Taking electronics on vacation - really necessary?

I am just wondering if I am the only one here does NOT take and electronic equipment (except my digital camera)on vacation. No Iphone, Blackberry, Ipod, netbook, GPS, Kindle, etc.

I dont have a cellphone anyhow but it seems like some people are so addicted they cant leave it home.

People on this site stress out so much about what will work where, adaptors, etc. Vacations are about relaxing! Does anyone ever just walk around streets enjoying historical sites, castles, fancy old buildings, architecture, fancy fountains, nice restaurants, views, etc?

I am 41 but am not ancient so it cant just be an age thing.

Just wondering!

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
6808 posts

Tami: Good news, you're not the only one!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Tami,, I'm totally with you on this,, it is so much easier to travel lighter anyways.. not worrying about adaptors, chargers, or will my laptop fit in the hotel safe etc..

I have somehow managed just fine with none of above items you mention. In fact,, last year I didn't even take a camera.. which in hindsight was a mistake as I missed taking pictures of friends I visited in London. I didn't think I'd need a camera for the sights since I have like a million scenery shots of both London and Paris anyays,, LOL .

Of course one can easily travel without all the gadgets,, as people have for years and years,, but some do like all the conveniences of having the stuff,( and there are some,, like being able to google an address, or find a restuarant or hotel etc) and thats good for them. Everyone is different.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Tami,

There are definitely two "schools of thought" here on the HelpLine on the subject of travelling with electronic devices such as the ones you mentioned.

I don't think it would be accurate to categorize the preferences based on age. I'm in my late '50s and travel with a well equipped kit of electronics!

My present kit (with some of my reasons for packing these around Europe):

Digital Camera: photography is an important part of travel, so the dSLR is essential; I also have a "backup" P&S model.

Cellphone: as I travel solo a lot of the time, I like to be able to keep in touch with family back home and so they can notify me of any urgent matters. Using text is very inexpensive.

IPod Touch: really nice to listen to music on long train journeys and this also provides somewhat useful E-mail & internet access with a Wi-Fi hotspot.

GPS: these are not infallible, but have really helped on a couple of occasions! It's also good for use in "pedestrian mode".

Netbook (for the first time this year): provides backup for photos (important!) and also provides a unit for E-mail, blogging, journalling or whatever. I find it more time-efficient to use Hotel Wi-Fi than use Net Cafés (I'm usually so busy touring that the Net Cafés are closed by the time I get to them).

While this might sound like an enormous amount of gear to travel with, these devices (and their Chargers) don't take much room or weight so these haven't really been a problem so far.

Each of the devices I travel with makes my travels a bit easier in some way. However, these are not something I dwell on, so they don't keep me from doing things like "just walk around streets enjoying historical sites, castles, fancy old buildings, architecture, fancy fountains, nice restaurants".

If you prefer to travel with only a digital Camera, that's certainly your choice.

Happy travels!

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

I am glad to see I am not alone in this! I read this board alot and love all the tips but keep seeing so much anxiety about electronics, so I thought I would ask.

I love being so free on my trips. I guess it depends on how we each travel. I dont rent cars abroad, so I dont need a GPS. Sometimes its fun to just "get lost" anyhow and see where the untrodden path takes you. (As long as you know how to get back to your hotel!) I have developed a fantastic knowledge of areas this way!

I do take a digital camera and upload my photos to my Facebook page every couple days at an internet cafe. Even if someone doesnt bring a digital camera, they can always buy a disposable camera at a shop.

As for the age thing, I wasnt trying to offend anyone. I was just thinking I was going to get a slew of responses asking if im of an "older" generation. lol.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

To find my way around, I always google-map and print all the places I definatly want to see and write down opening and closing times, etc.
Then as I see each place, I just toss that piece of paper.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6833 posts

The only items one really needs for travel is your passport, return plane ticket, cash/credit card, and a spare set of underwear:) Everybody brings at least one "toy" with them. For example, Tami admits that she travels with a digital camera. Whereas I rarely travel with a camera, instead the only electronics I bring along is my netbook. I have no use for an Iphone/cellphone, Blackberry, Ipod, GPS, Kindle. In fact my netbook can do almost all those functions in one device. Having said that, if someone feels those other devices will make their travel easier and more comfortable, why not bring them along? My netbook frees up a lot space in my bag. I use it to store travel documents, pages from guidebooks, ebooks, and maps. I can also use it as a nightlight, white noise machine, stereo system, mini-cinema, alarm clock, and make cheap calls back home via skype. ...and it's smaller than a Bible, and yes I can store a Bible in my netbook as well:) Everyone has different travel styles, and different things they want to get out of their journey; one size doesn't fit all.

Posted by Anna
Seattle, WA, United States
684 posts

I lost you at "I don't have a cell phone" ;)

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2374 posts

I guess I noticed the same thing on a recent trip, it was for business, so I did have a Netbook, Blackberry, my wifes cell phone, an Ipod Touch, Camera, Video Camera, all of the chargers, and a couple of adapters.

In retrospect, if it was a purely personal trip, the decision point for each of those would change:

We only bring multiple cell phones if we are planning on splitting up, otherwise we bring only one, for emergencies or checking in, most of the time the cell phone is in the bag in the hotel.

This was the first trip with the Ipod Touch, I found it great for music, podcasts (including Rick Steves), as a clock and alarm, and occassional email access. It will probably be a fixture now.

The camera and video camera, though compact, could be cut to one, but likely we'll take both, as mentioned, an integral part of travel, though the purist could argue that photos are just a token memory, we often walk for hours and never take a picture.

The netbook I struggle with, I never took a Laptop (except on business) The netbook is certainly light, great internet access if you can find a connection. handy to have your own programs as opposed to an internet cafe, but even for a very light item, it is still bulky and an added weight.It will always be one of those things that I may or may not take.

I do wish I could reduce the number of chargers, that would help, though, with newer electronics, the days of converters are gone and only simple adapters are needed.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9108 posts

Count me among the primitives. Unless I travel on business, I restrict my electronics to a digital camera. I chuckle sometimes reading these posts. It sounds like some people think they're going back in time on a safari.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

I guess I'm part of the dinosaur clan, too. This summer was the first time I took my cell phone and digital camera on a trip. And mostly I took the cell phone because we were traveling with a large group and also since we had reserved apartments where we had to call the owners the day before to make arrangements to get the keys.

I'm a recent Itouch owner, so now I'm hooked on that. Shoot. But it does have some cool apps and it's small.

