Tech-time in the Euro Zone

In Adventure, Alaska Travelgram, Consumer, Technology by scott

We had a great trip to Europe on Condor. Above–me and my tech-toys at the wine tasting!

It’s always great to get away to a foreign country, especially when there is some good wine to be had! HA! That certainly is the case with Spain. We visited three wine-growing regions. Check out the full story in the Alaska Dispatch.

If you want to stay connected–both at home and with others around you, it pays to be tech-savvy. Photo at right: eating, drinking and texting in Girona!  Let’s review:

a. Power adapters. Whether you’re traveling to Europe, Asia, South America or Russia, you’ll need adapters to plug in your appliances (laptop, mifi card, cell phone, hair dryer, iPod). Magellan’s travel store is a great resource for all kinds of travel gadgets, including every imaginable kind of adapter. I also got a plug with a surge protector. I took a mini power-strip with me. Even so, there were never enough outlets.

b. Internet access. It’s essential for me–and for many travelers. The Xcom Global fix worked well. Rent a “mi-fi” portable hotspot for almost any country. I got one for Spain. Surprise: the mobile connection worked almost as fast as hotel networks. Plus–Skype worked BETTER on Xcom’s card. I’m a believer.

c. Cell phone. Face it: there is no cost-effective solution. Use Skype and pray for a stable VOIP connection. Still working on this one, folks. We tried the local SIM card thing with mixed results.

d. GPS. We were driving in and around big cities with small streets. We have the Motorola “Xoom” tablet computer from GCI and it saved our bacon. My navigator, Christy, repeatedly praised the device, which worked in conjunction with the Xcom mi-fi. I can get the Google Maps on my iPod, but the smaller screen was difficult. Plus, the GPS functions on the Xoom are more robust. Very nice.

e. Our devices: Both of us carried our MacBooks. While on excursions during the day, I carried the MiFi card and my iPod Touch, plus my poor excuse for a local cell phone. I also carried a couple of still cameras and my video set-up. Still editing. Stay tuned.

f. Finances: Most places accepted our U.S. Visa cards without incident. In fact, we came back with a big handful of Euros. But before we left, we called the banks and advised them of our travel plans. Otherwise, the fraud teams would have blocked the cards when the foreign charges started showing up.

g. Security. We corresponded online with the U.S. Embassy through the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). That way, in the event of political unrest, natural disaster or lost documents, the Embassy has important information on file for us….good move. It’s free.

I’m interested in your tech stories. What devices serve you well? What would you leave behind next time? Please–share with the class!



Share this Post