I spent a year travelling the world and reporting on the road for work — here are the gadgets I couldn't have done it without

Harrison Jacobs/Business InsiderPacking was daunting.

Last March, I left New York behind to travel around the world for Business Insider, carrying only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

Packing was daunting.

Not only did I have plans to travel through more than a dozen countries and multiple climates, but I was planning on photographing and reporting along the way. I quickly found that I would need a lot of gear.

By the time I was done packing, half of my suitcase was filled with various gadgets to help me along the way – and that’s not including the gear I kept in my backpack.

As something of a gearhead, I did a lot of research on every item I picked for the trip. While I can’t imagine most travellers would need to carry half of the items I did, everything listed below ended up being useful on my yearlong reporting trip.

Read on to check out what I brought with me and why:


1. Fujifilm X-T3 ($US1,499)

Fujifilm

I’ve been a major Fujifilm aficionado going back to when I only shot film as a teenager. I started buying their digital cameras when the Fuji X100 came out in 2011 and have since worked my way through the Fuji X-T2 and now the Fuji X-T3.

The Fuji X-T3 is a workhorse camera that can do just about anything you want while staying compact enough to carry on long trips. I now carry three lenses with me: Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4, Fujinon XF 56mm F1.2, and Fujinon XF Zoom 16-55mm F/2.8.

I could have used a longer zoom lens on safari, but that kit has covered everything else, from photographing falcon trainers in Abu Dhabi to riding camels in the Sahara.


2. Sony Cybershot RX100 Mark V ($US857)

Sony

As lightweight as the Fujifilm X-T3 is, you can’t bring it everywhere. When I need something ultracompact without compromising performance too much, I pull out my Sony Cybershot RX100 Mark V.

It’s a point-and-shoot camera that can fit in my pocket and has a sensor that rivals some full-sized cameras.


3. MacBook Pro 13 Inch ($US1,099)

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

I’ve been using MacBook Pros for over a decade and I doubt it will change any time soon. The computers are light and durable – exactly what you want in a laptop that you have on the on-the-road all the time. My Macbook Pro 2017 could be a bit faster and have a larger hard drive, but these are the compromises you make for an Apple device.


4. HYPER Hyperdrive USB-C Hub ($US98)

The Achilles Heel of the new MacBook Pros, however, is a lack of ports. My 2017 Macbook Pro has only two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. While I’ve grown to appreciate how versatile USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are, at the end of the day, I still need to be able to plug in SD cards from my camera or occasionally use an HDMI cable.

Enter the dongle. The HYPER Hyperdrive is the slickest and most useful USB-C hub I’ve found on the market. It packs in an ethernet jack, an SD card reader, 2 USB-A ports, an HDMI, and more with a single cable.


5. 3 Legged Thing Equinox Leo Tripod ($US349)

3 Legged Thing

I knew I needed a tripod for nighttime and dark indoor photoshoots. After much research, I settled on the 3 Legged Thing Equinox Leo.

It’s a bit pricey, but it makes up for it in features. It folds up to only 16 inches, is made of lightweight but strong carbon fibre, and one of the legs detaches as a monopod. It fits perfectly in my carry-on suitcase.


6. Godox V860II Speedlight ($US179) + XProF Wireless Flash Trigger ($US69)

Flashes and speedlights from major camera manufacturers like Canon or Nikon can easily top $US500 or more. Godox makes full-featured flashes and speedlights for a fraction of the price. The V860IIF is their newest flash offering and it’s been very well reviewed by smarter people than me.

I added XProF wireless flash trigger so that I could trigger the speedlight when it is away from my camera.


7. Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L ($US289)

Peak Design

I’m something of a nut for both camera bags and organisation, so it’s little surprise that Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack was a must-purchase for me.

The interior of the Everyday Backpack is divided into three “shelves,” which allows you to load it up in whatever configuration makes the most sense for you. I usually keep my lens and flashes on the bottom shelf, my cables and chargers bag in the center shelf, and my cameras and other essentials in the top shelf. The bag is also loaded with quick-grab pockets for pens and notebooks and a slot for your laptop.

I can’t speak highly enough about the backpack.


8. Peak Design Capture ($US69)

Peak Design

Peak Design’s first product and its first Kickstarter campaign was for the Capture, a nifty contraption that slides onto your backpack strap and lets you hook your camera onto it securely so it doesn’t bounce around.

I was a bit sceptical when I first bought it, but I found myself using it constantly. It’s incredible for hiking or even just walking around a city with your camera. Rather than my camera constantly banging against doors or trees, it sits securely on my chest, and I just have to unclip it to take a photo.


9. OnePlus 6T ($US579)

Antonio VIllas-Boas/Business Insider

I switched from iOS to Android last fall. After much soul-searching, and some help from my colleague Antonio Villas-Boas, I picked up the OnePlus 6T, which Villas-Boas called “the best smartphone you’ve never heard of.”

After many months with the phone, I have to agree with the reviewers: The OnePlus 6T is that good. It’s fast, has most of the same premium features as pricier phones like the iPhone X and the Pixel do, and even carries some spiffy new tech, like its in-display fingerprint sensor.


10. 8Bitdo Zero ($US18)

8Bitdo

With my switch to Android, I started doing more gaming on my smartphone. After getting tired of using touchscreen controls, I purchased a Zero controller by 8Bitdo, a company that specialises in making small, Bluetooth retro-styled video game controllers.