As far as laptop/netbooks go, I'm on vacation, I don't want to spend any time online unless I have to. My husband's laptop is for work and I insist that he leaves that at home, too.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1508 posts

Every year I try to pack lighter and more efficiently. But I'm also the "tour leader" for a family of 5.

We're on both sides of the tech spectrum. On the one hand, we have never owned a cell phone (and have saved thousands of $ and many headaches). We also shun handheld electronic games. But we have a video iPod with many movies for everyone in the family to help pass the time during transport, along with a small digital camera for each member of the family (helps keep the kids engaged in what we're doing and also gives them - and us - free "souveniers" to dissuade us from buying too many of the other souveniers).

This year I will be using the 4oz iPod touch to replace more than 4 pounds of maps and guide books, as well as doing email for the first time on vacation. Now when I'm walking down a street in Budapest and want to get my bearings, I can whip out my touch and look hip instead of whipping out my guide book and look like a dork (or at least I'll look like less of a dork now).

So I vote in favor of electronics if it feels like it makes your life easier and against them if it feels like it makes your travel experience more complicated.

Posted by Arnold
Denver, CO, USA
1000 posts

I too am one of those who leaves most of the electronics behind with the exception of the digital camera.

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

Seems to me that people on this site stress about everything--should I wear shorts, what are the best shoes, should my bag have wheels, etc. It's the nature of a site like this where people are asking for advice about travel.

Everybody has their own travel styles--most of which have nothing to do with addiction and a lot to do with personal needs and situations. For example, I have traveled happily without a camera but would never dream of traveling without journaling equipment--formerly lots of paper, these days a small notebook computer. My husband is just the opposite--he takes pictures of just about everything he sees and would be unhappy without a camera. We've traveled with and without cellphones--being able to stay in touch when my dad was very ill made it possible to travel when otherwise we would likely have canceled the trip.

I know people who wonder why I waste money on guidebooks when you can just go places and play things by ear. Me, I research compulsively.

So the question about electronics is just a subset of the big question--is there one right way to travel? Looked at that way, the answer is obvious. But the forum is helpful I think both to reassure people that their personal choices are reasonable and to give people advice about aspects of their choices that perhaps they hadn't considered.

Posted by Larson
Halifax
110 posts

Tami

I'm a proud member of the dinosaur clan. A camera and thats it.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you used the word "addictive". My best friend and I are the same--but his wife cant stand to be "unplugged". Everywhere we go, she's connected--Facebook, Notebook, IPhone etc etc

Now ask her, and she'll give you the same excuses you'll hear here "in case of emergencies", "keep in touch with friends and family" blah, blah, blah. The truth is, she needs to be connected. Her Facebook postings aren't about her friends--its about her.

With very rare exceptions, I dont buy a minute of it.

Other than that I have no opinion....

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1054 posts

I'm with you, Tami. I travel with a digital camera only. Vacations for me are to relax and get away, and I don't want to hear the news or keep up with my e-mail or listen to music or watch movies. I'm pretty low tech at home too so that's probably part of it. I bring a guidebook and a novel and a small journal and have no intention of trading them for something electronic, no matter how small and light. Just a personal preference. I don't begrudge others from taking their electronics and understand how they can be useful but I have to admit it drives me crazy to see tourists with their noses buried into their iPhone or netbook rather than looking at the scenery etc.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9108 posts

From the responses received thus far, it would appear that us dinosaurs have not gone extinct just yet.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6833 posts

Dinosaurs:) What I'm getting from this thread is that it's the "other" travelers who always bring along all the toys "not me...even though I always take my digital camera...of course that doesn't count";) Like I said in my original post, everybody brings something; and in my book, digital cameras do count.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

We took three cellphones for four people, one of which was the iPhone, a netbook, video camera (was staying with my sister over Christmas, so purely for that reason), and GPS.

To drive in Europe without one can be quite tricky, and it can even help while trying to find a place on foot. Having the netbook was extremely important since we were in London during the chaos with Eurostar and needed internet access. The iPhone was important too because I would be using the netbook, while my kids or hubby were using the other to make contact, or check something we needed. Usually internet was slooooowwww so that was helpful. And yes, lots of extra adaptors to lug around, but this has all become necessary in a way, and as Steve put it, makes life a lot easier.

We aren't as hip as Steve yet, because no one has shown an interest in Kindle. :-) Way to go Steve!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Tami,

"As for the age thing, I wasnt trying to offend anyone"

Not to worry, I'm not offended in the least. I just wanted to comment on the idea that "older people" are often perceived as not being as accepting of technology as those that are younger. The group here on the HelpLine are probably a good indicator of that.

Cheers!

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11271 posts

The last time I went to Europe without a computer, the bag in which I had stored all of my travel information (maps, guidebook, rail schedules) was bigger and heavier than my netbook in it's case, now. And I still had rolls of film in my suitcase, a small notebook in my pocket for recording expenses, and a German/English dictionary. Now it's all in one place, smaller and lighter, thanks to the wonders of technology.

But other than that and a digital camera (I bought along a film SLR back then), that's it; No GPS (the train engineer and bus driver know the way), no cell phone (I've always been able to find pay phones), no Kindle (if I want to read, I can stay home), no Ipod (I come to Europe to experience it, not listen to American music).

And I'm 65. But I've been using technology all my life, as a tool, not a toy, and I'm not afraid of it.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

ON vacation, I take an ipod touch.

Why? Simple...it does so much and lessens the weight of my bag.

For 4.4 ounces, I get:

Travel Apps--hotels, flights, trains-schedules, reservations, etc

News--I like to know what's going on both around the world and where I am;

Weather--I preset my destinations and know if I"ll need to take my umbrella;

Audio-I have some music but mostly audiobooks, podcasts and radio shows. Some are for knowledge, others are to help during the long train rides.

Kindle, B&N Reader, Stanza--download books to read;

Banks & Brokers--I can take care of financial business should it arise;

Email--stay in touch and up to date;

Translator--helps with the words I don't know;

Games--I am on vacation;

Alarm Clock--when you got to get up early for that cheapo flight;

Flashlight--I've been in hotels where the power goes out.

Phone Calls--Skype--very cheap to call home or ahead if necessary.

Maps--keep me from getting lost;

Download my itinerary--as stated in another thread, I don't look so touristy.

Those are just a few things that come to mind and the reason why I won't travel without my Itouch.

