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“E” is for Electronics

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I’m blogging A to Z in April! Check back daily (except Sundays) for a new post!

I hinted at this with the “D” post yesterday, but have you noticed how our attraction to electronics has changed the traveling experience? The TV commercials make it all look so easy – just whip out your phone and snap a pic of the two of you in front of the Trevi Fountain. Edit and email this great video clip of you (or someone) whitewater rafting on the Colorado before your hair’s even dried.  Skype your conference call and no one will ever know you’re in a Tokyo hotel room instead of in your office in Duluth.

iPads, phones, laptops, cameras and even Kindles – yes, even Gameboys and portable DVD players –  are awesome tools and toys to have along with you for the trip. But it also translates into more stuff to carry and keep track of -and eventually it’s all going to have to be plugged in to something and recharged.

Is it any coincidence that the airlines started to charge for baggage right about the time our concept of travel neccessities started to change? In 1999, I could have done just fine with a carry-on only; now the gadgets and cords and chargers take up valuable space. On a recent overnight trip to Toronto, I realized that the number of cords in my bag outnumbered the pairs of clean socks! When we travel by car, we’ve even taken to designating a bag as the “electronics” bag, keeping all the cords and chargers in one place. MInd you, as someone who once shared the task of carrying a JVC Super 8 movie camera up Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, the toys themselves have gotten a lot lighter. It just seems like there’s so much more of them!

Hotel rooms aren’t exactly keeping up with progress either. Whereas we used to check in, dump our bags and reach for the remote, we now spend the first half hour locating all the outlets, so everything can be plugged in to recharge. And there are never enough outlets, or they’re in wildly inconvenient places.

What are your electronic must-brings when you travel? How do you deal with the plethora of cords and batteries while on the road?

“D” is for digital cameras

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I’m blogging A to Z! Check back every day in April (except Sundays) for a new post!

When I was a kid, making sure the Instamatic had a full roll of film and fresh batteries for the flash were a part of every vacation. (or flashbulbs- remember the flipflash?) With only 12 or 24 exposures available, I had to choose carefully which of those travelling moments I was going to record for posterity. And I remember one time, showing off my Florida pictures to a relative, he complained, “there’s no people in your pictures. There should be people.” My view was that the people I was traveling with were typically people I saw all the time; far better to expend my film on once-in-a-lifetime views.

Digital photography changed all that. With a digital camera in my bag, I could record people, places and scenery with abandon – and if the shot didn’t come out right, well, it could be deleted with the touch of a button. There’s no question that digital photography has changed everyone’s travel experience -you only need to look at the hundreds, or thousands of pictures downloaded after every trip.

But digital cameras have brought their own nuisance factor to travelling. First of all, almost everyone along for the trip usually has a camera, and they’re not afraid to use it.  So now you end up with 100s of photos times four or five – everyone wants their own shot of that monument or museum display. Waiting for everyone to take their picture of that fabulous statue before we can move on just about wears out my patience. Not to mention the room that multiple cameras, battery packs, chargers and cords takes up in the carry-on luggage.

And then there’s the photos themselves. Yes, it’s nice to be able to show off pictures on Facebook and email vacation adventures to faraway friends, but all the viewing requires a computer or digital frame. One of the things I remember as a child is repeatedly sitting down with the family albums in a quiet spot and looking over this pictorial record with my mom or my brother. That hardly ever happens now. Sure, you can print the photos – or some of them (seriously, how many of those hundreds end up being worth printing?) But mostly, people don’t. And  sitting side-by-side in front of a screen just isn’t the same as cuddling up on the couch and turning the pages.

And what happens to those photos eventually? Well, I try, every now and then, to burn a few CDs or DVDs, but then the CD just gets filed away and rarely looked at anymore.

I suspect this is why, even though it’s easier than ever to take your own pictures, souvenir photos have skyrocketed in popularity. Your family enters a venue or restaurant and someone else takes your picture. An hour later, you have a nice hard copy that you’ll take home and frame. You might have three versions of the same shot on your memory card, but you buy the photo anyway, because you kow in your heart of hearts it’s likely to end up as the only printed record of the moment.

Do you print your digital photos?