Packing for your adventure should be based on the "less is more" principle. Some things are essential (think underwear), some things are useful (extra sweater), some are considered a nice luxury (face lotion). Some items are straight out unnecessary and could potentially ruin your trip experience. Below are the uncool gadgets you can leave at home:
Even though the tech gods have created laptops that weigh less than air, there is no reason for you to bring one on your trip. Most places abroad have internet cafes. Going to these internet cafes is an experience in itself that you should not miss. You can upload your pictures, meet other travelers or locals and avoid sitting in your room on your computer, cut off from the excitement going on all around you. Facebook can wait.
The best part about being in a new place is the feeling of not knowing whats around the corner. Your exact coordinates are unnecessary. Navigation systems are good for pilots not for backpackers. So take it into your hands to explore your new surroundings on foot. Go ahead and make some wrong turns. You may come up on ancient churches or impromptu street performances, a new restaurant or a relaxing park. There is no shame in asking people for directions; you may even make a new international friend. Make your own mental maps.
These things are ridiculous on their own, but taken abroad they become hunks of technology better used for bricks. Making a phone call abroad is easy and cheap. Just like internet cafes, phone booths are easy to find and are good spots to meet people. When you stare down at your blackberry, you miss the world around you. So tune in to your new surroundings and give your thumbs a well-needed vacation.
Okay girls (and maybe select boys), most people in the world aren't that interested in how good your hair looks. These hair tools are not useful abroad and will only take up space in your backpack. Also with the wide array of international plugs, just getting these things to turn on will require you to spend time and money looking for a compatible converter (as a side note, the wrong converter can cause your gadget to blow up). Better you work on discovering your natural beauty while traveling than worrying about how you look. Its more worldly that way.
Handheld Translation Device
It is undoubtedly uncomfortable at first to be in a country where you have no idea how to say please or thank you. Don't give in to the easy route and use a translation device. Stick it out. Figure out how to say things with your hands and eyes. You will pick up essential words; its the just the way humans work. Along the way, you may even realize you know more than you originally thought. Learning even bits and pieces of a new language brings you closer to the culture you are visiting.
Sometimes gadgets can simplify your busy life. But keep in mind that simplicity comes at a price. You can often miss out on great experiences by overusing tech tools, especially abroad.