Posted by Lane
Mansfield, GA
847 posts

I take my DSLR camera with one extra lens, a GPS, and a cell phone which I use very rarely but like to have in case of emergency. That's it. At home I feel as if I cannot go without reading the newspaper every morning, or get on the internet, or watch the news, history channel, sports channels and such. Then I find that when I travel and don't have access to these things or choose not to access them even if available it is like a breath of fresh air and relaxes and refreshes me. What I feel is a necessity in my daily routine really is not. Another valuable lesson that travel has taught me.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

I take my camera. Last year I took my cell phone to call home once a day. However, I do have a new iPhone and frankly I'm addicted to it! I will take it.

Posted by Michael 1
Phoenix, AZ, USA
1035 posts

iPhone covers it all for me -- as mentioned a few posts earlier about the iTouch -- they cover a lot of ground.

The only function I don't use it for, ironically, is the phone.

In 10 years time, we'll all be carrying iPads to Europe....

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1508 posts

Re iPad;

To do things the way you are used to doing them; netbook.

To do things differently - likely more like they will be done in the future; iPad

I sit here now writing this on a Touch and it is an amazing machine for it's size but too small to type well or to "work". When the iPad comes out in four weeks go take a look. Start moving your fingers around and I predict you will be hooked.

Posted by Alexandra
West Coast, California, USA
292 posts

The 11 hour flight to Germany was SO much easier when I took my iTouch last time. Listening to music and watching a couple of downloaded videos made that trip go by much quicker. Then, once in Europe, I could access all my email easily with the same small iTouch every few days or so.

This trip I'll utilize my Garmin GPS (to take the place of the map that will eventually get bent/ripped by the end of the trip). Also have my very small Flip Video camera (to take the place of a bulky camcorder).

Posted by Cary
Gator Country, Florida
297 posts

So my personal preference is to have some electronic equipment (I usually have a camera and a laptop, and this year I plan to take my iPhone for the first time). But I have a different question to pose - Tami (and other self-styled "dinosaurs" as one poster put it) why take a camera? I mean, for centuries (millennia actually) people traveled without them. For that matter, why take the train and use cars? - they too are technology that we can live without.

My point is that where do you draw the line with technology? I try to challenge myself to not draw my own arbitrary line and then pretend that makes it a "purist" line while noting others "take things too far." Everyone is different. Some people like the stress - let them keep it! :) I take the stuff, but leave the stress behind.

PS I imagine whatever answer you have to the camera question will also be others answer to why they take the other stuff that you opt not to use.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Read a hilarious comment on a hotel review today( on Venere for Hotel Welcome) ..

Poster said ;

" room had a rotary phone , so difficult to make long distance calls on it"
LOL
Like how,, did her finger get sore??

Posted by Angela
Bloomington, IL, USA
64 posts

A few months ago my husband and I went on a vacation to the beach in South Carolina and I discovered when we got there that I had forgotten my cell phone. I was thinking ok, no big deal- he has his. Well he just didn't know WHAT I would do without a phone all week. I looked at him and just said, what the heck did we do for years, and years without a cell phone? Needless to say, I survived just fine. =) I think my brain needed the break!

I'll take a camera and my Iphone, but it will only be on for entertainment on the plane and emergencies. And we are the same age....way far from ancient!

Posted by Kristen
Phoenix, AZ
199 posts

My son took his ipod touch. Kept him entertained on trains, planes and to keep up on his beloved Red Sox back home. It was also very handy trying to find the Statue of Liberty in Paris. I could not wait to get rid of cell phones and computers for two weeks. We had list of what we wanted to see, but no real schedule. I love just walking around and exploring areas. As for restraunts, when we were hungary, restraunt looked clean etc... we went in. I only did two sites a day (Ex. Tower of London and Westminister Abbey) the rest of the days, we just walked and explored. We would spend hours at a site and never felt rushed to get to the next site.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11271 posts

I far prefer email to communicate with back home when I am in Europe. I sleep for eight hours; my wife sleeps for eight hours. Only thing is they are not the same eight hours. Due to the time difference, we really only have about 8 hours to talk on the phone and for most (all) of that time, she's at work. But, with email, I just leave her a message, she picks it up when she can, and answers it, even when I am fast asleep. Email works much better for me than a phone. I don't have a cell phone here; I certainly don't need one there.

And, I would definitely prefer to have a full sized screen and a full sized keyboard. No mouse screen and mouse pad for me (spreadsheets just don't look good on a handheld).

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

I'm guessing Tami's point is that too often people are not experiencing life around them. They are talking on their phone or texting. This weekend we were at a club, and when the saxophonist was not actively playing the sax, he was texting. During a song. What could have been that important? Look at me, I'm on stage.

That said, I do covet a kindle.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1349 posts

Wow, Tami, you really struck a chord here. It's interesting to see how everyone travels.

A couple of years ago when we started taking vacations without our children (they grew up!) I started taking a cell phone. I just can't stand the thought of our kids not being able to get in touch with us if they need something (one is still in college). I loved having it even if we didn't talk to them that often. Last year my one son lost his credit card and had no idea who to call. The year before my other son got a job interview and offer and it was fun to hear about it. We have occasionally used it to make local calls, but mostly it's the occasional call home.

This past year we brought a GPS for the first time. I was glad to have it. It did simplify getting places.

I would love to have a kindle to save from having to bring multiple books -- I always take at least one guide book plus two or three books to read. I like to read before bed, and I usually read books about where I am visiting, so it enhances the trip.

I would kind of like a netbook or iPod touch so I could e-mail my kids and maybe look things up online, but I wouldn't want to take anything heavy, and I don't really feel a strong need for this. An iPhone or iPod touch would be awesome, but I don't have one.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2892 posts

I actually think that cameras are the electronic devices that most inhibit the ability to "walk around streets enjoying historical sites, castles, fancy old buildings, architecture, fancy fountains, nice restaurants, views". I often notice tourists who seem to see most of the sites on the 2 inch screen of their camera :)

I take a camera, mobile phone (mainly for emergencies), and I-Touch. Twenty-five years ago, I took a camera and a cassette player walkman. I'm thrilled that the gadgets are smaller and lighter now.

This is very much a "to each his own". For me, the plane ride is so much more pleasant with music and an audiobook. I'd hate to leave that at home. On the other hand, if someone told me that I couldn't take the camera it would not be a big deal.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

I cant believe the number of responses to this! I was just asking out of curiousity.
I went to London last November and couldnt believe in the security line how many people had to fish out netbooks, dvd players, laptops, ipods, etc. One family of about 6 had to pull everything electronic and with wires out on an entire table before going through the security. The kids were grumbling and the mom looked frazzled and like she was about to turn around and walk home.

Glad to see I am not the only "dinosaur traveler" here. I guess maybe I just become selfish when I am on vacation. I dont care about work, whos doing what, whats going on with family, news, world crisis, etc. Its my time and my time only for just me and thats what I go on vacation for. I can deal with the other stuff when I get back.

