Years ago, the only technology most people took abroad with them was a camera. The first time I went backpacking in 2009 all I had was an old iPod photo, a dumb phone and a digital camera. It didn’t even cross my mind to take a laptop or anything that could access WiFi. But a lot has changed in 5 years – not just with technology but also with me. Despite working in IT I did use to be a bit of a Luddite, but in recent years I have become a lot more dependant on technology.
So, what will we be taking with us?
MacBook Pro (Mid 2011)
As I mentioned, the thought of taking any laptop, let alone a MacBook, would have felt ludircous back when I first went away. Even now there are lots of posts about whether you should take a laptop or a tablet. So why am I taking a laptop? Because it’s a base for all my things – somewhere to easily save my photos, update the blog, download music, access my files and do work if need be. Some people would say you can do all that on a tablet, and technically you could, but it is far, far easier on a laptop.
I thought long and hard about whether to take my relatively heavy Macbook Pro or upgrade to a Macbook Air. In the end though I’m keeping the Pro – it has an i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and two SSD drives – the spec is still way more than I’ll ever need. But most importantly it is fixable. Unlike the newer models where everything is glued in, with this one I can easily the memory if a module goes bad, or replace a dead hard drive on the road – all I need is a screwdriver. It might not be a big deal for non techies but it is for me.
Nikon P520 Camera
I used to have a DSLR – a Canon 400D. I loved it and it took excellent pictures but the bulk was something else. Carrying around a camera + 2/3 lenses all day then having to keep changing them is not my idea of fun. But this is fine – I’m not an expert photographer and am never going to be. Sometimes I forget to take photos altogether, whereas it will be a photographer’s first instinct.
What I do find limiting though is the meagre zoom on compact cameras, so a so called bridge camera was a perfect purchase for me, and I decided on the P520 after a lot of research. It isn’t the absolute best in it’s class but for the money (£250) you can’t do a lot better.
In fact the only issue with it so far is that it takes such good photos with such little effort, it’s making me lazy! I might not be a great photographer but I still like to frame a good shot, so I need to learn to slow down and explore the manual settings a bit. Also the viewfinder sucks – the LCD screen is great but the viewfinder is a low res abomination, and that IS something I miss from my DSLR.
Not much to say here – this will be my phone, my map (thanks to MapsWithMe Pro), music player and quick go-to device when WiFi is available. It’s getting on a bit now but there really is no need for me to upgrade, not when I’ll be using it a lot less than I do at home and have more potential to lose it.
Kindle (4th Gen)
A no brainer these days if you ask me, unless you are a glutton for punishment and enjoy lugging books around. I used to have the opinion that nothing is as good as real books but that changed about 5 minutes after I got my Kindle – most people seem to have the same reaction. I’d never dream of taking physical books travelling now, with the exception of travel guides – since they are a book you tend to flip back and forth through, they would be truly painful with the slow page turning on the Kindle.
Ok so I don’t strictly need it as well as an iPhone, but it’s 4 years old, it is 64GB so holds all my music, and can be chucked around a lot more than the iPhone can. And though I don’t want to, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it got lost.
Apple World Travel Adapter Kit
Not sure why more people don’t buy this – I’ve seen lots of blogs with people attaching their expensive MacBook to a precarious looking travel adapter. This lets me replace the plug with one suited to the country I’m in, and also comes with a USB charger which the plugs fit onto too. Not cheap at £30 odd but money well spent for me.
Generic 3 port USB travel charger
Although I have the Apple charger I wanted something that could charge a few things at once – phone, kindle, speaker etc. A lot of USB chargers are poor quality but this one is well made, works with almost everything and includes adapters for all countries. The frustrating thing is I cannot get it to charge my camera, in fact I can’t get anything else to charge my camera apart from the bulky Nikon charger but I hope I can find something else.
It’s tiny, sounds great and charges from USB. What more do you need?
We both hate the standard Apple headphones so we have alternatives. Mine are the Skullcandy blue in ear headphones which I have had for a while now and sound great, and Katy’s are the very inconspicuous bright white over ear Skullcandy’s.
Katy has taken the decision to not take her iPhone and instead use this, which I bought in Thailand 4 years ago. It doesn’t even have a colour screen! But its rock solid and the battery lasts for weeks so I’ll be able to contact her and it would come in handy in an emergency. We’re planning to buy local SIM cards as we go, in Asia at least.
Still To Buy
A necessity – it would be madness to travel with a laptop and no backup. I will be backing up with Crashplan (this also backs up to the cloud) and taking disk images with Carbon Copy Cloner. Also this will be where I store all our movies and TV shows that can keep us entertained during long journeys.
USB battery pack
This isn’t strictly necessary but may come in useful on the Trans-Siberian where it doesn’t sound like there are a lot of places to charge devices. Even if that turns out to be false I’m sure it will come in handy at some point.
Nexus 7 Tablet
This is something Katy will be investing in. It will give us another device to access the web, a longer life device to watch movies and play games, and something she can call her own. Because the laptop is all mine! Bwahaha