We admit it. We love our technology. My husband, Rich, and I are avid cyclists and have taken to doing long distance cycling trips. We love the slower pace and more engaged style of travel that it encourages. We have mastered the art of traveling light, even when camping. And that includes our techie toys.
First on the list are our Garmin GPS watches. We haven’t updated them in years, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Although the older models are much bulkier, they have bigger displays for our aging eyes. We wouldn’t dream of going for a ride without them. They not only display our mileage, pace and time as we go, but when we get home we download them to SportTracks where we can view our route on a map, and analyze other data ad nauseam.
That brings us to the next item – our tablets. Absolutely essential. In addition to blogging (of course!), we download all our photos each night, to edit and organize them. And of course we use email, maps and other apps. They are the most economical use of space for any device we bring – particularly as they allow us to read an unlimited number of books along the way.
Smartphones are our lifeline while we’re gone. We don’t use them much during the day, but they are there if we need them, and keep us connected to family back home. And then there are the maps. Rich can download Google Maps locally on his Android phone ahead of time, and even without a cell connection he can use GPS to pinpoint us on a map and clarify where we really are. Or where we need to go. It has saved us many a wrong turn.
Not bad, just three devices each. But now that we’ve taken to doing longer trips and camping, we face new challenges. Our Garmins only store a limited amount of data – four full days is about the max mine will hold before the detail gets written over. Even if we trade off using them on alternate days, it’s still not enough. Enter Sportablet. It’s an Android app that Rich has loaded on his Nexus 10 tablet, and now we can both download all our GPS data nightly and save it for the duration of the trip. It works like a dream! So we have our data licked. (And to give Android its due, clearly there are some things it does much better than Apple – handling external data is one of them.)
Power is not an issue when staying in motels, but what about when camping? We turned to solar power on our last trip, using the SolarMonkey Adventurer. I strapped it onto my sleeping bag to charge during our ride in the daytime, and at night we were able to recharge two Garmin GPS watches, two cell phones, and it still had additional power capacity. At 15 oz, we deemed it worth carrying. Power solved, at least if the sun shines…
Our next trip will be 2,000 miles long, and will keep us on our bicycles up to two months. Sunshine and satellites willing, and the occasional internet connection, we will be happy techies.