Tech me away to paradise

How much tech do you take on holiday?

commentary As the first lashings of tinsel appear in shopping centres across the land and the weather upgrades from bleak to beach-worthy, thoughts are turning to end-of-year escapes and festive season frivolities.

If you are holidaying in a tropical or snowbound paradise this summer, you will probably have to ask yourself an important question during the suitcase packing phase: How much tech to take? Granted, everyone is different, and your personal Tech Toting Quotient will depend on where you are going, who you are going with, and what you plan to do once you get there. But here are a few issues to consider when deciding whether to lug the laptop or carry the camcorder.

  • The intrusion factor. A great thinker, possibly Descartes, posited this philosophical conundrum: If you have brought your laptop and it has a connection to the corporate VPN, and you check your work e-mail account more than once, are you truly on holiday?
  • Insurance issues. Most frequent flyers have an anecdote to tell about that time their luggage got sent to the wrong country. Possessions can also get damaged en route, lost or stolen at your destination. If you've just bought an expensive notebook/PDA/Paris Hilton-style diamond-encrusted phone, either investigate insurance options or leave that precious gadget safely at home.
  • Home away from home. The point of travel is to escape from the familiar and immerse yourself in a new environment and culture. If you go to Japan and eat exclusively at McDonald's, you're cheating yourself. The same applies to tech; spend the whole time seeing the sights through your video camera's LCD, and you haven't really gotten value for money.

Of course, some products are useful or even essential travel companions. An mp3 player for those marathon plane trips; a triband phone to organise post-siteseeing meet-ups; and a camera with a beefy memory card to capture those holiday snaps for example.

This week we take a look at two Wi-Fi compatible digital cameras that have recently appeared on the Australian market. While the ability to email pictures direct from camera is limited to Wi-Fi hotspot areas, the fact that no computer is needed is a great sign for travellers with a low Tech Toting Quotient.

How much tech do you take on holiday? Have you ever had a precious item stolen or lost while on vacation? Tell us your travel tales at or talkback below.