Technology is a huge deal these days; if you check your pockets or any of your bags you’re sure to find some kind of technological device in there!
Go ahead and look, I’ll wait…
You found your cellphone didn’t you? See? I was right! Seriously, technology is everywhere and even if you’re just traveling casually you’re going to want to stay connected! So where do you start? What do you look for? Well look no further!
Getting Started Questions
So lets get you started on your technological needs. Before you can start comparing price or megapixels, you should consider the following:
- Where am I going? – This is important to know. You don’t want to take a phone that’s not water proof or without a water proof case if you’re going to go somewhere with plenty of water… like the ocean! This question will help you decide on the rest of the things on this list, since where you’re going will set everything else up for your technology choices!
- How much wear will I put on my device? – If you’re going to use a device a lot, several times a day or even several times an hour a cheaper alternative may not be as good as something that has a higher quality and will last longer. Cameras are a good example of this; you want a camera with a long shutter life and sometimes (not always) the better the brand the longer the life.
- How much do I want to spend? – Sometimes spending more on a device is better than getting something cheaper. Now I’m not a brand guy, I prefer whatever works for a good price but on some things I prefer higher end devices. One good example is cellphones. I know the cheaper smartphones get the job done, but often they aren’t sealed from the elements, have cheap bezels, and shatter like glass when dropped. If you’re a smart shopper you can find great deals on good, trusted, and tested brands.
- Will it fit? – I love large displays. I’m not blind but I love large format displays with lots of area to see all of the details. This isn’t for everyone and if you’re going to be on the go you want to make sure a device will fit your travel plan. You do not want to travel with a large 17-inch laptop that weighs 15 pounds if you’re going to be moving quickly or staying in places with cramped quarters. Your bag might not be large enough to fit a 17-inch laptop either and you’ll have to buy a new bag or get a smaller laptop.
- Is it the right tool for the job? – This ties into #4 to a degree; don’t take a tablet to an outing if your phone will do the job. Its small, fits in your pocket and has a great camera. Of course, you can take a stand-alone camera with you as well which is purpose built to take pictures and will probably outperform your phone. If you’re taking a laptop, do you need the $3000 gaming laptop if you’re just going to be checking email and Facebook or will you be editing pictures and videos on the go? You will spend a lot of time on this one. Mrs. MA and I do this a lot, especially with camera lenses so you make sure you do some research!
- Is it comfortable? – Like I said in #4, I love large displays. This also applies to phones and tablets for me, and as of this writing, I’m currently using an iPhone 7Plus. I also have big hands and the phone fits fine in it, but Mrs. MA, for example, has tiny little hands and my phone may not be comfortable for her to hold. Weight is another issue. If a device is too heavy or ungainly to carry around with you regularly, you may find yourself lugging around a large and expensive piece of equipment you don’t even want to use.
- Can I get it replaced or repaired? – A big deal if you’re on the road and your device gets lost, stolen or broken. You always want to be sure a device can be repaired or replaced while you’re on the go. Some companies have repair facilities all over the planet so you may be able to get it fixed in town. Some may allow you to ship it back to the factory for repair and then ship ahead to your next destination. Cellphone repair shops are becoming quite popular and are popping up all over the place so if you crack a screen you might not have to replace a phone entirely you can just get the screen swapped. One note with replacements: Make sure your replacement works where you’re traveling. Sometimes cellphones may be locked to the area they’re purchased in or a device may only have language options for that area. Be sure to ask if you can configure it for your needs.
- Can I use this where I am going? – Drones are big business right now; floating cameras with excellent accuracy and high quality cameras make for terrific videos but a lot of places in the world are banning them because of privacy, safety and noise. GPS is another one. Some countries such as China consider GPS to be military technology and ban GPS devices from the country. Be careful and learn the local laws before you take buy a piece of gear. Laptops and phones are generally OK, but in some places they may be no-nos.
- Can I insure it?- Make sure that your travel insurance policy covers your devices, both individually and in total. You don’t want to find out a device isn’t covered when you file a claim.
- Will I even use it? – The bane of all techno-junkies; I can buy IT but will I USE it? This is something I live with every day and thankfully I have Mrs. MA to keep me in check most of the time. If i didn’t I would have about $40,000 of gear I don’t use. Be sure if you’re going to buy something it is going to get used or you’re going to waste money on gear you don’t want. If it is not something you’d normally buy but are considering it, demo it first.
I Answered your questions. Now what?
OK, so you went through the list and you still want to buy something. Answering these questions are the first steps in buying tech gear for long term travel. Up next, how to use your answers to purchase the right gear for your needs.
Have you bought gear for long term travel? How did you make your choices? Let us know in the comments section below!