When traveling in the wilder parts of the world, or at least, the less developed parts of the world, one thing a gadget freak has to consider is access to electricity to charge their various devices.
A few years ago this was not really a problem, as all our mobile devices, phones and such like, all managed to keep going for days on end between charges But with the advent of gadgets such as the iPad, Smart phones and so on, this is no longer the case.
The Philippines, a case in point.
To illustrate this point, I currently live in the Philippines, a country that many people visit as tourists for the very good reason that it offers a wide range of delightful beaches and other natural attractions. But less attractive for a gadget owner is the fact that in many tourist resorts and similar, there is either no mains electricity or it is only on for about 3 or 4 hours each evening, and then it is not really the sort of electrical supply I would want to plug any modern electronic device into, as the voltage swoops up and down to an amazing degree.
Big, dirty and ancient generators.
This is because many places have large diesel generators tucked away on the edge of the village, which provides the power, and these tend to be pretty primitive generators too, so when someone in the village turns on their A/C, the voltage drops to very low levels, and then when the A/C is turned off… it hurtles back upwards, sometimes reaching in excess of 300 volts. This sort of thing is not good for iPads!
Currently I use a rather fine Mobile Phone – a Motorola – that my son gave me when my ancient Nokia that I had bought in Kashgar finally died. Now this is a splendid device, capable of all manner of functions, all of which it does remarkably well, but the price I have to pay for this is that it needs to be charged every couple of days if I don’t actually use it,and if I do use it, then it needs to be recharged daily. This also applies to all tablets and other fancy LCD screened ereaders, they consume electricity merely by being switched on, and need to be fed at least every day or two.
This hunger for electricity simply doesn’t work in the more primitive parts of the world.
Of course one could buy a solar charger, of which there are many very good ones on the market (some of which I have reviewed here on my blog), but that is yet another heavy thing to cart around with you as you travel.
So, what is the answer to this problem?
Well, for computing and similar type work, I suppose the only answer is to buy yourself the smallest. lightest and least hungry Tablet you can get your hands on, and back things up in Drop Box or some similar just in case the very dirty electricity that the third world offers you kills your tablet. This if you simply can’t live without email for a few days or are not prepared to use cybercafes, which are to be found all over the place in such countries.
For your phone, simple,buy the cheapest mobile phone you can get your hands on, one that only makes and receives texts and phone calls… These all work happily for days on end between charges, and are also not really attractive to thieves. Funnily enough, these are often better at the core function of a mobile phone than their more complex cousins, such as the iPhone range and similar.
And for reading?
You simply can’t beat a very basic dedicated ereader, one using a monochrome e-Ink screen, but with 3G or WiFi connectivity so you can easily buy more ebooks when you are in larger cities.
You can store thousands of ebooks in any normal ereader, all the monochrome e-Ink ones can work for hours every day for weeks on end, so you only need to recharge when in big cities, and can happily go off into the bush with the knowledge that you will be able to read for as long as you are away from civilization.
I write this having seen too many serious gadget freaks here running around in frustration as their devices die one by one, either from a lack of electricity or from too much, and it strikes me every time I see such unhappy souls that they have forgotten the most important point of traveling in some of the wilder, and thus frequently more interesting places in the world, which is to relax and enjoy the experience.
Here I have based my thoughts on how it is in the Philippines, which is a relatively civilised place, so you can be reasonably sure of getting a minimal amount of electricity each day, even if it is only for a couple of hours and if you are prepared to risk the surges. But go further afield, as I have done, to places such as the extreme west of China, or any parts of Central Asia or the wilder parts of Africa, and there you will find that mobile phones actually work almost all over the place, but electricity? Forget it.
Whilst in the Pamir mountains, 4500 meters high, up to my ears in Camels and Yaks, both my simple Nokia and my Sony 505 ereader worked happily away for the entire week I was up there, which I was very glad of, as there was, obviously, absolutely no electricity supply up there… Nada.
So my message to you more intrepid travelers is to go down-market if you want to be able to use your mobile digital devices and still enjoy yourself in these rather wonderful parts of our world.
Image with thanks to:
This is a website I can warmly recommend you to visit and read, he has made photo reports on all manner of intriguing topics, and is absolutely worth a visit.
Share with us:
Have you been to such places with sundry mobile devices, and if so, what are your feelings about the ideal gadgets to take with you on such trips? Do share your thoughts and experiences with us here.