Whilst I realise that some of you like to leave all the gadgets at home when you travel and that the concept of ‘digital detox’ is gaining in popularity, for others packing a laptop is as important as packing sunscreen. Personally I’ve gone from one end of the scale to the other – after several years in Africa I was opposed in principle to the new-fangled internet (this was in the mid-1990s) as I foresaw a world in which human contact would diminish in favour of sitting in front of a screen. Well, that did indeed happen – but if you can’t beat them, join them I guess.
Since starting my own business (first as a translator, now also as a travel blogger) I have now become – take a breath here, this is going to hurt – ‘location-independent’. Or a ‘digital nomad’. I know, the terms reek more than a forgotten Stilton at the back of the fridge but the fact is that despite being based at home I can in fact work from anywhere in the world I can find an internet connection.
Over the next few months I’ll be writing a series of articles about working on the road – probably from my desk at home – and how to smooth the process so that you can hopefully spend more time enjoying your surroundings than tapping on a keyboard. ‘Working’ in this sense is a very broad term – it encompasses everything from transferring, storing and perhaps sharing the pictures you’ve taken while sightseeing to carrying out job-related tasks in exotic locations.
In this brief introduction I’m going to start with the basics – make sure your PC is running properly. I travel with a four year-old laptop and in the time it takes to start up, open a couple of programs and commence typing the battery is at half power. Saving my work and turning it off uses up the rest. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little but the point is that performing regular maintenance and cleaning up your computer is essential. You don’t want to wake up to this:
You can set up automatic processes in Windows or do it manually but I find that it’s worth paying for software to do this for you. Let’s face it, only the real geeks out there poke around in the registry without that twinge of fear experienced by us mere mortals. Bite the bullet so that you can dodge one (crazy mixed metaphors, huh?) Take it from someone with bitter experience – having your laptop die on you in a foreign country with a deadline the following day is not a situation you want to be in, no matter how beautiful the surroundings. Similarly losing all your holiday snaps is no less painful if you happen to be sitting by a pool when it happens.
In the next feature we’ll look at backup and storage solutions you can use while travelling – new options seem to be appearing every month so we’ll aim to find what works best for you.