“The computer, with all its information, reviews and photos, puts a dampener on the experience”, say the hippies and technophobes who believe dragging a laptop on your travels makes you less of a species. But times have changed, laptops are as essential now as a nasty dose of the Bangkok belly.
The debate is complicated of course. Laptop haters aren’t just protesting against the weight, bulk and expense of a computer itself, but also the engagement with technology, and, dare we say it, that evil of all evils – the internet.
So Why Get Wired?
In contrast to their cries of abandonment, being wired on your gap year makes a lot of sense. Freelance writers, web developers or site administrators can fund their travels on the move by working on the screens of a computer, whereas bored gappers can watch movies, TV shows or write posts on the long haul journeys of stuttering trains or buses.
Serious photographers too can use the two-punch combo of screen size and Photoshop to really amp up their images and show the world just where their gap year has taken them. And Skype also, makes calling home cheaper and more private than hanging out in dilapidated phone booths or crowded internet cafes.
Overcoming the Argument
So when a gapping purist gives you the line about “travelling being an escape from the daily grind. A way of finding oneself”, and reminds you that laptops are liable to get stolen, damaged, have a limited battery life and are subject to ever-changing foreign mains adaptors, do well to disarm them.
Tell them all these concerns are easily resolved. Laptops are cheap, take the impressive Samsung NC10 for example, and are more lightweight than ever. Insurance is inexpensive too, with coverage as low as £50 for a year.
Remind them too that smartphones and iPod touches, which connect to wi-fi networks and allow people to tweet, update, post, and comment on the move, make engaging with the internet an expectation rather than a political standpoint.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, point out that world has changed. People actually want to see the photos from the gruesome fallout of a dodgy prawn in a Bangkok back alley!
What do you think about using your laptop and internet abroad? Share your thoughts below…