Gearing Up: Must-Have Technology for Your Summer Travels

Gearing Up: Must-Have Technology for Your Summer Travels

There's nothing quite like the thrill of planning a summer vacation. Whether you're heading to a serene beach with your family or embarking on an adventurous solo trek through the mountains, technology can enhance your travel experience, making it smoother, more enjoyable, and stress-free. Here, I'll share some essential tech tips and gadgets to consider before you pack your bags and head out on your next adventure.

The reason that this is at the top of my mind is that, rather unusually, I traveled more in the last 12 months than I have in the last few years visiting Egypt, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.  These trips were not without their technology challenges, however.

In Egypt, I had to find a battery pack while about to embark on our Nile River cruise.   On the trip to the Dominican Republic, I left my noise-canceling headphones at home which made the 5+ hour trip difficult, the hotel’s Wi-Fi was very spotty internet to the point of uselessness, and my wife’s older model mobile phone lost its charge in the early afternoon, but at least for that trip, I had brought the battery pack.  Due to the nature of hotel WiFi Internet in some of these places, it was somewhat difficult at times to share our experiences in real-time with friends and family back home, or to find local information. After all of these trips, I learned the importance of preparing my tech setup for travel, and I'm here to share those lessons with you.

Mobile Data and Voice Plans

Staying connected while traveling internationally can be challenging. You have two main options: upgrading to an international mobile plan with your current provider or purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival. Each has its pros and cons.

  • International Mobile Plans: These plans from your mobile wireless carrier are convenient because you don't have to worry about finding and buying a local SIM card. However, they can be expensive and may offer limited data.
  • Local SIM Cards: Buying a SIM card or eSIM at your destination is often cheaper and provides more data. The downside is the hassle of locating a store and setting up the new SIM.

Consider your needs and budget before deciding which option is best for you.

Be Prepared for Weak Hotel Internet

Hotel Wi-Fi can be notoriously unreliable. It's always a good idea to have a backup plan. Depending on your mobile data plan can save you from frustration, especially if you need to get some work done or stay connected with loved ones. Additionally, consider bringing a portable hotspot device, which can provide a more stable internet connection.  In the Dominican Republic, when the WiFi didn’t work though , it was OK because we had a chorus of peacocks outside our window to keep us entertained.

Portable Battery Packs

When you're out exploring new places, the last thing you want is for your phone or camera to die. A portable battery pack is a lifesaver for keeping your devices charged throughout the day. Look for a high-capacity battery pack that can charge multiple devices simultaneously. This way, you won't miss capturing any memorable moments due to a dead battery.  You won’t want to do what I did which was to try to locate a battery pack in Aswan, Egypt.  Thank goodness we had a friendly driver who didn’t mind taking us to a souk just before embarking on our Nile River cruise ship! Because of that, we didn’t miss any photos of the pharoah’s tombs or mortuary temples.

VPN for Secure Connections

Using public Wi-Fi networks can expose your personal information to hackers. To protect your data, invest in a reliable VPN (Virtual Private Network) service. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it secure and private. This is especially important if you plan to access sensitive information, such as banking or work emails, while on vacation.

Offline Entertainment

Long flights and layovers can be tedious without entertainment. Before you travel, download movies, podcasts, and music to your devices. This way, you can enjoy your favorite content without having to pay for in-flight internet or relying on potentially unreliable Wi-Fi connections. Services like Netflix, Spotify, and Audible allow you to download content for offline use, making them perfect for travel.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are a game-changer for air travel. They block out the hum of the airplane engine and other ambient noises, allowing you to relax and enjoy your entertainment. I recommend the Apple AirPods Max for their excellent noise cancellation and sound quality.  My wife would have to tap me on the arm as I couldn’t hear her even though she was sitting right next to me.  Other great options include the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can significantly enhance your travel experience.

Laptop Encryption

If you plan to bring your laptop, ensuring it's encrypted is crucial to protect your sensitive data. For Windows laptops, BitLocker is a robust encryption tool, but it's only available on Windows 10 or 11 Pro editions. If you have a Home edition, consider using third-party encryption software like VeraCrypt. For Apple laptops, FileVault is built into macOS and provides full disk encryption, making it an excellent choice for securing your data.

Smart Tags for Tracking

Losing your luggage or personal items can quickly turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. To mitigate this risk, consider using tracking devices like Apple AirTags for iPhone users and Samsung SmartTags for Android users. These small, discreet devices can be placed in your luggage, purse, or backpack, allowing you to track their location using your smartphone. If your belongings are misplaced or stolen, you'll have a much better chance of recovering them quickly.

Travel-Friendly Tech Accessories

A few additional tech accessories can make your travel experience more convenient. A universal travel adapter is essential for keeping your devices charged, no matter where you are in the world. A lightweight and durable laptop sleeve or backpack can protect your electronics from damage. Additionally, bring an adequate number of the correct charging cables and wall-plug charging adapters for your devices. Different countries have different plug types, so ensure you have the appropriate adapters for your destination. Finally, consider bringing a small Bluetooth speaker to enjoy your favorite music or podcasts in your hotel room or rental.

Utilize SOS Features for Safety

Modern smartphones come with built-in SOS features that can be lifesavers in emergencies, especially when you are outside of cell range.

  • Apple iPhones: The SOS feature on iPhones allows you to send a distress message and your location to emergency contacts. To activate it, press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Drag the slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the buttons, the iPhone will automatically call emergency services and send a message to your emergency contacts with your location.
  • Android Phones: Many Android phones have a similar SOS feature, though the exact method can vary by manufacturer. Generally, you can set up emergency SOS in the settings menu, where you can choose to automatically send your location and a distress message to pre-selected contacts when you press the power button multiple times in quick succession.


Preparing the right technology for your summer vacation can make a significant difference in your travel experience. From staying connected with a reliable mobile data plan to ensuring your devices are secure with a VPN and encryption, these tech tips can help you focus on relaxation and adventure. So, pack your bags, charge your gadgets, and get ready for a fantastic summer getaway! Safe travels!