because I was going it alone. As it turns out, taking a cheap phone travelling was one of my best decisions.
I took the Oppo Find X5 Lite, an Android device that costs less than £500 to buy and it proved to be a fantastic choice for travel - the battery lasted me more than a day, it charged in only 30 minutes, it's a perfect size and the camera was able to capture good quality photos for the most part. Admittedly it had its faults, though overall I was really pleased with it.
2. True wireless earbuds
An absolute must-have for any trip away is a good pair of headphones with ANC built-in, they're crucial for long bus journeys and flights, they came in handy for streaming Netflix in the evening and they kept me motivated through solo hikes.
Because I was travelling for so long, I didn't want to take my bulky over-ear headphones so instead I took a tiny pair of true wireless earbuds - the Marshall Motif ANC. While they don't quite match up to the best true wireless earbuds, they did a good enough job because they sound great, they're rugged enough not to get damaged along the way and they're water resistant.
3. A Kindle
While I was away backpacking, I fell back in love with my Kindle. In fact, I used it constantly. It kept me entertained on countless beaches, busy by a few poolsides and occupied in the occasional quiet hostel.
I took the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, which is my favourite e-reader because you get a 6.8-inch screen, weeks upon weeks of battery life, auto-adjusting light sensors and it's waterproof too. Having said that, I would have gotten by fine with a less pricey model like the Kindle Paperwhite or even the standard Kindle.
4. Portable charger
Luckily, the phone I took with me rarely needed charging during the day, but even so, there were times when I was grateful for my portable charger. I didn't just use it for my phone either, I actually used it for almost every device on this list.
My chosen charger was the Anker PowerCore Essential for the simple reason that it was cheap and compact. While there are much better options out there, the best portable chargers cost a fair amount of money. This one worked perfectly fine, charging my phone a few times before running out of juice.
5. Fitbit Versa 3
The best Fitbit may not have been the most essential device I took with me, but it was nice to have. Obviously, I used it to keep track of the time without having to fumble around for my phone, but it also came in handy for step-tracking, controlling Spotify as well and for contactless payments. I use the Fitbit Versa 3, which is pretty good value - it features built-in GPS tracking, voice assistant support and a heart rate monitor.