Technology / Travel Tips

The RTW Gear Challenge

Normally, when I travel, attracting the attention of the local police is something I try to avoid. But in this case, it was a fun experience. My iPad has helped me make friends with kids and cops alike.

As many of you know, we’re in month six of our RTW trip, and absolutely every piece of our gear or clothing has been subjected to a thorough “road test”. At this point, if it’s not working, and working well, it’s been left behind or replaced. So far I had to replace not one, but two watches that cratered; Terri’s travel purse (that went with her on our first RTW) finally bit the dust this week.

But one of the key elements in our travel kit is electronic gear – our mobile computing and photo tools (plus all the odds-and-ends that keep them going and playing well together). This gear plays a huge role in our daily life on the trail. And after months of extended use, we couldn’t be happier with our decision on the electronic gear that we brought along.

The Prerequisites.
This RTW Gear Challenge had a couple of conditions at the start. First, we are now, and have always been, Mac people. Second, we both pray at the church of “traveling light”. So before our departure we did lots of research and preparation to find the best combination of gear to meet our needs, while being as lightweight, portable, and versatile as possible.

The Winners.
The gear that actually made it into our rolling backpacks included: iPad 2; iPod Touch (X2); USB Charger/Cable, Canon Powershot Camera + Charger; Photo Connection Adapter for iPad; extra SDHC Card; and multi-plug adapter.

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The Reasons.
Our travel needs are extensive, and this small pile of stuff helps accomplish every task. Since we’re planning our trip as we go, we need to be able to research transportation and lodging; then follow up with a purchase. Destination research is also high on the list. Communication with family and friends is very important, and because we don’t carry a cellphone, email and Skype play a big role. Accessing bank accounts and managing finances is essential. On a more mundane level, days would be pretty boring without the entertainment that books, music, and games provide. And finally, we create this blog on a (almost) daily basis.

One specific international issue is power supply. Most countries use different plugs and voltage than we use in the USA. All our equipment is dual voltage and only requires a plug adapter, not a power converter. Everything has rechargeable batteries, and the iPad and iPods use the same charger.

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On the communication front, Skype is a great free or low cost phone option. With a wifi connection, the iPad handles audio or video calls well. And the ability to download books improves the experience without adding weight to the suitcase.

For just about everyone, Mobile devices have gotten to be a big part of life. But when traveling for extended periods, they are more than a convenience. We’re very dependent on our gear, and are happy that our planning paid off. And for anyone planning travel, the key characteristics are reliability, simplicity, size, weight, and ease of use. Being shut down by a software glitch in places like Luang Prabang, Laos is not something you want to experience.

Happy Trails,
James

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