Travelling With Technology, 7 Must Haves

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Some people believe you should leave your laptop and phone behind when you go on vacation. While that’s not realistic for us as we work online while travelling, for others it’s a necessary cutting of ties with the modern world and all your obligations back home so that you can fully immerse yourself in a new culture without the distractions. This article is not for those people.

We find travelling with our laptops a necessity, not just for work but also for booking and paying for accommodation online, reading tour reviews, skyping friends and family back home, and sharing photos. And we want to be able to do all this without waiting an hour in line to use the one hostel computer that doesn’t even work half the time.

Here’s my list of a few apps and devices that make hauling a laptop (or smart phone) around with you well worth the trouble.

Word Lens

If you’re travelling to a country where you don’t speak the local language, Word Lens is a useful app to have. You’ll be blown away by the incredible video below showing it’s use, and while it doesn’t quite live up to the seamless translation shown on the video, it’s still very handy for reading menus and signs. No internet connection is needed to use the app out in the field, which was the main draw card for me over other translation apps like Google Translate.

View Word Lens in the App Store

eBook Reader

I read roughly 2 books every month. This might not seem like a whole lot but I also don’t like to throw books out or leave them behind (what if I want to read them again for the 4th time?). So if, like me, you’re travelling long-term and trying to squeeze your books into a suitcase, let me save you the trouble… the spatial mathematics just doesn’t work out after a few months.

The solution is of course switching to an eReader. Like many book-lovers I was reluctant at first, however the ability to carry unlimited books in a small light-weight form is just too good to pass up. They’re great for passing the time on long travel days, reading down on the beach (make sure you get a protective cover), and curling up to continue reading in your dorm bed when the lights go out at night.

Additionally if you opt for an eReader such as the Kindle Fire or an Apple iPad then you get the added bonus of being able to download apps and games turning your eBook Reader into a dual purpose device.

AirBnB

Similar to Couch Surfing, AirBnB is a website listing accommodation options direct from the owners. While Couch Surfing is free and the best you might find is a spare couch in someone’s living room (that you can share with their dog), AirBnB offers anything from private rooms to entire houses for a small nightly fee. Since you are actually paying for the accommodation you can expect a higher quality of service than Couch Surfing, but the accommodation listers are mostly still people just renting out a spare bedroom so you can usually expect a good deal.

Another bonus, and why we love AirBnB so much, is that in many cases you’re rooming with a local who can give you the inside scoop on restaurants to visit, bus schedules and even become a friend for the length of your stay.

Visit the AirBnB website

 

trail-wallet

Trail Wallet

Trail Wallet is the perfect app for tracking your expenses while travelling. A simple user interface lets you easily record and report on everything you spend in multiple currencies.

We travel on a tight budget and while Trail Wallet is constantly informing us ‘Aw snap, over budget today!’, we appreciate having something that at least tries to keep us on track.

View Trail Wallet in the App Store

Cloud Backup

A couple of months ago due to a coffee/laptop incompatibility we thought we lost all the photos from our time in Nicaragua. Luckily we were able to locate a place that recovered our photos from the hard-drive for a small fee, and consequently we’re now big fans of backing up photos in the cloud.

What exactly is the cloud and how does it work? Basically you’re uploading all your photos – or any type of file – to sit in a folder on the internet. This folder is only accessible by you and the people you choose to share it with, but it’s accessible from anywhere. So no matter what happens to your laptop your mind can rest easy knowing that you can access your photos from any other device.

There are a number of places offering cloud services, some of the most popular include DropboxMediaFire and even Google.

Netflix

Travelling long-term isn’t all scuba diving, hiking and site seeing. Sometimes you need some down time and Netflix is a great way to watch movies and TV shows straight from your laptop. I was skeptical about the download time for movies and whether they would lag, but this hasn’t been a problem so far with any Central American wifi we’ve encountered. And at $7.99 a month, Netflix is a cheap option for entertainment if you’ve already gone over your daily budget.

Visit the Netflix website

Prey Project

So you’ve bought along your laptop, eReader and smart phone with you on your travels but are a bit worried about your expensive tech being stolen. Well worry no more! Prey Project is here to save the day. We first heard of Prey Project through the hilarious account of how Expert Vagabond Mat lost and then recovered his stolen laptop. If you’re travelling through a country that is known for petty-theft then Prey Project is a must.

Once the free software has downloaded, it can be activated through the Prey Project website in the event of your laptop going ‘walkabout’. You’ll be emailed reports at set intervals that will include a photo of the person using your laptop (taken from your laptop’s camera) and a screenshot of what they’re doing on your laptop. You can also send them a pop-up message through your laptop, or even sound an alarm to… well, alarm them. Prey Project can even be used on your tablet and smart phone.

Read the details of how Vagabond Mat recovered his stolen laptop with Prey Project

Visit the Prey Project website

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1 Response

  1. December 5, 2014

    […] Travelling With Technology, 7 Must Haves […]

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