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The Kit List

02 February 201806:55PMviking-raid

This is going to be really interesting for some people, and really boring for others: Here's some of the nerd gear I used while travelling.

I kind of hate taking laptops away with me. They take up a lot of space, they go flat, and you need to drag a whole lot of chargers and adapters and stuff with you to keep them working. Phones are great - they're tiny and so much more capable than they used to be, but for actually making content they're sometimes a little lacking.

I went phone-only this time, and I think I've found a happy, if dorky, medium. That's largely thanks to two bits of gear that let me get text and images into my smartphone as easily, if not more easily, than I would a PC.


Blogging while you're away is tricky for two reasons.

The first is that you're writing much more than usual, so any problems you have with your publishing process are magnified. The second is that the difficulty of finding things like power, internet access, and somewhere to sit still for a bit is also magnified.

I think I've finally found a solution. And it's just about the dorkiest solution possible.

Since the only think I really needed a laptop for is the keyboard, before I left I picked up one of these from eBay.

fold-out bluetooth keyboard

This is a fold-out bluetooth keyboard, which talks to my phone. It's just about full size, and reasonably comfortable to type on. It charges from micro-usb, which means that all of my stuff can use one set of chargers, and not really have to worry about international adaptors. And the whole lot is way lighter and takes up way less space than a laptop, which is always a bonus.

Unfortunately, you look like a complete dweeb when you use it. That part I have yet to solve.


So I kind of got into photography specifically for this trip. I figured that I was going to some of the most beautiful places in the world, and it'd be downright disrespectful to just take photos on my phone. Before I left, I grabbed a Sony RX100 Mark 3. It's smaller and lighter than a DSLR and removes the temptation of buying many shiny lenses. Plus, there was at least one data point indicating that it can do an okay job at astrophotography - which something I'm pretty likely to want to use it for.

It let me do fun things like long-exposure waterfalls and amazing sky photos. The one thing it didn't do is let me photograph the Aurora Borealis. Mostly because we didn't see it.

The Mark 3 has a neat trick too - it can talk to smartphones. You can use your phone as a remote shutter, and you can also use it to grab photos from your SD card. No card readers required. Yesssss.

One last plug: On top of the camera - or rather, underneath it - was a GorillaPod. A friend of mine showed me hers (thank you!), and I ended up getting one for Christmas. These things are everywhere now, but basically as long as you're willing to improvise you can keep your camera still pretty easily for way less bulk than a regular tripod.

gorillapod stuck to a lamp post

I write this stuff while I'm on holiday, and edit it, and post it, mostly for myself. Some people journal - I just do it publicly. And it's nice to be able to point people somewhere when they ask how you're doing or what you're up to - it saves a lot of money on postcards.

If I was travelling just to take photos, I'd probably still bring a laptop, and a hard drive, and hey, maybe a real tripod too. If I was travelling just to write, I'd take a laptop too. But since I'm travelling for... well, other reasons, this is just enough to get by and still do a decent job.

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