In this week's ZDNet Travel Tech Q&A, Trend Micro's strategic products senior manager for Australia and New Zealand, Adam Biviano talks about the swathe of technology he keeps with him when travelling, how to avoid sky-high data roaming bills, and his biggest travel disaster.
What tech do you travel with and why?
I believe I should be able to do anything I can do in the office when I am on the road, so I have set up an effective portable office that contains an ultrabook (currently a Samsung 9, Series 12), a tablet (Apple iPad 3G), smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S III), 3G USB dongle (Telstra), and for long haul flights, a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
What tech do you miss from home?
My 9TB NAS storage unit that basically holds my life, the 100Mbps cable connection, and media centre.
What tech do you love abroad, where and why?
I love the diversity of technology available abroad. Brands and device types that you cannot buy locally are in abundance when travelling.
I love seeing what new trinkets I can dig up — whether it's in an Asian tech market or in a foreign airport, there is always something new to be found. My last addition to the gadget collection was a mini projector that I picked up in San Francisco airport for about AU$200. It is the size of two decks of cards, has an internal rechargeable battery, and can be setup anywhere. Really cool!
Not that I have used it for anything more than playing kids movies from an iPad in my daughter’s room in order to free up the main TV, but when I saw it, I knew I needed it.
What's your favourite phone app for travelling and why?
Actually, it's an iPad app called MotionX (it is available for the iPhone, but I don't have one of those). While it allows me to record my journey, the real power is in its ability to download and store maps of your destinations ahead of time. This way you can navigate and get your bearings in foreign cities without having to be connected to mobile data networks.
Personal travel advice/tip?
I really don't fancy taking out a second mortgage to pay an extortionate roaming data bill.
With all the devices that have 3G, the roaming data option gets turned off when shut down for take-off. At the destination, I'll try to get my hands on a local pre-paid SIM card, pop it in the iPad, and use that as a hotspot for everything else. I will then note down the data usage count and keep checking it during the trip to make sure I don't go over that limit.
How do you deal with jet lag?
Try and get some sleep on long haul flights, though sometimes it's easier said than done.
A pair of noise cancelling headphones works wonders. Also, I find that if I avoid the temptation to totally black out the hotel room by leaving the curtains slightly open, I end up being woken up by the sun coming up instead of an alarm in a pitch dark room. This seems to make the start to the day in a foreign time zone feel more natural.
What tech is in your briefcase?
Generally, the same as when I am travelling (without the headphones). My remote office setup is optimised for functionality and portability, and pretty much goes where I go.
What is your one must-have piece of tech when travelling? What you never leave home without
The smartphone. Even with the small screen, I can still stay in contact and respond to emails with it.
What was your biggest travel disaster?
On a family trip away, I logged into check-in online to find the booking gone from my profile. The booking was set for the day before! It was entirely my fault: Garbage in, garbage out. Needless to say, I triple check every minor itinerary detail now, and set reminders in my calendar.
Is there one thing you must do before you leave home?
Charge everything! The best tech is as useless as a brick if, when I get to the airport with a packed day planned, the dreaded low battery 'bleep bleep' is heard before you board the plane.
What is the best airport you've visited and why?
Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong. The scale of the operation combined with the elegant layout and function infrastructure makes this my favourite airport.
Whether you want to quickly get outside to the city or if you are transiting, everything just seems so easy to do, regardless of the physical distances you sometimes have to traverse.
What was your last tech purchase?
My network attached storage system. Like many people, I had data stored everywhere: USB sticks, camera memory cards, portable hard disks, old laptops, the junk drawer full of old phones, etc. The problem is, these devices store everything from temporary files I don't really care about to precious baby photos that are not copied anywhere else.
I now have a single point of storage that I predict will store my data in relative safety for the next five years or so. And yes, I also have an off-site backup strategy.
Where is the best place you've been for duty free tech shopping?
I have never been that excited by duty free shopping. I usually just pick up what I need on arrival at Sydney. You may be able to get better prices overseas, but with all the security protocols and the fact they can change unexpectedly, the last thing I would want to see is a newly purchased bottle of Blue Label confiscated as I board a plane.
What tech do you expect in hotels when you are travelling?
I am easy to please. In Australia, just a nice, clean, and functional room. When overseas, I can add to that good wi-fi that lets me connect more than one device to it. Often, they charge per device connected. This is not ideal when you have multiple data capable devices and you are trying to avoid roaming data charges.
Which airport would you prefer to be stranded at and why?
None, but if I had to make a choice, then it would be Hong Kong (Chek Lap Kok). There are quite a few shops and eateries, and if I was stranded for a few hours, then I could go for a nice long walk right through the terminal.