I woudnt need to call anyone and if I did, I would just find a phone booth. In my 3 trips abroad so far, I have never had the need for a phone!

I do use an internet cafe every few days to upload photos to my Facebook in case I lose my camera, and check my general email account in case someone is asking me to get them something, etc. But other than that, I am out and about without anything distracting me!

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1508 posts

A couple bits of psychology regarding technology (at least for me);

1) I take lots of photos (we go someplace new every year so no repeating photo-ops). Photos are my souvenirs. I treasure them. I've taken a month-long trip before without buying a single souvenir. A camera to me is priceless.

2) I have an iPod with music and movies, but I have found it very disconcerting to be travelling in a train half way around the world listening to music I associate with home. The same is true with movies. So I have lately begun accumulating movies and music made outside the USA specifically for use while on vacation. For me it isn't necessary that the origin of that media match the country I'm in exactly, only that it does not make me think of home.

As others have noted, when on a trip, I don't like to be connected to home. I like to imagine living in the place I'm in and seeing or hearing things from home bursts that bubble for me. So I use technology to the greatest extent I can to better enjoy the trip, but NOT to stay connected to home.

Posted by Alexandra
West Coast, California, USA
292 posts

Wow, so many responses on this topic.

Eli - my Flip is the Ultra HD black/chrome with 8 GBs of memory. It can record 120 minutes. Cost from Amazon.com was $150. Since my son will be taking his MacBook on our upcoming trip, he will upload video on a daily basis.

We tried it out at Christmas and the pic quality was fine. The price was great too.

Posted by Alexandra
West Coast, California, USA
292 posts

Randy said, "I have an iPod with music and movies, but I have found it very disconcerting to be travelling in a train half way around the world listening to music I associate with home."

So true! On a trip to Salzburg a few years back I bought a couple of Mozart cds in the music store on the Getreidegasse in the old town area (Magic Flute and another opera). I listened to those as we drove through the Alps and to this day associate those with my trip.

On our Christmas tour in 2008 I brought my iTouch and thoroughly enjoyed listening to my collection of Christmas music (particularly the German carols I'd downloaded prior). It really got me in the spirit.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Thanks Alexandra.

Randy, I agree with your response. My kids had Christmas music from around the world on their iPods.

I too don't care to know much about what's happening back in the States. We mainly use our netbook for looking up stuff that we saved for the trip. I tell everyone at home (friends) that we won't have email connection so noone writes!

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4762 posts

I carry around my handy because I hate to wear a watch and I use it to see what time it is! Another thing is that when we leave the hotel room, we seldom go back to it until late in the evening. With older parents living in the States, if something should happen, or even to my kids at home, I would like to know right away and not 10-12 hours later from a front desk clerk. Carrying my handy solves this problem.

Husband uses his i-phone for all kinds of apps. In a new city? Your i-phone can find the nearest vegetarian restaurant, give you info about that cool looking building you just passed that isn't in your guidebook, give you updates on traffic if you are driving, train strikes, high or low water levels for your river cruise, airport strikes, the closest pharmacy or dr. in cases of emergency, you name it.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

Cary - I bring a camera because its a vacation and people bring cameras on vacation! To me, photos mean alot to me as far as creating memories. But as far as other equipment, I personally dont find it necessary to have email access 24/7 (my hotel usually has internet if I had a Defcon5, 4 alarm email emergency!) or books in digital form. I wouldnt use GPS because I just make sure I have google maps printed out of what I need to see.

pat - Thats so funny about the rotary phone. I guess I am stuck in the past because that wouldnt have bothered me whatsoever!

I am not saying to do it one way or another. It is personal choice. I was just curious if I was the only one not bringing this stuff! I dont bring guidebooks either, I just transfer info into a small dayplanner.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

As noted,, there is no right or wrong answer, each person does what they prefer.. but, if one was to answer the question " electronics on vacation-really necessary?" , then the answer is in fact no.

They are pleasurable for some, handy for others, convienent and make others feel connected. They are in fact "extras" and no more right or wrong then me insisting on brining my neck pillow . I could travel without it,, but I wouldn't!

One other note. I travel over 24 hrs to get to Paris,, so ,, if something urgent happens,, well, the extra 8 hours before I return to room will likely not change outcome. Anything other then death,, I do not want to hear about,, period,, pregnant kid, nope, kid in jail , nope, husbands totalled my car, nope,, house burned down,, nope,, do not want to know!!

In 1985 my friend and I travelled around Europe for 3 full months. We phoned home ,, once from Paris( at my relatives house) and once from the postoffice in Mykonos( Greece) .. thats it.

With all the techincal ability we have to stay in touch nowadays,, it seems like some people think that means they need to be in touch,, all the time.

I do think a GPS for driving makes sense though,, it one is doing more then a day or two of driving anyways.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

Randy, you bring up a good point. I'll have to do that on my next trip. The reason I love traveling to Europe is that it's so complete different from home that it's a vacation from everything. Even though we travel with kids now, and they watch stuff like Dora and Spongebob in other countries, at least they're speaking German or Gaelic, makes it different enough to not feel like we're eating at McDonald's in Paris.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

This is a little tangential, but I think Pat brings up a good point about who needs to know what when. I know plenty of women my (middle) age who talk to their young adult children constantly. Miss a train, call mom. Minor fender bender, call mom first. Speeding ticket, call mom while the cop's there. Can't these young adults function independently without a cell phone umbilical cord? It's also a safety issue. They seem to call parents or friends when a call to police would be more in line. My teen daughter thought someone was following her recently, and she said she was about to call me. I told her the police would do more for her in that situation that I could.

Sorry, the rant is over now.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4762 posts

My post was more about things like deaths in the immediate family, or major accidents. These are things that I would want to know immediately, so that plans to fly back home could take place as soon as possible. This has happended before, and because it does take a few hours to make travel arrangements, the sooner notifcation can be received the better. Thus, I would not want to first be notified when I got back to my hotel room late in the evening. Hopefully, this will never happen to any of you, but it is nice to know you can be reached if needed.

People should bring whatever they want when they travel, without having to feel they are being judged for it. Now, my rant is over too.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

So what have we learned?

We've learned that we are all individuals, that no one is right, no one is wrong, and what works for some, won't work for others.

Let's face it....nothing is essential on vacation. Nothing. We choose what we want to bring with us. We choose what will make our trip more enjoyable. Some may agree, others may disagree.

