MYOB CTO Simon Raik-Allen shares his favourite travel stories, and gives some tips on what tech to pack while on business trips.
MYOB CTO Simon Raik-Allen
What tech do you travel with and why?
On business trips, I never leave without the holy trilogy of phone, tablet and laptop.
Why three devices? I know it may seem like overkill, not to mention heavy and a pain at airport security scanners, but each has its own purpose. The phone is obviously for calls. The tablet is for video podcasts, games and books while in planes or hotel rooms, and then also in meetings for note taking. The laptop is needed for two reasons: firstly, because tablets are just not great at input, so if I'm writing a blog or document, my fingers prefer a full keyboard. But secondly, I love to tinker with computer source code.
I'm always installing the latest coding tools and experimenting with new computer languages. Travelling is one of the only times I get to spend as much time as I want doing this guilt free!
What tech do you miss from home?
Our family TiVo. I actually don't watch very much TV, but if I can grab 30 minutes here or there at some weird hour, I want to watch something interesting, not something that just happens to be on. I'm only new to the TiVo, but it has totally transformed how I watch TV.
What tech do you love abroad, where and why?
Mapping software these days is just so powerful and sophisticated — it's basically travel cheating! When I was backpacking 20 years ago, I had so many adventures and met so many people while lost and asking for directions. But now I wouldn't get on a plane without it.
What's your favourite phone app for travelling and why?
When I travel somewhere new, I like to load some local apps.
For example, I went with the family to Sri Lanka a couple of years ago, and I loaded up and used a new app, built by a local developer, every couple of days. The two I used the most were a local news application, and one which tracked the progress of the Sri Lankan cricket team. Sri Lankans are seriously keen on their cricket. Shane Warne has been there a few times, and everyone you meet, as soon as they find out you are Australian, wants to tell you that. There was even a guy walking around with newspaper clippings of Shane's visit just to prove it.
Most memorable travel story/experience?
For my honeymoon, I went to Cuba. That place is amazing, and it was an absolutely majestic experience. The hotels had peacocks roaming around grounds, every night a spontaneous party would emerge on some rooftop and the people everywhere were super friendly. Hushed whispers of Castro and of different times could be heard in the bars at night after a few mojitos.
Personal travel advice/tip?
I used to travel for work to the US a lot, and worked out a routine for avoiding jet lag. First thing to do when you leave your home for the airport is set your watch to local time at your destination. Then look at your watch often, and try to put your mind into that timeframe. If this means trying to sleep during your daylight, then so be it. At the destination, the golden rule is to not sleep or rest, not even one iota, until it's actually bedtime.
What (if any) travel websites do you use?
My wife is the travel planner in our family, and she absolutely loves www.airbnb.com, where you can rent people's homes (or a room in their home) from all over the world.
What is the best airport you've visited and why?
At MYOB we have an office in Kuala Lumpur, so I get out there a bit. The international airport is architecturally really impressive with its giant ceilings and glassed atriums, and I've got a few favourite cafes now where I like to whip out the lappy and tap away until my flight is ready.
Name one thing you wish your iPod/phone/laptop could do that it doesn't do now?
I wish my laptop could watch my hand gestures (a la Kinect) and allow me to control applications by waving my arms. It's only a matter of time.
Which airport would you prefer to be stranded at and why?
Somewhere I've always wanted to go but have never had the opportunity is the Galapagos Islands. The nearest serving airport is San Cristobal (according to Wikipedia) so feel free to drop me there for a few weeks while I retrace the journey of Charles Darwin.