What’s Your Tech for Traveling Abroad?

US Navy Parachute TeamWe talk about travel a lot on ProfHacker, probably because conferences and research trips are a fact of life for many of us. Erin has shared best practices for international travel, Heather has talked about digital tools for organizing travel, and recently George has suggested five ways that airlines and airports could improve travel.

I have an international trip coming up myself, and as I stared at the pile of cords, plugs, adapters, devices, and computers I could take with me, it occurred to me that I should ask our readers about their tech for traveling abroad. ProfHacker has touched on traveling with tech before at. Nels revealed his essential travel gear, Ryan has given tips on using Google Voice and video chat to stay connected while abroad, and guest writer Louise A. Burnham detailed her summer of travel using no computer other than her iPad.

Louise’s post has inspired me to seriously consider doing the same with my international trip—leaving the laptop at home and instead bringing only my wifi iPad and a bluetooth keyboard. For most writing and research tasks I’ll need to do on this trip, the iPad should work fine.

For reading, instead of the usual stack of books I bring on trips, I’ll have a Nook, loaded with both leisure and research reading. A Kindle would work just as well for this. Even better, given that Amazon’s 3G Whispernet works flawlessly (and for free) in dozens of countries. Snarkmarket’s Robin Sloan has even called the 3G Kindle the ultimate travel device because it has a web browser and is “almost miraculously connected.”

I also intend on keeping my Android cell phone with me, rather than powering it down for the duration of my trip. Because it’s a CDMA device, the phone won’t work on European cell networks (saving me from worrying about roaming charges). But, with Google Maps for Android’s new offline feature, I can download maps while I’m connected to a wifi network, and then use the GPS when I’m out and about. With downloadable map areas limited to a 10 mile radius, I can’t download enough map data to guide me through a cross-country tour, but I can certainly get street-level maps to help me if I get turned around in a winding city alleyway (say, in Santiago de Compostela in my case).

I also have an ancient, cheap GSM “dumb” phone I’ll bring with me. It’s not locked into any plan, so I can simply purchase minutes for it once I arrive.

Add in a Flip, a digital camera, and an AC adapter plug, and that’s about all I’ll need for my trip, as far as technology goes. Or is it? Am I missing anything? If you’ve been traveling abroad this summer, what was your tech? Do you have any tips for me or other ProfHacker readers about using technology abroad?

[US Navy Parachute Team photograph courtesy of Flickr user Charles McCain / Creative Commons Licensed]

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