Lonely Planet Writer

Talking travel tech

internettacosOnce the nemesis of a traveller looking to escape it all, shiny gadgets that connect us to the world and each other are now an indispensible part of our journey (well, maybe not indispensible, but they certainly feel that way for many of us).

Smart phones, music players, e-book readers, cameras and memory cards can be incredibly useful passengers.

And as community member klaush discovered, they can be unexpectedly easy to get hold of. He recalls a recent trip to Peru when he ran out of camera memory. "Went into a local shopping mall specialized in smuggled computer parts, bought two 8 GByte USB sticks for 20$ each, found an internet cafe where they charged me 0.30 cents to use a computer and card reader for an hour, and we were sorted. "

But tech gear can also create unwelcome headaches if you're worried about its welfare, battery life or ability to do the job you had in mind. Do you really want to worry about where that netbook is at all times if you're trying to relax?

Then there's the state of connectedness in our destination. Are there Internet cafes? What's the wifi like? How long will it take me to file my tax return back home on this connection (something a friend of mine recently endured "on quite possibly the slowest computer mankind has ever seen...").

There's plenty of information out there but hearing from fellow travellers who've been there and done that can help newbies find their way.

Some recent topics of chatter on our Travel Tech forum include keeping safe using wifi; the pros and cons of e-book readers; the iPhone versus Nokia; the best phone options for travelling in Europe; a camera lens worth the upgrade; what to do with an old laptop; which watch to hit the trail with; even how to pronounce camera brand names.

We can be pretty big geeks at Lonely Planet too, always playing with new products and applications for different devices. Some of us are strongly lobbying for a holodeck (hey, Google has one).

What's your killer travel app/tool/device? (feel free to say holodeck) What can't you leave home without now?

[Photo: lecates]