I’m not sure if I’m one of those people who have a strong electromagnetic field that can’t help but break technology or Mercury Retrograde just targets me as its long favoured victim, but I always seem to have an endless run of tech issues.
Maybe it’s just a normal feature of being a digital nomad.
One of the main reasons we’re stopping long-term travel for awhile is because the constant hassle of managing a digital business on the road has become far too much of a headache.
I ranted about the state of Australian internet the other day here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost sobbed like a baby in public because of the immense stress and pressure it has put upon us.
Because of our crappy internet I’m so used to not being able to work that when I woke up one day last month and my ASUS computer was completely dead, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and sat down with my cup of tea.
I’ve no more tears to cry and there’s naught I can do about it.
I’ll just have to find a solution, yet again.
Just like we did when our phones broke – on the same day, and when Mercury Retrograde was in swing. The drama of that story is in my rant post. It took weeks verging into months, and then when mine was eventually replaced, the phone was a broken refurbished one!
Nomadic travel is hardcore for your travel gear, there are a lot more rough roads and bumps hitting on it and you’re faced with the elements a lot.
Our Canon 700D froze up when a rain storm out of the blue dripped down on it and we had to buy a new one there on the spot. No insurance and no time to wait for repairs due to the fact we were on assignment and heading into the remote Top End region of Australia.
Our digital nomad technology
Here are the tech devices we travel with:
- Asus Vivobook
- Samsung Galaxy tablet
- Two Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phones
- Apple iPad
- Apple MacBook Air
- An old Hewlett Packard
Our current digital nomad challenges
My Asus is dead and is getting repaired. We’ve been out bush too so buying another computer has not been an option and I’ve been trying to hold off spending the money and hoping my computer repair would be swift.
The Apple MacBook Air needs an upgrade, but it’s a 3 GB upgrade and currently we don’t have the internet speed to do it, and with mobile broadband that would chew a lot of data and cost a freakin’ fortune.
I need screen recording software at the moment to record webinars for my mentoring group. I can’t get anything to work on the Mac because it needs the latest Mac software version.
I can’t record it on the ancient computer because it can’t connect to the internet to download the software. I couldn’t anyway as it sounds like a 747 taking off and would totally drown out my voice.
The ancient computer also can’t work without electrical charge so I can’t be too mobile with it. I do as much work as I can using word, but then the other day word wouldn’t open and I thought I lost all my docs, that I hadn’t yet backed up.
The iPad is useless except to watch videos, research, and check up Facebook.
The Samsung Tablet won’t charge anymore. I think because the kids always used it while it was charging. I never realized that was a thing!
And my phone battery is useless, the car charger has broken, as has one of our phone chargers. So we’re down to sharing one. Grr!
And then there is, of course, the fucking internet.
We were packing the van up at 5:30am last week so we could drive an hour to the next nearest town, which we were praying would have internet. I was hosting a webinar at 9am and could not miss it. Luckily the one street town had a library and internet and the lovely librarian let me use one of their conference rooms to do it.
This racing around to find a signal is a common part of our day.
Insights into dealing with tech issues on the road
1. Drink lots of wine
Yep. Pour yourself a great big mofo glass.
You might want to go for coffee or tea if it’s in the morning, but totally up to you. I can’t tell you how many times the internet has made me want to pour myself a double bourbon at 9am and I don’t even drink hard liquor.
What else can you do? Have a little dummy spit if you must, but then just let it go and deal with it as best you can.
No point crying over spilt milk, as they say. And if you lose some files, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll recover. You can’t take any of it with you in the end anyway.
There’s always a reason behind everything. I take great comfort in remembering a time five years ago in 2010 when my computer suddenly just stopped connecting to the internet. I surrendered and decided to use that opportunity to start writing a book about my travels. That adventure soon led to us starting a travel blog. Probably never would have happened had the computer not died.
So I take a lot of comfort in believing this hurdle is in fact leading me to somewhere awesome! I’ll let you know once we discover what that is.
3. Protect yourself with an extended warranty
We usually don’t pay the extra money for these extended warranties on tech gear. We’ve often found them a waste, but when we brought my ASUS last year in Victoria, we knew we were heading into hardcore travel territory and it was best we did.
Super glad we did as it means my computer will now be repaired or replaced free of charge. The only problem is the computer broke in Alice Springs, and for some reason, it takes three weeks for it to arrive in Melbourne to be assessed.
Apparently the Cobb & Co are still running the mail in these parts.
It’s been three weeks now and I still don’t have a computer and Harvey Norman currently don’t know where it is! Fantastic. Perhaps the coach was held up by Ned Kelly.
Make sure you keep your receipts and warranties. And follow up with them. Let them know how important your computer is to you. It probably won’t make a difference, but you’ll feel better.
3. Back up your computer
Okay, so I don’t regularly back up. I’m lazy. I’ve tried scheduling backups before, but they don’t work and because I’m rarely on the computer if it backs up when I am it slows down my productivity. And, to be honest, I feel really stupid as I don’t even know how to restore the backups if the computer breaks. Am I just complicating things?
Going to fix that.
We have these external hard drives, which we keep all our photos on. But, they tend to get banged up a bit. We also have protective cases for them, which I think is worthwhile having.
By the way, if you have one of these long-term warranties, and you need to save your data from the hard drive (because you’re like me and don’t have a regular backing up mentality or routine), then don’t take up their offer to take your data off for around $160.