And this goes beyond electronics. Do you know there are people out there who don't follow the Rick Steves philosophy, that take a full sized suitcase to Europe and even stay in 4 and 5 star hotels? Are they traveling wrong? For some here they might be seen that way, for them, looking at someone putting a backpack on, who is over the age of say 25, leaves them aghast.

We all do what makes us comfortable. If someone asks, I'll tell them what I do. If they do differently, that's their choice. And as long as they don't try to change my way, I'm fine with it.

Posted by Jim
Oklahoma City, OK, USA
430 posts

I am heavy techno here at home -- but prune it down for travel. We buy a prepaid phone upon arrival in Europe, and I bring my Palm with WiFi to use wherever a hotspot becomes available. I also use the Palm to back up the memory on my digital camera, just in case I lose /destroy / drop the phone in a fountain / otherwise jeopardize my trip photos.

Laptops, smart phones, ankle lo-jack, etc... all stay state-side for me. I prune it to a single freezer-bag sized allotment of technology.

Posted by Elaine
Landstuhl, Germany
626 posts

Michael Schneider=what kind of netbook do you have that's smaller than a Bible? I'm looking into getting one, thanks!

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

I cannot imagine going abroad and not chatting with my kids every day. Last year was the first time we went anywhere without them (Hawaii, and YES I am a wuss when it comes to being a mother, LOL), and it was wonderful knowing that they missed us. We had fun telling them all that we were doing, and trying to describe where we were and what we were seeing.

By the way, my daughter said she would not care for a Kindle. She loves the feel of books, and tend to leave them behind when we are on vacation.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

As far as needing cell phones overseas goes, my husband had to go overseas for work, and was going to be flying back a week before our last child's due date. We had a code, basically I would call and say "come now!" I had strict orders to not call him otherwise, so he wouldn't panic and think the baby was coming. He knew all the flights back home, when they left, so he could change at last minute. It'd still be a good 10 hours or so after I had called him, probably would've missed the whole thing if she came early.

Otherwise, we don't talk to anyone back home when we're on vacation, unless we miss our flight back home and have to call family to tell them not to come to the airport to get us (we fly standby, it's happened before).

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Maureen,, I think in your circumstance a cell phone was in fact a real necessity,,, not a luxury!

Posted by jack
Sheboygan, Wisc., USA
927 posts

Im very close to my kids.When I travel I tell them dont tell me anything that I cant do anything about.So in my many trips they have never told me anything that couldnt wait.We communicate by email and leave everything at home.

Posted by ashley
baton rouge, la, US
269 posts

I'm in constant contact with work, family and friends every second of every day (I work in media)that vacation is a time for me to be unreachable ... I leave the computer and cell phone behind and concentrate on enjoying Europe. I don't even check work e-mail. All I do is shoot my parents a quick note from a private email account every couple of days to let them know I'm alive and having fun; other than that, I get to completely recharge while exploring a new country. To each his/her own, but I'll never travel plugged in again :)

Posted by Bill
Chico, CA, usa
6 posts

In June of ’08 knowing another grandchild would arrive while we were in Italy, I checked with our cell carrier Verizon and was told only way was with some very expensive satellite setup. Reading the above postings tells me cell usage has changed in Europe. What’s new?
Bill

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Bill,

I suspect the rep. at Verizon gave you incorrect information (not really surprising, as some of them aren't well informed).

AFAIK, Verison has offered a rental program with dual-technology phones for the last few years. This doesn't involve satellite technology, but rather a "locked" dual-technology CDMA/GSM phone that operates ONLY with their roaming plan. From what I can determine, the rates are slightly higher than those offered by the GSM carriers.

Are you planning to travel with a Cell phone anytime in the near future? There are several options you could consider.

Cheers!

Posted by Arlene
Altoona, PA, USA
24 posts

The electronic I never travel without is my little (3"x5") Eton am/fm/shortwave radio. I like to listen to the radio wherever I am and it's also a clock and alarm. Now I have a Kindle and that will replace a paperback. (I'm a retired librarian and can you imagine the joy of being able to have hundreds of titles in the space of a paperback!) Tiny digital camera goes without saying as essential, and my husband can't be parted from his laptop. We take very minimal clothing (just a change and an extra layer) but the electronics are multiplying a bit.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Bill, Ken is correct. Verizon has changed. They have numerous phones that will work overseas. But even if you don't have one of them, you can "rent" one from Verizon for no fee except for the calling plan.

Global Travel Program

And no need to worry about SIM cards--they're already in the phone.

Posted by Nancy
Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland
1 posts

I'm with a fair percentage of responders, sort of middle of the road. I carry a Blackberry that has practically replaced my aging (mid-60s) brain. It's my phone, text, journal, calendar, camera, alarm clock, document file, tour book, recipe archive (yes, even that - we love to cook when we self-cater our holidays, multi-language dictionary, and more. It fits in my pocket, and I carry no handbag when we're exploring neighborhoods, sitting in cafes, relaxing on our vacations. No one even knows it's there, because its volume is always off. I feel totally free, and know that if I need to refer to something, I can. I could leave my brain behind, actually, to save weight, now that I carry the BB!

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Frank, they say this is good for travel less than 21 days? We usually go for a month.

Everytime we add more minutes to our TMobile UK phone, we get extra free minutes, then of course there is the 1 GBP for internet. The only catch is you have to send a text or make a call every 3 months for at least a minute, to keep it active, other than that, we found this to be the best bet for us.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

But if you don't have an unlocked GSM phone, which most people on Verizon don't have, you have to add the cost of that.

And since I use the phone mostly in the U.S., I'd rather have the better call quality here and pay a few cents more overseas. (Everyone I know in my area who has AT&T complains about call quality.)

And anyway, overseas, I use Skype for calls. No need to bother with SIM cards. If anyone needs to get a hold of me, they send an email. I check that a few times a day on my Itouch which I carry around.

If the person has a netbook with them, they can set up Skype and get emails as well. If they really need to have a phone, renting one would be my choice.

Posted by Russ
Canton, MI, USA
4 posts

Those people disparaging travelers who take electronics with them overlook a different style of travel. Americans are so tuned to the "see all you can" in one or two weeks that they forget there are other orientations. Being retired puts a different spin on the term "vacation". We have been fortunate to have spent a week or two in one apartment on a few trips. When one is traveling this way, you are out and about most of the day but return to your "home" for much of the evening. That is where the benefits of some of the electronics can make your trip more enjoyable. This is especially true if you are visiting where your language skills for the local language are limited.

I have found the benefits cited here for the iPod Touch were great. I have it loaded with reading material, music, maps and it is my internet connection for news and email. We have never found the necessity to call our kids from overseas, but we do have the cell phone in case we need or want to. We leave it off so they can't call us! Besides, we need it to call our pick up ride when we return home.

Posted by Alan
Kent, WA, USA
2 posts

Our first trip in 2007 we took digital cameras and a laptop. In Europe we learned that a rental car that had a GPS saved us much trouble - especially where we did not speak the language.

So, future travel will include the following:

Digital camera (regardless of how many pictures we have, the occasion always arises that you'd like to snap something. If a big DSLR is not your fancy, a point and shoot with some zoom capability fits in your pocket. Traqveling without at least a small camera leaves me feeling like something is missing - I carry one almost daily even at home.)

Netbook: many uses -storing the digital pictures so you don't rely on memory cards; communication device (we don't need a cellphone); entertainment when necessary - isn't travel entertainment enough? But being able to carry some books without the space and weight of paper is handy for some travel times. Are there e-books available for a netbook instead of Kindle, et al??? We can also use the netbook as an iPod.

Whatever devices/adapters needed to charge or operate the camera and netbook.

GPS with necessary maps. Even when the maps are a little off - which is true even in our home town - it is a tremedous tool. Ours has a pedestrian mode for walking tours. I remember a couple of times in trying to find sites in Rome, among others, the GPS would have been perfect. We can charge ours via USB from the netbook.

Thats it. We've made some local and US trips this way and are pretty well satisfied - minimum carrying load with maximum result.

One "dinosaur" I hold to for every trip: I make a small paper booklet with copies of all travel related paperwork - itneraries, hotels, reservations, confirmations, contacts, etc. - that I can fit either in a zip pocket of my backpack or even in a pants pocket. When electrons go to sleep, I have the backup!

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

I prefer to be alone when I travel, and that includes not having contact with anything back home. Its my little bubble of true vacation that I enjoy because I get to take all the time I want just for me, and that is rare to get. No one elses stresses or troubles or concerns will affect my enjoyment of time for myself.

As long as I am in europe doing what I want, that is the only world I am in for that time being. That is the entire reason I travel. To escape real day to day life. My real life is just full of stress, obligation, and responsibility. Why would I want to be reminded of that when I am trying to relax?

Posted by Isabelle
Calgary, AB, Canada
1 posts

We just came back from London, UK 3 weeks ago and had the same debate before we went. We ended up just taking our digital cameras. If two are travelling together, cell phones are essential. I lost my husband twice ( very frustrating!!!) and there is no way that I will travel without 2 cellphones again. Europe operates on SIM cards and you can purchase phones preloaded with minutes quite reasonably. Best thing is the people at home don't have the number!!! My son has a phone that he uses only in Europe and just buys a new SIM card when he arrives at the airport. Our hotel had free internet use with a terminal and free printing. (We checked this out before leaving home.) We debated about a GPS - we weren't renting a car but in retrospect, having a GPS would have been handy but not a necessity. Good street maps are essential. If you get really lost, hail a taxi. Since coming home, we have purchased a GPS - love at first use and we will probabaly take it on the next trip. We are 59 and 63 so its definitely not an age thing!

Posted by kg
Portland, OR, USA
47 posts

I personally love traveling without technology. I do bring along a digital camera but I only do that because film canisters take up more room than my backup memory card, and I prefer digital cameras regardless.

For us, taking a vacation is in a good part a break from technology. No pages from work at 2 AM. The crackberry withdrawal is a little tough at first but its also liberating as it allows me to slow down. That being said, if my husband and I weren't so tied to technology in our regular life we might travel with more technology.

I can see how a GPS device would be useful while driving, but in the past I've just used maps and that worked. One of my favorite car memories in France was the time we tried to avoid a traffic jam and ended up slightly lost in the French countryside. I can see how people like having a cell phone to keep track of their spouse if they separate, but I guess I have faith that if we do get separated both of us are capable of making it back to our hotel room on our own. ;)

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Thank goodness fortechnology and bringing some of it on vacation with us. With a 7 hour delay to contend with here at the airport, I can surf the net on my iPad, talk on cell if I wanted and generally occupy my boredom a lot more than if I didn't have these things. Won't leave home without them. Next time am bringing a movie....sigh.

Posted by Tracy
Macungie, PA, USA
422 posts

wow...so many responses. i'm an admitted tech-lover, and just yesterday got back from a week long domestic trip. i carried a backpack and a purse--no checked baggage--and took my camera, my kindle, my iPhone, and my netbook, and 'all' of the chargers--which fit into a zipper bag that fit into the outer pocket of my backpack...along with the netbook. i won't go on and on about why these things are important to me, because as many people have said, all travel styles are different. i will, however, comment on the kindle (or whatever e-reader you'd prefer). as someone who travels alone, both at home and on vacation, i cannot think of something more convenient. having a book to read, either on a flight alone or in a nice restaurant waiting to eat, is beyond comforting. and even if you are not traveling alone (which is not my primary mode of travel, but it does happen in my regular life), to be able to take ten, fifteen, twenty books with you on a month long trip, and only add ten ounces of weight to your pack? that's technology i want to stand up and clap for.

if forced to give up items, however, i'd throw them overboard in this order...

  1. non-iPhone phone
  2. iPod
  3. netbook
  4. kindle
  5. digital camera
  6. iPhone (which has a kindle app and gps and a camera and email)
Posted by Anne
Easthampton, MA, USA
21 posts

I used to be a "camera only" person until I was stuck on a full 12-hour flight to Asia and nothing (TV, sound, light) in my seat worked, so I couldn't watch a movie, listen to music or read. Because the flight was full, there was no place to move to. And I usually can't sleep on planes. So I had a long time to think deep thoughts. As soon as I got back I bought an iPod, and it travels with me everyplace now! However, I rarely use it.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Uh, hello...this is a several months old thread that's been dragged back up for.... what reason?

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3508 posts

because Eli's stuck at the airport and has nothing to do but surf the net.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

We got in later than I ever gotten in and its a bit after six pm.

It is not so uncommon to resurrect a thread no hard rules on that.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2687 posts

Hi,

All those electronic things you listed above, Iphone, Ipod, etc. I don't have any of that stuff when I am traveling in Europe. And I don't carry my cell phone...that stays in Calif. when I am over there. So, Tami, you are not the only person traveling without all that electronic stuff. When I travel in the USA, I'll have my cell phone, but not in Europe.

As for a digital camera, there are certainly advantages to using one, but I still rather use my 35mm, which also has certain advantages. I'm 60 and it is an age thing.

