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Things I Travel With

As a seasoned traveller, there have been many things I travel with over the years and as technology and advancement get better every day, there are more and more things that a traveller needs nowadays.

Who would have thought that you would need to pack a 4-gang extension cord in your luggage? Yes, that is one of the crucial items I need on my every travel. And I never thought that I would also pack one laptop and one tablet on my travels too. 

This article is just to share with you the current accessories that are required by my as a travel writer and photographer on my regular trips, be it a short trip or a long trip.

Back in the day (about 5 years ago) I used to take one medium-sized luggage on most trips and of course, my most important of all, the universal adapter! Well, those days have since long gone and below are the current items I take with me.

Packing too much for your travels? 

After all, as travel becomes cheaper via flights and accommodation, accessories tend to build up and cost even more.

It used to be so simple to pack my luggage back in the day where else nowadays, I tend to double check on my travel accessories over my clothes. Chargers - check, lenses - check. Clothes - whatever.

To be honest, on one trip, I overlooked my supply of clothes and did not have enough clothes for my last day. 

However, since I was in the city, shopping malls were abundance where I could get some cheap supply of clothes. An extra t-shirt cost me about RM15. (US$5) while a pair of socks cost me only RM5.

My current laptop I use on my travels, light, fast and powerful with the Intel I7 Chip

Travel Laptop 

Now, when I travel and work, I need processing power. I tried using a Samsung Tab 10.1, easy, quite fast, but the feeling is still not there as I prefer to punch into the plastic instead of a glass screen and I always feel comfortable with a mouse in hand.

Also because many of my applications and so on do not quite work on tablets. So, that became my back up. 

Then I have my 15" ASUS Laptop which is my home workstation and also travel companion. On days, it got really heavy, especially when I have to lug it with multiple camera lenses, wires, chargers and whatever else is needed.

So I dealt with it. On planes, it would take up a lot of space and while waiting, it would take time for programs to run, load and so on.

All that is behind me now - Life became so much faster too since I got my hands on my new toy, the Sony Vaio Flip Hybrid Laptop.

I've been using this laptop since early April 2014 and suddenly, everything was different. My work got faster - not because it was a new toy and mind perception, but purely because of the processing power this slim machine had in it.

The machine was running on an Intel Fourth Generation i7 Processor which was beyond my expectations.

In the first few days, I was speechless at how my applications were opening up crazy fast, compared to my ASUS laptop which was running on an Intel 2nd Gen i5 chip. Which was fast when I bought it.

Since my introduction to the personal computer in 1985, I have been an avid follower of the Intel processor chip, starting from back in the days of the classic 32-bit processors on the 386 eras.

Moving along with technology, I gradually kept upgrading my Intel processor chips over the years. My last stop was the Intel i5 2nd generation which I thought was fast enough for my work.

But since playing with the Intel i7 4th Generation Processor, there is no looking back for me now. I can only wait to see what the chipmaker comes out with after this series.

Travel Camera

From my early days in 2001 to about 2007, I used to travel with my Fuji Compact Camera with a maximum 1MP! Wow, I still remember those days like it was yesterday.

You see, I started travelling at an early age since 1988, in the days of film and have been to many places around the world. Back then, all I could think of was travelling the international cities around the world. 

Yes, pre-AirAsia and budget airline days, I flew Malaysia Airlines mostly on premium prices with my Canon film camera and stocks of 36 exposure rolls of film.

When the digital age came about, I willingly converted to a Fuji digital camera. Using that for many years until it was time to go semi-pro and I got myself a Canon 350D DSLR camera.

This was short-lived as it saw a good beating and ended up beyond repair. I then changed to a Nikon D60 which I ended up using for about 4 solid years before moving to a Nikon D5100.

This is currently my current travel camera which has served me good.

Lenses on the other hand can be a chore to carry, especially on travels. Since I travel frequently for mostly work assignments or on familiarization trips, it does not make sense to carry expensive lenses as no matter how safe one travels, things can or may go missing.

So I opted for a low range 55-300mm Nikkor lens and a fixed 35mm lens. They total up to about RM2000 so it is a decent and cheap investment.

For my next camera, I have not really thought about it, but the Nikon D7000 or D7100 does look rather interesting. Maybe a second camera for my travels? This means, more space required.

Traveling gear for 2014 and 2015
Me, my Samsung Galaxy Note II and my Vanguard Travel Backpack at the Great Wall of China

Travel Phone

Those days, we did not need a phone. Remember? (For those born before 1990) Cameras were the essential tool back then. Nowadays, people will go berserk when they forget their phone.

