When I first began to travel, I would essentially go off the grid. No cell phone, no tablet, no laptop. The only electronics I carried were a classic iPod, a watch, and a small alarm clock. I’d pop into the occasional Internet café to send an email to a select few to let them know I was still alive. For special occasions, I could always find a place to make a cheap international call. I still recall the surprise in my father’s voice when I called him from Aguas Calientes, Peru, to wish him a happy birthday.
If you can travel this way, do. It’s a good thing to unplug and disconnect. Everyone knew I would pop up now and again, so there was little worry. It also didn’t hurt that my life back then, before my mother’s cancer and father’s stroke, was far simpler.
As time went on, however, I found myself needing to connect more and more often. I had growing work responsibilities that required me to pop on to my work email from time to time to handle the occasional situation. I’d met the woman who would become my wife, and she wouldn’t let me go more than a day without connecting. It feels good to be needed and to have someone worrying about you; you just have to balance the commitment to connect with the pleasures of disconnecting.
And bring more stuff with you.
The problem with traveling with electronics is not the electronics themselves—a smartphone and netbook don’t take up a lot of space—it’s the chargers that come with them. I now travel with a slim laptop, which has a slightly smaller charger than my day-to-day laptop. It also has two USB ports, so I bring two USB cables to charge my phone and my wife’s tablet. There’s also the set of adaptors for the sockets. I tend to take two of each in case one gets left stuck in a hotel’s wall socket. These don’t take up a lot of room, unless you need one of those massive UK adapters, in which case I only take one and hope for the best.
If I’m traveling for a longer period of time, I still bring my iPod, even though I have songs on my phone. The thing is, I never know what I’ll be in the mood for and my iPod contains my entire music library. But now I have an iPad mini, which uses a different connector than my wife’s iPad and my iPod, so there’s another cable to remember to bring.
If you just want to stay connected, then you can probably get away with just one device. However, if you also need to do some work, which is often the case for me now, you may find the gadgets (and their cables and adapters) adding up. Maybe you really don’t need that jacket.
Next up: Souvenirs.