My 4 must-have travel gadgets for staying organized on the road

The right gadgets and gear can take the headache out of traveling.

The right gadgets and gear can take the headache out of traveling.

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Some people can travel light. I’m one of those people — until I add laptops, tablets, cameras, drones, action cameras, and chargers to the equation. The few clothes I carry end up serving as padding for all that tech.

Staying organized and not losing stuff becomes a priority, and I’ve found that a smattering of gadgets and gear can mean the difference between remaining pleasantly organized and descending into utter chaos.

Also: The best travel gadgets, according to tech and travel experts

I’m getting ready to travel today, and since it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I’d outline the bits of kit that make all the difference. 

1. The right bags

A decent waterproof roller duffel bag eliminates the worry your stuff is going to get soaked.

A decent waterproof roller duffel bag eliminates the worry your stuff is going to get soaked.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

My grandfather had a saying: a place for everything, and everything in its place. I find this advice to be vital when traveling.

Also: The 8 devices I always take on work trips

Bags are pretty personal things, so I’m going to make some general recommendations.

  • Waterproof roller duffel bags: These eliminate all my worries about things getting soggy, and give me the option of carrying or rolling my gear. They come in a variety of sizes, from tiny to huge, to suit how light (or heavy) you travel.
  • Sling bags: Perfect for drones and cameras. I find these much more comfortable than rucksacks. You can swing the bag to the front to get at things without removing it.
  • Shoulder bags: Ideal for small day trips or when traveling with a laptop.

2. Apple AirTags

Apple AirTags are an essential part of my travel kit.

Apple AirTags are an essential part of my travel kit.

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Apple AirTags are lifesavers, and I have them liberally sprinkled about the place. There’s one on my keys, another custom one modified for my wallet, and some hidden in bags. (Don’t leave them in plain sight because the bad guys are looking out for them.)

Also: I built a custom AirTag that Apple will hate me for (and how you can do it, too)

I recommend picking up a 4-pack of AirTags as that works out a lot cheaper than buying them individually.

If you’re in the Android ecosystem, then I highly recommend Samsung’s SmartTag+ or Tile.

3. Glow tags

GTLS -- gaseous tritium light sources -- make great tags for finding things in the dark, and will glow for over a decade with no external power source.

GTLS — gaseous tritium light sources — make great tags for finding things in the dark, and will glow for over a decade with no external power source.

stock.adobe.com

You wouldn’t believe how handy it is to have little glow tags to help you find things in the bottom of bags, or to locate your charger or power bank in a dark hotel room.

There are two types to choose from:

If you’re handy with a 3D printer, and you don’t mind mixing glow-in-the-dark strontium aluminate with epoxy, you can make your own custom glow tags.

4. Keychain flashlight

I find a keychain light to be indispensable.

I find a keychain light to be indispensable.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

These are handy for everything — from when your hotel room lights suddenly go out to digging around in your bag for things. My all-time favorite is the Nitecore GITD — it’s super-bright, easily recharged via USB, and can be used to spot fake paper currency.

I know we’re all supposed to use the flashlight on our phones, but this is a good backup for when the battery is getting low, or you need a tiny light that you can hold in your teeth.


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