We’ve been exploring the theme of indispensable mobile technology for travel. Our objective is to restrict ourselves to the minimum amount of technology that really enhances our travel, without creating a lot of unnecessary noise & interruptions, or excessive costs in time or money.
Having just returned from several days camping and hiking in the mountains – out of cellphone range – we’re acutely aware of how great it is to switch the cellphones off and put all those inboxes on hold. From the perspective of “Who needs it?!” we continue our personal investigation of travel technology.
In our previous post, we outlined the technologies that we’ve come to regard as useful for us. As we travel more, and work more on the road, we’re considering a few more acquisitions:
- Cellphone with removable SIM card: Until now, we’ve left our cellphones at home, not wanting to find them unusable, or pay huge roaming fees. Our next phone will likely be unlocked, allowing us to buy a SIM card in the locality we are visiting. While skype is cheap and handy, it’s still dependent on WiFi, and a cellphone would be better for emergency calls. We’ll continue to carry it switched off! And no data plans – we can wait for a WiFi hotspot.
- Kindle eReader: At present, we’re using Amazon’s free kindle reader app on the tablet. I tried a Kobo earlier this year, but eventually decommissioned it since it kept crashing while trying to sell me books I “might like to read” instead of the one I was unable to.
- Quick-dry poly underwear: “Better living through chemistry” may reduce laundry on the road, but we’re having trouble getting past the price!
- GPS: With the exception of onboard GPS in rental cars, we’re not convinced a GPS device is worth it for travel. However, they’re fun for keeping track of hikes, runs and bike rides – for us, maybe they’re better dealt with under the heading of sports devices. Coming to rely on them can be dangerous in some situations: this past week, we watched serious hikers declare that their GPS told them the lake was just around the corner, only to hike for another mile or more. Thankfully, we had other ways to orient in the woods. Finally, Paul is convinced that learning your way around a strange city is one of those mental exercises that keep the brain young – especially if you have to do it in a second language!
- Speech-to-text: I’ve been considering this for years, but never gave it a workout. Would using speech-to-text in the tablet make up for the lack of 80 wpm typing? Maybe no more emails that read like this: “Dermaryy, pl easemeeet usat trmnla 1 at airrport sundxxxSaturday setpembr 13 – scrtch lost date – sb next friday.. thx Palu”
And, hey, does Paul need his own tablet? Maybe he’ll learn how to make it sing before the next trip and avoid a repeat of the Arles meltdown. On the other hand, we still enjoy the old style traveling – sitting around at the end of the day discussing travel adventures, instead of everyone checking their email back home. Whatever we decide on can’t interfere with being present to the journey.
While we ponder, we look for inspiration in places like these:
- “Alone Together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other”
- Lifeboat: friends at their best.
What is your indispensable travel technology? Any recommendations for us? We’d love to hear your thoughts.