Back-to-School: Useful travel gear and other assorted bits of wisdom



Tired of your boring home town? Want to “see the world” like you’re the star of a Disney Channel movie? Do what I and countless others have done—go abroad for a few months, experience a new culture, then come home all like, “Um, now what?” Very exciting, yes!

To that end, I’ve compiled a few odds and ends that might make your trip abroad less annoying. You know, gear, junk, wisdom, etc.


You’ll want a proper bag is you plan to spend any amount of time traipsing about the foreign locale of your choosing. Yes, nothing screams “tourist” like a giant bag, but where else are you gonna keep your laptop, dSLR and extra bottles of water? Exactly.


I recommend two bags, actually, both from Crumpler. Crumpler is one of those fancy bag places you find in “cool” parts of town, like New York’s SoHo. If all you’re looking is to carry your laptop to a café for some pointless Web surfing and half-hearted “Wish you were here!” e-mails, you’d do well to check out something like the Golden Dig. (All their bags have cutesy names, I’m afraid.) It fits my MacBook just fine, with enough extra room to fit a can of Red Bull and, gasp, my always-on-me point-and-shoot. (When I go out with the express purpose of taking photos, however, I bring a dSLR.) The strap is wide on your shoulder, so at the end of the day it’s not digging into your tendons like Grim Death. Plus, the Crumpler logo is pretty well known out here—the countless number of people I’ve passed on the streets in Barcelona, I’ve had one recognize it. Just call me Mr. Popular.


If you need a bigger bag, I suggest the 15 Hour Delay. This has enough room for not only your laptop, but also, say, your iPod and DS (or whatever music player or your portable gaming platform of choice), dSLR (you might want to detach the lens for added comfort), etc. It’s your “my whole life is in this bag” bag.

Travel Gear

Great, so now you have a bag or two, what else so you bring with you while you wander European city streets with that “please mug me” look on your face?

A laptop/netbook


You probably have one already, but be sure to bring your laptop or netbook with you while you travel. At some point, someone, be it your employer, loved ones, dumb friends, etc. will want to know whether you’re alive or not, and what you’ve been up to. Make that easy by using your laptop to constantly let people know that, yes, you yet live! Create a Tumblr account, Twitter, Flickr, or whatever Web 2.0 service is hot this afternoon and tell your mates to check those. That way you can broadcast what’s up without having to have 20 simultaneous IM conversations. Skype is handy, too, by the way, in case Mom and Dad insist on hearing your voice.



You’re gonna want a phone, if for no other reason than emergencies. (Guess who had to call Citibank a few days ago because every ATM in town said he was overdrawn!) I was able to go to Telefonica here in Barcelona and buy one of those pre-paid deals for not a lot of money, something like €20 for a phone with removable SIM card and a few minutes of voice. Minutes can they be added on at any Telefonica store. I bought the phone, then stuck the SIM into a Nokia N76, aka a Razr with Symbian. It takes good-enough video and pretty decent photos.


Hope you brought your petrodollars

If you’re abroad for any amount of time, you’ll probably want to take photos of the local landmarks. For example, I took photos of what turned out to be a strip club in Berlin the other night. We (my party and I) didn’t know it was a strip club, but we didn’t much complain when it turned into one. I do, and have in the past, suggested at the very least an entry level dSLR if you want to at least have the potential to take better than average photos. (I’m using an old Rebel.) If you don’t want to carry around something that cumbersome—a legitimate reason, I admit—then go with a point-and-shoot. To be frank, pretty much all of these point-and-shoots we talk about are so similar to each other in quality of photo taken, you really can’t go wrong. Canon, Nikon, Olympus (get one of those if you plan on taking photos from the beach because they’re water-resistant). Again, whatever type you get—dSLR or point-and-shoot—totally depends on what you feel comfortable like carrying.


annoyinggpsguy 1

The days of carrying around a giant map and looking like a jerk are over! Now you get to carry around a GPS device (or your cellphone) and look like a jerk! But seriously, having your current location in the palm of your hands while in a strange and exotic city is so fantastic. “Where the hell is Nou de la Rambla? Oh, way the F over there, cool.” It beats having to ask for directions, or unfold a map in the middle of the street at a phone booth. I’ve been using Google Maps on the N76 and it does the job. If at all possible, make sure you phone can browse the Web (BlackBerry, iPhone, fancy Nokia, etc.) because then you’re just a few clicks away from Google Maps Mobile. Even if it doesn’t have GPS, or a cell-based GPS approximation, at least you’ll be able to search around the electronic map to see where you are and where you’re going.

I would recommend against walking around with your iPod all day, not only for safety reasons, but you’ve heard your favorite playlist 1,000 times already, and you’re traveling to experience something different, right?

Other helpful advice

happysun 1

You’re better off getting batting advice from A-Rod than any type of advice from me, but here we are. When traveling abroad, it’s best to do some research before actually buying your airplane ticket. (I assume you already have a passport.) Find out if you need a visa to stay past a certain length, find out what type of power adapters the country uses (I bought a WORLD TRAVELER KIT! from Wal-Mart the day before leaving for like $20 and it works great), find out what the currency is and what the exchange rate is (from me, one Euro buys about $1.50, so if a beer costs €3, I know I’m actually paying $4.50), etc. Little things like that.

So yeah, common sense stuff to be sure, but they don’t call me Thomas Paine for nothing.

More TechCrunch

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

OpenAI is removing one of the voices used by ChatGPT after users found that it sounded similar to Scarlett Johansson, the company announced on Monday. The voice, called Sky, is…

OpenAI to remove ChatGPT’s Scarlett Johansson-like voice

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine