How to travel for a year: Hardware Tech

Hey. Matt here. I don't normally post much, but Elizabeth asked me share some of the things we learned about traveling with technology.

So one of the things we had to really be thoughtful about is how I would work for a year with a remote office...a remote office that I would have to literally carry on my back to every place we go. This means that size and weight became a really important factor for the things we chose to bring.  Here are some of the things that I had to pack to make this year work from a Technology Hardware perspective.

Besides weight and size, we had to consider that everything we own could be lost, stolen, or destroyed. This means we didn't buy a $2000 camera or a $2000 Macbook. If I were to loose everything, a quick stop to a computer shop would have me back online and working in a couple hours.

Some security concerns come into play because of the type of work I do. I use full disk encryption in case my machine were to fall into the wrong hands. Also many countries now have the right to confiscate your electronics at the border in order to search through them.  It hasn't happened to me yet, but full-disk encryption would prevent prying eyes from seeing any client data.  This, in addition to a VPN service, keeps my data relatively safe. I would say Security > Size > and Ergonomics were my motivating factors in decided what to bring.

For Elizabeth, her primary concerns were, Size > ebook reading > and photos. We decided a tablet-style machine would allow her machine to double as an ebook reader. We initially opted for an iPad with an external keyboard. My smart wife insisted that we get everything a few months before we leave to test it all out. During testing we realized that the keyboard was too slow to keep up with her fast typing and it would be impossible to blog on the iPad. We swapped it for a MS Surface and she has been delighted. Our only complaint is the charger for the Surface Pro 3 really bad. We are on our 3rd since we left. Allegedly, this issue has been fixed with the Surface Pro 4. We also tested the process of getting photos over from her camera to the computer using a card reader. I also worked exclusively on the VPN for the 3 months before we left to ensure there were no throughput issues.

Each new place we land, my first priority is to carve out a work space for myself.  The strangest by far was the work space in the closet in Australia. I choose that because I had to work from like 10pm to 6am and I didn't want to disturb Elizabeth or my folks while I worked.

One of my favorites is on top of the fridge in Switzerland.  By working on top of a refrigerator, I always had a "cold one" close-at-hand for the ritual Friday end-of-day beer.

Makeshift standing desk

but the real attraction to that workspace was the view from the 4th floor loft where I was working.

What a view!

Elizabeth loves her FitBit too. It has been fun to keep track of how much we have been walking and it encourages us to get out more.

Some other things we learned along the way [in no particular order]:
  • Elizabeth's headphones are awesome. Mine were not.
  • Having a headphone splitter is great for sharing movies or podcasts on long trips.
  • The Beats Pill speakers were nice for emergency dance parties.
  • Elizabeth is in looooove with her Sony Camera.
  • Carrying an extra HDMI cable allowed our laptop to show movies on TVs in houses and hotels along the way.
  • Battery pack was single best thing we brought this year. Having a place to plug in and charge our phones wherever we go has been clutch. We've used it countless times.
  • External hard drive is great for movies, books and backing up thousands of photos we are taking.
  • Elizabeth is in love with her Tablet, but her relationship with the charger is not so good.

Categories: Long term travel tips

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