Technology on an RTW
So what kind of technologies should someone bring on an RTW trip for a year?
How travel has changed over the years! Fourteen years ago, Oliver and I backpacked across Asia and Australia without any sort of device except a camera. We would check into Internet Cafes and do our email and web searches – sometimes we would be there for a couple of hours.
When we started travelling with the kids, I would usually bring a netbook of some sort and just do some quick blogging to keep the folks up to date on what we were doing…maybe Oliver brought his BB, but we were always wary of roaming charges.
Fast forward to 2014 and it’s amazing to see how our lives are so connected to the digital world. Both Oliver and myself are heavy tech users and we knew we wanted to capture our adventure in some sort of digital format. The girls are also being homeschooled so we needed either lots of notebooks, or use device. Finally, we are so used to being connected and able to access information quickly, we knew this was going to be a priority for us.
So here’s a list of the tech we decided to bring on our trip
- 1 mobile phone
- 3 laptops
- 3 tablets
- 3 iPods
- Go Pro camera
- SLR camera
- Garmin GPS
- 1 BB 10
- 1 TEP Pocket Wireless Device – rented
We purchased this phone in Toronto last year and let the kids use it when needed. We selected this particular model because it was pretty cheap, but also, we could “unlock it” for our travels. Not all phones can do this – so it’s important to check when you are purchasing a new mobile for travel.
What this means is we had a mobile/data plan with Fido where we paid a monthly fee of $30 for the girls to be able to talk and text. If we continued to use the phone while overseas, we would be subject to enormous roaming charges.
To avoid such charges, we brought the phone to a cell phone shop, (there are always a couple at the local malls), and they “unlocked the phone”, meaning the phone was made available to other networks – we were no longer “locked” into the Fido network, (or Rogers, Telus etc..). The phone could be used on any network, especially international ones.
This unlocking service cost $20 and I was in and out in 10 minutes.
Once we arrived in Ireland, we went to the airport mobile phone shop and purchased a SIM card for $25 Euro (approx. $40 Cdn) for the card and a combination of 200 minutes of talk or texts. This SIM card can be used all over Europe, so we’re good for the next few months. We can add to our account as needed.
Once we leave Europe we’ll have to repeat this process, (purchase a local SIM card) depending on the country and/or continent.
We’ll keep you posted on how this goes for us!
- MacBook Pro – for me!
- Lenovo X230 – Windows 8.1 for Oliver
- Asus netbook– Windows 8.1 with a touch screen for the kids
It was essential for me to bring my laptop, (MacBook Pro) as I was teaching an online course during the month of July and will be taking some online courses throughout the year (UOIT). Most of my files are located in the cloud, but I’m so comfortable with my MacBook that the thought of giving it up for a year and taking a smaller device was not very attractive! Furthermore, we have been taking videos while on our trip and nothing beats iMovie for quick editing and film creation. The kids can film on their iPads and use the iMovie app, but we’ve found it’s easier to edit on the laptop than on the iPad mini. Others may not agree, but this is our personal preference.
The kids enjoy using the touch screen laptop and will often use their iPad mini to do their research and the laptop to type their work. The keyboard is bigger than the Bluetooth one on their iPads and their fingers find it somewhat easier.
Oliver loves his laptop, and like myself, could not see himself without this device for the year. He often brags about the speed of the start up and how his machine can do things the Mac cannot….not sure I agree with him:)
The girls are both using their iPad minis extensively. We have found it helpful to take photos as well as to type their blog posts while we are on the move. The devices stay charged for a long period and when adapters and power are at a premium, we often find the iPads last the longest for us. The kids mainly use the iPads for their school work because we didn’t want them to fill them up with crazy apps – that’s for their iPods! We only have about a dozen educational apps including:
- Popplet and iBrainstorming
- Explain Everything
Oliver purchased his 8 inch Samsung this year and loves it – particularly how it can take some amazing panoramic photos of some of the great sites we have seen. We can also use it for video, and fast and easy surfing when we can access wifi.
*We made sure all of our mobile devices could access our wordpress blog so that we could keep it updated on whichever device we were using while on our long car rides.
Our iPods are loaded with game apps, favourite music and audio books for some of the long car/train rides. They are portable and we use them for our cameras as well. It really makes it an easy device to pull out of a pocket when we pull over on the side of the road and want to take a photo. They also stay charged for a long period of time. Notice the heavy duty armour to protect them from the bumps of travel!
The day we left for our trip, we decided to get a Go Pro…we just thought…this could be a game changer on our travels…let’s not let this one slide. We aren’t planning to do anything that adrenaline pumping like bungee jumping off a bridge in Australia…but at least we’re ready if it’s needed. We’ve used it for still photos as well as panoramic images. The only downside, is that we don’t have a screen to let us know what our image looks like. You know, like back in the good old days of cameras with film, and you didn’t have a clue what your photo looked like until you had it developed at the local photo shop!
Oliver brought his trusty SLR camera with us to take the excellent shots of places we really want to capture. He was considering the idea of a newer mirrorless camera at the last minute before we left, but is happy he brought this one as he has a great lense that he can use to zoom in close on certain shots. He’s been uploading his images to Flickr so that we can access all of them.
Our Garmin is like a member of our family. We have brought this device with us on almost all of our overseas trips. We keep the maps updated so that it doesn’t matter which country we are in we have a device that we know how to use and keep our special notes loaded.
This was supposed to be our way to stay connected at all times.
In Ireland, I needed extensive connectivity for my online course – so yes – I am a heavy online user. We also do a lot of our planning for the trip online as well as homeschool for the girls. We need wireless that works!
We purchased an agreement to use it throughout our time in Europe for approximately $4 per day. We thought that was a pretty good deal since we were planning to move from country to country. However, the 45 day initial plan that we purchased was used up in 20 days! Furthermore, it has only provided intermittent connectivity. Personally, I’m not happy with the performance. We called the company to increase our usage – but again – not happy with how things are working. We need an alternative. If anyone out there has some advice on a mobile wireless (MIFI) device that works…would love to hear it!
Overall, we’re not sure if we have brought too much tech – but at this point in time, we have used all of our devices. Nothing is still packed away or not being used. We will continue to offer updates to see if we would revise this list or not!