7 Apr 2016

Technology trials away from home 101.

I bought myself a Surface Pro a week before my flight to visit my family in UK. I had visions of hours learning the ins and outs of the Pro while travelling from New Zealand. The learning didn't happen. Why?
These were the things I didn't take into account:
  1. The default setting of the Pro seems to be to have a million apps open so if not in flight mode, power is used quickly.
  2. I didn't know how to get rid of those apps.
  3. I was tired and jet lagged
  4. The movies on the back of seats were accessible and far more entertaining than the thought of learning a new gadget.
  5. When you are travelling, comfort, ease and familiarity are a premium. I felt none of these when I tried to operate the battery-sucking Pro.

Ye olde PC. Dell 1990
Even after a few days in UK, I was still struggling. I had not conquered the Pro and my dinosaur phone would only roam intermittently. I felt defeated by technology. I am a women who could operate DOS forty years ago. I was one of the first to use spreadsheets and taught basic computing to all ages when PC's were just becoming a household item.

Still struggling with my Pro, my mother became weaker. Emails and texts between nine siblings were nearly hourly. I needed access to e-communication. Fortunately, my brother lent me one of his spare phones so I could at least keep in touch. Not being able to remain connected in a techno way added to the feelings of disconnection that happen with any return to your homeland. [More information on feelings of disconnection during visits are on this free download Visiting Home Chapter 9, from my book, The Emotional Challenges of Immigration.]

My advice is to:
  1. Know your technology before you leave for a trip. Only take gadgets that are familiar and you know the battery time. Being unsure of power and entertainment possibilities, I ridiculously over-packed. My hand luggage included: Surface pro with case, charger and overseas adaptors, temp charger, Kindle, phone, glasses, a hard drive in case the movies weren't working, a book in case all failed and there were no movies. 
  2. When there was only one screen.
    Manage without technology. Take a book. When I first started crossing the planet, my only concern was which book to take to read. Large or small? One or two? Shakespeare or Mills and Boon? Book reading was a must. You may have been able to watch a movie or two but it was on the big screen and shown at times decided by the flight crew.
  3. Have plenty of capacity on your phone for all those pictures you take. This was warning from Iphone daughter, who at sixteen years old loved discovering London on her own. I did have capacity, with my Pro and portable hard drive. It did take my twenty something daughter a long time to download the few photos I took.
  4. Be prepared to buy a new Sim card or buy or borrow a phone. Don't rely on roaming phones. Neither my Samsung dinosaur or my daughter's Iphone5s roamed as promised.  I could text and call only sometimes. I later found out that although I had paid for the roaming in NZ, it was dependent on the servers in the country I was in, so there were no guarantees of service. My daughter bought a UK number/sim and my borrowed phone was UK based. Both worked well in UK, but were limited in contacting NZ.
  5. Travel with a teenager or young adult. Technology upgrades and updates put me out of date painfully quickly. 
  6. Use the precious time to engage with those in the real world. Do you travel to connect with your loved ones or connect with a screen? If you do decide duty free or being on holiday is the time to buy and/or learn about your new gadget, reconsider. Learning a new gadget takes time. A lot of time. 
While away I was repeatedly thinking, note to self  - do not attempt to learn new technology when you are:
  • Jet lagged
  • At the beginning of your travelling where you are unused to where you packed everything.
  • In an environment where the systems are different
  • In a stressful times
My final recommendation:
Don't be too ambitious with technology when travelling. Know your gadgets before you go, because you don't know how  long it will take to get it all working.

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