Let’s be clear: explorers have been travelling around the world for decades without any piece of electronics. Not only is it possible it can also allow you being more open and attentive to your environment as you will need to rely on the “basic information channels”: asking people.
But let’s also acknowledge that we are a tech generation; some more addicted than others, but we are all happy to be able to share our experiences with family and friends, to get informed and inform others, to make sure to not miss the best spots and to keep plenty of physical memories of our adventures.
The following list is quite exhaustive. I do not recommend traveling with all of this equipment if you want to keep it light. But depending of your needs and tastes, it will guide you to pick your options.
Mobile phone: At minimum take a very basic phone with your emergency contacts in. You can go with an international SIM card and then use local SIM cards in each every country. The best part with those phones is that the battery last for days which is a good security.
A smartphone however also allows you to have multiple tools in one: a phone (obviously!), a camera, an internet access to keep in touch with friends and family, a map… The inconvenient is that it usually run flat pretty fast so it requires a regular access to electricity.
If you are not wearing earrings don’t forget to bring a SIM eject tool…
External battery: for the reason told before bringing an external battery can give you the possibility to extend the life battery of your phone or other electronics by a few hours. They have some good ones that are quite light now. But you can also look into the option of having a solar charger.
Adaptor: Unfortunately the world have not agree yet on an international norm for plugs and electricity so make sure you leave with an adaptor that will allow you to charge your electronics everywhere electricity is available.
Camera: If you are a good photographer you may want to have a better camera option than your smartphone. From compact to reflex, there is a large range of options. You will need to make a choice based of quality, weight, size and of course on your photograph aptitude.
Video camera: A great way to keep some memory. If you are planning on making professional video editing you can use the one available on your smartphone or camera. You can also choose to invest in action camera like the GoPro which allows you to film in many situations, including underwater.
Laptop: bring one only if you are planning on maintaining a blog, editing pictures/ video or working from distance. Otherwise really you can skip it, especially if you have a smartphone that will allow you to keep in touch with the rest of the world. Computers are accessible in IT store in you need one from time to time only.
However if you need one, try to get an ultra-light one. There are quite pricey but in the long-term those 2kg difference to carry makes a big difference.
USB keys/ External hard-drive: again it will depend on your usage and capacity of your laptop. But if you are the kind that takes thousands of pictures and movies you might want to invest in extra-memory space! Think also about having a cloud account if Internet is available.
Tablet: if you don’t bring a laptop but looking for distractions at hand this might be your alternative. Again make sure it is light.
Reader: If you are travelling around you will spend a lot of time waiting for and in transportation. To me a reader is the best distraction for those long hours.
MP3 player: if you really like listening to music you may want to have an extra-player as to not ruin your smartphone battery. Don’t forget your headphones!
Speakers: sometimes being able to play some background music can add a lot to the general atmosphere. If you are part of these people you think music makes everything better make sure to choose a light, wireless and preferably waterproof model. And always make sure not to annoy your neighbors though!
Protective cover: whatever pieces of electronics you bring you want to protect it! From shock (your bags might not always be handled in the smoother manner), from humidity/ water, from dust/ sand, from cold/ heat… should I go on? You won’t be able to protect them from everything but a good protection might still make the difference!
Wi-Fi router: you can find a super-light one (less than a 100g) and pretty cheap. This is useful if you want to have different devices connected to the internet “all the time”. Note that now Wi-Fi is available in many hotels/ restaurants/ bars and even public space. So this is really useful for people who want to have even more connection: buy a data SIM card in the country, insert it in the router and here you go!