What technology did we bring, how did it work out, and what did we buy and lose along the way?
At the beginning
We started out with the following gadgets:
- 1 iPad Air (Sabrina’s)
- 1 iPad 3rd generation
- 1 iPad mini
- 1 Kindle Paperwhite
- 1 Older Kindle
- 2 iPhones (Sabrina’s 5s and my 6)
- 1 Nexus 6 with Google Fi
- 1 ‘universal’ USB charger
- 1 18000 mAh backup battery
- various charging / lighting / etc cables
We decided not to bring a laptop — too big, and maybe a bit too tempting to spend time working on it instead of enjoying the trip.
Wireless connectivity with Google Fi
The plan for connectivity was to use Google Fi – which gives you data at $10 per GB and free roaming for voice, text, and data to 135 countries worldwide. Then we’d use the Google Fi phone as a hotspot for our other devices.
Google Fi did give us coverage, but at the time this was limited to 2G speeds – so not ideal. (This has changed as of about a month ago). We did use Google Fi (+ WiFi where available) throughout Brazil, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, but in other places (Peru, Kenya, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Italy) bought local SIM cards and used one of the iPhones as a hotspot.
We did bring along a bunch of real books for the girls and a few for ourselves – and bought some along the way – but also did a lot of reading on Kindles and the Kindle App for iPad. The girls also did some of their schoolwork on the iPad – mostly reading with Raz-Kids.
TV and Movies
With less than perfect WiFi and wireless in most places we took advantage where we could get fast internet to download lots of shows from iTunes onto our iPads. This helped on all those long drives and train rides, rainy or mosquito filled indoor nights and the occasional airplane that didn’t have an in flight entertainment system.
The neat thing about modern electronics is they all charge via USB – so we brought along an international USB charger and a USB car charger. No international plug adapters necessary! (well, almost – we did end up having to buy adapters for South Africa and India). The backup battery was great to have for long days, and for those times we didn’t have enough power to charge our devices – on trains, or in our trailer in the Australian bush!
We did lose a few devices due to various mishaps – that’s a whole other blog post – but in the end our technologies served us pretty well and I’d change very little. iPads are a great all around travel device, and the Kindle serves well as a lightweight replacement for physical books and – at least with recent versions – enough backlight to read in a darkened train cabin. Google Fi didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped, but with their new higher international speeds I’d try it again, though having local phone numbers was a lifesaver a couple of times. Technology is getting more compact, and more universal, making it easy to travel and stay connected.
There’s a lot more to talk about with technology, ways we found to use our devices that we didn’t think of when we started. Things to know about internet connectivity in different countries, and what happens when you do lose your devices, not to mention a lot more specific recommendations. Stay tuned for more!