I’m a bit of a technology and gadget geek and proud of it. I hardly go anywhere without at least two to three gadgets with me – be it my iPhone, iPod, noise cancelling Bose headphones or Kindle. Whilst I’m happy to lug around my shiny toys with me when I’m out and about in London, one does have to think about what the bare necessities actually are when travelling. I’m coming about this from two angles:
- Unnecessary excess weight, especially when trying to stick to hand-carry only (that’s carry-on luggage to you folks in North America!)
- Is there a point when having too many gadgets actually starts detracting from the travel experience?
How many bags are you checking in?
Hopefully none! I have one goal that I am working towards with my packing strategy and that is to travel with no check in luggage. Now I have to say that I have never attempted to do this before for any trip longer than 5 days, so this will test the nettle! I’m definitely more than up for it though, as less will most definitely be more in this case, especially as I’m going to have to drag that bag with me wherever I go for at least the next 3 months.
Too much of a good thing
If I think about how I live my day to day life in London, there’s almost no period (when I’m awake) of more than 10 minutes when I’m not interacting with some form of electronic item. The only time when this does not hold is when I’m engrossed in a book that isn’t being read on my Kindle. Whether or not this is healthy is another debate, but going through this in my everyday routined life is completely different to when I’m travelling.
One of my main reasons to go travelling is to immerse myself in a new or different culture, and that involves using all of my senses. This is difficult to do when you keep your own culture close to hand via the wonder that is technology, as you might not be fully opening yourself up to what’s around you in the here and now. I am a victim of this myself in London e.g. I can sometimes get too involved in trying to find a 3G connection so that I can upload my darn photos to Instagram…to the point that I miss the experience itself that I’m trying to capture and share. Not ideal is it?
Using all of my senses will also be important when travelling solo from a safety point of view as I’ve really only got me, myself and I to take care of number 1. With this in mind, I’m trying my best to limit the amount of tech I take with me on this solo trip.
I don’t intend to stay continuously connected to the internet via a roaming cellular device when I’m on the road and will be relying on free WiFi whenever possible. I’ll also only be sightseeing with my camera and possibly my iPhone on my daily trips – everything else will stay in my locker / room for when I have a particular need for it.
So what’s made the cut?
My essential tech and travel gadgets
1. Camera: Panasonic Lumix GF6 coupled with two lenses (0.3kg) – a 20mm pancake lens (0.1kg) and a 14-42mm lens (0.1kg). I have been using the Lumix GF1 over the past 3 years. I’ve recently upgraded it for its lighter descendent – the GF6. I took my new camera with me on holiday recently to Malaysia, China and Thailand and am so far loving the difference in size and weight compared to my old camera. They’ve even improved the lens kit it comes with.
2. Phone: iPhone 4 (0.1kg) – anyone who knows me knows I’m not big on talking over the telephone. The main reasons I’ll be bringing my phone with me will be to:
- Receive and send (urgent) text messages
- Use the photo geotagging app on my phone to geo-tag the photos I take on my trip
- Take impromptu quick and dirty photos when it’s just not practical to use my Lumix GF6
- Connect to useful travel and communication apps on the go whenever wifi is available
P.S. This might be upgraded to an iPhone 5S (also 0.1kg) before I leave! Hehe. 😉
3. eBook: Kindle Paperwhite (0.2kg) – a must! I love reading but never seem to find enough time to do it in my daily life. I tend to do the bulk of my reading when I’m travelling so I’ll be filling this little guy up with A LOT of books.
4. Laptop: 11 inch Macbook Air (1.1kg) – I umm-ed and ahh-ed between taking a laptop vs. an iPad. As I intend to keep blogging whilst I’m on the road, I came to the conclusion that the iPad and it’s fiddly on-screen keyboard just isn’t going to cut it. I am also expecting to have to do a fair bit of research as I make my travel plans on the fly and a laptop will be a lot more efficient compared to my iPad for that. Since Apple recently released the latest model of the Air about a month ago, I managed to score last year’s model 2 months ago at a significantly cheaper price (score!) which although is not a wholly necessary purchase, is something I definitely will not regret when I’m on the road without my hefty 15-inch Macbook Pro.
Bringing my Mac with me will also mean that I’ll be able to continuously organise my photos as I take them. There’s nothing I hate more than coming back home after a good trip and having to sort through my photos in iPhoto. Yes, I realise that I don’t HAVE TO do this if I don’t want to, but no, I wouldn’t be able to not do it even if I tried.
5. Portable hard drive: Western Digital MyPassport 500GB (0.2kg) – Following neatly on, this is where my iPhoto library is stored, hence it’s coming with me. And yes, I do have a backup of this entire drive that I’m leaving at home (learnt this lesson the hard way).
6. Memory cards: 2x 8GB SanDisk SDHC cards (0.02kg) – As I’m a bit obsessed about not losing my travel photos, I’m bringing along some extra SD cards for my camera so I won’t have to delete any photos. Once a card gets filled, I’ll post it back home for safe keeping. That way I’ll always have 2 copies of my photos. Paranoid much? Yes, I fully admit it.
And that’s it! Sadly, my other toys will have to stay home without me. All of the above, plus their chargers will maybe round up to about 2.5kg? Sounds reasonable I think, but may have to be revisited once I start planning the rest of my backpack contents properly.
What kind of technology do you tend to bring with you on your travels? What’s the one thing you can’t leave without?