Laptops, DJI drones, smart phones all have their place in modern day travel, but for me one of the most important pieces of equipment is the humble pencil and piece of paper. My version of this has a leather cover and a thin leather strap to keep everything together. But the principal is the same.
I have something that I can just open and write in anywhere. I do not have to worry about flashing my smart phone in locations where perhaps it would be more prudent to keep them out of sight. Batteries are not required. It just works.
Even now I remember the stories during the space race to the moon. Yes, the moon, not Mars, how the Americans had created a pen for USD$1million that would work in space. Amazing. The Russians had the same predicament. Their solution was to use a pencil.
The pen and a piece of paper is a simple place to write directions. If you are having problems with the language, draw a map, or do a bit of a Pictionary thing and draw the thing that you are looking for. They are a great tool to help you make your journey more relaxed.
The other benefits are when you discover something interesting, you can jot it down to remind you to look it up later. My notebook comes with me everywhere and it is a habit that has helped me on many occasions.
Using paper and a pencil in conjunction with google maps also makes life considerably easier when creating online material. More of this in another article.