Technology moves fast! Sometimes you have to move to adjust to conditions. When it comes to travel and technology, I have learned a few things. I have also had to make some additional adjustments that made me rethink how to address my technology practices. In late 2018, I had shoulder surgery which made me make a sudden change to how I do many technology and travel things. Typing wasn’t the same (or possible), phone usage wasn’t the same and everything was more difficult. Here are few technology tips I have incorporated over the years with my travel and in spite of the temporary setback.
Voice recognition has come a long way — and it is easier than ever. One of the things that I do a lot is writing, including long-form writing of blog posts and white papers. After the shoulder surgery, I was toying around with purchasing voice recognition software, but it turns out that built into Windows 10 is speech recognition. You simply display the keyboard on the system tray, then click it, then select the microphone. I was completely amazed how accurate Windows was with voice recognition without any voice “learning.” So much so that I wrote an entire white paper with this engine. This technology made typing much more accessible. The figure below shows how to enable the microphone to transcribe what you are saying:
I feel this capability is more advanced than what we see in our mobile phones, as it is more accurate in my experience. A pro tip is to use the microphone for transcription as if you were presenting to a large group (speaking natural, but a bit slower) and put in pauses and breaks as needed. Truth be told, this was the easiest white paper I’ve ever written with this engine.
Get the mobile app. If you travel a bit, get the mobile application of your airline. This is one of the best ways to keep up to date on travel plans, including when things change. Additionally, if you are the type that tracks luggage, most airlines will give you tracking accuracy of your luggage on par with that of your favorite parcel delivery service! Don’t fly much? Install it for your trip, add your trip information, then delete it when your travel is complete!
Plan on portable Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi hotspots to take with you on your daily travel! I’ve had this in only one international hotel (in Hong Kong), but hotels are starting to provide portable Wi-Fi hotspots. This was a great way to get high-speed broadband while on the go, and in this example it was no cost. You can also rent or purchase plans for portable hotspots at destinations you visit, which is a nice approach if you plan on sharing with multiple phones, tablets or computers. This can also provide higher speed access (and possibly cost savings) than enabling a roaming plan on one’s phone if it is not already in place.
Know your ABCs — always be charging. You have to be charged, and finding an outlet in the corner of your lunch venue to charge up is not a good idea. In addition, you may forget to take your phone or cable! This is helpful from an accessibility standpoint as you can just charge when you can as it may be difficult to source charging later (or even move to a proper position to charge).
I recommend having a good portable power pack. Ideally a pack that is over 10,000 mAh and can be charged by conventional USB cables versus a brick power supply. I am not wild about units more than say 15,000 mAh, I’d rather carry two smaller ones. I recommend over 10,000 mAh as it can charge a typical smartphone around two times fully and it usually can be charged itself overnight. Some of the larger battery packs can take more than a typical overnight to charge fully.
Travel light. A messenger bag works for me. I see many tech professionals carrying the backpack almighty and I’ve reassessed the practice. After shoulder surgery, I could not put the same weight on the bad shoulder; so I had to adjust. I made myself migrate to a smaller messenger-style bag — and I love it. I can fit a laptop, mouse, clip headphone case to the side, power, cables, sunglasses, business cards and a few papers in there. What more do we really need?
Set up Android Auto or Apple Car. This is part safety, part ease of use. I love these services as they make driving with navigation, calling, music and a few other services feel safe. If you have not looked into this, you should. And in many situations, your car does not need to support it. For example, in my car I install my phone in a universal mount and the screen changes to the Android Auto display with simple controls for music, phone and navigation.
A bonus tip here, especially for those who drive on trips, is to download offline map data. Recently during my vacation to Iceland, I downloaded much of the country map data so I had full navigation services, even if I did not have Wi-Fi or data service on my phone. Add starred destinations and the navigation process is a snap.
Secure a “white noise” setup. I sometimes travel to hotels (or am in an airplane) and want to sleep, but the noise level dictates otherwise. To solve this issue, I’ve taken the approach of a white noise application. My favorite is the “brown noise” option on the application, in fact. Couple that with a proper set of headphones and I can sleep anywhere.
What tips do you have for travelling and technology? Share your tips below!
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