Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Electronics For Cruises

When Mel and I prepare for a trip our electronic devices seem to outweigh our wardrobes, or so it seems. For our last cruise—on the River Seine aboard Vantage Deluxe Travel’s River Venture—we tried to cut the number and size of them because we were flying to Paris, but it didn’t totally work out well for me.

For trips, we have our priorities. Even on a vacation it’s a given that we never leave home without our smartphones. They are a necessity for small business owners like us, but when on ocean-going cruise ships we turn off data roaming to save on costs. For time in international ports, we purchase a data plan.

Likewise, we rely on our laptop computers to stay on top of business. For our river cruise this month we used Mel’s laptop to keep us connected by utilizing the free WiFi on River Venture. With a Gmail account, I was able to stay up to date with my correspondence without my own laptop, so that choice to take just one worked seamlessly.

Of course we have camera equipment. A lot of camera equipment. Mel’s alone fills an entire duffel bag. Mine’s a bit smaller, but I’ve recently graduated to a DSLR with multiple lenses and accessories. For our River Venture sailing, Mel brought one camera with two lenses and I scaled back to a small point-and-shoot. Big mistake—and one that I won’t make in the future. My shots just didn’t measure up to the results I could have achieved with the better, albeit heavier, camera.

Some of the other electronics we carry are nice to have and useful, but not mandatory. Take for instance my iPod Touch and Kindle, both of which I always have on hand for road trips to embarkation ports. I also rely on them for entertainment and to pass the time on long flights. I could get by without one or the other, but I’d be cranky and bored. Just imagine your children asking, “Are we there yet?” every hour and you get my drift. I used both the iPod and Kindle on our flights to and from Paris and during free time on River Venture while in France.

I recently got an iPad Mini and it’s sure to get packed for our next cruise. By then, hopefully, I’ll be up to speed on how to use it to its fullest potential. In the meantime, it falls into the fun-but-not-functional, or toy category. Good for listening to music and taking the occasional ‘selfie.’ Also good for taking notes and retrieving email when I come across a free WiFi signal, but a bit redundant when considering the other devices that do the same. However, we noted many fellow travelers on our river cruise were using their tablets to take pictures and some were surprisingly good.

In additional to all those devices, there are the chargers necessary to keep them functioning. The last thing on our to-do list before leaving home—right after making sure we have our passports and travel documents—is to double check that we have the power cord for our laptops. We have the same computer brand so only need one of those, but why is it that each of our other devices requires a unique charger?

Heed my advice and examine your needs carefully before your next trip. Pack only what you will use, but take care not to make the mistake I did with my camera selection.

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