Traveling Gadgets

Picture of a Cog Railway Engine

My recent vacation trip was by car so it was fairly easy to bring along the gadgets I wanted. Now, it wasn’t my goal to spend the trip just playing with the same tech I had at home. I was heading to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and planned to enjoy myself. So this is what I brought along and how it contributed to that goal. The list is more or less in the order of importance.

Motorola Droid Phone

This was easily the gadget that got used the most, mainly for two things:

  1. Mapping & Directions (GPS) – I really liked the mapping app built into the Droid. Compared to dedicated GPS gadgets I used in the past it was much more accurate and considerably less annoying.
  2. Audible Books – I’ve installed the Audible Android app and I listened to Audible books while driving around.

The directions were very good. Because I knew much of the route I didn’t want to go the exact way the GPS was sending me. It didn’t freak out when I went past an exit. Instead it recalculated and picked up the route I was taking. No constant messages to turn around.

The downside of using a phone for GPS mapping became apparent in the White Mountains. When there wasn’t any cell service there wasn’t any map.  The Droid would preload any maps needed for my trip in I selected the destination while I had service, but when it needed to recalculate the route I was hosed. The GPS had my location marked in a completely white screen.

There were only two points where the directions let me down and both had some mitigating circumstances. In the White Mountains it wanted to take me down a road that looked questionable (enforced by a warning sign) so I stuck with the paper map. The second was a complicated intersection. It really wasn’t wrong in this last case, I was just used to warnings before I had to make a turn, even to stay on the same route. For this intersection I needed to take a left to stay on the same route, it just indicated straight although the map itself was right and when I went straight it fixed itself, without yelling at me to make a u-turn.

I used the Motorola Droid car dockalt while in the car. It comes with a car power adapter which is a necessity since the phone only last about 2 hours when using the GPS mapping. The Droid senses when it’s in the dock and goes into car mode which makes it easier to use.

The speaker was load enough so I could hear the books while driving. I could have the sunroof open but if I opened the windows all the way the road noise would usually drown out the book.

I also brought along the Multimedia Docking Stationalt which I used to charge the phone overnight. It also made the alarm easier to use so I didn’t have to figure out the hotel clock-radio.

The battery life, or rather lack of it, keeps me from using the Droid for more. I actually need it as a phone. Without the car adapter, or some other recharge during the day I wouldn’t make it through the day unless I abstained from the GPS and kept other activity to a minimum. Also, between the GPS/mapping and Audible book running at the same time the back of the phone got quit hot, another indication of heavy power usage. It was burn my hand hot, but it was uncomfortably warm.

Photo of Conway Scenic Railway Notch train


The iPadalt was my second most used gadget on the trip. It worked with the free hotel wi-fi so I could using it for browsing through my RSS feed and general web surfing.

The iPad was also perfect for keeping PDF maps of the area along with other travel information. I probably could have done all this on my Droid but I liked the larger screen of the iPad.

I had packed the iPad with video so it was an option on the trip, but the reality was I only watched one video.

For this trip I had the iPad in Apple’s iPad Casealt. Until the trip I hadn’t been using it but the thin case, with good protection, was perfect for this. It didn’t take much space but the hard covering protected the screen from scratching.

I did bring my laptop with me, but except for the disk space I wouldn’t have needed the laptop and stuck with my iPad.


My MiFialt provided a broadband connection for my iPad and could have worked with my laptop. I‘m paranoid about public wi-fi so when I wanted to access something with a password I used the MiFi instead of the free hotel wi-fi. I could also use it to connect the iPad when on the road, assuming I had a cell connection.


I did bring my new laptop with me but it got very little use. All I used it for was to backup my SD cards after a day of pictures. In theory the iPad could have taken them but they took up too much space for the iPad so I was glad I took the laptop with me.


I guess my Canon Rebel T2ialt was actually the second most used gadget as I took several hundred pictures. (Lot’s of bracketing and exposure experimentation). Most of the pictures were with the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lensalt that I really like. I like the lens for landscapes. I also took a large number of pictures with the Canon EF 24-105mm lensalt that I like as a all purpose carry lens.

I’ve still got a lot to learn about photography, both the mechanics and the visual, but I was happy with the camera. I’m glad I got in far enough before vacation so I could get used to using it before the trip.

Photo of the Conway Scenic Railway stations