Travelling without a laptop

8 05 2013

I must confess to being nervous about traveling without my laptop but my fears were unfounded. After speaking to a few hardcore travellers on Twitter it seemed it was doable with a tablet. Armed with a trusty Nexus 7 and complimented by a Nexus 4 both devices has worked seamlessly on the road. In fact our biggest problem has been finding WiFi and reliable 3g network.

I would recommend buying and “on the go” cable – about 1.5 GBP to use with the tablet.

My only real problem has not being able to use a spreadsheet for expenses without WiFi – using Google drive.

Technology And Travel

19 04 2013

Our travel technology consists of the following:

Nexus 7 tablet
Nexus 4 unlocked 3g phone
1T Samsung portable drive
USB On the Go Cable
2no Fuji compact cameras

Why have we taken the above?

I was banned from taking the laptop because the temptation to drift into work mode would be too great. The Nexus 7 was taken as the next best thing to keep in touch email etc but it lacked 3G. Nexus 4 was duly purchased to cover this shortfall and it has been truly indispensable on our trip to new Zealand.

On the go cable was purchased to allow connection to other USB peripherals. So far it has been successful with mouse, a wireless keyboard and camera. It won’t work with the Samsung portable drive. Apparently the device needs to be rooted to work.

The portable drive contains backup of travel documents and some work files. I do have drop box but was semi reluctant to put some personal information online in case of a breach.

So far we have been able to do most things on the phone and Nexus. I am glad we made this decision as it has saved a lot of weight being unnecessarily carried.

Auckland New Zealand – On a budget with family

19 04 2013

This is what we have found so far

A taxi ride, with the lovely Raj79, cost 75 NZD from the airport to the Best Western in the Central business district.

The Best Western is a good place to stay with a family. The family unit has separate accommodation for the kids and adults. There are two supermarkets adjacent so you can buy fresh croissants in the morning and keep costs down. 12 NZD was the average cost of a day for breakfast. There were two food courts nearby one above Countdown supermarket (which had excellent Chinese steam dumplings) and another a little walk in Queens St. We dined out on 22NZD in one evening and were full!


Skytower is 61 NZD for a family ticket. To date this has been our most spectacular outing. We also had tea and cake for an additional 6 NZD each🙂 Staff in the tower were lovely also.

If your missing loved ones or cant withdraw yourself from the internet you can keep in touch with Vodaphone Smart 19 data package which cost 30 NZD. It gives you 500MB of data, 50 min talk and 5000 texts. You will needs an unlocked phone. We took a Nexus 4 and it has been utterly priceless this week for directions and email.

We wanted to explore the North Island and hired a car via Apex Car Rentals. A mid size saloon costs
61 NZD day with the collision damage waiver. The staff were a joy to deal with a made the process painless.

Auckland Museum has been our second most favorite attraction. It is 10 NZD (donation) for adults and free for kids. It was very educational re the Maoiri culture and the history of the country. It is set in a magnificent building in spectacular grounds. Parking on the road is cheaper than under the museum.

Things I learned travelling this week

19 04 2013

Don’t rely on reviews on well known review sites – remember everyone’s expectations are different.

Singapore airlines are really good with kids, unfortunatley their choice of children’s meals are not so good.

Don’t make kids eat airline food in the early hours.

You can buy oysters in Heathrow airport but you can’t easily get a bag of chips (fries).

How to plan your holiday, your life or anything else

10 02 2013

Follow on from the “plans of mice and men” comment yesterday, I would say that we did actually start planning the trip last year, albeit we did not know where we were going at the time . Most of our planning and day to day strategy is usually done one on the back of an envelope, such as this one:


However, we do have the occassional flashes of inspiration and also use a free bit of software called “freeplane”. Freeplane is what they call a mind mapping tool where you can put down your ideas, dates, questions etc in a graphical form. You can revisit and revise as you go along.

Here’s one we did earlier in the initial stages:

Fullscreen capture 10022013 095938

There’s lots of lovely colours you can colour in with to make the whole thing fun.

Another tools I have used extensively is Pearltrees to bookmark websites. It’s great when you browsing to be able to bookmark and sort either there and then..

Fullscreen capture 10022013 104431

Another good tool for collecting info is Evernote, particularly when combined with another tool called IFTT (It this then that), which enables you to bookmark you tweets.

Fullscreen capture 10022013 105436

However if Evernote and IFTT seem too complicated you can always try Wunderlist which is a simple list making tool. Most of these apps also work on Android and iOS so you can have them on your phone as well😉

Progress report (Or lack of depends how you look at it)

9 02 2013

“Best plans of mice and men” as they say-  this weeks been no exception.

The initial euphoria of booking the flights quickly passed and then there were several days of  “Oh Cr@p, what have we done” followed by “Oh cr@p, where we going to stay” (In NZ).

The first part of our holiday is in the North Island of New Zealand, a place we have been wanting to visit for a long time.

