Geek Zen: Travel and writing

I miss the beach

I miss the beach

Ah, vacation! Tech-wise, a vacation trip has two stages: the actual trip and the stay.

The traveling stage is the one that demands a long-lasting battery and plenty of storage for movies and videos. I like the new Mac Air 11″ because it’s small, light and has a nine hour battery life. Also, with i7, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of hard drive space (yeah I always supersize my gear), it packs a punch. Even with limited elbow room on planes, the Mac Air can still breathe.  A tablet is even easier to handle but the main concern for me is that even at 32GB there’s not enough storage to carry enough of my video library along. Of course you can always carry both, but I like to travel light – while still have my personal tech with me.

Some tablets do allow for additional storage via SD cards, but as you keep adding on SD cards and peripherals my geek zen tends to become fragmented. It’s a matter of preference but I prefer the one slightly larger gadget than the smaller one with numerous attachments and cables. That’s also the reason I’ve never been attracted to hack the Nexus 7 to support a external hard drive.

The second stage – the hotel stay, might pass with a tablet but not for me. Writing and blogging requires task switching, media handling and a decent keyboard. Yes, you can get an external keyboard for your tablet, but you’ll be adding weight to your carry-on. You could always send it via luggage, but as I’ve said before I prefer to travel light – and waiting for bags after landing is a bore.

Once you’re on vacation, my other dilemma is really not a dilemma at all. At home, I can find time to write at the end of the day somehow. On vacation, you’re supposed to take advantage of being somewhere else so staying in is not a choice. You can’t really ditch your friends and stay at the hotel writing although it’s tempting. The flip side of that is that you don’t write during the day and I’m usually too tired when I come back to the hotel to keep my eyes open.

Can you have a vacation that primarily involves writing? I technically stay indoors a weekend and that’s it. But I could always take a short trip somewhere quiet and nearby. Perhaps somewhere reachable by train since I love writing on trains. They have wifi AND power outlets. Trains are also less stuffier than planes or buses and tickets are less expensive than airfare. Writing comes easier to me on a long train ride. Perhaps that could be a vacation plan for next year.

If writing is going to be the primary exercise, the accommodations have to be carefully picked. No hostels and no extremely fancy hotel suites, but I need a place with wifi. If the hotel is in an area close to restaurants but not night clubs that would be good too. I took a train ride to Toronto on July for a concert for which I stayed right by the lake. Unfortunately the hotel had renovations during the day but I could always take the laptop to a nearby restaurant. If I travel within Canada I have the advantage of being able to access my 3G network.

Then again, sometimes it’s nice to have a vacation when you can mix and match. One day it’s all about sights and the outdoors and another day it’s a quiet writing time from morning until sundown. I use to think about a boat cruise up until all the bad news about cruise ships capsizing or getting stranded without being able to let people off. No thanks. Plus the fact that luxury cruise ships have  bad karma even when they stay afloat.

A nice trip to a beach somewhere? The mountains? Or just stay in the city where I have all the amenities I need? Perhaps rent a car and go to small town just outside the city? Given the fact that I’m still paying for my last vacation and I have no vacation days until next year, I’ll have a lot of time to plan my next one.

That will do for now.

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