Travelling with Electronics
By Raina Kuptz
It is almost unheard of these days for most people to travel without at least some form of tech gear, particularly on a business trip. Phones, laptops and tablets all have their uses, and all make life a little easier in some ways. But they also all have their complications, and they may cause as much stress as they prevent.
When traveling with tech, foresight is infinitely valuable. The more prepared you are with your electronics, the less stress you’ll be faced with if the unexpected happens en route to your destination. Traveling with the proper pieces of technology, preparing in advance for potential data loss and anticipating the travel through effective recharging deserts will make your trip more enjoyable, or at least less frustrating.
It’s easy to fall into the mental trap that you need all your tech devices when you travel. Laptops let you work on the go. Phones let you keep in touch. Tablets and e-readers give you something to do while on the move. And nobody wants to miss a chance to take a good photo of an interesting sight.
Instead of loading up on all devices, take a moment to consider your tech essentials carefully. Consider leaving redundant tech at home and keeping lean on what you decide to bring. If you have a tablet and you don’t need to type extensively, you may not need to bring a laptop. If your phone takes very good photos, you might consider leaving the camera at home. Err on the side of traveling lighter and you may be happier.
Remember that anything you travel with can be damaged, lost or stolen. It’s wise not to bring a valued piece of tech that you are unwilling to lose. Further, the fewer items you travel with, the less gear you have to keep track of, the less weight you have to carry through airport security and a hotel and the less it will cost you if something goes missing.
While the TSA states that it is rare for a laptop to be confiscated when going through security, this has been known to happen, which brings up another point: anticipate data loss and back up all your data. Traveling for an important presentation? Back it up on both a USB drive and the cloud. Need to work on some documents while on the plane? Make sure you have those documents saved in an additional location, just in case. As essential as it is to back up important data from the office, traveling with tech opens up a whole new world of data loss, so take the appropriate steps to prevent this before you find yourself in a crisis.
Consider what gear you may need and prepare ahead. While bringing excess tech just adds extra weight and risk, bringing a few “just in case” pieces of gear can spare some money and frustration down the road.
USB cables and chargers get left behind or go missing easily so it’s wise to bring a second one of each; airport shops charge a premium for a traveler stuck without a cord and in a pinch. Headphones or earbuds are useful for blocking out distractions or chatty travel neighbors. A spare USB drive might help for data storage.
If you must travel with a laptop for work and you foresee this happening frequently, consider getting a laptop case designed to go through airport security. TSA security will wipe down your laptop for explosives, and having a well designed travel laptop bag without questionable metal bits for x-ray machines to detect will keep cords secure and let the whole process go more smoothly.
If you are traveling internationally, check into the voltage changes you may encounter, and purchase appropriate voltage adapters before leaving home. Buying this gear on the fly may result in cheap or sub-par products that may not work reliably, or could damage your devices.
Always take some time in the days or weeks before departure to consider your travel tech, rather than rushing around and gathering things at the last minute. Add data and downloads to your devices at home when you know you are around a strong Wi-Fi signal, rather than scrambling for an airport hotspot. If you wish to listen to an audiobook or music, or watch videos, download these files to your devices before you leave home.
Charge all your devices before you leave home as well. Charging stations may be full at airports, and people may have already claimed the outlets on trains. If you find yourself on a long-distance train ride and you have the space to spare, consider bringing a power strip to make sure you can spread the electricity among all of your devices. And you can check online in regards to which airlines have outlet options onboard.
If you anticipate taking lots of photos, download your old photos to your computer, or upload them to the cloud. Clearing out old photos from your camera or phone will free up space for new photos, reduce the risk of losing old photos, and help you stay organized.
If you think you may need Wi-Fi on your trip, do your research in advance to figure out what your options are. Your cellphone service provider may have Wi-Fi plans available. Barring that, you can call ahead to check up on your hotel’s Wi-Fi. Most hotels offer Wi-Fi services these days but you may have to request access when you check in. Finally, you can go to sites like www.wififreespot.com to check in on restaurants, libraries, and cafes in the vicinity of your destination that offer an available Wi-Fi connection.
Tips & Considerations
Your technology can work for you while you are on your trip. Using your phone, you can book tickets, find great restaurants in the immediate vicinity, dig up the hours and maps to attractions you’d like to visit and find out what’s worth your time to see.
Even if you prefer to carry paper tickets while traveling, having your phone on hand with backup e-tickets can spare some worry if things get lost in the shuffle. With the proper apps, your phone’s camera can be used as a scanner to make copies of paperwork and documents. Finally, a digital copy of your passport, driver’s license, and other important documents is better than nothing if your wallet is lost or stolen.
Bringing tech with you while traveling can add to your stress levels if you don’t plan ahead or if you bring too much along for the ride. But anticipating issues and preparing early will not only ease your stress levels, it could make your travels smoother and more enjoyable.