Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cheap/Simple Tech Tips For Travellers, thanks to and Nomadic Matt


We share a lot of tech advice for travellers around here, but while we’d like to think that it’s all useful, it’s not always particularly cheap or quick to implement. So, just to show that not everything to do with technology has to be hard or costly, here are six of our best easy and cheap tips to make sure you get the most out of your tech on your next trip.

1. Pack a power strip

It seems to be a universal travel rule that, no matter where you stay, you’ll never have enough power sockets. We’re all carrying more gadgets than ever before, and they all need regular charging — and yet everything from hostel dorm rooms to luxury family suites often offer just one or two outlets.
Usually half way up a wall, behind a wardrobe, already connected to the television.
Rather than performing ambitious gymnastic feats every time you want to top up your smartphone, just pack a power strip instead. I use a little Monster strip designed for travel, but if you don’t want to spend ten bucks on that, just throw a spare one from home into your bag before you leave.
Even better, if you’re heading somewhere with a different socket type, you only need a plug convertor for the power strip instead of one for each different gadget.

2. Consolidate your cables

With our mass of gadgets come a vast tangle of cables, chargers, adapters and other junk whose main purpose seems to be to tie itself in knots at the bottom of your suitcase. Before your trip, lay out all of the gadgets that you plan to take, along with all of the accessories that they need.
Now, eliminate any duplicates. As an example, I have a Kindle,Samsung smartphone and Nexus tablet. They all use the same micro-USB cable to charge and sync data, so I don’t need three of them. The same thing goes for Apple gear – older-style iPads, iPods and iPhones all use the same 30-pin connector, while recent versions use a Lightning cable. You don’t need to carry them all.
You can take the same approach to wall chargers. If the input and output voltages and plug style are the same, you don’t need to carry more than one. If it’s only the plug type that differs, see if you can buy an adapter for that part — it’s a lot smaller than a second charger!
People on laptops

3. Share your internet

Travelling with friends and family, or want to connect more than one gadget to the internet? Isn’t it frustrating when the login code you’re given for the hotel wifi only works with a single device?
If you’re travelling with a Windows laptop, the easiest way around this restriction is by installing Connectify Hotspot. The free version only lets you share wireless networks, but that’s enough for most people.
There’s no Hotspot equivalent for Mac, but if there’s a physical network port in your room you can still share that. Apple laptops have a built-in Internet Sharing feature for just this purpose, and even you don’t have a laptop at all, devices like the Apple Airportwill also let you share that wired connection with your phones and tablets.

4. Get faster wi-fi

Finding decent wi-fi isn’t always easy when you’re travelling. Even when the hotel actually offers it — and it’s working — you can pretty much guarantee that your room will be as far as physically possible from the router and the signal will be weaker than the coffee on offer at the breakfast buffet.
If you’ve got a laptop and would prefer not to sit at the reception desk or hang out the window all night trying to read your emails, pick up a cheap wi-fi extender before your trip. A good one makes all the difference, turning an unusable connection into a solid four or five bars of signal and giving you back both time and sanity.
The Alfa AWUS036H that I use is under $20 on Amazon at the moment. It doesn’t work with recent versions of the Mac operating system, though, but the model that does is only a few dollars more.

Phone and water

5. Protect your gear with a dry bag

It’s hard to keep all of your electronics safe and protected while travelling, but there’s a simple technique you can use to prevent water damage when you or your bags are caught out in the rain.
Just pick up a small dry bag, roll it up and keep it in your handbag or day pack. If it starts to rain, stuff those fragile gadgets into the bag, roll the top a couple of times and put it back where it came from. Now, no matter how heavy the rain, you’re not going to arrive back at your hotel with a waterlogged phone or camera.
The bag doesn’t need to be huge — probably only around 3-5 litres, depending on how big your gear is — and once you’ve got one, you’ll be surprised at just how often you use it.

6. Charge USB devices quickly

You know the drill — you’ve been at the beach all day, your flight’s due to leave in a few hours and all of your gadgets are nearly out of battery. This — and hundreds of scenarios like it — are all too common: the need to charge up multiple USB-powered devices as quickly as possible.
For around ten bucks, you can buy a little adapter that plugs into the wall and provides two USB sockets. Most of them have two options — a high-powered socket for tablets and iPhones, and a lower-powered socket for everything else. This New Trent model even has fold-down pins, keeping the size as small as possible.

Do you have any simple free or cheap tech tips for travellers?

6 Cheap and Simple Tech Tips For Travellers

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