Ways to stay connected while travelling
If you are one of those people who cannot live without technological comforts on hand while travelling, this guide may be a useful companion when planning your trip. We look at the many things you may not have taken into consideration about travelling with technology as well as the ways to circumvent any annoyances you may encounter along the way.
Going through airport security
Security measures vary from airport to airport so it is hard to say what the specific things are that you need to look out for. This will all depend on where you are travelling to and where you are coming from.
Regular travellers may have noticed that your technology often gets its own bin to be placed in. Even though it may seem trivial, there is a reason for this. It provides security an unobstructed view of the inner workings of the device since many people have hidden illegal objects in electronics before.
The best way to get through airport security with no fuss is to learn what bags are checkpoint-friendly. The TSA has released guidelines to help you in this regard. Checkpoint-friendly bags include those are tri-fold, butterfly-style or a basic laptop sleeve. Backpacks and accordion-style bags are not advised for easy travelling. Also, no metal zippers or buckles should be placed inside the bag and if there are they should not overlap the body of the laptop or tablet to provide security with a good view. If you have these guidelines in place it will not be necessary to take your your electronics out of their bags at security, saving you a lot of trouble and time.
Also, if at all possibile, take along a low-end laptop when travelling as well as a more portable electronic device such as a tablet which is easier to place in carry-on luggage. Taking along a laptop you don’t mind losing or having stolen (even though it is never something you would like to see happen) prevents you from having to spend a lot of money on expensive replacement technology. This is also good to have in mind since there is the possibility of confiscation by authorities but it is highly unlikely to happen.
Charging your devices
Keeping your devices powered up can be a problem especially if you have many devices to charge (this naturally means many chargers to carry with you). A problem can occur if you are going to a country or area that has different voltage requirements and plugs than you country of origin. This site will allow you to check whether there are charging stations or ports in the actual airplane that you will be boarding.
It is advisable to put your chargers in your carry-on bag since they are usually lightweight and in the event of losing your luggage you don’t lose contact and you don’t need to buy a new charger specifically for a device. Buying a new charger can be expensive, especially when purchased at an airport and there might be problems with finding the correct one to suit your needs.
Check the voltage of your destination country. The most common voltage that you will find is 220 to 240 volts. This is not true for all countries so check before you leave. Plugging a device into a voltage that is too high can damage your electronics and cause you many headaches along the way. Also, check what kind of adapter is needed since not every country will have the same plugs that your country has. A universal travel plug adapter kit is a great choice but even a universal one may not suit the country you are travelling to. There are many guides online that will show you what type of plugs they use and what adapter will be suitable.
A great option to take along is a smart power strip. This will ensure that you always have the means with which to charge devices and you then have the possibility to charge all of your devices at once. There are charging stations available at some airports but most likely these will be located in business lounges. There is also a new trend in wireless charging at airports but be aware that some of these options have the danger of providing entry to hack into your devices.
It is not always a given that WiFi will be free of charge at both the airport and at your hotel. Airport WiFi has a reputation for being expensive and hard to come by. This map from Jaunted.com provides you the location of airports that have free WiFi available. You can also download WiFi Finder (an app available for iOS and Android) to help you locate those hot spots you need for Internet access.
Even though you are often asked to power off your devices when travelling on an airplane, there has been little evidence to support or debunk the dangers of turning on electronics when flying. If you are truly desperate to use your device while flying (especially when you have to spend a few hours up in the air), there are flights that provide paid WiFi plans. Take note, however, that these plans are often expensive. There are companies like Gogoair.com that sell plans for WiFi access on airplanes but these only work on certain flight plans.
WiFi in hotels are rarely not free but rather ask at the front desk personally to gain access to this service. If you are scared about not having a good connection either in the hotel, airport or airplane, invest in a USB wireless antenna. Also, you can carry along an ethernet cable but this is not a necessity as it is readily available most places.
Gaining access to the Internet with your mobile phone or even calling overseas can become very expensive as roaming costs are usually high. Unlocking your phone is an option to avoid these costs but beware that unlocking may break your manufacturer’s warranty. However, doing this will allow you to easily swap around SIM cards when overseas and browse without paying an arm and a leg.
Access to information while travelling
Everyone has, by now, heard of cloud storage. There are so many providers out there such as Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Dropbox, that it is near impossible not to have access to such a service. Cloud storage is invaluable when travelling especially since there is the danger of your electronic devices being lost, confiscated or stolen along the way. Place all of your important information in the cloud and that way you ensure you still have access to it no matter what.
If you prefer something that you can physically hold, take along enough USB storage devices that you can carry with you in your carry-on. They are light and easy to transport but hold onto them since they are small.
Not everyone has the luxury of an e-reader (but regular travellers no doubt have a device like this) and it is near impossible to carry along all the books and documents you want to read along the way due to weight restrictions. Get e-book versions of your favourite reading material on your laptop or tablet (this device is preferable for reading on the airplane as it is more maneuverable). There are many online shops such as Amazon.com that sell e-books at reasonable prices.
Many travellers love to take photographs but if you want to travel light, think about rather investing in a high-quality camera phone instead of a full-blown camera. This will provide you the means to stay connected while making memories at the same time. If you prefer using a camera remember to take along an extra SD card or two so that you do not run out of space along the way.
Travelling with technology by your side can be easy when you know what is absolutely essential for saving time and space, where you can cut corners and what to look out for in terms of security.