When I speak of electronics I mean cameras, computers, tablets, etc. In the descriptions I have below, remember it is your responsibility to check, test, ask questions, etc. before you go. The phone carrier is not going to offer much information. You need to go look for the answers, ask the questions, and find out what you need to know. Nobody else is going to do it for you. If you search online before leaving, you can probably find all you need to know. Since I personally own Mac products, I can’t speak about others.
If you chose to take a full size SLR or DSLR camera you must take all the necessary peripherals with it. You must bring lenses, back up batteries, cleaning cloths, filters, flash, etc. that you will need with you. You cannot expect to always find what you need. For instance if you go to the Galapagos Islands, there are not a lot of stores available to buy what you need. You will find stores in the large cities, such as Quito, but when you are on the actual Galapagos Islands, its not so easy to find spare lenses for an camera. And if you need or want a tripod, you need to plan to be the one carrying it on any excursions. And then of course there is the issue of moisture.
You can take SLR/DSLR cameras on trips and if you are a good photographer, you will come back with fabulous pictures. But you need to be prepared to take everything you need with you. Also should you need to purchase something you forgot, it may cost far more then you expect to pay back home.
I take a small pocket camera. I have gone thru a few as technology has changed. I prefer them to a large SLR/DSLR camera for a few reasons:
Size – much easier to carry in a purse, no extra bag is required to carry it in. Its less likely to be banged about in a bus, while walking around, etc.
Weight – again, much easier to carry in a purse as they weigh less. At the end of the day, no strained neck or shoulders.
Security – Its much easier to hide from would be thieves. I don’t look so much like a tourist. Wearing an SLR/DSLR around your neck while walking about does tend to scream tourist.
One major note – know how to use your camera before you go. Even if you purchase a camera for a trip, take some time (one day even) and get acquainted with your camera. Nothing is worse than a fabulous view in front of you and you haven’t a clue how to use your camera. Spend some time, get to know how to turn it on, use any zoom, and how to take a picture!!
On many trips I have taken a laptop computer with me. Be aware that again you need to bring all your peripherals with you – charging cables, power adapters for plugging it in, power strips, mouse, anything else your particular laptop needs or you usually use. I far prefer a light laptop then a heavy one. Some, probably most, cruise ships will allow you to use your own laptop with their internet connection, for a fee. Even though cruise ships usually have internet access, the access is not always fast. Many times that access is slow. But if you need a computer, for business or school, taking your own is an option. If the ship internet fees are too costly, there are other options. When a ship hits port you can often find an internet cafe somewhere close. Ask the ship stewards or crew as most of them will know where the closest internet cafe in port is.
Always take your laptop with you as a carry on
Do not put your laptop in your check thru luggage.
This may change as new regulations are enacted – Do your homework and know about new regulations before leaving.
You will need plug adapters depending on where you go. A plug adapter will allow you to plug your 2 or 3 US pronged charger into a plug with a different configuration. Many travel stores such as REI or Travelsmith, even Amazon carries adapters that work for a variety of countries. Depending on what cruise line you are on and if you will have any additional nights in a hotel room you may need one. Check the cruise line website before you go and see what they say are the needs for that particular ship. It can vary depending on where it usually sails. Don’t assume that they cater to the US market and appliances.
You may have noticed I also mentioned taking a power strip. Cruise line rooms are not known for having a lot of places to plug a cord into. They may have one in the bathroom, and they may have one in the cabin. That “one in the cabin” may not be enough for you to plug all your necessities into. Take a power strip if you have many items that will need to charge at one time. Charging a computer and your camera batteries at the same time may necessitate a power strip. If you’re not sure if you need to take a power strip, try it at home and see. Also, remember how many people are in the room that need that plug. For example – three people in a room, 3 cell phones, 1 laptop, 2 cameras and they all need to charge and you have one plug. Figure out what you will do before you leave.
Cell phones, iPads, tablets
Before you take that cellphone, iPad or tablet with you on a trip ask yourself why you want to bring it. If you think you will be surfing the internet with it, taking calls overseas, or sending emails from wi-fi you hope to find, ask yourself what it will cost you to do that. If you are unsure if an app needs the internet to function, before leaving test it. Turn the wi-fi off, set the item to airplane mode and see how your app functions. If it doesn’t work, you probably need internet access to use it. Know this in advance. This can be an issue for apps like maps. If it doesn’t work without wi-fi or internet access, how do you plan to use it oversea?
Now if you plan on using your tablet/iPad for reading books while away, remember to load those books, magazines, articles, etc. before you leave. You don’t want to have to down load them and pay for that internet time and usage. That can get expensive. If you are unsure if you have international coverage for an international trip, check before you go. You need to do your own homework on internet usage before you leave. If you don’t, you could come home to some very unpleasant expenses.
We don’t think about how much we use requires electricity or internet access. When you travel you need to check all your items – your electric toothbrush needs its charger, your Sonicare needs its charger, your shaver needs its charger, etc. You need to make sure you remember the specific charger for your items. If you’re just gone a couple of days, you may not need that charger. Find out how long you can go before your item needs charging.
If you are staying at a hotel, it is possible someone else left a cord or charger and the lost and found has what you need, ask. That can be hit or miss. But if you go directly to a cruise ship and then find out you are minus a charger, you may or may not be able to find one to use. Where people/friends may have something they can loan you, realize they need to use it too. It might get you by in a pinch, but you need to bring your own chargers, power strips, and power and travel adapters.
And bring power strips, not surge protectors.
One other note, if you are from the USA, your items are USA compatible, your trip is within the USA, your chargers and items will easily accept power/voltage without blowing up. Overseas is another story. You need not only an adapter to plug items into the wall, but you need to make sure they will work with overseas power/electricity or get a converter. That’s the 110/220 voltage you see on electrical products. Nothing quite like burning out your camera charger overseas. If you doubt this happens, we’ve fried camera battery chargers and an old Sonicare charger at different times. Check and make sure your electronic chargers will work overseas without getting fried.
I have not used any of the solar chargers so I cannot comment on them. But depending on where you are going, it might be something to consider.