I have even heard stories where someone went to the extent of purchasing a phone in the next country, all because she forgot her smartphone.

As for me, yes, I agree that a smartphone is a crucial tool in today's travel - I personally use a Samsung Galaxy Note II for my everyday use.

The screen is large enough to do some basic email management, run my application and also take photos and video.

Well, on a clear good day that is. The voice recorded is also a great application when taking notes and so on.

Most of all, Google Maps, Waze and the many social media applications are my favourite. 

Somehow or rather, I find tourism apps not really useful as they are most of the time not updated or too complicated, so I do not install those. The flight applications are quite useful I find.

Again, my smartphone needs raw power so the processor needs to be powerful hence getting the Samsung Note II, after trading in my previous 1st generation Samsung Note. Raw power in the means of processing power.

Taking photos, running multiple applications at once and also storage capability. I also remember using the first series of Apple iPhones when it came out end in June 2007. I got a buddy of mine to ship one over from the US a couple of days after the initial launch there.

Most of my friends in Malaysia laughed at me when I used it, they hand a mindset 'Smaller is better' - This was when the generation of phones was getting smaller and sleeker. Look who's laughing now.

On the other hand, I am considering getting the Samsung Galaxy Mega as the screen is super huge. Do not know why, but I feel a larger screen is very practical for me.

But the processing power is no different than what I have, so for now, I will wait and see what comes out in the market next.

Update 2020: I now use a Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus for my travel smartphone and also mostly for all my photography and sometimes videography.

Other Travel Gear

Apart from the two mentioned above, I think smaller gadgets complete my travel gear. No matter what, these gadgets and accessories must be in my travel bag at all times.

My Vanguard Travel Backpack
  • Travel Backpack - I used to use a Vanguard Camera Backpack with a laptop slot but in the long run, that backpack was too bulky and heavy. For some strange reason, I reverted back to an unknown simple laptop backpack. 
  • Tripod - I use an entry-level tripod because in the event I do lose it, it can be replaced easily. Overall, it still serves the purpose. 
  • Power Banks - Very very important, especially when I use my Samsung Note 2 for photos and also updating my Foursquare and Instagram. I have made it compulsory not to log in to Facebook from my phone on travels as it eats up battery life really fast. 
  • Wires, wires and more wires - All those charger wires take up quality space in my bags but, honestly, I absolutely cannot live without them, right? I am sure many of you experience this too. 
  • Adapters and Extension Plugs - Without these, I would instantly die! Especially when you check into a hotel and all you see is one working plug, which is not the Malaysian 3-pin point. A 4-Gang extension cord is also my best friend especially when you have multiple things to charge. Generally, I don't use any brand, just store-bought works fine and serves the purpose. 
Overall, the above is some of my most important travel gear whenever I hit the road. You can read about an article I did for My Travel Bags, highlighting the kind of luggage and bags I use on my travels. 

How I travel most of the time, in rainforest and wilderness

Next on my travel gear, I am planning to buy some lens filters. After attending a talk about travel photography and seeing what these filters can do, I was convinced.

So, I am now in the market for some filters. Prices of these glass pieces are anywhere from RM50 to RM500 or some branded ones even more. Well, I will see how finances are before committing to at least a couple of them.


I am sure many of you travellers out there face similar packing problems like I do, but again, for a vacation, it's different and for assignments, it varies so much. I would love to hear your feedback on the things that you travel with.


Ophelia said...

Hi there David! Interesting article. I have always wondered if I am the only one who is packing too much gadgets in a travel backpack. It seems like we do pack some similar things when we are on assignment. I would normally include my Canon DSLR Camera, powerbank, lenses, flash & diffuser, compact camera, extension, Macbook, phone and camera chargers. Recently I just added monopod and bluetooth shutter to the list. All these can fit inside my Nike backpack. Although my Lowepro camera backpack can provide extra protection to the gadgets, but it is just too heavy and bulky to be carried around. Nowadays I try to reduce the load by packing only standard and 50mm lenses. I never travelled with my iPad as it cannot do as much as a laptop can. Since we move a lot, it is more convenient to carry less weight so that we could enjoy the moment and doing what we love to do.

Malaysia Asia said...

Hi Ophella, thanks for the comment and also a breakdown to your items you travel with. See, you are not alone out there. Nowadays, there's just going to be more and more items packed into the bags.

Recently, I added a External Flash and also a portable Video Light to my collection... sigh...