In preparation for when I Explore Europe with Contiki in June/July this year, I’ve been preparing my “Road Warrior” tech kit so that I can stay connected with email, my blogs and my favourite social networking sites. I’ve had the opportunity to give it a small test on a couple of occasions already this year, including a trip to Port Pirie and two days at work when I’ve been out of the office. The final, and biggest test prior to Europe, will come in a couple of weeks time when I am flying over to Sydney and going on a 3 day road trip to help my brother drive his car back to Adelaide. This will be the final chance to test and refine everything in the tech kit before embarking on the 3 week trip around Europe with Contiki.
Currently, my kit comprises the following items:
MSI Wind U135DX netbook – with aftermarket 6 cell battery, upgraded to 2GB of RAM and HDD swapped out for a 30GB SSD. This will be main device that I will be using to access the internet whilst overseas – long battery life, wireless N support to connect to Free Wifi networks, very usable keyboard to hammer out a few blog entries and emails back home and it’s relatively light weight as well. Loaded with Windows 7, Google Chrome (All of the data that I need to access is in the cloud – Gmail, my blogs, ad networks, internet banking, etc) and Skype for a quick video call back home if we can sort out the time zone differences.
Apple iPhone 4 – in Australia, I am using Telstra’s Next G Mobile Network. This will be connected to Maxroam whilst I am roaming in Europe for reduced calling/data charges. Whilst overseas, I will have the 3G data turned off as much as possible, using as many Free Wifi networks as I can find and then tethering to the Huawei E585 for mobile data when required. This will be the primary device used for SMS, checking my email and social networking (especially Twitter).
Huawei E585 Mobile Broadband WiFi Router – Also known as the Vodafone Pocket Wifi 2 here in Australia, my device has been unlocked and is ready to connect with a Maxroam data SIM whilst in Europe. In Australia, I use Vodafone Mobile Broadband to provide data to the netbook when I am out and about as I have found in many locations that the Vodafone 3G 850 network is quicker than the Optus Open Network via the iPhone Personal Hotspot.
Amazon Kindle Keyboard 3G – mainly used for an eBook reader to deal with the boredom that is likely to set in on the long haul flights to and from Europe, but it does have the built in free 3G data service that can be used for basic access to the internet via the device’s inbuilt browser. I have tested accessing Gmail via this here in Australia and whilst it isn’t pretty or overly fast, it beats paying the exorbitant data roaming prices in some of the European countries I will be visiting.
Canon Digital Ixus 70 Camera – by no means the newest or prettiest digital camera, but it’s got a relatively small form factor, is relatively durable with stainless steel on the front and back and has dealt with all of the mistreatment I’ve thrown at it since I bought it, 7.1 megapixels, and with the 8GB SD card that I have in it, it’s capable of taking just shy of 2500 photos. I also have a spare aftermarket battery for it as well. Right now, the jury is still out as to whether this will get much use or not whilst I’m in Europe – I’ve tended to just shoot photos with my iPhone for the past few years and iOS 5.1 has made this even easier with the camera button on the lock screen.
Universal wall outlet converter, plus a small power board – this way, I can plug the power board into the wall with the plug converter, and then plug the iPhone charger and netbook into regular Australian power sockets – all the devices I have are compatible with 110/240v.
USB wall charger, with iPhone and Micro USB – I’m sure the Kindle will probably last the entire time I’m in Europe, but the MicroUSB charge cable also doubles as a charge cable for the Huawei E585. I have heard that iPhone chargers have a tendency to disappear readily in hostels, so I have bought some cheap USB chargers online in case mine happen to grow legs and walk whilst I’m on holiday.
Whilst there is nothing largely special or hugely unique about the contents of my road warrior kit, I think it’s got everything that I will need to stay in touch and capture memories of the holiday.
Think I’ve missed something out, included something that I probably shouldn’t bother with, or I’ve reminded you to pack something that you otherwise wouldn’t have packed? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.