Living with Technology: On the road, and trying to stay on the grid
For most people, traveling is fun unless you do it for a living.
The ability to go to new places, meet new people and have new experiences is quite compelling.
We used to travel to “get away from it all,” but more and more, I find that I bring my tech with me, which is both good and bad.
I do like having my smartphone with me. I use it mainly for navigation, but checking email and sending text messages is a great way to stay in touch with people back home and others on your trip.
The biggest challenge with smartphones is the cost of international data plans. Unless you’re a T-Mobile customer that doesn’t have international roaming charges, you’ll pay dearly for even normal usage. Don’t even think about streaming Netflix.
The best solution for data usage is to turn off all of your automatic updates of apps, email, Facebook and other syncing and use the hotel WiFi, which is generally free, albeit painfully slow.
I do bring my laptop computer, as I find that I still work best with a full-size keyboard and screen. It also gives me a way to offload and backup the files from my cameras.
I really like digital cameras. Not only is film essentially free, most cameras (or smartphones) can shoot still photos and videos without having to take two cameras. In the old film in cameras days, I used to budget an average of two rolls of 36 exposures each day. Now, I typically shoot up to 400 photos per day plus up to a half hour of video.
I do like that most manufacturers can accept the North American standard of 110-volt, 60-Hertz electricity as well as most of the rest of the world that uses 220-volt, 50-Hertz power. All that is needed is a plug adapter to get the pins right and a power strip that I carry with me.
Many devices I carry require USB to charge, so I carry a small 5 port USB charger that does the trick. It allows my whole family to charge our devices simultaneously.
So, as much as I like going “off the grid,” there are some advantages in taking some of the grid with me.
Mark Mathias, a 35-year information technology executive, lives in Westport. His columns can be read online at http://blog.mathias.org. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.