Pre-trip planning, post #4: technology

This post is the fourth in a series on pre-trip planning (see the Intro, post #1: research, post #2: travel insurance, and post #3: gear).

When I think of how technology has improved the way I travel, two words instantly come to mind: Dropbox and Kindle.

Dropbox, for those of you who are not familiar with the service, is a way to back up files and sync them across all your devices (laptop, desktop, netbook, iPad, iPhone, etc). It’s changed the way I work—gone are the days of bulky email attachments and multiple backup drives—and it’s also changed the way I travel.

At the start of a trip, I’ll create a new folder, say, “Portugal 2012.” In it I’ll put any relevant files: the Lonely Planet Portugal guidebook, travel insurance information, flight and hotel confirmations, and a .doc file full of notes.  I’ll sync the folder to my iPhone (or to whatever device I’m traveling with) and while I still have internet access I’ll “favorite” the files by clicking on the star when the file is open. This saves the file to the iPhone’s hard drive and allows me to open it later, even if I don’t have an internet connection. Also, all the files are also backed up on the Dropbox website and accessible via the internet.

If you don’t have Dropbox yet, sign up! The first 2GB of storage are free, and if you sign up through my referral link here we’ll both get an extra 250 MB of space.

My second favorite piece of travel technology is the Kindle, Amazon’s ebook reader. It’s a godsend for long treks and cycling trips: instead of lugging around heavy books, I can load up on dozens of e-books and have enough to read for weeks. While the iPad is certainly a more beautiful and intuitive item, the Kindle wins out in terms of battery life and cost.

In terms of other technology: for internet access, I usually travel with a netbook, though on this trip it’s starting to feel sorely inadequate–it’s too hard for me to do any significant writing on this tiny screen.  Still, you can’t beat the netbook’s $250-$350 price tag for a keyboard, screen, and over 14 hours of battery life. For quick access to emails, I usually use my iPhone. I don’t find that the camera is adequate for travel photos, so I usually bring my trusty Canon Powershot SD, along with a few extra batteries.

Finally, no post about travel technology would be complete without mentioning Skype. It’s a great way to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues wherever you are, and I’ve found that it works even on super-slow internet connections.

If you have any other travel technology tips, feel free to share them in the comments below!


Posted by | Comments (3)  | March 16, 2012
Category: General

3 Responses to “Pre-trip planning, post #4: technology”

  1. Pre-trip planning, post #3: gear | Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog Says:

    […] pre-trip planning (see the Intro, post #1: research, post #2: travel insurance, post #3: gear, and post #4: technology). Ahh. Gear. The expense I always fail to calculate into my trip budget. Each of us packs […]