Minimalist packing – How to travel light with a USB only tech stack

When you’re trying to pack minimally, one thing you realise is that your tech very quickly takes up a significant proportion of of your luggage space and weight. This guide gives some ideas on how to pack light so you can carry your technology in just a carry on bag.

Lots of travel blogs suggest bringing an extension cord so you only need one travel plug for all your devices. We decided to go one further and make our tech as lightweight as possible by going completely USB powered. 

On our 6 month trip we decided that we wanted to travel with a carry-on bag each only, but we also wanted to take some ‘luxury’ items – our drone, electric toothbrushes, laptop… things which ordinarily need different chargers and adapters. With a bit of planning and a few new purchases, we downsized our technology to be super lightweight, portable, easy to charge (including when we’re on the road) and with the minimal number of cables.

Side note – product links are Amazon Affiliate links and nothing mentioned is sponsored or gifted – just things which have proved useful.

Filming kit

iPhone XS

It was a tough decision to leave our mirrorless camera and GoPro at home knowing that we would be visiting lots of amazing places and wanting to take great photos and make videos. From previous travels, we knew our camera takes up a lot of space and that the quality from our phones isn’t too far off, so we set ourselves the challenge to become iPhonographers and see what’s possible. 

We are shooting on a iPhone XS 256GB and we coupled it with the Moment Wide and Telephoto lenses to give us some extra options. So far we’ve managed to capture some amazing photos and videos – check out our Instagram and Youtube to see what we’ve been able to do.

The only drawback we’ve found is that night photography is pretty much impossible with an iPhone.

USB C powered Drone

We chose the Parrot Anafi as our drone of choice for 2 main reasons. Firstly, that it packs up really tiny – whilst the controller is a bit chunky, the drone itself packs into a  very small sleek case. Secondly, is that it charges off USB C.This means that we can charge it from the car charger adapter (more on that later) or from a battery pack – no need for mains power. It’s also got pretty good flight time (25 mins) and its quieter than its comparison, the DJI Mavic.

Parrot Anafi drone
Side note - this is our second Anafi since the first one went AWOL, and we’re still having significant responsiveness and GPS issues, so if you’re looking for a drone, make sure you do your research

USB C powered Gimbal 

We’re on our second Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal. The first one bit the dust after falling over in sand, but we picked up a refurbished one for half the price on eBay. You can see it in action on our travel vlogs.

After 4 months of good use, being chucked in bags and dropped in sand, it’s starting to show signs of wear and tear, but thus far it’s served us well.

Zhiyun Smooth 4

USB C powered Laptop

We wanted to be able to edit video on the road, so we needed a powerful enough laptop. Our existing laptop was a bit too old and heavy to make the cut. 

We did our research and chose the 12 inch MacBook for a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s surprisingly good for video editing. The latest version of Final Cut Pro  is optimised to render in the background so it works on a less powerful machine for most things pretty well. Whilst we’ve sometimes maxed out what it can do, for the most part its been brilliant.

Secondly, it weighs less than a kilo and it’s USB C powered so it can charge off our battery pack or car charger. Perfect. 

One small drawback is that its limited in its ports, so we’ve also had to bring along a USB hub with a SD card reader for our drone footage.

Hard drive

We also carry a portable solid state hard drive for backups and archiving footage we’re not longer working with.

Keeping up appearances

Electric toothbrush with USB charger

We switched to the Philips Sonicare a few years ago because the battery life was much greater than the Oral B equivalent, making it the better travel option. 

We bought a cheap USB charging dock for it (and believe us, it is cheap and feels like it will fall apart, but 4 months into the trip its still alive). We also travel with just one toothbrush body between us and two heads to save space.

USB electric Shaver

Scott found the Philips USB shaver. Really portable, it ticks the boxes for doing the job and fitting right into our USB tech stack. 

Essentials

Power pack

We needed a battery pack that supported fast charge and USB C so we went for this RAVPower USB C Power Bank. So far so good. It will fully charge the MacBook once with a bit left over and will charge our phones multiple times. 

Car charger

Essential little bit of road trip kit. We’ve gone through quite a few of these – previously preferring Bluetooth radio ones so we can play music in cars that don’t have an aux jack or Bluetooth. But we settled on this one because it supports USB C and normal USB with fast charge. 

Universal travel plug

We carry just one plug between us that’s has adaptors for most countries. It takes up barely any room and it charges two normal USB and a USB C at the same time. So far it’s worked really well. 

We bought the JYDMIX USB C PD Charger 30W, 3-Port Universal Travel Charger with USB-C Power Delivery which doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but this is a similar one.

Cables

We carry with us the smallest number of cables we can. Since everything is USB in some way we don’t need to carry a cable per device.

  • USB to lightning 
  • USB C to USB C
  • USB C to USB 
  • USB to micro USB 

We carry a few duplicates for redundancy and so we can charge multiple things.

What are your favourite minimalist tech kit items?

Leave a comment with your favourites.

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