A Quick Tale of Laptop-Free Vacationing in South America


A few weeks ago, I wrapped up my trip to South America, a trip that spanned Lima, Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. I won't dwell on the vacation itself; you can see some highlights (and everything else) on Flickr.

I wanted to share a few thoughts on mobile technology though, something a little more fitting for this.

Normally when I go on shorter vacations, I can get offline entirely, but for bigger trips I'll need my laptop to check in. This year though was the first time I could go on a real vacation with the iPad. It didn't occur to me until I was talking to Jeff Sass at TWTRCON that I could really use it as a laptop replacement.

I left my laptop at home. I also left my Droid, which I use as my phone. I did bring my iPhone, which served multiple purposes: game device, backup camera, occasional check-in device when places had wifi. I didn't become mayor of the hotel shown above, but I did take hold of Hotel Quito and then Casa Cartagena in Cusco.

Along with the iPhone, I had two cameras (a Canon SX20IS with an awesome 20x optical zoom, and then the pocket-sized Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20, a new pocket-sized model I picked up thanks in part to a recommendation from Retrevo; the latter served me well when I didn't want to lug around the bulkier Canon).

I also had my Kindle. For reading at length, I still prefer the e-ink to the iPad glare, as much as I like flipping pages on the iPad with the touchscreen. I took all of one physical book (Deep Rivers by Jose Maria Arguedas) that I was midway through.

With no laptop and one book, my load was much lighter than I carried on any comparable trip. The funny thing is it could have been lighter still. I actually didn't need the iPad. Just about any time I wanted to use the internet at hotels, I went online from the iPhone. It was convenient here and there, but when trying to get away, the hybrid device was more of another tether.

It clearly has its place, but there's something especially refreshing about being mobile.


6 thoughts on “A Quick Tale of Laptop-Free Vacationing in South America

  1. @ David – Yes, I will admit that my 40 pound carry on was a bit much on this last trip. I always bring half a dozen books, because I never really know what I will be in the mood for, so either I need to trim my selections when I travel..or break down and buy the Kindle or I-Pad. 🙂

  2. @Jeff – I’m with you. Every time I see an i-Pad, I say “wow, that looks really cool”, but then I start to also think how much I still enjoy actually holding a book in my hand, especially when on vacation as I shared.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I was amazed at how many people I saw on my most recent vacation with an i-Pad at the pool reading Time Magazine, or a book. I think I’d estimate about 10% of the folks by the pool had an i-pad in their hand. What a world

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