Having been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to technology when traveling I feel like I can provide some insight into the pros and cons.
When I first came to Australia my only form of technology was my phone and my GoPro (I realise this is still more than a lot of people may take but I definitely felt like the odd one out without a tablet/laptop).
Now I have my Iphone, my GoPro, a camera and a laptop. However, I’m not just here to list all of the stuff I have with me. I’m going to try and help you decide what you do and don’t need when traveling around.
First up; Phone.
For me this is a no-brainer. If you already own a Smart phone or can afford to get one then take it. Unlock it before you leave and buy a SIM which works in the country you will be staying in. (This is more relevant to people who are staying in one country long term). Once unlocked you can use this phone to contact people in the country you are currently in cheaply and easily. It also means that by using 3G/connecting to WiFi you can easily and freely contact everyone back home. These days you can do most things from your phone; call, email, social media, blogging, pictures etc etc etc meaning that in theory a phone is all you will need when traveling…at least that was my logic.
It became apparent pretty quickly that I’d got this theory slightly wrong after about 2 weeks of being in Australia where my phone’s storage was completely full. I spent months from then having to save my photos onto a private Facebook album and delete them all off my phone in order to take more. Not only was this extremely time consuming but also not convenient when you’re somewhere like Lake Mackenzie or Sydney Opera House and your phone is telling you it can’t take anymore pictures. Also the Iphone 5s which I am using doesn’t take the best pictures (especially mine which has a very stubborn blob purple nail varnish over the camera lens). After a while I had enough and decided it was time I got myself a camera. So using Sam’s J B HiFi discount I got myself a good camera for a very good price and a huge memory card so I wouldn’t run out of storage in a hurry.
Getting a camera was probably the best investment I have made so far in Oz. With a 32GB SD card I haven’t had to think about running out of storage and I have well over 3000 pictures on it at the moment. The difference in picture quality between my phone and camera is pretty significant and now looking back at the pictures I have from the East Coast the first time compared to the second time I know I made the right choice. Not only is it convenient for the storage and allows for a better memory of my time traveling but also it has provided me with a bit of a hobby. I sometimes find myself specifically going to a location just to take pictures and try out various settings. This may sound super nerdy but contrary to most people’s beliefs; traveling can leave you with lots of time to fill and what better way to fill it than with beautiful surroundings, watching sunrises/sunsets and waiting for a perfect setting to present itself.
My parents bought me a GoPro before I went traveling probably in the hope that I would come back with loads of cool videos of me back-flipping over shark infested waters while boxing a kangaroo. However, I have basically got some reduced quality videos of me snorkeling and walking around. I am somewhat on the fence about whether I needed my GoPro; I feel I definitely didn’t use it anywhere near as much as I should have but even if I did use it more I made such a mess of storing my videos that most of them are unusable/rubbish quality. Basically my GoPro SD card has a tiny memory, so I’ve been downloading them off my GoPro onto my phone and then from my phone onto my private Facebook album. As you may imagine that has been time consuming and the outcome has been disappointing. But, if you have a decent GoPro with a good amount of storage and you know you’re going to be doing adventurous stuff and be able to edit it well later than I’m certainly not saying don’t take it! I have to say that since getting a laptop and being able to transfer my videos and pictures straight off my GoPro onto the laptop it has been so much easier and more effective, you never know maybe next I’ll download the editing software and try and get my head around that side of it!
I’ve been in Australia since June 2016 and it wasn’t until February 2017 that I’ve had a laptop. In my opinion a laptop is definitely not an essential piece of technology but it is very helpful. I was lucky enough to get mine for free; mum left it for me after coming over to visit me as she never used it. If it was a case of only having a Laptop if we had to pay for it then I would still be without one now – but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from backpacking is to never say no to a freebie! Since we’ve had the laptop we’ve started doing a lot more research into where we could go traveling next and looking at flights. It was also a great help when it came to applying to jobs and having to check emails and complete long application forms. We’ve also borrowed Sam’s brother’s Netflix account which has given us something to do on rainy days and boring nights.
This ones pretty easy; do you like reading? Were you planning on taking a book traveling? If yes than a Kindle is worth bringing if you can afford it. Since I’ve been in Australia I’ve read all of the Game of Thrones books, 2 out of 3 of the Lord of the Rings books and a few others. If I had to buy each of these in paper form I would need to lug around a heavy chunky thing until I finish it and then repeat. The Kindle is normally cheaper to buy books and so much lighter. It’s in my bag wherever I go and there’s normally always downtime to fit in a few pages, whether it’s on the bus for 15 minutes or sat at the beach on your own. If you weren’t planning on reading at all then obviously save your money!
Overall I feel like technology is exactly what you make of it. We’ve been in places so beautiful and fun that we haven’t even thought about getting out our phones/cameras etc. But we have also been in a hostel/bar awkwardly sat around while everyone else has paid for the Hostel’s WiFi or is on their laptop making no effort to have a conversation. I’ve loved being able to capture some of the beauty of this country and being able to make a visual journal of where we’ve been and what we’ve done but also tried to make sure I put my camera down and actually take in the view through my eyes as well as through the lens.
Camera: Canon Powershot SX720 HS
Laptop: Acer, Aspire One Cloudbook 11