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Travel tech Q&A: WatchGuard Technologies' Pat Devlin

The security vendor's regional director for Australia and New Zealand shares some of his travel tips and experiences.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

As WatchGuard Technologies' regional director for Australia and New Zealand, Pat Devlin is a frequent flyer. In this week's Travel tech Q&A, he explains how the Amazon Kindle has changed his life while he's travelling, tells us his favourite taxi apps, and addresses the myth about rude New Yorkers.

WatchGuard's Pat Devlin. (Credit: WatchGuard Technologies)

What tech do you travel with and why?

I load up on media on my iDevices, so I always have a movie, a TV Show, or a great playlist for those disconnected hours on the plane.

Kindle has changed my life forever. If anyone had suggested to me that I would read a book on my phone two years ago, I would have called them crazy. The ability to sync my bookmarks from any device and catch up during downtime has me totally hooked. I've never read so much in my life.

What tech do you love abroad, where and why?

I like cities that have great public transport networks and access systems. One card with all access at any time sounds so simple, yet so few cities have it figured out.

I use augmented reality wherever there is a good network and content available. I can't wait for Google Glass!

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

I can't narrow it down to just one. TomTom is awesome on a smartphone. In Australia, Ingogo and GoCatch really save my bacon when I a need a cab in a hurry.

Most memorable travel story/experience?

If you travel to Macau, it's a great idea to take a trip over the border to Zhuhai in mainland China. There are an amazing number of factory outlets selling all manner of awesome things, and the atmosphere for one who loves technology and a bargain is electric.

For my own trip to Zhuhai from Macau, I did not pre-organise a travel visa to cross the border. Instead, I met a guy on the street who assured me it would all be fine. Turned out it was for me, but not my companion and customer from Malta. On our return journey, Customs detained us for a few hours. It turned out the customs agent had never heard of Malta and thought he had a fake passport from a fake country!

Personal travel advice/tip?

Get off the beaten trail. All my most memorable and exciting travel experiences come from the times I threw away the guide book and map, and just got into it. Be polite and speak gently. A few kind words and a calm attitude always go a long way, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

How do you deal with jet lag?

I try not to sleep right away, even if I'm tired. I think the trick is to keep going on your first day, even if you really want to sleep. Lots of water and a long run always help as well.

What was your biggest travel disaster?

I've had some crazy and stupid things happen to me on my own, including motorbiking through Yosemite National Park in the snow in jeans and a T-Shirt, but the worst for me was getting held up at the airport with my children. As a parent, nothing is worse than seeing them hurt or upset, and seeing my three crying children trying to sleep on the grotty airport floor was the worst.

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

I really like Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It's probably because I travel mostly within the region, and I think it's one of the best looking complexes.

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

These days, decent internet goes without saying. Beyond that, USB charging ports and wireless media streaming. There are so many awesome wi-fi connected media systems out there, it's time for hotels to catch up.

What was your last tech purchase?

I used to use an HP TC1100 Windows tablet 10 years ago. I could write in natural handwriting and it would read it as searchable text. I loved that thing. Now we have iPads that have 5 times the power, but there's no handwriting app.

I backed Collusion on Kickstarter, and I can't wait for their new pen/app combo.

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

I think a taser system that zaps the guy in front of me who always reclines his seat right into my lap would be great! Seriously though, decent, ubiquitous broadband would be nice, and a SIM card that can give local network access to an account in every country.

Favourite destination city to work/visit and why?

New York. There is always something going on there. It's a magical place, and don't believe what people say about rude New Yorkers; people there are so friendly it's awesome.

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

Sydney Airport, because then I'm not really stranded, am I?

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