Technology For Traveling

You are about to hit the road for an extended travel adventure, what technology to you bring? I travel light, one carry on bag and a day pack. I can and have lived out of one bag for a very long time. There’s no way I can bring a laptop or much of anything that’s heavy. After much research and hemming and hawing this is what I came up with:

  • iPad Mini 16gig Wireless (the least expensive model)
  • Anker Ultraslim Bluetooth Keyboard
  • Galaxy Nexus phone, the GSM model (It’s the phone I’ve been using the last 6 months)
  • Seagate Satellite Wireless Plus hard drive, 1 terabyte of storage
  • Canon SD780IS w/ a dive housing, an EyeFi card and spare battery
  • New Trent IMP52D, an 5200mAh external battery

 All of this stuff weights 3.5 lbs, about the same weight as a Macbook Air with the charger. This array of stuff does a lot more than a netbook and if I need to use an actual computer, internet cafes are everywhere in Southeast Asia, mostly

I love my little point and shoot camera, it has a view finder, looking at it from the front it’s a bit smaller than a credit card, it takes great pictures and does full HD video. As a bonus Canon makes a dive housing for it that I picked up on Ebay for about 1/4 of the retail price. Technically, I’ll be traveling with 3 cameras as my phone and the iPad Mini both have cameras. When I was traveling across Asia in 2009 I had my camera stolen on a bus at the India Nepal border and lost 2 months worth of photo’s, amazing, wonderful and gone photo’s I vowed to never again let this happen. 

My photo preservation strategy is this. I have an EyeFi card in my camera and EyeFi software on my iPad Mini. The EyeFi card has tiny wifi access point. At the end of the day, I just sync them up. Then the EyeFi software uploads the pics to Picasa. Once a week, I’ll copy all the photo’s from my iPad to my wireless hard drive.  No more lost pics!

The iPad Mini. This was the hardest call. Let’s face it, the specs for the iPad mini are lame. Old processor, low resolution screen, two speakers but still in mono. I looked at most of the tablets out there and was leaning towards the new iPad when a friend showed my his iPad Mini and told me how much he liked it. If I were going to be working while on the road I probably would have went for the iPad 4 with a bluetooth keyboard, but I won’t be working.  Mainly I’ll be using the Mini for viewing/editing photo’s, writing blog posts and consuming media. It’s perfect for those purposes. I suspect I’ll get very good at thumb typing, or I’ll end up in internet cafes to type out my blog posts. I got the lowest end model because I new I’d be using some sort of external storage and if I need connectivity when I don’t have wifi, I can tether it to my phone.

Taking media on the road. In 2009 all I had for technology was a crappy kodak digital camera and a brand new iPod Touch, 32 gig. I put the entire NYPD Blue TV series on there, a bunch of ebooks, some audiobooks and apps like Skype. for the most part is was great. There were some issues though. Battery life was not very good while watching video or playing games. Even 12 years of a TV shows, run out eventually.  I was able to download some other movies an shows via apple, but it wasn’t ideal. 

This time around I’m bringing my entire iTunes library, my rather large ebook library, my audiobook library (I have audible as well), and a metric shit ton of movies and shows. Granted, I’d rather spend my free time meeting new people and having adventures. There are times though, when some decompression is needed, then there are the 18 hour bus rides of doom. 

The Seagate Satellite Wireless Plus has a battery that is good for 10 hours that will recharge in 3 hours. It has 1 terabyte of storage and it can connect to an access point while up to 8 other devices connect to it. It’s small and light for what it does and the app, Seagate makes and IOS and an Android app, allows streaming for apple native media and dnla for streaming codecs to third party apps that apple does not support. It also allows for coping files to either my phone of the iPad Mini. In addition it has a usb 3 for speedy data transfers. 

Running out of power on ones devices is going to happen if you take the 18 hour bus ride of doom. That’s where the New Trent external battery comes in. This little guy will charge my phone twice or the Mini once. That’s enough juice to make those long rides less doomy. It has charge indicator LED’s and as a bonus it has an LED flashlight and a laser pointer.

Staying connected on the road is always a challenge. In 2009 I used Skype when I had a wifi connection or phone cards and pay phones. Since I already have a great GSM cell phone, I’m going to use it. I’ll be buying SIM cards in all the countries i’m going to. Phone and data plans are very affordable in SEA and I don’t plan to use many minutes. Mostly I’ll use the phone to make reservations. I’ll use Google Voice and Skype for all my calls to the US. No more pay phones! 

I think I’ve found the right balance of weight, stuff and cost. The camera and the EyeFi cards were gifts, I bought the iPad Mini and the dive housing used and got good prices on everything else. Look for a follow up post for how all my toys are working out.