I’m debating whether to buy some things prior to leaving - a nice suitcase and/or backpack, noise cancelling headphones, a Kindle (I’m an avid reader and would love to take several books with me - but love books and have never found the need to have a Kindle since I have lots of space at home for adding to my library), etc. My feeling is that these things would likely enhance my travels but are not strictly necessary, and if the nomad life turns out to not be to my liking then I might’ve wasted some money. Are these items easily acquirable on the road? I’ll be in southeast Asia to begin with…
If you plan to do any kind of dating in sea, I suggest you take kindle with you. They measure how much you like them by how long you are willing to wait. Also cheap, light and unlocked phone with gps and good maps, as backup.
I find noise cancelling headphones essential but I’m very sensitive to peripheral noise. If they are something you’d use when you aren’t travelling, it’s worth spending the money.
I used to use a kindle but now have a tablet with the kindle app. I pretty much use it for all my non-work stuff - music, reading, travel stuff, camera (sometimes), etc.
A Kindle turns out to be the one thing which seems very difficult to find over here, so you may want to get that at home. I love reading and the Kindle is the gadget I use the most. Everything else you mention you can probably find over here.
Got noise cancelling headphones in Bangkok, and they turned out to be a good investment as well.
I would also caution in general against buying things you think you will need, as it turns out you will probably be wrong Rather spend a few months on the road to make sure you really need it.
Personally, I’d get a backpack before you go because you might find limited selection on the road and you don’t want something sucky. you might need to take a few for a test drive before finding the one. You don’t say where you’re from, but if you’re from the US, REI is great for that.
I’d recommend a tablet over a kindle but I’m not a fan of single use items. I read about 200 books a year and my 8" tablet is perfect for that. Again, not knowing where you’re from, it’s hard to advice about where to buy.
Thank you for the tips!
I have resisted getting any kind of e-reader because I love the feel of paper books and also highlight / take notes in everything. Also, aren’t tablets straining for the eyes? I was researching last night and found a study that showed the Kindle was not bad for the eyes due to the “e-ink” technology. In that case I may be tempted, and will definitely get ahead of time…
Thanks! I was thinking the same; at this point, when I’m trying to get rid of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years, the thought of buying things is abhorrent. Good to know I can buy noise cancelling headphones in Bangkok. I’m assuming I can get a backpack somewhere in SEA too; they must have decent luggage stores in Singapore at least, and sporting goods stores in major cities… right?
Yes, the Kindle causes me absolutely no strain on the eyes because of the e-Ink technology. I can spend an entire day reading on it with no adverse effect.
I personally do not like reading on a tablet, but I know people who it does not bother at all - as seems to be the case with @wanderingdev.
As far as highlighting and making notes you can do that on the Kindle devices, as well as on the Kindle app on tablets. Arguably that exercise is going to be much easier on a tablet than on a Kindle device.
I have seen plenty of luggage stores in paces like Bangkok, but I cannot confirm the quality of that. I suggest taking the advise from @wanderingdev on this, as she seems to know better what is available on the road and what not.
All I can say is that my packing requirements have changed once I have been on the road, and I have gotten rid of old equipment and got new equipment which suit my requirements better. So once again, I think it may be best to go with what you’ve got and after experiencing it for 6 months to a year you will know what your requirements are much better.
I have a filter on mine which blocks the blue light which is what bugs the eyes. I also prefer real books and read them when possible but when you average more than a book every other day, carrying that many, let alone finding them, isn’t an option. I would probably prefer reading on a kindle but again, I don’t carry single use devices so that’s why I stick to a tablet.
If you go with the Kindle, consider getting one with free global 3G. Sometimes I’ve been stuck in an airport and wanted something to read, but the airport WiFi was too awkward/expensive to use - the 3G models solve that. I have a Kindle Keyboard 3G & still love it for reading.
That said: I don’t use my Kindle much when travelling. Too busy to read, and if I need it for reference I’ll use the Kindle Mac app. I’ve got myself a Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S-Pen (which I use as a notepad & pen replacement, sync with Evernote), and I’m surprised how often I use the Kindle app on that too. If it’s a choice between a tablet or Kindle, I’d lean towards the tablet, you’ll get more utility for the same size / weight.