Go to a local computer shop and have them take it off first. It only cost me $80.
Yes, on my new computer, I will have a regular backing up routine!
4. Backup online
I sometimes back up important files and documents to Dropbox. I don’t like to back up online much because of our stupid internet costs. This would eat up my data and cost me thousands each month. I am not joking!
I just laugh at people when they suggest backing up anything online. “Mate, I’m from Australia, don’t be stupid.”
5. Prioritize your work
We’re usually very good at prioritizing and being very swift with our work, which is another reason we cry when the internet fails us.
We know we have limited time to push out a lot of content, and we can given the internet works. But mostly it doesn’t and screws us. We seriously operate on about 20% productivity. We can’t wait to stop traveling so we can actually get stuff done.
We’ve had to be brutal with what we can and can’t do this past three weeks. Pretty eye-opening how much time you waste on irrelevant stuff. Once the computer comes back, I’m still going to pretend we only have one so I can stay focused.
If you’ve contacted us via email and we’ve not responded, you know why. We’re drowning and, unfortunately, most people don’t pay attention to our contact us guidelines. They get deleted.
And now the ones who ask us questions that can be answered by a simple Google Search get deleted too. Another of my pet hates.
Respect people’s time – the number one key to building solid relationships!
Our ebook has a serious amount of travel strategies and tips in there too!
6. Have backup devices and rotate between work
We use our dinosaur computer to edit photos on Lightroom and to write our content on Word. When one is doing that, the other jumps on the Mac Air to do all our work that needs to be done online. It’s not the best solution, but it’s helping.
Or, I use the iPad to watch training videos or do research. I don’t do much typing or creation work on the iPad. You can’t even download on it. Give me a tablet any day.
Being computer less has been a great opportunity to nut out a lot of plans and create systems using good old pen and paper. This is the stuff that has been on our list of things to do and is priority work. Now when we settle down we’ll have a plan to quickly implement.
Emails can be micro-managed and sometimes answered using our phones. Social media can usually be easily done on our phone, which eases the burden.
7. Get help through Google
The only computer classes I’ve ever taken was in University on ancient Macintosh desktops. Since then I’ve used PC’s and have never taken a class. I’ve always been able to easily figure out how to use it. I believe they’d define that as intuitive.
Apparently, Apple products are sooooooooooo intuitive.
I’ve never used Google so much as I have in the past three weeks.
How do you save something on Apple? How do you download a movie on an iPad? Why can’t I save anything to my external hard drive on an Apple? Why can’t I open links in a PDF on the iPad? Why is Apple a pain in the arse? Would you say that the Apple cult is a greater brainwashing then Waeco Texas?
There ain’t nothing intuitive about it. I’m know not a genius, but I’m certainly not stupid. I don’t want to use something I have to grow a new brain to use before intuitive becomes a definition.
So if you haven’t guessed I hate Apple almost as much as I hate Australian internet. And now I’m stuck with it until my beloved ASUS PC returns.
Trying to manage these issues using Apple products has increased my stress levels and has confirmed for me the fact that once you go Apple, you can go back!
8. Use an iXpand Flash Drive
The iXpand Flash Drive has saved my sanity.
Not only can you use it for extra storage when you use up all your space on your iPad, which Kalyra did in two days with her obsession with taking photos and vlogs (she’s very cute, funny, and talented btw)
I had to make her delete them all so I could download a movie (through iTunes as it’s the only way you can). Now she can save more onto the drive because we sure as hell ain’t saving them to the cloud!
The iXpand Flash Drive has saved my sanity by allowing me to transfer files between the iPad, the MacAir and our old PC. Because I can’t save anything onto my external hard drive using the Mac and it meant I couldn’t get anything done when Craig needed to use the Mac or vice versa.
If we didn’t have the iXpand to transfer those files and photos we would have been screwed and I’d be sobbing all over again.
I love this device and for Apple lovers out there, I recommend it. It’s useful and intuitive.
Now, I know that just because I’m not an Apple fan, it doesn’t mean many of you aren’t. I cannot ignore what our readers like and love. So for all you Apple fans out there, I still love ya and respect your devotion. I wish I had your brain!
9. Use protective equipment
Travelling with your tech gear will cause you to have a lot more wear and tear and bumps and scratches. It’s best to invest wisely up front to protect your gear from damage.
Here’s what we use:
- Case Logic external hard drive cases
- LowePro Runner DSLR camera bag
- Everki Sturdy laptop backpack – seriously awesome bag. We can fit so much in it and so strong.
- iPad case
- Samsung Galaxy tablet hard shell protective cover
We have just finished our 18-month road trip and seriously limped across the finish line. Craig and I laughed about it when we cracked open the wine o’clock and realized we only had one wine glass left. What the hell!
The tech gear’s falling apart, the wife no longer wants to cook, the van’s crumbling around us and we’ve only got one freakin’ wine glass.
You know the world as you know it is coming to an end when that happens.
Bring on the Gold Coast and “normal” living, it’s going to be so easy. You can take this digital nomad biz. It’s not anywhere near as glamourous as the brochure makes out!
[Update: Because it takes so long to write and publish a post this is a bit behind the time. My computer arrived fully repaired yesterday. It took almost a month! Now go away Mercury Retrograde! I also just found this post to explain how your energy field can affect technology and what you can do about it.]