Posted by Linda
Dundee, Scotland
95 posts

I only take my cell phone. Having a load of expensive knick-knacks requires constant vigilance and security. If you lose anything or get it gets stolen, chances are you insurance policy wont pay up citinglack of due care and attention`.

Posted by Robin Z
Troy, Oh, USA
1634 posts

Because Eli thought it would be fun to let people know her thoughts on the advantage of having electronics with you......

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

I repeat, am not leaving home without my iPad or iPhone. It's made keeping in touch very easy for us. We can send pics to the kids as we sightsee and know what is going on with my mother. If you are happy without technology that's fine.

Posted by kpf
chicago, il, usa
171 posts

I AGREE 100% !!! My friend just returned from Italy, where she ran up a HUGE cell phone bill due to roaming charges. Why bother? Seriously. I never call anyone while on vacation - if absolutely neccessary, I email from the post office or an internet cafe, but it has to be important for me to take the time to do that. P.S: It's not an age thing!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2687 posts

To contact people in the country...in France, England, Germany, or call back to the US, I just buy a pre-paid phone card for 10 Euro, a practice which I started to do over 20 years ago, and even cheaper head for an internet cafe to send e-mails and to use the telephone. No need to bother with all this technology on the trip.

Posted by Murali
Redmond, WA, USA
5 posts

I carried the following for a 3 week trip across 6 countries in Europe:
ipad - for email, travel guides, etc.
iphone - for navigation and VOIP calls using Skype ($0.02 per mi n to call any number in US over wifi).
SPOT from www.trackme360.com - $149; $100/yr for service. with this my friends and family can track us whereever we were. This does not depend on cell phone or anything.

i am not a slave to any technology. i carry the needed stuff to be productive during the trip and save lots of $$$s calling home.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

" Taking electronics on vacation- really necessary?"

Answer is "no",( not necessary, you could travel without them , many do), BUT, some people LIKE(love)to do so , ( it is fun or convenient and so therefore they consider it necessary to their enjoyment ).

There is no one correct way.

Did anyone read about the man who just returned from a short trip to Europe ( with is Iphone ) and discovered he had a 7,000 dollar phone bill from Virgin,, yikes!

Posted by kpf
chicago, il, usa
171 posts

It just seems like keeping track of all that crap would be tiresome. No wonder if people stress out about being robbed, carrying around the equivalent of a Radio Shack. As far being called a Luddite - please...I have all the technology I need at home to plan my trips, and I go every year, but once I'm on my way I leave everything behind and immerse myself in the experience. As for keeping in touch with the folks at home - who cares? Let them take their own trips. GPS? Last time I was in Europe they had maps and road signage just like here. Watching tourists ignoring every thing around them while they blab on their cell phones is a sorry sight. I have an i-pod but I just can't imagine walking through the Alps listeningto the ame old stuff I listen to at home and not hearing the birds, the wind in the trees, and the magical sound of far-off cow-bells in the high mountain pastures. But then, if you're rushing from place to place carrying an arsenal of electronics you're probably not interested in these things anyway.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

I am just like you, Karen. I tend to enjoy being in the moment when I am traveling. I have many good memories because when I am at a place I really enjoy, I absorb as much as I can so that I can reflect back on the feeling. One of my favorite spots is on the South Bank of the Thames, and to this day I can close my eyes and remember how it felt to be there.

I only bring a digital camera. I don't keep in contact with anyone back home more than once a week when I upload pics to my Facebook account and check email once from an internet cafe. That way, people can see I am still alive out there and am enjoying myself. I really don't need to talk to them on the phone and take the chance of hearing something that might stress me out for the rest of my trip.

I do agree how sad it is to see people walking past historical buildings and sites while blabbing on their cell phones and ignoring everything. Why even travel if youre going to carry all that responsibility to everyone else with you all day long?

People overschedule themselves, spread themselves too thin and take on way more than they need to. No wonder why half this country is on anxiety medication and the other half, depression medication.

Maybe I appear selfish to some or most,but I find it quite liberating to just be where I want to be and do whatever I want without having to answer to anything or anyone. It is the reason I usually travel alone in the first place. I think I experience more one my solo trips than I ever would with anyone else, or whilst on a phone.

If I need to make a call, thats why phone booths, coins and phone cards exist. If I am stuck with a flight delay, thats what magazines and books are for. Or what about just closing my eyes and relaxing? Love it.

Posted by kpf
chicago, il, usa
171 posts

Thanks Tami! A digital camera is just a camera, after all, it doesn't really plug you in to anything, so that would be my one exception. I guess I'm a "dinosaur", I go really low-tech and bring my dog. He's more fun than any kindleberry touchpod could ever be.

Posted by Ruth
Midwest, USA
79 posts

I take my iPod but only ever use it on the plane and sometimes on train trips.

I take a cell phone because I once was nearly stranded in the English countryside without enough coins for the public phone and no car. So, now I make sure I have a car and a cell phone, in case I have to call someone and say "auto kaput!" :)

If I take anything else electronic - it must work on batteries. I made sure that when I bought my digital camera a few years ago that it worked on batteries that I could buy anywhere for the very reason Tami stated - no stress!

I'm definately NOT glued to my electronic devices. I sit back, relax and enjoy wandering about cities and the countryside enjoying EVERYTHING!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2687 posts

I have to say that the Tami has got the right philosophy for traveling in Europe.

And, you should always carry a pre-paid phone card, and coins not just for telephoning but also for the WC.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

Fred: I always tell my friends that are traveling abroad for the first time to always bring coins for the toilets. No one told me before my first trip to London and I had to get creative, once even innocuosly crashing an art gallery 'exhibition/party thing' in an gallery near the Admiralty Arch and using their posh fancy loo. Luckily I was dressed up nice that day since I had been Christmas shopping on Oxford st, so I blended right in! :)

RE:Camera; I made sure when I bought my new digital camera for a trip last year, that it only requires AA batteries instead of the internal type where you have to plug in the camera to charge up. I only have to carry spares or buy some when I am out, instead of being stuck somewhere, wanting a pic and finding my camera is dead and no way to charge it and no option to put in new batteries!

Then again, one always has the option to buy a disposable film camera if all else fails.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

I carry an Ipod Touch, Global Blackberry and Digital Camera...and my traveling is easier for it.

I rarely, if ever,call home. If I need to, both the Itouch and the Blackberry have Skype. Using the BB itself would cost a fortune.

No need for maps. The BB has both Blackberry maps and Google Maps as well as GPS. And with all the great travel apps available for both devices, I can change plans in an instant, find nearby restaurants, or get up to date information on attractions. Not to mention weather forecasts.

