Allow me for a moment to flatter myself into believing that you noticed the glaring absence of this column last week so that I might have a reason to regale you with my tales of travel in Southeast Asia. OK, I'm not really going to do that, but I will say that the trip solidified my already deeply entrenched tech travel tendencies. The reason for this is twofold.
First, I only had about nine days to scream through three countries, which necessitated countless hours spent in airports and on airplanes. Second, I was flying standby on two major flights, which again required an undue amount of time in airports. (By the way, if you ever have to spend 40 hours in an airport, Changi, in Singapore, is a surprisingly enjoyable place to do it.) Vacationing is my forte, so rest assured you can take the following advice with confidence.
When I'm traveling, my first priority is to pack light--especially with the checked bag fees implemented by many domestic carriers these days. With that in mind, DON'T bring your laptop on vacation. If you take trips frequently, a Netbook is a solid investment for as little as . The iPad is also a fantastic travel-friendly option if you can afford it, and either gadget will suffice to keep you entertained or even let you get a little work done.
Even better, DO bring the most multifunctional gadget that you can. For example, the iPhone is not only an international phone but also a Web browser, camera, and gaming device.
In particular, I've become a proponent of ditching my Digital Elph in favor of using the camera in my , though for anyone else, I'd recommend the HTC HD2 instead. It might be clunky as a phone, but as an all-in-one device with a 5-megapixel camera, an easy-to-use Web browser, and plenty of entertainment extras such as Blockbuster On Demand, it's a great option for frequent fliers.
Of course, all of this is great in theory, but if you don't want to go out and buy all new gear, it may not work in practice. I for one was "forced" to travel with my Netbook (for video and Web), my Walkman (for music), my iPod Touch (for games), and my phone. And all the cables that go with them, which is why I cannot emphasize this next point enough: DO purchase a small compartmentalized bag for transporting cables and chargers. This 12-in-1 USB Travel Easy Cable Bag even includes pretty much any connection you could want on the go, and if you purchase just one USB wall adapter, you're set to charge nearly every device.
While you're at it, DON'T forget the international power adapter. Also, keep in mind that while you may want to keep gadgets close at hand on flights for entertainment purposes, it's fine to pack chargers and cables in checked bags--most economy class cabins still don't have power outlets in the seats anyway.
As for hand luggage, there are countless choices in the gadget-friendly bag domain, but my personal favorite is iSkin's recently released Happy Tree Friends Silo Tote. No matter what the style, though, DO pick a bag with easy in-out access for your laptop or netbook. The people behind you in the security line will be grateful.
And that brings me to one final tip: DO be properly informed on your cell provider's roaming chargers if you're traveling internationally. A friend of mine was traveling in Greece last year and despite having added an extra international roaming deal with AT&T before she left, she came home to a $700 bill from data overages. (According to her, the real mistake was accidentally downloading a Bjork album twice because she wanted to hear one song.) If you can swing it, DON'T use your network at all. The prevalence of Wi-Fi nowadays is truly amazing (every place I stayed in Cambodia offered it for free), so try to keep your phone in airplane mode and rely on hot spots for your communication needs.
Have some tech travel tips of your own? Please share them below!
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