As long as you can avoid the dreaded writer’s block, blogging while you’re at home – with a reliable internet connection and maybe even a second monitor – is the easy part. It’s blogging while traveling that can be a challenge.
I’m not even talking about the difficulties of finding time to blog while you’re on the road, either – I covered that topic in a BlogWorld Expo blog post in June. In this case, I’m talking about finding the best tools and gadgets to help make your blogging life easier while you travel.
Best Gadgets and Tools for Blogging While Traveling
What traveler doesn’t like travel gear? Sure, not every traveler is giddy at the thought of bringing the latest tech toys on a trip, but if your blog isn’t taking the same vacation you are then you might want to embrace just enough technology to keep your readers entertained while you’re traveling.
Bringing a desktop computer on a plane clearly isn’t an option, and sometimes even bringing your average laptop doesn’t make sense. My own everyday laptop isn’t huge by normal standards, but the 15″ screen makes it not exactly teeny, either. What’s more, if your whole life is stored on your laptop and something happened to it while you were traveling, you’d have more than a stagnant blog to worry about.
Some computing alternatives that help you blog while traveling are:
- Netbooks – These tiny laptops aren’t the most powerful machines, but they’re incredibly travel-friendly. Even the best netbooks for traveling aren’t going to be powerful enough for you to do much in the way of photo or video editing, but if you can save that for when you get home then a netbook might be a good choice for you. They’ll stow easily in backpacks and even in many not-huge purses, and if you get one with a solid state hard drive you don’t even have to worry so much about being gentle with it. Blogging while bumping along in a chicken bus? No problem!
- iPad – For many, the iPad is becoming the travel blogging weapon of choice over the old netbook. It’s definitely a versatile gadget, being more about media consumption than it is about media production, and is far prettier to look at than even the shiniest of netbooks. The main drawback for anyone who’s using an iPad for content production is its lack of an external keyboard (not everyone is skilled at or comfortable with typing on the screen). If your typing needs are minimal and you just want to be able to post the occasional photo or make sure previously scheduled blog posts go up as planned (plus be able to watch movies on long flights) then the iPad may be a more fun travel option than a netbook – and you can always buy a portable iPad keyboard, too. Be sure to get a durable iPad case for your toy, however, since there’s no close-able cover to protect the screen.
- Smart Phone – Maybe you have no plans to do any blogging while you’re traveling because you’ve cleverly scheduled blog posts or have guest posts going while you’re on the road, but you’d like to be able to moderate comments, make sure posts publish when they should, and perhaps check email. You prefer books to movies on plane rides anyway, and you’re not interested in carrying a laptop-sized anything on your trip. Alrighty, then! A smart phone may be the only gadget you need. The iPhone is the most popular choice these days for traveling bloggers, but it’s not the only choice. There are Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Flickr apps, for instance, on the BlackBerry and Android platforms, too. Whatever phone you have, just make absolutely sure you’re not going to a destination that will have you racking up enormous roaming and data charges (or that, if you are, you take appropriate measures on your phone to avoid them). Conversely, if you know you’ll need to get online with your smart phone while traveling, make sure you’ll be able to do that from wherever you’ll be.
- Internet Cafes – Remember when you first started seeing internet cafes popping up when you traveled? Okay, you might be too young to remember a time before internet cafes, but for those of us who are a bit (ahem) older, the existence of an internet cafe sometimes served as the technological drink of water us wandering techno-philes longed for. Those of you who still relish the idea of traveling essentially without tech gear will be happy to know that there are still plenty of internet cafes to be found everywhere from Bali to Barcelona to Bamako. You can never be sure what kind of machinery you’ll encounter – not to mention how many will be on the fritz – and it may take you ages to type even a simple email on a foreign keyboard, but if your computing needs are minimal that may be more of an amusement than an annoyance.
It’s not all about the hardware, of course. So what are some other tools that can help you keep blogging while you’re traveling?
- Google Docs – Even if you’re bringing your own netbook on your trip, storing an increasing amount of data on it will just slow it down over time. Saving documents out in the web-o-sphere means you can access them from anywhere and you aren’t taking up space on your computer.
- iPhone Apps – As mentioned above, the iPhone is the most popular choice among traveling bloggers these days, and that’s due in part to the array of travel iPhone apps available. Your iPhone can now be your travel guide, your GPS device, your entertainment, and your blogging tool – in addition to being your phone. It’s not as easy to type on an iPhone as it is to type on an iPad or a computer keyboard, but that hasn’t stopped some people from relying entirely on an iPhone as a computing device when they travel.
- Automatic Backups – This should go without saying, but too many people still don’t back up their data even when they’re at home… So obviously it needs to be repeated. Get thyself a backup system, people! At home, I have an external hard drive sitting on my desk, but I still use both that and a web-based backup method (I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of girl when it comes to my data). When I’m traveling, however, the web-based backup is all I have. And don’t think that just because you’re carrying only an iPhone or solely using internet cafes that you don’t need to worry about backups – make sure your blog is set to back itself up regardless of where you are.
- Travel Insurance – Carrying any amount of expensive tech travel gear is enough to make anyone nervous. Nevermind having your blog go without a new post for a few days, the consequences of having your netbook or iPad lost or stolen aren’t fun to contemplate. If you’re bringing gear that you care about on your travels, be sure to get travel insurance before you leave home. Some trip protection insurance will cover up to $2500 of “personal effects” if something happens to them on your trip, so be sure to look for that when you’re getting insurance quotes. This obviously won’t keep your gear from getting swiped, but if the unthinkable does happen at least you’ll have some recourse to get a new gadget. (And since you backed up all your data, you haven’t lost anything. Right?)
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of the gadgets and tools to keep your blog chugging while you travel. I haven’t even talked about camera gear, for one thing, or the various bags designed to more elegantly tote your gadgets around. So I’m going to conclude with a question – what is your favorite piece of equipment to blog when traveling? What devices make it possible for you to keep up with your blogging duties even while you’re out and about? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.
Jessica Spiegel is a staff writer at BootsnAll (your resource for all things budget travel) and spends most of her energy on BootsnAll’s Italy Travel Guide, WhyGo Italy. She’ll answer all kinds of Italy travel questions, including how to find cheap flights to Italy, which Italy tours might be worth your time and money, and critical stuff like how to get from the Rome airport into Rome. When it comes to gear, Jessica is more of a netbook girl than an iPad girl, and she won’t go anywhere without a camera (although she’s afraid of water enough that a regular ole DSLR is preferable to even the coolest waterproof digital cameras).
Photo Credit: scriptingnews