It’s a measure of how fast technology advances—or how slow an advancer I am—that the gizmos I feel necessary to have while traveling now didn’t exist in my life only a year ago.
A year ago I didn’t carry a notebook-sized laptop. Then Gateway loaned me a slim, red-cased notebook (an EC1437u that retails for about $420) that lightened my load on the road by about five pounds. True, it doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive, but I’ll eventually buy one I can plug in when needed.
I carried a BlackBerry a year ago, but then I bought an iPhone because I found it much faster at connecting to the Internet. My iPhone has also replaced my Magellan GPS device because it lets me know traffic conditions instantly.
The “gadget guy” on my syndicated travel radio show, Michael Sommer, sent me a MiFi, and it sat unused in its box for three months until I finally took it out and asked myself, “Do I really need this?”
Indeed I did!
The MiFi is a tiny, credit-card sized, black box that allows you to connect up to five multiple devices to the Internet wirelessly (and securely) most anywhere there’s telephone service if you subscribe to Verizon wireless. I now can’t live without it.
And I was a very late adaptor to an e-book reader. But three weeks ago, when a close friend of mine bought an iPad, he bequeathed me his Kindle. I know it’s not state of the art, but I already love being able to travel with a dozen books stored in an easy-to-read format.
Not everything that’s new in my travel life is electronic. I discovered a simple product called the VinniBag, a way to beat the problem of stashing wine bottles (or any other liquid you can’t carry onto a plane) into your checked luggage without fear of a bottle breaking during transit and drenching your clothes in, say, red wine.
It’s a (heavy) plastic inflatable thing with air chambers. You slip your bottle of wine, or Scotch or olive oil, inside and then inflate the side bladders, protecting the glass from breakage. Terrific if, like me, you travel with a partner who regularly balks at stashing a couple of bottles of red in his or her luggage for you.
OK, I know I’m not a cutting-edge guy. I don’t have an iPad yet, and I’m sure my iPhone will be supplanted by a newer, more exciting model any week now. And there are hundred apps I should have on my phone but don’t have time to download. But at the rate things are going, I figure by next year I’ll be caught up to, oh, 2009.