With the travel season quickly approaching, many people wonder what to bring with them to stay connected. After a recent trip to Bali, I am amazed with the ability to access the rest of the world from an underdeveloped country. WiFi is in nearly all hotels and most public locations. The biggest questions are figuring out which gadgets to bring.
Portability and ease of use are the two most important factors. Laptops, tablets, smart phones and e-readers are the most common devices travelers are taking with them. Most travelers bring a couple devices so here is a quick guide for travel:
Laptops – Choose something small, under 13”, and it must be durable so aluminum or a high density plastic is a great option. You might not need lots of storage but a minimum 128 GB will store any media needed while you’re on the road. Solid state hard drives are the best because there are less moving parts which could break, but can be more expensive. SD memory slot is a nice feature which prevents you bringing an extra cord to transfer pictures from a camera. Don’t spend more than $1,000.
Tablets – For those not getting as much work done a tablet is an ideal option - slim, light, and long battery life. They are great for web browsing, watching movies, listening to music, and emailing. There are pretty slick solar Bluetooth keyboard devices that improve functionality and help to protect the device while getting bumped around in your bag. iPads are most popular these days but if you have a limited budget there are plenty of Android devices which offer similar functionality. Be sure to go into a store and actually get your hands on one prior to buying it, half of the user experience is in the ergonomics.
Smart Phones – Most travelers these days already have a smart phone, so use it. International rates can be high so if you don’t have an unlocked version and swap out your sim card be sure to notify your provider and change the phone settings to avoid using cellular data outside the network. You’ll find WiFi everywhere and using apps like Skype, Viber, Google Translate you can use your phone just like you’re at home – call whenever, snap a photo, reply to an email, etc.
E-reader – If you don’t have one yet, an E-reader is a great way to minimize your load and maximize your options. Battery life lasts weeks, you can store dozens of books, connect nearly anywhere, and if you purchase one with a web browser you’ll have access to emails and the internet.
Security should be considered also. Fortunately many hospitality locations depend on providing a safe facility to keep people coming back; a single theft or bad review on Tripadvisor.com could drive patrons away. The days of the maid stealing a computer are nearly past. However, physical theft is always a concern so be sure you are smart and pick a location that has good online reviews and an environment you feel secure in. Don’t flash your gadgets in public places like bus stops with high levels of traffic.
With public WiFi be sure to limit entering passwords and usernames, and keep your private browsing of banks, credit cards, administrative tasks to a minimum. Paypal security key is helpful for online transactions. Backups make you feel safe about not losing pictures or data from your trip so look into an online service like Crashplan, Google Drive, or Carbonite. Try to coordinate all your devices and if you have similar cords and adapters, condense or buy a universal adapter to keep things simple. Don’t forget some sites like Facebook, Pandora, and Twitter are not able to be accessed from outside the country so be aware it’s not the hotel internet causing the problem.
Traveling today is easier than it’s ever been. You can book hotels and day excursions after reading all about it from the group who posted a review the day before. Technology does make it better. Be resourceful and plan out your trip but remember things are a bit different. The internet might be slow or the person at the front desk might not know why you are not able to connect. It’s all about the experience, safe travels!