Thursday, February 17, 2011

10 Tech Tips for Travel

We are on the road now for an undetermined amount of time. While we had at first planned to hone-base out of a relative's home, we decided to put a few things in storage then just travel for six months to a year before deciding if, when, and where to settle down again.
Technology has made long term travel, as well as earning a living while traveling, so much easier than in decades past. Here's ten tech tips for travel:
  1. A GPS device can be invaluable when driving in an unfamiliar area. I always pack mine so that whatever car I end up driving, I at least know where I am going.
  2. When traveling outside of the US, turn off your smart phone! I can't count the number of stories I have heard about people going on vacation only to return to a huge cell phone bill because of the roaming charges incurred when they left their smart phone on and it kept updating their email/FaceBook/etc.
  3. If you have a lot of people to keep in contact with, consider setting up a FaceBook page or a blog. Instead of telling the same story a dozen times to a dozen different people or wondering who you emailed that last batch of pictures to, you can have one page to update and then just email the link to everyone who is interested in following your travels.
  4. When traveling overseas I always carry a cell phone that takes a SIM card (ie: a cell phone from ATT or TMobile, not from Verizon). It's a simple process to get the phone "unlocked" then insert a SIM card used in the country you are traveling to and immediately you have a working cell phone (with rates usually much cheaper than in the US).
  5. The internet makes it pretty much a no-brainer to research anything you want to know about your new location...from the broad topic of local news (, to local happenings and info (, to recommendations for great places to eat or shop (
  6. The spouse and I travel with identical tech gear (same netbooks, cell phones, iPods, digital cameras, etc). This makes the interchange of equipment (everything from charger cables and batteries to memory cards) simple and if one widget (charger, etc) gets lost you don't have to run around trying to find a new widget as you can use the other's.
  7. A small headlamp is invaluable. I also carry a small flashlight but the headlamp seems to get used more. So far I have used it when I run early in the morning and it is still dark--it keeps me from getting run over by cars!
  8. All of my banking, business, investing, and bill paying is done online. This is extremely convenient and can be done from anywhere in the world.
  9. Besides keeping a secured file of all of my personal information and passwords on my computer, I have also scanned in all of my important personal documents (copies of driver's licenses, passports, military records, birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc).
  10. I keep plenty of apps and favorites on my smartphone and netbook for anything that may be useful as we travel (currency exchange, foreign language dictionaries, travel websites, ferry schedules, city transit info, etc).


  1. Re: #4, how do you feel about picking up prepaid phones in whatever country you're in? We were recently in Panama for 10 days, and my (Verizon) smart phone was used only as an alarm clock. While I loved being disconnected, I could see where being able to call or be called could be important.

  2. I never use my US cell phone everseas as it is on a contract and their roaming fees are astronomical. I bring an unlocked cell that I can put a SIM card in from each country I go to which gives me a local number for local contacts and an emergency number for the folks back home (I email them my local number but we keep in touch via email because it is cheaper and via Chikka in Asia because I can text to/from my local cell phone). I haven't bought a pre-paid cell in a foreign country so I am not sure how the costs would stack up but if they are as cheap there as prepaid service is in the states it would definitely be a good idea if you have no other phone. In am emergency it would be a good idea to be able to call 911 or their local emergency number for help (you may also want to program in the number to your embassy in the country, your hotel in case you get lost, etc).