Tech Crazy

For all those people wondering what kind of technology I use on the road!

Note: When I can be bothered, I’m going to totally re-write this to actually make it readable. Till then..

Hardware

Laptop – Samsung Chromebook. Figured I don’t really need all the bells and whistles of a ‘real’ laptop, but still wanted an easy interface and real keyboard. Loving it so far. 6 hour  battery life. 1kg, 11.6 inches.

Note: Loads of people I met overseas used an Ipad instead of a laptop. 

Smartphone – HTC One X. I think they stopped making it a month after I bought it, but I love it! Remember to unlock it before you leave your country – it should be free in Australia, I know mine was 🙂

Ipod – a small shuffle (with touch screen), perfect for listening to music and audio books, without draining the smartphone battery.

Kindle – Touch. Haven’t actually used it as much as I thought, as a lot of the hostels have had a book exchange, but still great (and takes up hardly any space)

Reading light – Folds together, absolutly invaluble for both the Kindle and ‘real’ books.

External Battery for USB devices – TAKE ONE! You never know when you might need to charge something while travelling, or get to a hostel that has only 3 power outlets and they’re all being used! I got a ‘big’ one, it can charge 2 iPads right up (aka 20 hours of charging), but thats because I’m paranoid. Also because my Smartphone has the battery life of about a day. You can get really small ones for emergencies only.

External Harddrive – because I needed to take 900GB of movies and TV shows with me. So far I haven’t watched that many, but it’s been a great bonding experience with other backpackers (that, and them asking if they can borrow my Lonely Planet).

I also brought TWO point and shoot cameras. Not sure I’d take them again… might consider a GOOD camera, you know, one of those black chunky ones 🙂 Here’s an article from Too Many Adaptors re HDR Photography.

Software

Computer Programs

Now: Google apps 🙂

Android Apps (Smartphone)

Fitness/Health

Daily Yoga – they have loads of free plugins that make on hell of a yoga app. I don’t even like yoga that much, but this makes it easy.

Ladies’ Chest Workout FREE – There’s also the Butt, Shoulder, Arm, etc etc workouts by the same people. If you’re serious about staying at least a little bit fit while you travel (or even at home), these free apps are awesome! (P.S: My idea of exercise is walking to the bakery to get a pastry, but even I can do these workouts). Only negative, you can pause the workout, but you can’t leave the app to, for example, respond to a text, then continue the workout.

I’d like to try some martial arts apps, but haven’t liked any of the ones I’ve tried so far (they all just connect to a bunch of videos on YouTube).

Games

4 Pics 1 Word – Awesome brain training. I’m at level 433 at the moment. The hard ones usually have me stuck for about a day, the really hard ones for a week, then my brain shifts into gear and figures it out.

Plague Inc – For those with a secret desire to take over the world (or just kill everyone). I love these ‘anti’ games, where you try and be as evil and destructive as possible.

Solitaire – it’s a classic!

Useful

Calculator

Battery Widget – tells you exactly what percentage you have left, and when your battery is overheating. Used this all the time in Malaysia!

Currency Converter

Kingsoft Office – I use this as my PDF viewer – it works well.

Banking App – for quick money transfers!

Panorama – for catching the whole scene

Flipboard – I use this to read travel articles when I need inspiration!

Google Maps – Very useful for those people (like me) who cannot read a ‘paper’ map.

Travel Expense Lite – More useful than you think, and quick and easy to use.

Viber – Similar to Skype, but more practical (i.e. doesn’t bother with all this video calling nonsense, and it uses your original phone number, so if you download it, and your mum downloads it, it will automatically match the numbers, and the next time you go to call your mum, it will ask you ‘ do you want to use phone or viber’. Reasonable quality, obviously dependent on the WiFi connection. Note: Using Google Hangouts on the computer, so may change on my phone in the future. For now, too many of my contacts have Viber already. 

Afterthoughts

If you really want to go minimal:

Ditch the Laptop, Ipod, Kindle, Headtorch and External Harddrive. Buy a large smart phone (i.e a Galaxy Note), get a really good memory chip for it (>32G would be best). Then, put all your music, audio books, and ebooks on there. You can use the light on your phone to shine your way. The only thing I would recommend here is that you invest in a really good external battery, because without it, you’re kinda screwed. Maybe bring a small Ipod for emergencies on long bus trips.

I say all this because here are some realities about travelling:

There’s free WiFi at many hostels as well as computers you can use, most of the time, so editing your blog or writing emails home won’t be difficult, as you can use the hostels computers to upload your photos. If you’re anything like me though, you use your phone to take most of your photos. I have it set to automatically upload my photos to Facebook in a WiFi area. From there I can save them to a temporary folder on another computer and upload them to WordPress, ready to be used in this blog.

There are books for exchange at pretty much every hostel. Also, while I think ebook readers are one of the greatest inventions ever, I still love the feel of a good old tree destroying paperback. That’s my vice – books. I don’t smoke, rarely drink (for financial reasons mostly) and I don’t have any expensive hobbies (well, scuba diving, but I’ve done less than 10 dives in 3 years, so not really that expensive). I spend all my money on books.

So take one book with you to read on the plane over and at your first hostel, exchange it. They don’t have anything you want? Ask where the nearest book exchange is. Not only will this prevent you feeling paranoid (you can leave a book next to your bed at night in a dorm, I’d be worried about leaving my >$100 Kindle), but you might see something totally random (and it’ll likely be something travel related). Or it could be something that a lot of other travelers have read, which could lead to interesting conversations with other travelers that don’t consist of “So where have you just come from? Where are you going next?”

My personal experience was that I brought way too many electronics. I had a whole packing cube full of them. I’d like to think that next time I’d go light, like I described above, but everyone’s trip is different. Yes, that’s the way I would go if I was backpacking around, and especially if I was going for less than a month.

I wouldn’t bring my hard drive (especially if I wasn’t bringing my laptop). When you’re traveling, yeah there are times when you want some downtime and something normal, like watching a movie. Here’s the thing though – Hostels know this. You’re not the first traveler to go through their doors. A good hostel will try and provide everything the weary traveler needs or wants. I’m pretty sure every backpacker hostel I’ve ever been in has a movie room with a crazy huge selection of DVDs. Note, there are different types of hostels, but the ones geared at backpackers (and especially flashpackers) will almost certainly have one of these. If your current one doesn’t, I’m sure your next one will. (P.S: I’ve only stayed in hostels in South East Asia and Australia – feel free to comment if other areas don’t do this).

 

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