Essential travel tools for 2015

Essential travel tools for 2015

Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Put away the lonely planet and arm yourself with a smartphone. The world is changing quickly especially technology. Technology is making a positive impact on the everyday traveler allowing you a great amount of travel independence. I don’t believe technology is a substitute for asking people questions, but they sure work well together. Being a seasoned traveler here is my 2013 list of essential travel tools

Unlocked smart phone

When I spent $900 Canadian for my iphone 4s I didn’t get to fully enjoy the benefits until I started traveling to countries like Taipei, Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Singapore, and Australia. The unlocked smartphone opens the door to so many benefits to you as a traveler. First, in most countries you can purchase a prepaid sim card at the airport ,which provides you access to a local phone number, sms capability and fast internet access. I refer to fast internet as 3G or higher. As a traveler you now have access to your google maps meaning you have hardly any excuse to get lost. Google maps now has audio GPS capability making your smartphone a functional gps. Plans typically range from $15-30 US for 500MB – 1GB depending on the country and some value for SMS and phone calls. Some other benefits:

  • Local phone calls without worrying about unexpected surprises with a monthly bill.  For most countries you can check the value on your sim in real-time by sending out an SMS message. You can also increase the value if  you run out ( also known as topping up) at convenience stores or a local branch at the mall
  • Smartphone Apps – finding the right app can add so much value to your everyday life and travel too. For example the XE currency app will allow you add numerous apps and convert prices for you on the fly and includes a calculator.

    essential travel tools for 2013
    an unlocked smartphone is an essential tool today
US Cash

this currency is one of the most portable and accepted in the world. If you have an opportunity to get a good rate get as much as you can. I’ve received excellent exchange rates on US in countries like South Africa, Australia, and Singapore that are better than drawing out money through debit.


This depends on your needs. A well stocked ipad with movies, games, and electronic books gives you a portable way to pass your time on those long flights. You can also jot down notes, and use it to surf the web on a larger screen. If you are a travel blogger, serious videographer or photographer, or a professional that can do work using the internet a laptop is an essential tool. If you are taking plenty of photos and videos you can save it your laptop’s hard drive to free up your memory cards. You can take it a step further and bring a portal hard drive or memory stick to back up those memories.

essential travel tools for 2013
a tablet like an ipad is great for portable entertainment on the plane
essential travel tools for 2013
A thermos container can keep your cold water cold or your hot beverage hot.
Thermos Mug

A thermos mug is a container that features special technology that keeps your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. You can use it keep hot teas when you are cold, cold drinks in hot weather, or use it to store your favorite beverage whatever it may be, If you are traveling in a country that offers free filtered that means you just fill up your container and save yourself some money

essential travel tools for 2013
a portable usb charger can give your smart phone an emergency charge while you’re out
Smart phone portable charger

Think of these as portable batteries that can charge your smartphone if you need to charge it up while on the go. Best of all these devices can be used for most USB devices. If you will be doing driving during your trip I recommend getting a USB charger for the cigarette lighter.


If you serious about travel you will get an SLR camera with a good versatile lens. The quality of the photos and video gives you access to create and capture memories like never before.  There are modern action camera’s like the go pro 3 that can capture video in the highest resolutions that are slow motion friendly (1080P 60 frames per second).  The camera’s have also begun to feature wifi and a smartphone app. This allows you connect your smartphone to your camera and do things like take a remote picture, and download it your phone and upload it to a social media site in minutes. I can write an entire article on this topic. For now I recommend a camera has high definition video capabilities, supports detachable lens, and getting a tripod.

Hardside luggage

These suitcases are made of a light durable plastic with four wheels. The suitcases are so light and will protect your luggage well. The four wheels will allow you to move the suitcase smoothly while keeping it upright allowing you to put more luggage on top of it. They also offer a pull out handle to easily pull your luggage. With almost all airlines charging by weight this case can provide long term convenience and savings.


This website is like Wikipedia for but travel. If you are traveling on the go and need essential travel information like how to get around and what to see and do then do a google search for the city you are in and append wikivoyage to it. For example “Kuala Lumpur Wikivoyage”. I believe travel guides like Lonely planet are useful as reference guides, but when you are on the go I find the wikivoyage to be more practical and useful. Best of all it is free. Check it out here.

Trip Advisor

This user generated content sites has been consistently helpful when traveling to countries like Turks & Caicos, Beijing, Bali, and more. Trip advisor does shine if you know the name of the business or activity for your destination. The value you get is the opinion your form form reading multiple reviews especially recent reviews that are written by travelers. Look at the reviewer’s credentials. Have they written many reviews and how descriptive are their reviews?  Be sure to do your part and contribute to the community by writing your own reviews. I like to read travel guides and the travel wiki to get an overview on the country and area I want to stay. When I zone in more detail that is when I find trip advisor can be another reference to confirm how good a hotel or a tour operator is.

Google Translate

I’ve recently arrived in Taipei, Taiwan to live and learn Mandarin. It is a reminder that we cannot expect people at every destination to speak english. When you have run out of sign language to communicate and don’t want to phone a friend for help you can rely on google translate to come to the rescue.  With support for 72 languages you can download the app and enter in a any word or phrase and have it instantly translated. Better yet you can press a button and have the software read out the word for you so you know how to pronounce and practice it. Just don’t turn up the volume to loud if you are easily embarrassed.


This app is essential for looking up words in English or Chinese to find the translation. The most powerful took is the OCR add on to give you the capability to translate Chinese to English!


This app and website is an alternative to hotels that you can hire from local people. You can rent you short-term or longer term from a local apartment to a private room. I lived in Australia for 2 months using Airbnb’s and had a great experience living with locals like a local. Some hosts provide travel guides and even pick you up for the airport providing extras that hotels can’t offer.

Any there any there tools that you can suggest that are must haves for you??