Love the Bose QC25 headphones. Even now I’m back home, I use those things every day and they’re one of the best tech purchases I ever made.
A 12,000 mAH USB charger made things so much easier. I could setup my phone as a WiFi access point, plug the phone into the charger & know I’d have all day battery life. A travel USB charger with 3 or 4 USB ports was extremely useful too, but you can probably get that on the road.
Before I departed, I bought a Kindle and thought I would use it to read a lot. It’s been in the backpack for years with me now and I’ve never bothered to recharge it once as I realized I don’t really have time to read and like reading anymore.
I’ve used my Kindle quite a bit while on the road and staying in more remote areas (where there’s not much to do at night). I’ve seemed to get the 3G to work in some really remote areas in Latin America, so I’d recommend paying for that option. It sounds like a tablet might be a good alternative, but I already travel with my laptop (plus the Kindle battery life is great).
I like to make sure I travel with a large backpacker pack and a smaller backpack. I never bring a suite case because I always tend to end up moving around a little and some areas don’t have paved roads. I saw travelers with some newer packs that had a small detachable backpack. That way on busses you can throw the bigger part with your clothes in the bus storage and take the smaller one with all of your tech and expensive stuff on the bus. And when you want to take weekend trips, you can bring your stuff with you in the small pack and leave the rest behind.
A couple other things that I constantly use are my headlamp, unlocked cell phone (to add local sim card), and a good rain jacket. I’ve experienced power outages in remote areas and cities alike in Latin America and the headlamp always comes in handy. I tend to explore the places I visit, so my needs might be different than someone who camps out in a big metropolis like Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo.
I was wondering the same thing before I left the U.S. for SE Asia. I had a Kindle and was looking at Bose noise-canceling headphones but didn’t buy before I left, not sure if they were right for me. Then traveling around a bit (Singapore to Borneo to be specific) I found myself thinking about the Bose again, and found that most electronics (headphones, smartphones, laptops) are sold duty (i.e. tax) free in the international terminal, which makes for a good price. You’re probably not going to pay less than you would at home, but you won’t pay more. So yes, you can buy on the road in my experience. And p.s. the Bose nose-canceling headphones are worth every penny
I find that my noise-cancelling headphones and Kindle/e-reader are indispensable, and it’s possible that you would like the nomadic lifestyle less without them. I personally need the headphones to cope with noisy neighbours and other distractions - I’m not very good at filtering out certain types of noise - and as a person whose life revolves around literature, I’ve got to be reading all the time. Although you can always read from your laptop, if you think you can tolerate this, and tablets are commonly used as e-readers (although I’m not very familiar with tablets). If you just invested in the headphones now and used your laptop/tablet as an e-reader while getting a feeling for the lifestyle, then, even if you decided you didn’t care for it much, you’d still probably be glad to have the headphones. (Don’t stint on them. I’ve got Bose Quiet Comfort and they are worth far more to me than what I paid!)
I’d be lost without my kindle! Get the perfect (for you) backpack before you leave and you’ll not need to think about it again. Headphones (plus spares) are essential. And silicon earplugs - which are not available in many countries. I’ve never used a power bank until this trip - long bus and trains rides mean I’m using it with every journey.
One option if you are undecided about gadgets like a kindle is to ask around your friend network. Some people update to the latest model and have their old stuff sitting around gathering dust. You might find someone happy to offload their old one for a few bucks and, if you decide it’s not for you, you can ditch it without much of a financial investment.
I expected duty free places to be cheaper for electronics while travelling, but found it was actually cheaper for me to buy retail at home. Maybe that’s just a quirk of Australia and our exchange rates at the time. My trick was to go to stores (JB Hi-Fi) that price match and ask for a discount: I got 10% off brand new QC25s just by asking, and was able to price match ~13% off Galaxy Tab A.
+1 for a USB battery pack. This Wirecutter article has detailed info. I’ve found them invaluable. No worries about running out of battery trying to navigate in a new city, no hunting for (and being tied to) power outlets in airports/train stations/etc.
And you can still take the receipts to the airport and get the 10% tax back. I never do though because after the hellish queues at Tullamarine, the last thing I want to do is queue again.