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The Tech Tools of Summer

Does Taking Technology on Your Vacation make it Stressful or Stress-less?

Published: July, 2005

Vacation is not what it used to be, and if you ask some people, technology is to blame. There have been studies that show that about 1/3 of workers are packing their high tech tools along with their backpacks and golf clubs so that they can check in to the office while they’re on vacation .

The modern day truth is that vacationing with technology is a double edged sword. It’s stressful if you set it up so that you’re constantly being interrupted, but it can ease stress if you use the tools to help enjoy the vacation. Using technology you can get directions, find out where the best restaurants are, keep in touch with family, and let the front desk know about that late check in to your hotel.

The best news is that even if you do have to work a bit while you’re on vacation, you can get away with carrying significantly less stuff than ever. Here’s how I would check in to the office while I was on vacation (circa 1996). The laptop came with me as did a modem and a bunch of coins for the pay phone. Add some guidebooks, cameras, batteries and cables… and I carried a load.

ALL-IN -ONE DEVICES

Things have changed. One tiny device can do it all. I flip the lid on a device like the T/Mobile Sidekick II and up pops a full keyboard and great screen. With a SideKick I can check my email, IM friends, snap a spontaneous photo, play games and surf the web for events and directions. And. I look like James Bond when I’m doing it.

The best part about traveling with the SideKick is that it’s available as a pre-paid phone. That means no contracts, roaming charges, minute overages. You can re-up your minutes in stores all over the county or online so you’re not likely to be stranded.

HANDSFREE

When you’re on vacation you’re either doing nothing or doing something active — mountain biking, sightseeing, or in the car…. whatever it is, you’ll want your hands free.

Two new variations of handsfree headsets from Plantronics provide wireless or wired options without breaking the bank. The ultra stylish Plantronics MX505 costs only $45 but it has interchangeable voice tubes so you can choose which one sounds best for your voice. It’s even got a patented technology on the microphone to cut the noise on windy days.

If you want to go wireless, you want a Bluetooth headset . The Explorer 320, also from Plantronics is lightweight, has a long lasting battery, and at $50 it’s a great way to get started with Bluetooth. You can tuck the phone in your pocket or backpack and keep talking.

HOMETOWN RADIO

It’s not just work that makes people want to stay in touch on vacation… it’s news from home, sports updates, and maybe a favorite radio program. Satellite radio is changing radio the way cable TV changed television. With satellite radio you can listen to a program anywhere across the country and it’s commercial free. Sirrius Satellite Radio, for example, has more than 120 channels. One of the newest models, the Sportster Replay records up to 44 minutes of radio that you can take with you, and was built with the sports lover in mind. They can set a Game Alertprompt to let them know when their favorite teams lare playing. Or they can listen to Gamezone, a special Sirrius radio show that has play by play games. Radio Shack just conducted a study recently and found 53 percent of Americans said that their favorite sports team is not located in the city where they live. They’ll be happy campers.

TRADITION GOES HIGH TECH

If you thought your Swiss army knife could do everything, you should see the new Swissmemory USB Victorinox. It’s the same versatile knife that’s been made for over a century, but it’s gone geek! The insides are a flash memory drive. It holds up to 1 GB of data and comes with travel software for easy transfers. I use it to store photos from the trip, store extra music and I confess… bring a little work along with me.

TIPS FOR A STRESS FREE HIGH TECH VACATION

1. Make sure you’ve completed your pre-vacation work. It’s miserable to come back to an unfinished project.

2. Use voice or e-mail’s away features to set up “away messages”.

3. Leave a contact person who’s been briefed on the status of your projects.

4. While you’re on vacation keep a folder for TO DO mail and messages.

5. Upload trip photos to a photo sharing site to free up disk space on your digital camera.

6. Try and find a multipurpose solution for web, e-mail, etc. so you don’t carry too many different pieces of gear.

Vacationing in the Canadian Rockies: Keeping in touch with the office during vacation can be stressful, but it’s sure easier than it was in 1996 when this picture was taken.