When I was travelling and living abroad full-time, I was basically a technology-free girl. This was pre-smart phones and tablets and although I had a laptop, it was way too heavy to lug in my backpack and usually stayed sitting on a desk wherever my home base was at the time.
|Not me, though I wish I had that computer 🙂|
But these days – well, that’s entirely another story. Let me start with my beloved smart phone (aka my “brain extension”). I was a bit of a late convert to iPhone ownership but I quickly discovered it has multiple fantastic uses for all kinds of things I wouldn’t have imagined. However, I didn’t travel with it “properly” (I didn’t get a local SIM card last year in Europe, and I couldn’t get coverage outside the cities in Tasmania) until my recent trip to Melbourne. And it really was a pleasure (and nobody is paying me to say this. Sadly. Maybe I could get some free iStuff?).
A simple example: we took the tram out to visit a friend of mine who lives about ten kilometres east of the city. I’ve stayed at her house before, but a few years back so I didn’t have a really good idea of exactly where it was. I knew which tram to take and on we hopped, and then I used the Google Maps feature of the iPhone to track where I was and then I would know when to get off the tram. So much easier than searching for street signs. Apparently the Melbourne transport people have a good app too, but I wasn’t organised enough to download it ahead of time – and turned out I really didn’t need to, anyway.
I used its basic features – the internet, email and camera – constantly during my trip, in much the same way as I would at home – a quick snap to send home to email over to my other half to prove our little boy was doing well; a quick Google search to check the opening hours of the museum we wanted to visit. I even used it to sneak in a few minutes here and there of work (see, I’m becoming partially location-independent now!) when my son was busily occupied doing something else.
My second big technology love is my iPad. I still consider it a luxury technology – it doesn’t replace either a mobile phone or a laptop – but I adore it. My iPad was particularly useful when we travelled around Tasmania, for two reasons: we were on the move a lot, and didn’t want to lug a laptop everywhere, and because we were mostly in rural areas, I needed something that used Telstra as it’s basically the only provider that works outside of Tasmanian cities. It was great to keep up-to-date with a small amount of work and for late night reading and emailing (although with my husband along on that trip, we nearly needed two!).
|Tasmanian wilderness … not much mobile connectivity out here!|
And now and again, I travel with my laptop, as I did during my week in Melbourne. With remote broadband WiFi it was fantastic, because we could video Skype back home to my husband (my little boy loved that) and to his grandmother too, and I could get work done while he napped or after he was in bed at night. Being based in one spot for the week meant it was more practical to bring a laptop along and it was great, and not even expensive. I spent my spare time that week not only working, but dreaming of other holidays – starting to look up information on Hong Kong, using it to compare cheap car hire since I was contemplating doing a day trip out of Melbourne (I ran out of time though!), keeping more up-to-date on Facebook than I usually can at home (when I usually spend at least part of the evening with my husband!) and even doing some fiction writing.
There is a little (old-fashioned) part of me that yearns for the old days of travel, where all the information you need wasn’t at your fingertips while you’re at your destination – when finding out if the Victoria Markets were open required chatting to a Melbourne local instead of doing on a search on your phone – but all in all, it’d be hard to go back to technology-free travel.
How much technology do you use when you travel? Could you live without it, now that you’ve got it?
Image of girl with laptop from Ed Yourdon (Flickr/CC)