However, being newbies at this “travel families” game we are somewhat overwhelmed by all the fantastic places to visit in the North Island. I have been in contact with Keith who lives in the fabulous Flying Tortoise who recommended Tauranga, The Coromandel and Northland.

My other friend, Arthur Daley, has also recommended Kerikeri ( Bay of Islands) 100 kms north of Auckland. Mummy Pig wants to go to Hobbit World near Rotorua apparently. I write like I know these places but I don’t have the foggiest idea where they are or how much time it will take to reach them. Keith and Arthur tell me there will be lots of accommodation available en route – I hope they’re right😉 . Lots of time to be spent pouring over Google maps I think.

However, that aside, I have been conversing with Shivani at Rent a Dent Auckland to enquire about car prices. They have been very helpful with information, in fact they seem to be the one of the few car rental company that will actually communicate by personal email. Well done Rent a Dent.

I also had a good result with Lowe Alpine purveyors of outdoor stuff. My trusty backpack/holdall decided to shed its lining for no apparent reason. I sent a picture over to Lowe’s and to cut a long story short they replaced it with a cut price TT Roll on 40, which was received yesterday. It looks the biz and has loads of pockets and compartments. Of course it immediately sparked arguments with the kids as to who was going to have it😉


Well that’s been the week so far, hopefully more updates soon😉

Twitter Resources

19 01 2013



There are lots of people that think that using social media is a bad idea but if you are on your travels and wish to promote your blog or website you might find some of these links useful:

Become a Twitter Power User
The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet – Great for sizing images
Twitter Marketing & Revenue Strategies [Infographic]
6 Twitter Analytics Tools to Improve Your Marketing
How To Delete Your Most Embarrassing Old Tweets In 3 Steps
Is Twitter Wrong?
Twitter Isn’t a Tool
The 100 Best Twitter Tools For Teachers (2012 Edition)
Evolution of a Tweeter
The 3 Things You Can’t Do On Twitter
Twitter Tools: My 8 Favorites and Recommended.
Twitter Illustrated – Get a Funny Picture of
How to use Twitter when you lose Internet access
Clean Up Your Twitter Bio! – Working Magic with 160 Characters
The Underground Economy of Buying Twitter Followers
3 Ways to View Your Old Tweets
10 Twitter Avatar Creators | Image Yourself
What Does Your Twitter Avatar & Background Say About YOU?
7 Ways to Bring Sunshine to Your Twitter Followers
16 Creative Ways to Use Twitter for Business
5 Types Of Phrases To Avoid In Your Twitter Bio
Ever Fallen In Love With A Twitter Tool? by Tracy Sullivan @ThoughtShiftUK
Twitter Crackdown Would Make Steve Jobs Proud 
Why You Should Embrace Twitter Lurkers
How to get rid of DM spam on Twitter
Tweeting smarter with ifttt 
Twitter in Education 
Twitter Profile Picture Or Not?
How do you stand out of the crowd?
How To Make Twitter Backgrounds for the New
How Effective Is Twitter For Asking Questions?
5 Twitter Tools To Boost Your Productivity
“The World is Hanging Up”
5 Reasons To Tweet Before You Blog
How To Manage Your Digital Reputation [INFOGRAPHIC]
Twitter A Lifesaver
Oh Twitter, Why Did You Mess With A Good Thing?!
6 Reasons People Use Twitter
How To Create A Twitter Background In Photoshop
What Is Your Twitter Reputation?
5 Creative Ways CEO’s Use Twitter
How To Get 53,000 Twitter Followers: My Story
What is the One Terrific Reason to Join Twitter?
Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet TAGS v3
8 Things Twitter Can Teach You About Life | The Nicky Blog
Twitter: 5 Business Case Studies
View Your Twitter Activity as an Infographic
How To: Respectfully Ask For A Retweet | BuzzEdition
10 Reasons Not To Block Someone On Twitter
Buffer – Be Awesome on Social Media
How to get noticed on Twitter
18-tools-for-scheduling-future-tweets from
HOW TO Schedule Your Retweets From Any Twitter Client
Twittercal — tweet your google calendar
Services / Remember The Milk for Twitter
What is Increasing Twitter Sign Ups by 300 Percent?
7 Ways to get Retweeted
Embedly Labs
Tweetwally – Create a Tweetwall to Organize and Present Tweets
Get to know when your Twitter followers are online the most.
MarketMeSuite – Free
6 Benefits Of Being Positive On Twitter
Real-time local Twitter trends
5 Ways to Tweet Yourself to a New Job
Gowalla Is Reborn As A Beautiful App For Travel And Storytelling
5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter
8 Top Twitter Track Tools to Organize the People You Follow
The Decalogue of The Perfect Twitter User
6 Easy Twitter Hacks for Schmoozing Journalists
Social media trends that will lead 2012.
Who’s Following You on Twitter and are You Following Them?
The 1-2-3 Guide To Twitter: GETTING REAL with TWITTER |
10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Twitter Before Your Competitors Do
Learn more | Twylah
Be awesome on Twitter with Buffer
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