A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m bringing on regular columnists for this website. On the first Tuesday of the month, Dave Dean from Too Many Adapters will be here giving you great tips and advice on travel tech and gear. His column starts this month.
Technology has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. At a time when home computers had less power than today’s wristwatches, my parents caved in to my incessant demands, dug into their savings, and bought me the latest and greatest in modern computing: a Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
This mighty beast had a rubber keyboard that worked when it felt like it and a full 16KB (yes, that’s kilobytes) of memory, and it loaded programs in mere minutes from a squealing cassette tape that sounded like the noise our cat made when my sister pulled his tail. Rather than a monitor, this marvel of electronics plugged into the television — meaning there was an argument at 6 p.m. every night when my parents wanted to watch the news and I had just one more level of Manic Miner to complete.
With the Internet still well over a decade away and imported games in New Zealand costing far more than my monthly allowance, I’d buy computer magazines and spend the next several days typing in the code, line by line, for terrible text-based adventures.
Yes, I was a geek from a very young age.
Moving to London after graduation, I went into IT and for the next 15 years tried to combine work with an increasing travel addiction, swapping briefcases for backpacks and fancy suits for flip-flops every couple of years.
Three years ago I decided to ditch my office job for good and co-founded Too Many Adapters. I realized that although there were thousands of sites talking about either technology or travel, none were dedicated to talking about both. That needed to change, and I’ve been writing about the subject ever since. The site has since become the leading technology resource for travelers, with hundreds of articles helping many thousands of readers choose and use the best travel gear for their trip (I even published a tech guide for digital nomads earlier this year).
Technology has advanced greatly from when I first hit the road. When I’d packed my oversized bag the day before leaving for London, the only electronics in it were a small film camera and a fake Walkman to play my collection of bad mix tapes. These days I’ve somehow accumulated a laptop, smartphone, tablet, digital camera, GoPro, portable hard drive, and Kindle, as well as a bag full of chargers and cables to go with them. Whether that’s progress is debatable, but there’s no doubt that tech now plays an important role in the lives of many travelers.
Dealing with technology isn’t always straightforward. Gear and apps that work perfectly before you leave often fail quickly in a world of dust, rain, bumpy bus rides, and slow Internet. Security is also a big concern — for the physical equipment you carry, the personal information it contains, and yourself when it’s obvious that you have gear worth a few thousand dollars in your bag. Many travel insurance policies don’t fully cover your electronics, or cost a small fortune if they do.
Choosing the right tech for your travels, and using it safely and effectively, can make the difference between an easier, more enjoyable trip and a miserable, expensive one. That’s where I come in.
On the first Tuesday of every month, I’ll be covering every aspect of travel tech — the best gear for the job and how to use it, picking the right apps and websites, preventing disasters, staying connected, and much more — with a focus on saving you time, money and hassles on your travels.
I’ll be bringing you real-world reviews of the products I talk about — I’ve been living out of a backpack full time since 2011, and deal with that reality every day. If the gear I use can’t stand up to the beating I give it, I won’t be recommending it to you. When the apps and sites I test are hard to use, don’t work in certain countries, or can’t handle you moving every few days, you’ll know about it. If warranties are invalid after you leave home or impractical without a mailing address, I’ll be mentioning that, too.
When it comes to travel tech there’s just no replacement for practical experience — the glossiest brochure and fanciest features don’t mean much when your phone stops working hundreds of miles from the nearest repair center, or your online banking locks you out because you shifted cities once too often.
Technology is one of those subjects that always generates lots of questions. You’re welcome to leave them in the comments of each article or over on the forums. I’m more than happy to answer them.
Ultimately, my aim is to help you use technology to get the most out of your trip, without it getting in the way of your travel experience. I’m so excited to share my two loves — travel and tech — with you. Let’s make it happen.
Dave runs Too Many Adapters, a site devoted to technology for travelers. A geek as long as he can remember, he worked in IT for 15 years. Now based out of a backpack long term, Dave writes about travel and tech from anywhere with half-decent Internet and a great view. You can also find him talking about the life of a long-term traveller at What’s Dave Doing?