Anyone who follows me on twitter will have probably noticed that in the last two weeks I’ve been tweeting with a geolocation in Vietnam. If you’re really smart you may have worked out that I was on holidays over there!
I had a bit of tech with me, an iPad, iPhone, laptop and 2 kindles so I thought I’d share some of my experiences and tips for travelling as a geek.
Something that I find is very useful when travelling is having access to the internet. It allows me to do those useful things such as email/ skype my parents, use google maps and check in on foursquare.
So my first pointer when going overseas is work out how you plan to stay connected. Most hotels I’ve stayed in recently have had free wifi so if that’s good enough for you then check out the places you plan to stay. Also a lot of cafe’s and bars (particularly ones targeting travellers) offer free wifi so that can allow you your mid-day twitter fix.
The other option is picking up a local sim. I’ve been to the USA, Denmark and Vietnam this year and all those countries have prepaid sims which you can pick up and drop into your device. For the USA check out things like GoPhone from AT&T. In Denmark I picked up a sim card from the post office (don’t remember who the provider was though) for 99 Danish Krone that lasted for 1 week and in Vietnam I got a sim for a month for the whole of $1USD!
So before you go check out the country and you’ll probably find an easy way to pick up a sim card. We found this really useful in Vietnam as it meant we could look up an address rather than relying on shitty maps in guide books, saving an argument or two with the girlfriend :P.
Before you go for a local sim card make sure your phone is network unlocked. I ended up in Denmark with a network locked phone and my sim wasn’t usable in it :(
Internet beats books
Like a studious traveller we picked up our copy of the Lonely Planet but by the end of the trip we were only use it for one purpose, the find out where not to go.
Now I don’t want to rag on Lonely Planet too much but it’s really hard for a print book to keep pace with the internet. Instead we turned to good ol’ technology (since I had a local sim) to find out stuff to do. Now I want to talk about two sites that are invaluable if you’re travelling.
Wikitravel is the wikipedia of travel websites. It’s got lots of great tips on history of a place, what to see while you’re there how to get in, out and around. The kind of stuff you can get out of a Lonely Planet guide book but it is able to be kept up to date (say around pricing of cabs). It can even give you those handy tips that you wont find out until you’ve hit them (such as Melbourne trams having coin-only ticket machines).
That said be careful of vandalism/ shameless self promotion on the site, you’ll occasionally find companies promoting themselves on there. It’s generally pretty easy to pick them though.
Trip Advisor is a must when you’re planning your trip and when you’re away. The site is full of user generated content and allows for people to enter information about places they’ve visited, stayed, eaten at, etc and then vote against them.
Again this is something that kills Lonely Planet. Where Lonely Planet can only have a finite amount of places listed and gets out of date, a site based around generate content can reflect the actual mood of travellers to an area.
We used this to find recommendations for hotels, places to eat or just check out others opinions for places we got recommended by friends.
It goes without saying that when you’re travelling having local power adapters is a valuable thing but what I found more valuable was carrying a multi-port adapter. Don’t go crazy and take like a 10 port power board if you only have 2 devices but they can be handy (particularly if you’re travelling for work as well as play).
It goes without saying that you should have travel insurance with you but make sure that your policy will cover you for the devices you are carrying with you. Last thing you want is to lose your laptop and find out that you only had $500 of coverage!
I went with Travel Insurance Direct who have a reasonably well priced set of plans including yearly world-wide plans.
Get a local sim
Use WikiTravel and Trip Advisor
Make sure your travel insurance will cover your gear