Happy 2013 everyone!
Seems everyone has an idea of how best to travel. Before I give you my very biased opinion, here’s the basic tenant of smooth – or rather, the lesser of all evil – traveling: everyone has a different priority on every aspect of it. It’s no surprise that what works for some people makes it a hell on earth for others.
There are commonalities: it’s going to involve an uncomfortable ride in a plane for too long and dealing with a lot of other people who don’t want to travel with you either. If you’re lucky, you’ll have to do it once but some of us have to catch connections, multiplying the experience with different degrees of difficulty.
Taking my current minimalistic streak, I streamlined my baggage to one bag, no wheels, as compact as I could possibly find it but with space for my clothes. This trims down two things: a) in case of an international connection, you skip waiting for your bag just to return it to the airline again and b) you don’t wait for your bag at your final destination. Really makes a difference if your final destination is like mine where baggage handlers don’t start taking the bags off the plane an hour or more after the plane has landed. Also in my case, for some reason there’s an extra x-ray security machine to have to put your bags through before leaving the airport, so if your bag didn’t make it first off the plane you’re in for another line up. Tag on two hours inside the airport if you have bags.
Gadget wise, I went with what I thought was minimal. First my phone (an iPhone 4 – I’m still tied to my iTunes collection) which is good enough for snaps like these, but it was not the gadget.
THE gadget was my Nexus 7. In my mind, it all came down to the one gadget that would make the trip. I brought a hood coat with large pockets so I could put my Nexus 7 in one and some headphones in the other.
I did gave myself one extra luxury by bringing my android external keyboard (Logitech’s bluetooth keyboard for Android) but I never took it out of the bag. Quite heavy though. More on that later.
Headphone wise, I went with my cheapest: Sony MDR-XB300 because in my experience, headphones get banged up, stepped on, tripped and even sat on a lot. If something were to happen to this pair, I wouldn’t really lose any sleep over it. I prefer over-the-ear specially for plane travel so they won’t hurt your ears during flight but I keep an extra pair of regular earphones in case they get broken.
The coat’s pockets were also good to carry around the forms they ask you to bring from one place to another. Really hope there was some way you could pre-fill all those on the internet before your flight.Perhaps a chip card that you could load all your stuff onto via a kiosk machine, carry around in your wallet and present to the customs officer. Eventually it should become your passport as well. All sorts of reasons why we’re not at that stage yet, so carry a pen. A cheap pen. You might lose it or have to borrow it at some point.
The Nexus 7 faired without missing a beat. I had packed two entire seasons of one series I hadn’t seen (Dexter) plus some episodes from other two favorites I had but I liked re-watching (Castle and the BBC’s Sherlock). I had gone with standard quality to keep my size down. I also had comics via Comixology, which I don’t mind sending a shoutout to, but they seriously screwed up the android app update during the holidays forcing me to download 2GB of comics all over again. Current update seems stable now.
I had a five hour layover in Miami International. I watched a lot of episodes there, but I did it with the Nexus hooked up to a charging station. The fact this airport sucks is augmented by the fact they charge for their Internet. For five hours, I needed it. However, I’m not sure the Nexus had fared so well without a charging station during my layover.
On the way back, I only had three hours of layover but customs and security took a chunk of that so I never used my tablet on the terminal. Watching episodes back to back on a 4 hour flight and a 3 hour flight without charging it the battery went down to… 50%. That is not bad at all. I can’t say for sure, but it does seem like the battery runs out faster the lower the numbers get – or it’s just my imagination.
With the external keyboard, a Logitech bluetooth for Android, I spent my days mostly at an apartment at the beach. I did try out a little blogging, but the wordpress app is limited in what it can do so I had to keep correcting the same post about five times. It was supposed to be a non blogging trip anyway, so it’s still a win that I got something done. Best thing about the keyboard is that it gives you something that I miss tons: arrow keys to move that pesky cursor.
Looking back, I guess someone might just say I could have left all my gadgets at home… But honestly, come on – that is crazy talk.
That will do for now.