The past few months have been pretty amazing preparing to spend 6 months out of the country. The one cool part of the process for me is how to most effectively use technology to support our travels. As an engineer, this stuff is fun and provides so many different options. It started with computers and tablets, making sure that everyone had the tools they needed to document our trip and stay connected with friends. We are just about done with these tools, just need to get one more iPad mini for Drew. Each of us has a light weight laptop and a tablet for the trip.
Next, was photography and video equipment. Drew has become a huge photographer, so for her Bat Mitzvah 18 months ago she purchased a Canon DSLR which she uses just about every day. She has become an excellent photographer and she will probably take tens of thousands of pictures on our trip. Noah, on the other had, loves video and the water. So, for his recent Bar Mitzvah we purchased a GoPro, and I purchased one for myself as well. Noah already has a point and shoot so he is all set to capture all the images to remember. I have always loved photography and have had a Nikon DSLR for years. My little investment was a new travel back that hold all the camera equipment and my laptop so I don’t have two carry-ons for the plane. This one integrated bag will help me keep everything in one place. In addition, I mistakenly left my camera bag at LAX and the airport in Istanbul because I’m not used to traveling with a third bag. I travel so much with two bags, having the extra camera bag was not good for me. Both times we remembered the camera before we lost it, but it is much more comfortable having the camera in with my laptop. I will not forget that bag!
The next piece of technology, and probably the most important for me, is the phone. How do we manage staying connected by phone with different SIM cards in each country? Especially trying to remember a different phone number in each country for the new SIM card. Well, that problem was solved when we were in Israel and my father told me he had free data and texting on his phone while he was there. I told him that he was crazy, every carrier charges international roaming fees, and he said that the standard T-Mobile plan does not! I couldn’t believe it, but when I checked into it he was right.
Not only is there free data and texting, but I can receive incoming calls anywhere in the world for free. WOW! Add to that the ability to make wifi calls, which was one of the big reasons I pay for an IP phone for business, which allows me to make free calls from anywhere I’m connected to wifi. Now, my cell phone has the same ability with one number connectivity. You might be saying that when I get back to San Diego the service for T-Mobile will suck. Well, I received the phones about 5 days ago and the coverage for T-Mobile in SD is as good if not better than Verizon. I had some known dead spots with Verizon that are just fine on T-Mobile, INCLUDING MY HOUSE!!!!
Finally, the big kicker, even with the financing for new phones included, the monthly bill for T-Mobile will be less than Verzion and I won’t need to purchase any SIM cards anywhere in the world. Everyone will be able to reach us on our US cell phone numbers and we are done. I’ve had my cell phone number for 15 years, so I will move all my contact information to one number and that’s it. I moved over the iPad mini with mobile data for GPS and other services while we travel, and I moved over the rest of the family’s phones so we can call each other to reach each other while we are traveling. The only fees are $.20/minute to make calls from anywhere in the world to anywhere else in the world. If we are on wifi then the calls are free. This is amazing and makes staying connected to loved ones at home a piece of cake, as long as they don’t call us at 2 AM in the morning not realizing the time differences 🙂
Finally, I have begun to collect power supplies and cables to make sure we have everything that we need. This includes international power adapters, portable charging units and more. The planning for this whole trip has been amazing, almost like a new job, and I’m loving every minute of it. Can’t wait to be on the road in two weeks and keeping everyone connected through our writing. The whole family will be blogging and it’s time to get this party on the road!
To a life well lived ……