Embarking on a nomadic adventure meant we needed to lug around the necessary items of technology in order to stay in touch with friends and family, update our website and social media platforms as well as try and earn some dollars to keep our travels going. We knew the cost of technology while travelling could be high, so not wanting to spend too much money before we even left Australia’s shores, the only new item we bought was a camera (thanks to my last employer for their Christmas bonus!).
So this was in our pack when we left:
2 x iPhones
1 x iPad
1 x iPad keyboard
1 x Mac Book Air
2 x Hard drives
1 x GoPro and accessories
1 x Sony NEX6 and 2x lens
In our 6 months or so away we have had a few casualties, actually more than a few, and a couple of new additions to our kit. We knew this would happen, but when it does, not only does it throw an emotional curve ball, the bank account takes a hit and you really understand the real cost of technology while travelling. Here’s what has happened so far along our journey….
Casualty # 1 – Sarah’s iPhone dead
With a damaged screen before I left, it was no surprise that the first item to die was my iPhone. With the screen freezing on a regular basis or shutting down all together it was time to upgrade to a shiny new number. Being on a budget, an iPhone was out of the question and also probably not that necessary as I pretty much used my phone for messaging, social media updates and checking emails. So we headed to a local dealer in Ho Chi Minh to pick out a budget friendly phone and I couldn’t be happier. Sorry Apple, but I don’t think I will be coming back.
New Addition: Nokia Lumiere 520
Total cost: $AU150
Casualty # 2 – GoPro lost or stolen
Further into our Vietnamese leg we had the devastating loss of the GoPro camera which Chris used to film our location videos and of course funny family moments. Snuggly housed in the hood of the pram…one minute it was there and the next minute it was gone. We can’t be sure it was stolen, perhaps it fell out as we rolled over the broken pavement, but after back tracking along the streets for about 30mins we gave up the search.
Chris decided the iPhone was going to be his new videoing tool (as amateur as it sounds) so after deciding not to replace the GoPro he managed to sell off his accessories and gain about $AU100 back.
Total cost: $AU400
Casualty # 3 – Mac Book Air rejects the hard drive
Just as we were about to begin downloading our days’ worth of images from our camera to the hard drive the Mac decided not to read it anymore. Although we had a backup hard drive, we were unsure of how up to date it was and were worried we were going to have lost hundreds of travel photos as well as some important documents. So we headed into the IT hub of Chiang Mai and found a repair man to take a look. He came to the conclusion that our computer just wasn’t powerful enough to take the hard drive we owned and it was time to get another one. Bummer. So after a day of the repair man transferring all our data from the old hard drive to the new hard drive, we burnt another hole in our pocket.
Total Cost: $AU150
Casualty # 4 – Chris’ iPhone screen cracked
What began as a hair line crack caused by someone knocking it off the table in Cambodia, soon became a bigger problem. Knocks from Jack, a fall from the bike and general bumps along the way saw Chris’ screen crumple. He held off repairing it, shooting footage through a shattered screen, until it just didn’t function anymore. Lucky for us we were in India at the time and repairing the iPhone was going to be relatively cheap and easy. So we thought…more on that later.
Total Cost: $AU90
Casualty #5 – Chris’ iPhone screen cracked
While on the back of a camel in Jasalmer’s desert, Chris’ iPhone screen cracked again. We couldn’t believe it, after less than two days of fixing it in Jaipur there was another crack. Needless to say Chris was fuming! From then on the screen kept blacking out and Chris’ frustration just kept increasing. Every time he was capturing a moment, it would just go black and when it finally stopped working off we went to another repair man, this time in Abu Dhabi. It was here we understood why it cracked so easily and so soon. When replacing the screen the first time, the Indian dudes had ‘neglected’ to put the precious little plate that protects your phone and gives the screen strength back in. Again, Chris was fuming.
Total Cost: $AU120
New addition #1 – Sarah’s laptop
After months of sharing a computer and since we both had ongoing contracts freelancing online, the time had come to purchase a laptop for me. Unfortunately for me, a MacBook was out of the question as our budget was just not going to stretch that far. So after shopping around we found ourselves in a supermarket in Abu Dhabi purchasing a little Acer which hopefully was going to serve its purpose. I later discovered it was a little on the slow side (can’t complain based on what we spent), but it has become a trusty companion.
Total Cost: $AU300
Casualty #6 – iPad screen cracked
When it’s your 2 year olds travelling companion (initially it was mine, but was hijacked early on in our trip) a cracked iPad screen was almost inevitable. This time it was my chance to be devastated as I knew it wasn’t in our budget to get a cosmetic repair done. Soon though after a slight bump it was Jack’s turn to be distraught as the screen went black and his beloved Peppa Pig played no more. A trip back to Abu Dhabi’s repair man and a new kid friendly cover saw another loss in our bank account.
Total Cost: $AU95
Casualty #7 – Memory card lost
After downloading images onto our computer, the memory card to our camera mysteriously disappeared in our Prague pension. We searched high and low. Chris interrogated Jack as to where he put it thinking this was the only way the little 2cm card could go missing. Too frustrated to spend our precious morning in Prague looking for it, we purchased a new card. The original memory card later turned up sitting amongst some clothes in Chris’ backpack.
Total Cost: $AU30
Casualty #8 – Chipped laptop screen
The joys of having a two-year-old trying to amuse himself in a small hotel room. Jack was swinging a USB cord around his head like a cowboy and sure enough it came flying right into my laptop screen. I later discovered as I was trying to clean my screen his antics had left a nice little chip smack bang in the middle. Not a life threatening injury, but I am forever trying to remove this little chip which is driving me crazy!
Casualty #9 – Sony NEX-6 Camera
Late in the night while I was sleeping, Chris was attempting a DIY fix on my beloved Sony NEX-6 with a kitchen knife. The memory card got caught on something and he was trying to repair it. Unbeknown to me, when I turned it on the next morning and all it said back to me was ‘reinsert memory card’ I was crushed. How can you travel without a camera? After spending half our morning in Innsbruck trying to find a place that would help us fix it, we came to the conclusion it was going to be a costly ordeal and we needed time to get it repaired. So I had to wait patiently as we visited four European towns until we settled in France for a couple of months. Chris became the videographer and the photographer with his iPhone and I just saw those photo opportunities pass by. Not surprisingly, damage to a camera is not a small fix and the little guy was sent off with a three week lead-time and a depressing cost estimate.
Total Cost: $AU220
Finally we see casualty number 10 and 11 come within a day of each other as we were quietly hanging out in our gite in France.
Casualty #10 – Hairline crack on Chris’ iPhone screen
Casualty #11 – iPad screen corner cracked
And so it begins all over again!
Maybe these are a little obvious, but here are some tips on keeping your technology costs while travelling down and your gear healthy:
- Always keep your equipment on you or safely in a bag when travelling around
- No matter how unattractive they are or bulky they make your phone feel, invest in a cover
- When getting your screen repaired in South East Asia, make sure you watch what they are doing to ensure all the pieces are put back in
- If you have kids make sure you have a protective case for the tablet and keep them away from your precious equipment
- Don’t try the kitchen knife technique and attempt to fix any of your equipment, get a professional
- Throwing, banging or hitting generally won’t bring your little item back to life