Prepping for another European adventure

17 Sep

We’ve got a trip to Europe on the horizon, and the preparations have begun. I’ve got our hotels starred on my Google Map. I’ve got those maps downloaded to my phone so I don’t need a data connection to navigate when we arrive. I’m starting to plan out what tech I’ll bring and what I’ll leave behind. Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

Mr. Two-Phones in London.

Mr. Two-Phones in London.

Bring: Smartphone // Leave Behind: Data Plan

The Google Maps app makes navigation easy, so we’ll be able to find our way to our hotels (hopefully) without getting too lost. However, I’m not planning to get a data plan while abroad. If we were planning to stay in one country, I may have planned to pick up a local SIM, but we’re not, and I don’t think it’s worth the cost. There are other options, but I’m going to depend on the hotel’s WiFi for data.

Bring: Global SIM // Leave Behind: Contact Info

I’m going to pick up a global SIM card before we go. They seem slick. Most offer relatively reasonable rates for international roaming (at least compared to the alternatives), and I’m leaning towards the GoSIM International SIM. With it, I’ll be able to make and receive calls in a ton of countries. Because I’m a Google Voice user, I’m going to set up some sort of call-forwarding chain, so people in the US trying to reach me shouldn’t even notice I’m global. We’ll see how that goes, but before I leave, I’ll be sure to tell everybody that may need to get in touch with me the best way to reach me.

Bring: Small Travel Laptop // Leave Behind: Tablet

Because I never know if I’ll get pulled into a website emergency, I like traveling with a real computer. I could almost make it work on a tablet, but I don’t fully trust that yet. I know I can make it work with a small laptop. If it wasn’t for the website stuff, I’d probably swap this call and bring the tablet for the flight and ditch the laptop. Or ditch both.

Bring: Phone Camera // Leave Behind: Real Camera

Because Lisa’s the better photographer and will bring her SLR, I can travel a bit lighter. Cell phone pics are good enough for me.

Bring: Power Adapters // Leave Behind: Extra Cables

My favorite, dangerous setup is a universal adapter with a 3-plug outlet plugged in. I’ll bring this along with another just-in-case adapter. Lisa and I will consolidate our cords as best we can. That means one USB charger, minimal everything else.

Bring: Smart Chip Credit Card // Leave Behind: Wallet Extras

I’ve got a credit card with an EMV chip in it that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. A few years ago in France, we had issues trying to buy train tickets from an automated machine. Turns out, it was because my credit card lacked the cool EMV chip that basically every card issued in Europe has. Restaurants and other stores will swipe the magnetic strip (though we got weird looks sometimes for being so antiquated), but those automated kiosks will no longer be a hurdle thanks to my new card. I’m ready. And I’m going to trim as much of the other stuff out of my wallet as possible, just in case.

That’s what I’ve thought of so far. More to come as we get closer to departure. Got a tech tip? Leave a comment.