No need for lots of papers with information on hotels, flights, trains, etc. All of that is uploaded to my devices.

My Itouch has audiobooks and radio programs to keep me entertained on planes, trains and evenings in rooms where there is no other form of entertainment.
Both also have games to keep me occupied.

I can even scan and download pages from guidebooks.

One universal charger for all devices.

I pay just over $2/day for unlimited data service.

If anyone needs to get a hold of me..no need to call...just send an email to my BB. I get it almost instantly. As I work for myself, I can take longer trips and still keep my business going. Those of you who work for others or don't work have no need to think about this.

Everyone does what is right for them. I find by using technology, my load is actually lighter. And it makes my life easier.

And it's also great because I can take in the world around me rather than have my nose buried in a guidebook or map. You see, when I have the earphones in, I'm not listening to music. I'm listening to a walking tour telling me about the historical sites, castles, fancy old buildings, architecture, fancy fountains, etc.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2687 posts

Tami,

Qualitatively and quantitatively a digital camera has got certain advantages, especially when you're shooting in poor lighting. But, I prefer using that 35mm, which has its own advantages providing you're used to it. It's also the one I used 35 years ago.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

I would use a regular film camera at home but while on vacation, I would rather know what photos I got and how they are going to turn out, while I am still in the area.

I dont need professional grade photographs since I take tons of silly photos of things that intrigue me, rather than examples of aesthecism at its best, i.e. fields of blooming flowers in Ireland.

I am more likely to get photos of pub signs, etc.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11271 posts

Hey, Steve. You mentioned the Amazon software that allows you to read Kindle books on a PC, but if you download a book, say a guide book, onto a desktop PC, to read while you are planning your trip, can you take it off that PC and put your netbook to take with you.

Posted by Tracy
Macungie, PA, USA
422 posts

maybe it's just me (and my admitted technology addiction) but i don't think that 'being in the moment' and 'taking electronics on vacation' are incompatible. you can absolutely be in the moment--on a river cruise, in the alps, wandering a neighborhood--for an entire day. and then, at the end of the day, you can go back to your B&B or hotel or apartment and very, very easily communicate with home/work (if that's what you need to do) or upload your photos (if that's what you need to do) or post a travel blog (if that's what you need to do) etc. it is also much easier, at least for me, to truly 'be in the moment' if i'm not freaking out about being lost. a few simple iPhone apps (with, say, all of the transit maps in the world loaded onto it), an overseas data package ($30) for emergency GPS usage, and you're free to not worry about the mundane things that can get in the way of in-the-moment-ness.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Well said Tracy. It is nice to be able to do what you want or need to do in your downtime at night. You can't be taking in the sights 24/7.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

We all travel differently. Personally, I dont mind being lost. I have had some great adventures just riding a bus somewhere and walking around wherever I end up. I am quite adventurous and rarely ever have anything pre-planned. I usually dont even know what I am doing that day until I get up and start walking around.

I bring a few google maps printed out for the places I really want to go, and toss them away when I get there. I keep a small memo pad in my purse with opening and closing times of museums, shops, etc.

I travel alone so it is a bit different since I dont have to meet up with anyone or be anywhere at any particular time.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

I most definitely agree with Frank II, Tami and others. Taking technology on vacation does not mean that one isn't enjoying "the moment" or the travel experience in the location they're visiting.

I routinely travel with a dSLR, Cellphone (basic Motorola "flip"), IPod Touch and on this last trip a Netbook. Each of those devices helped to enhance my trip in some way. I find the Cellphone especially valuable as it helped with some "difficult" situations this year. Since I travel alone part of the time, I believe it's important to let my family know where I am, and a brief text message does that (at the huge cost of 69 cents per sent message).

On the topic of batteries, I've found that rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries are a much better choice than alkaline. They last an incredibly long time, have good power-to-weight ratio and recharging them at the end of the day (or sometimes every few days) is NOT really difficult at all. The discharge characteristics for alkaline batteries are different than rechargeables, so they're not as well suited for use in digital Cameras.

If there are those that don't wish to haul technology round with them, that's certainly their choice, but I'll continue to pack my gadgets along in future.

Cheers!

Posted by Jane
Ontario
27 posts

We are planning a trip to the U.K. in spring 2011, and are wondering about the same thing. Certainly, too much gadgetry can be cause for added stress - what kind to bring, which is best, carrying and storing, adapters, charging, etc. --- it can get overwhelming. However, from the posts that I've read here (have just discovered this site and am very impressed with the wealth of knowledge and experience), am planning on doing my homework on the electronics as well as the trip itself, and think that once we've done so, we'll be pretty comfortable with deciding what to bring. It's all about being informed I guess. I really like the idea of a GPS, computer access for downloading and storing pictures, staying in touch with family, etc., but don't want to haul a laptop around all the time. From what I'm reading here, there are smaller alternatives. Soooo much to learn. Am trying to not let myself get overwhelmed!!!

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

It's been easy for us. iPhone and iPad. We use them for a variety of things and so do the Brits who are on holiday and other Europeans. They have no problems being on ancient sites and having something modern with them. As I laze in my room before heading to battle of Hastings am able to read up on it, and also check on my mum. Much easier than phone card. I did that in 2008 and will never go back to that. We have no burden carrying these items. I doubt Rick leaves home without his modern technology. Honestly, if you don't like, care to or whatever, that's fine. It works for us and I applaud all those who take whatever makes their travels helpful. So glad I reasurrected this thread. Had a busy body write to chastise me lol.

Posted by Jane
Ontario
27 posts

Am glad you did resurrect it Eli. There are always new innovations worth sharing. The dialogue alone from people like Steve, Ken and many others, certainly justifies the renewed discussion. For my part, thanks!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

We're up to a razr cell phone and camera (with chargers) but still able to stay under 18 lbs. total weight in our carry-ons.

We only pack the GPS if we're planning on driving.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Glad to hear that Jane. As I said, someone decided to chastise me about it. Am in airport once more with five hour delay. I saw lots of foreign tourists from all over the world in England and most had their iPhone, iPad. Notebook with them. They are not that heavy to take around. We had free internet on eastern trains. Most of our hotels had free access also. T-mobile sim which we bought in 2008 works well and I'd rather have my phone than a card.

Besides, I have to say to those who think electronics take away from all the historical, ancient areas they are visiting, why wear your modern clothes? Why not get a total "period" wardrobe? That was a point my teenaged daughter brought up to the bunch here who think taking electronics isn't necessary. We have the darn thing, and it is very convenient to have, so why the heck not?