Travel Tech Q&A: ISF's Steve Durbin

Jet lag is low on the list of travel issues that Information Security Forum (ISF) vice president Steve Durbin has — but when it comes to tech, he can't leave home without taking it all with him. Durbin shares his travel tech tips with ZDNet Australia.

Jet lag is low on the list of travel issues that Information Security Forum (ISF) vice president Steve Durbin has — but when it comes to tech, he can't leave home without taking it all with him. Durbin shares his travel tech tips with ZDNet Australia.

Steve Durbin
(Credit: Information Security Forum)

What tech do you travel with and why?

I never leave home without my iPad, my iPhone, my Nano and my iPod; and then there's my laptop and BlackBerry, of course. Why so many gadgets? Well, I distinguish between my "home" devices and my "work" devices. Probably because I'm very much more aware, now, of the need to keep the two worlds separate, from a data management and security standpoint.

What tech do you miss from home?

Nothing. I take all my "can't do without" tech with me!

What tech do you love abroad, where and why?

I love tech that works. There's one hotel that I stay in regularly, where I can guarantee that something in the room won't work. It used to drive me crazy. Now, I just laugh and call maintenance. I love countries that are tech-enabled — there's a great island in the Maldives, it's tiny, but it has probably the best cellular network coverage, Wi-Fi, digital TV, MP3 and NFC technology that I've come across anywhere in the world. And, it all works. Outstanding!

What's your favourite phone app for travelling and why?

These change so quickly — I think, probably, a connectivity app. I've been using Pair a lot on my last trip, really simple, point-to-point interaction; but means I can keep in touch with home effortlessly. I like simplicity.

Personal travel advice/tip?

If you don't like travelling, don't do it!

How do you deal with jet lag?

I put myself into the time zone of the arrival country as soon as I get on the plane. I then eat and sleep according to that, and it seems to work for me. Over the years of travelling I've heard all sorts of remedies, such as putting brown paper in your shoes, don't drink alcohol, do drink alcohol. For me, if I can get some sleep on the plane, I can usually function normally from touchdown. But I do know colleagues who suffer dreadfully from jet lag. I guess I'm lucky.

What (if any) travel websites do you use?

None — I have my preferred suppliers that I've always used.

What is your one must-have piece of tech when travelling? What you never leave home without?

My iPhone — it has everything I need: music, apps, connectivity.

Is there one thing you must do before you leave home?

You mean like walk around the garden three times, humming an incantation to ward off the travel devils? Not really, I'm a fairly organised kind of person when it comes to travel, so I'm usually ready for when I need to leave. That being said, I'll always check that I've got my tech gadgets with me, before getting into the car.

What is the best airport you've visited and why?

Singapore — it's fast, efficient, clean. I can normally be in my hotel and unpacked within about 45 minutes from touchdown.

What was your last tech purchase?

A new iPad.

Where is the best place you've been for duty free tech shopping?

I don't do duty free shopping — you can pretty much get everything you need online, shipped to your home these days, for close to the duty free price — if you know where to look.

What tech do you expect in hotels when you are travelling?

I expect to get what I've paid for, and for it all to work! In-room Wi-Fi (free of course), a sound dock for my iPod, sufficient power sockets and adapter plugs.

I'm not big on satellite TV channels but if it's the rugby season, any hotel that can provide me with coverage of Wales playing, gets my vote. Last season, I only missed one game — Italy in the 6 Nations series. I stayed in a hotel in Singapore once that didn't have satellite TV. They arranged a car to take me to a local bar that did so that I could watch the rugby — now that's service. Shows that you don't necessarily need to have the latest and greatest technology, you just need to know where to get it. Technology should never be used as a replacement for customer service.

What is your dream travel tech to have on planes/in airports/at hotels?

A tech way to avoid the long, long queues that are building up at security and immigration in so many countries. If you happen to hit Heathrow T3 at the same time as the 747s and the A380s coming in from Australasia early in the morning, then good luck! Anyone heading for London for the summer events should leave home now.

Favourite site to use while travelling?

Weather+. I like to know what the weather is doing in the countries I'm going to and back home!

Favourite destination city to work/visit and why?

San Francisco. I spend a lot of time in the United States and this has to be my dream tech city. Everything works, clear cellular networks (unlike New York, which, despite a 4G roll-out, still can't provide decent coverage as you walk from Avenue of the Americas to Madison Ave) and hotels and coffee shops that are Wi-Fi enabled. It's great — lots of tech gadgetry is being used everywhere you look.

It probably helps that Silicon valley is on the doorstep, and it continues to be close to tech start-ups country. The city has a fun tech buzz about it that I don't find anywhere else.

Name one thing you wish your iPod/phone/laptop could do that it doesn't do now?

My laptop — I wish it were a Mac.

Which airport would you prefer to be stranded at and why?

It would probably be Hong Kong — I remember the first time I went to the new airport there (Chek Lap Kok), some years ago now, and thinking: you could live in this airport. For sheer friendliness and stresslessness though, I'd have to say Sydney.

I was nearly stranded there when the Qantas fleet was grounded; the Brits would've panicked, the Americans would've sued, but the Aussies just cracked open another cold one. Stereotyping maybe, but there's something to be said for a more relaxed approach.


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