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Traveling with Technology

We frequently travel for various reasons: vacations, family visits, work-related client meetings or conferences, and outdoor camping trips. As someone running a tech consultancy, staying connected is crucial. Recently, camping has become a common activity, sometimes in areas with and without cellular service. The tech gear required for a successful trip largely depends on the location and the availability of cell service.

Long ago, to get ready for a trip, we’d mostly make sure we had our plane tickets, books and magazines to read, and of course a snack. It wasn't even possible to stay connected while traveling the way we do today. Prepping for travel in today’s tech-heavy world comes with a new set of tasks, most of which shouldn’t be left to the last minute. ​

Identify Devices, Chargers, and Cables to Bring

Resist the temptation to bring every piece of tech you have. Do you really need your iPad and MacBook Air if you’re not planning to work on vacation? Is a point-and-shoot camera worthwhile if you take most of your photos with your iPhone?

Once you’ve selected your preferred devices, think about charging. At a minimum, you’ll need chargers for all your devices every night. You may not find many power outlets or be able to access them easily, so a compact power strip is often helpful, especially if it comes with USB Type-A and USB-C ports. Multi-device wireless chargers can also reduce the number of wall chargers and cables. If you are like me and have an Apple iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple AirPods, the trifecta of chargers is absolutely necessary.

If you’re traveling abroad, an international power adapter is essential—you can find units that support multiple devices but you need to make sure you are getting the appropriate plug(s) for your destination. Apple makes a World Travel Adapter Kit that will probably work with the power adapter you already have to charge your Apple device(s).


Make sure to pack the right charging cables for your devices. Increasingly, that means USB-C cables, but remember that most public charging ports in airplanes and hotels will still be USB Type A, so bring an appropriate cable or adapter for such situations. Finding a good multi-cable charging cable will save space but make sure you have enough cables to charge everything at once.

Portable battery packs can be a lifesaver, such as for late-night transit navigation after you’ve run down your iPhone’s battery taking photos and videos during the day. Unless the battery pack has integrated cables, ensure that you carry the right cables with you every day.​

And finally, if you are camping somewhere that doesn't have outlets to charge, you will need to strongly consider a power bank and possibly even solar panels to recharge the power bank. Choosing a power bank can be difficult but usually comes down to budget. The better the wattage output, the more you can charge.

Staying Connected

Whether you are traveling internationally or off the grid, you will need to make sure you have options for connecting to the internet. The easiest way to do this is to use your hotspot on your iPhone, which works great when traveling in the United States. You need to be careful when using hotspots on a data plan when traveling internationally. Make sure you understand your cell service data plan before leaving for your trip and test the hotspot connection before you leave to make sure it is setup properly and working. Contact a rep with the company you have your cell service through before your trip to better understand your current coverage and what other options you have.

When camping or traveling off the grid, finding cell service or somewhere to connect can be very tricky. As an avid camper, we have a Starlink Roam (formerly Starlink RV) which we take with us on all of our outdoor trips. The Starlink Roam subscription allows you to turn the service on and off as needed and you only pay the prorated amount for the month you are using it. The cost as of this post is $150/month. It's a great conversation starter too if you are looking to meet new people on your outdoor adventures but be ready to share your wifi!

Prep Updates, Backups, Apps, and Entertainment

We always encourage staying up to date on operating system updates for security reasons. It’s especially important to update before leaving on a trip where you may be in less secure situations. Don’t leave those updates for the night before you leave! The device you’re updating won’t be usable while the update installs, which may be stressful, and in the rare case where something goes wrong, you’ll need extra time to recover. Always update your devices and apps at least a few days before leaving and NEVER run updates when on an airplane or connected to a public wifi connection (maybe don't even connect to a public wifi connection - I'll save that for another post).

It’s also important to make backups before you leave. It’s easy for a device to be damaged, lost, or stolen while you’re traveling, and a backup is essential for recovery.

For Macs, iPhones and iPads, make sure your backups are current. For iPhones and iPads, iCloud backups are best while traveling because you can continue to back up while away, and if you have to replace a lost iPhone on the road, you can restore from your iCloud backup wherever you are.

You may find a new set of apps helpful on your trip, and some may be essential for checking in for flights, going through customs, and more. If you’re flying, configure your airline’s app to know about your flight and add your boarding passes to Apple’s Wallet app. Paper copies of travel documents are worthwhile in the event of your iPhone being damaged, lost, or stolen. Travel guides for specific locations and itinerary planners like TripIt may also be helpful, though you can also track your travel and itinerary in Notes, which you can share with fellow travelers. An app like Flighty can help you track your flights and better react to delays. 

A nice trick I learned is if flying, text your flight number to yourself and you can simply click the text to see all of your flight info. It's that easy!

Even if you prefer Apple Maps or Google Maps, having the other available when you travel is worth it. One or the other may work better in certain places or with certain types of navigation, like city transit. Connectivity isn’t always guaranteed while traveling, so download maps ahead of time in both Apple Maps and Google Maps. In Apple Maps, with the new iOS 18 release, you will be able to download thousands of hiking trails and offline maps to ensure you don't get lost when you are out in the wilderness without signal. We just used this successfully on a trip to Yosemite.

If you’re heading to a country where you don’t speak the language, make sure you can quickly access Apple’s Translate app. Also get Google Translate so you can find out which you prefer. Both translate text you enter, text you focus on with the camera, and the contents of conversations.

It’s always best to load enough ebooks, podcasts, and videos on your iPhone or iPad so you don’t run out of something to do during downtime when there’s no connectivity. With ebooks, if you’re not already using Libby to access your public library, give it a try, our kids love it. It’s easy to download episodes in most podcast apps. And nearly all streaming apps like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix allow downloading. If you have kids, you know how important it is to have entertainment ready. That said, leave plenty of free space for taking photos and videos on your travels.​

Protect Tech You Leave Home

Don’t forget the tech you’re leaving behind. Shut down your Macs and unplug anything not protected by an uninterruptible power supply. That way, a power surge or lightning strike won’t hurt anything. 

If you use HomeKit or Google Home, set up automations to turn lights on and off to make it seem like you’re home. Make sure you can remotely access home monitoring systems like security cameras.

Don't Be Overwhelmed!

We know this all can sound like a lot, but you want to avoid the aggravation of arriving at your destination only to discover that you forgot a necessary cable or can’t get Internet access. There are tools out there to help you remember everything you need when you travel. You can use Google Keep or an app like Packing Pro, which lets you develop (and reuse) lists of items and tasks. Or just stick to a simple spreadsheet.

Most importantly, HAVE A GREAT TRIP!


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