These days, there’s more to travelling than getting up, going, reaching and coming back. You also need to do the shooting, blogging, uploading, Facebook updating and other Web 2.0 type things. So, the next time you decide to rough it up a Himalayan trail, retrace one of Dalrymple’s merry tomes or traipse around some Roman ruins, make sure you’re well equipped with these essential travel gizmos:
Great not just for planning your trip but also for getting yourself out of a tight spot in the middle of a jungle or an eastern European city where everyone “no speak English”. The Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx, recently reviewed in Lounge (12 April), is a good package at Rs34,580 plus taxes and comes with a base map of India and a 1GB MicroSD card. Other countries can be downloaded at www.garmin.com, starting from $110 (around Rs4,400) per map. Visit www.gpsindia.net for additional information.
Victorinox Swiss army knife
This multifunction knife can be an indispensable lifesaver (read: bottle opener). Medium-sized models such as the Camper and Huntsman have the
requisite essentials such as a corkscrew, can opener and scissors. Always go for the original: They will easily outlive you and several subsequent generations. The basic Sportsman model starts at around Rs600. Available at Victorinox outlets across India.
Red cross: Basic Victorinox models are good value.
The latest overpriced Mp3 player from the house of Apple can help pass the tedious bus journey to your campsite. Justify it to yourself by carrying audio guides of your destination, available online for free. The British tourism site, www.visitbritain.com, has helpful audio guides to many places in the UK, while the comprehensive www.iaudioguide.com includes far-flung destinations such as Granada, Salamanca, and Rotterdam. Culture vultures can download guides to museums, exhibits and historical sites at www.acoustiguide.com.
A tiny laptop
A new range of ultralight laptops means never knowing the pain of lugging along a 3”-thick monster with power cords and bulky bag in tow. The ASUS Eee PC is small, cheap, does its job well and comes with a small overall footprint. Buy one now or wait a bit: There are rumours of upgrades. Available at Croma outlets and Electronics Bazaar in white and black for around Rs17,000.
U3 pen drive
If a laptop is too big an investment, then snag a U3 enabled pen drive from Sandisk. The U3 system lets you install programs such as browsers and email clients that run right off the stick. Walk into any Internet cafe, plug it in and you have instant access to bookmarks, blog drafts, photos and emails, even if the host PC has nothing but Internet Explorer. Available on www.ebay.com, starting from Rs1,350 for a 4GB stick. Visit www.u3.com to download additional software.
Fought off a hulking mountain bear using your bare hands and a Swiss army knife? Blog about it! While speeding away in your getaway caravan! The USB stick
from Tata Indicom has broad connectivity within India; when abroad, visit www.jiwire.com to search through a database of Wi-Fi hot spots in 135 countries. Available at Tata Indicom outlets everywhere for Rs2,499 per stick plus browsing charges (up to Rs1,000 a month).
Life saver: (clockwise from top right) A U3 pen drive; an ASUS Eee PC; world adapters; and a GPS receiver system.
Mobile water purifier
Travelling is tremendous fun. Explosive dysentery is not. And, there is little chance you will find a Big Bazaar in the middle of that dirt track in Ladakh. So, you might want to carry a mobile water-purifying pen with you. Get a glass of water, leave the pen in for about a minute and then drink away. Most models require batteries, but there are solar-powered versions, too. Available at www.steripen.com, starting from $80 (around Rs3,200) per pen.
Global power adapter
Different countries mean different cultures, different customs and puzzling power plug configurations. Do not leave home without a global power plug adapter. Unless you like radio silence, dead cellphones and using your laptop two minutes at a time to save battery juice. Available at electrical shops everywhere. You can get good quality TravelPac global adapters that work in more than 150 countries on www.ebay.in for Rs1,200 each.