The Zero is tiny – about the size of a few quarters, but it’s surprisingly comfortable for such a small device. It’s perfect for quick gaming sessions on a plane or a train.


11. Zoom H1N handy audio recorder ($US105)

Zoom

I used to use my smartphone voice memos app to record all of my interviews, but after a few incidents where the phone shut off mid-recording, I realised that I had to get a dedicated audio recorder.

The Zoom H1n is a robust enough recorder that it can handle recording high-quality audio for video segments or podcasts.


12. Universal Travel Adaptor ($US11)

Amazon

A lot of travel bloggers will tell you to not bother with carrying a travel adaptor these days as most hotels will have them on hand. I stay in too many Airbnbs to not carry one.

These days, you can buy one universal adaptor that will cover every outlet in the worldand get two USB plugs as well. Now, rather than carrying smartphone charging bricks, I just use the universal adaptor.


13. Sandisk 2TB Extreme Portable SSD ($US361)

Sandisk

Thanks to one bad jolt halfway through my trip, my external hard drive failed and I lost three months’ worth of photos, interviews, and videos. It was a nightmare that I was determined to never repeat.

To that end, I bought a 2 Terabyte Sandisk Extreme SSD for $US400 on sale. I opted for the Sandisk because it’s a solid-state drive that’s faster and more reliable than a traditional drive, it’s water and shock resistant, and it’s the size of a business card. Seriously, it’s tiny.


14. Lacie Rugged 5TB Thunderbolt USB-C Hard Drive

Lacie

OK, I probably went a little backup hard drive insane, but you would too after losing so much important work. For a second backup hard drive, I bought a hard drive from LaCie, a well-reviewed French hard drive manufacturer. LaCie’s Rugged hard drives come encased in an aluminium shell with thick orange bumpers along the edges. They are considered to be drop, shock, crush, dust, and water resistant.

At $US250 for the 5TB version, it was a little more than half the price of the SanDisk, but with more than double the storage capacity and strong durability.


15. JBL Clip 3 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker ($US40)

JBL

I didn’t bring a Bluetooth speaker on the first half of my trip, and I seriously missed blasting music any time I was in my hotel room, on a beach, or just hanging out.

I bought the JBL Clip 3 because it’s one of the smallest Bluetooth speakers on the market without compromising sound. This speaker has some real oomph despite its size.


16. ZMI USB-C Powerbank ($US70)

ZMI

I started the year as a major USB-C sceptic. I’m finishing it as an evangelist. One of the best parts about USB-C is its versatility and universality. I can use the same USB-C powerbank to charge both my MacBook Pro and my OnePlus 6T with a single cable.

Having the ZMI USB-C Powerbank, which can fully replenish my MacBook Pro’s battery, has been a lifesaver on my trip more times than I can count.


17. Bagsmart Double-Layer Travel Organiser ($US25)

Trust me when I say, a toiletry bag for your technology is quite possibly the greatest travel purchase you will ever make. I spent six months trying to keep track of my various chargers and cables across my suitcase, backpack, and Ziploc bags. No wonder things were getting misplaced.

Then I pulled the trigger on the Bagsmart Double-Layer Travel Organiser for $US25. It works like your regular toiletries bag, but for your devices. I packed it with all my travel adapters, cables, chargers, devices, and accessories.


18. Serman Brands RFID-Blocking Travel Wallet ($US30)

Serman Brands

When my ratty wallet finally bit the dust, I started looking for something slim and convenient. I opted for the Serman Brands RFID-Blocking Travel Wallet.

The wallet blocks potential identity thieves from swiping your details off your credit cards. But the biggest selling point for me was the variety of nifty features, like a hot-card slot for your most-used card on the outside of the wallet, a money clip in the middle, and a pull-tab on the other side for another highly used card.


19. OnePlus Bullets Wireless ($US69)

OnePlus

On my first six months of travel, I brought a bulky pair of over-the-ear headphones that I barely used. They were simply too big to use on anything other than long plane rides and I often just left them in my suitcase.

When I was purchasing the OnePlus 6T, I discovered that they also make excellent and reasonably priced Bluetooth earbuds. They aren’t quite as sleek as AirPods, but the sound quality is solid and they are very comfortable.


20. Kindle Paperwhite ($US130)

Amazon

I love reading on sliced up dead trees covered in ink, but carrying old-fashioned books is near impossible on a long trip. As far as e-readers go, it doesn’t get much better than the Kindle Paperwhite, which is compact, light, sharp, and backlit. It almost makes me not want to go back to reading physical books when I stop travelling.


21. Away Bigger Carry-On Suitcase ($US245)

Away

When I first started travelling last March, I bought TravelPro MAXLITE 21″ Expandable Carry-On Spinner. TravelPro is the brand you’ll see flight attendants and pilots using, so I figured it must be good. Fast-forward six weeks and it was already broken.

I decided to take a chance on the much pricier carry-on suitcases by Away, the direct-to-consumer luggage startup that all travel Instagrammers seem to use. After four months of use, I can say I understand why. It’s very durable, compact, smartly designed, and even has a built-in portable charger. It’s the first suitcase I’m actually excited to pack in.

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