I just spent 6 months traveling across South America. To save money and reduce the amount of luggage I carried, I DID NOT carry a laptop.
However, visas, permits, articles, laboriously long emails as well as data transfer for photos and videos are all an unavoidable part of overland travel. Doing all these tasks sans a computer is a challenge. I went ahead irrespective, armed with my trusty mobile phone – a mid-range Android device – the Moto X4.
The biggest annoyance was typing. Touchscreen keyboards are great for texts, chatting and short mail exchanges. Blog articles and government paperwork requests, though, are a nightmare. This was the first problem I needed to fix.
The gold standard of Bluetooth keyboards is the Microsoft Bluetooth Folding Keyboard. It is a $100, not a justifiable price for me. The alternative I went with is the iClever folding keyboard, which is more comfortable to type on and 1/3rd of the price. The keyboard folds in half, is well spaced for comfortable typing and has a standby charge time of over a month. I’ve used it extensively and I’m very happy with it.
The biggest challenge though is data backup for all video footage, especially when carrying multiple devices. On my trip I carried a GoPro Session 5 as well as a high spec point and shoot camera. Unfortunately, each device used a different type of memory storage. My cell phone supports USB 3.0 which is a standard on most Android phones. iPhones will need adapters. Initially, I started with a standard 500 gb Hard disk, but quickly upgraded to a Samsung T5 500gb SSD. This saved space and since an SSD has the added advantage of no moving parts, very well suited for off-road motorcycle travel and significantly reduced the chances of failure.
This was all the tech in one small ziplock pouch, adapters, and cards. Not pictured are my Point and Shoot Camera and the GoPro.
I always carry backups for cables, cards, and adapters. Everything still occupied the size of a large wallet – much lesser than a MacBook Air.
Technology aside, nothing helps you out as much as friends do. Once, at a hostel in Huaraz in Peru, I plugged in my SSD only to be faced with a Disk Error message. I turned pale, I thought this was it, I had lost everything. Luckily, RTWPaul was in the same city, so I ran (literally) on over to where he was staying and recovered my data with his laptop. That was the only time I had a random tech issue.
So how do you lighten your tech while traveling? And would you risk traveling overland without a computer?