Thinking about RTW Gadgets

We’ve thought a lot about our gadgets and which gadgets for our RTW trip we’ll carry with us as we go around the world. We have a few needs.

Identify your Needs

Really think through how you’ll be doing your RTW trip, and this will help clarify which gadgets to bring.

1. Long battery life for two reasons:
a. Very long planes rides exceeding 12 hours
b. The possibility that we can’t get WiFi as soon as we land, and we could have to hunt for it for a while.

2. Light weight and adaptable. For example, rather than carry a camera, a tablet, and a laptop, what would give us the most options with the least amount of charging, shuffling and worrying?

3. The three of us are screen junkies–more so for information than for entertainment–and will not share nicely.

4. My daughter will need a device to do her homework and interact with her teachers. We are currently developing her curriculum, but it will include an e-portfolio of pictures, essays, and audio. Skype will be uber-important for her to engage with her classmates.

You Probably Have What You Need

We’ve got a glutton of devices. My husband and I have both have Samsung 3Ss and we also have an HTC Evo (which I would never recommend, by the way.) We have two ipads, one with WiFi and one with Internet and WiFi, three laptops, a Nook, a Nexus X, and a Chromebook. We also have a Canon SLR and a Sony SureShot.

We will absolutely have our phones with us. Not so much because we feel the need to keep in touch with voice and text messaging while abroad, but because we will want them for the US portions of our trip. They also have great cameras. But of course, I’m leery about what the data charges, etc, would be if we used our phones outside of the country.

Check with your Provider

So, I called Sprint. I must say it was a pleasure to hear in the voice prompts that there’s an International Care option. I selected it and within 3 seconds, a wonderful agent was on the phone. I explained our trip’s geography and asked if the phones would work. Of the four countries, Sweden, Greece, Russia, and China, the only country the phones would receive cell service is China. In all the countries but China, we would be able to use the WiFi to access the internet free of charge, including no fees for data download. So, we could play games, access Google, use Facebook, email and post to our hearts’ content.

In China, as long as we used WiFi and had the international data settings turned off, the answer was the same. But, I could also buy an International data plan to use the cell service. The fees were actually reasonable and could be prorated by day. Frankly, though, who am I going to call while in China? And if it were that urgent or important, I’d figure out how to nicely ask my Chinese neighbor if I could use her phone in my best Mandarin (better learn that phrase quickly!) Or, I could buy a phone card or disposable phone…there are many options beyond activating my phone and playing cellular roulette.

I asked the Sprint operator how to turn off my data plan. So easy: go to Settings, More Settings, Roaming, Roaming Settings, uncheck International. Piece of cake. She confirmed that as long as I had the International settings turned off the entire time of my trip (which is the default, by the way), I would not incur additional fees. We hung up…and I thought, shoot–I should have gotten her name.

Now that we’ve got the scoop on data charges and the phones, we’ll need to decide which devices to bring and which to leave behind. I’m thinking we’ll bring our phones, the Chromebook for my daughter, the Nexus for me, and for my husband? He’s stuck with the ipads or a laptop. Perhaps he’ll get a Christmas present? Since we’ll have our phones, and the Nexus and Chromebook also have cameras, we can certainly leave the cameras at home. Maybe.

Next up is to figure out if we need adapters or converters, and how will we plug in 6 gadgets for RTW trip all at once?