OR, OLD BIRDS BEING NERDS.
Ok Old Birds, let’s talk technology.
ALERT: This post will be updated again and again no doubt, and do let me know if I have left anything out! I think I will add an actual list later ffs!
The Old Birds Club don’t like it when I bring this up but it must be faced, you’re going to need modern gadgets and devices to properly enjoy and record your trip. As I’ve said before on Packing for the Solo Traveller, I have my small rucksack brimming with wires and paraphernalia. Don’t underestimate how important it is to become au fait with some basic techy stuff. It’s well worth the time and effort getting used to these things, or maybe get a friend or relative to teach you how to prepare and use these things. Once you learn you will never look back and be super confident in your Old Bird endeavours. Remember I’m egging you on! (geddit?!)
In your Small Rucksack
I travel with my laptop, IPad, two phones, and all relevant chargers and an adapter for all countries. I also carry two external hardrives, one for recorded TV and films the other for any photos I might want to edit or videos I might put together. Now I’m aware that most of you won’t want to be such an anorak so just take the one but do take one with entertainment recorded on it. You’ll have an occasional wobble while alone at night somewhere remote, and some comedy will break the bad vibe. (I downloaded seven series of 30 Rock and it was a brilliant move on my part, a lot of my hysterical laughter has been heard along many a hotel corridors across the world thanks to that programme)
Phones and IPads and Handy Apps.
The reason you have the two phones is this, you’ll need one unlocked and ready for a prepaid sim in any country you visit. With this you can check maps and Google info but more importantly you can order a cab.
There are Uber apps or similar like Grab in Asia. You download the app and you’re good to go. It’s a safe way to get about and opens up any country to you and it’s attractions. It’s always easy to get there but coming back from remote or dodgy or downright dangerous places is not so easy so you can prebook or just contact on your phone as you exit a place. It’s a life saver and I wonder how I survived without it before? Obviously you’ll want your translating app and money converter but there are loads of others available that will make you trip more extensive, daring and exciting. On top of everything you have your home phone to be a backup should you lose your unlocked “burner”!! That’s a good reason to have a cheaper and tattier unlocked phone that thieves won’t hone into while you’re wandering about and your smart one will be safe tucked up in your hotel safe. Hopefully you’ll have apps for the airlines you’re using so you can check in to flights and have your boarding pass on your phone it’s sooo much more convenient. Also things like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia or whatever are your favourites for getting that tour, trip or hotel. Have these across your devices as sometimes it’s easier to do some stuff back at a place where you have wifi, on your IPad or laptop for example.
Battery Chargers and Adaptors.
Battery chargers are also a must. While on longer journeys especially bus rides it’s infuriating not being able to recharge at least your phone on the hoof. Much squabbling happened on one bus ride in Guatemala when I had run out of extra charge and had to beg my mate Andreas for a little “juice”.
Recharging all your devices should become a nerdy ritual at each stop and you’ll will soon get into the routine. If you are at a posher hotel you’ll need to ask for an extra room card so when you go out your stuff keeps charging. Many a time I forgot about this before, and it’s infuriating to think on your return it’ll all be charged up and ready to go and it’s not dammit! If you’re in a place where you don’t want to leave your valuables out just ask at the front desk for them to do it.
For the pesky plug problems,fear ye not, there is a multi plug and socket adaptor that fits EVERYTHING AND EVERYWHERE! Just buy it online or at the airport at the start of your journey.
There are constantly new devices on the market so keep your eye out for anything that is lighter or multifunctional and I will update this if I find out new short cuts for you.
Lastly it’s worth joining Netflix and or Prime. They have a more limited supply but still have a lot of stuff to watch in your down time which as I’ve said sometimes can be really down. At Sepilok at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre there was nothing to do in the evening where I stayed and it rained throughout two whole nights. The light was dingy in the otherwise lovely jungle room and I did feel a little low at night, good old Netflix came to my rescue. For audiobooks I have a wonderful app run by my library (RBdigital) where you can borrow up to six books, otherwise there are other free apps (just Google there are many) but they have a more limited library. Audible of course is great and you can get very up to date books that you pay for, or some freebies especially podcasts.
I find that having a book read to me at night is a great way to drift into sleep like a child and all you do is put it on a timer to turn off automatically (ironically sometimes I wake up when it stops!) Obviously if you prefer music or whale songs for sleeping just download the App!
Try to cover all these bases especially going on a longer more exotic trip then you will have a fuller experience and some creature comforts…Oh and don’t be a dummy like me on my Americas trip and leave your waterproof camera behind. Doh! (Extra batteries for that please, shooting video uses a lot of juice and when you’ve travelled miles for a special snorkelling place you don’t want to ruin it by only having the one battery)
So finally, those heavy bits of hardware are your saviours and worth the loving care and constant charging that you will lavish on them. Bon Birdy Voyage!
Top Tip: This sounds obvious but if you are on the road get insurance and for Gods sake a watertight bag for your bits that will save your gear from a downpour to a rough boat ride!