Hello and welcome to a special live chat marking the one year anniversary of my ebook, The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0. An ebook that comes with 6 months of personal tech support from yours truly covering anything mentioned in the book. I’ve gotten on Skype calls to walk fellow travelers through setting up automated online backup systems, discussed the right smartphone for others, and even helped one person recover their stolen laptop. Today, I’m extending my tech support offer to all of you – for the next two hours – answers to any and all tech or blogging questions you may have. No limits, ask away in the comments below and between 3pm-5pm US EST I’ll give you the best live support I can.
The live chat is now closed – thanks everyone for the questions and conversation!
Additionally, I’ll be giving away away two free licenses to Hotspot Shield Elite, worth $29.95, and offering a special price of $10 for The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0, today only. All of that, plus the specific answers to your blogging and tech questions in the comments below, ask away!
Airplanes are the magic machines that allow us to travel around the world and pilots the magicians who fly them. Despite taking over 40 flights a year, I know little details about how those experts keep 400,000 kilos of aluminum (and all of us passengers) in the sky and landed safely at out destinations. A fear of control can foster many of our flying anxieties, so today you can ask my live chat guest what it’s really like to fly, and the lifestyle of an international airline pilot.
Alejandro flew for a US based airline for 4 years before being offered to fly the Boeing 747 internationally for Eva Airways. Now based in Taiwan, he jets around the world delivering passengers and cargo to various destinations. Flying is his passion, but being a pilot isn’t as glamorous as it seems.
The chat is open today, April 16th from 3:00pm-4:00pm US EST (7pm-8pm GMT; 12pm-1pm Los Angeles). Scroll down or click here to join the chat below!
In addition to jet-setting, Alejandro and his wife Zeina recently launched the Habby Travels, a trip organization service. You may be curious whether or not planes come close to crashing without our knowledge (am I the only one who wonders that?), how “close” pilots and stewardesses really are, or want to get into piloting yourself. Alejandro is all yours to discuss the life and job of a pilot for the next hour in the comments.
The Mac versus PC debate is one of the oldest, most contested, in the world of tech…full of misconceptions, fervent arguments, and ugly transistor talk. Many of you have asked me what is the best travel laptop – and I’ve always said there is no one best. Yet you may be looking to purchase a new laptop or upgrade your existing one and if you’re on the fence between a PC and Mac, these are some of the real differences to consider as a traveler.
Start With The Software You’re Currently Running
Let’s start with the basics of Apple economics – Macs are more expensive gram per gram over most equivalent PC laptops. There are also added costs and considerations, especially if you’re switching between Windows or OS X. You can’t natively run most software built for Macs on Windows machines and visa versa, so you’ll need to factor in the cost of updating all of your must-have software – or stick to free alternatives.
Also, some programs (*cough, cough Photoshop on Mac*) just work better on one operating system (*harrumph Excel on PCs*) over the other. Mostly because developers tend to program for the operating system power-users of a piece of software are likely to be using.
Macs Are More Expensive – Not For All The Reasons Hipsters Think
You’ve probably overheard a neatly-dressed, sleeve-tattooed, skinny dude with tight pants and thick black glasses arguing himself toward a brain hemorrhage that Apple products are more expensive because they’re “better”. Not quite – you middle-aged Justin Bieber clone – there’s more to Appleconomics than that. Apple designs all of its products to run on specific hardware so that its software (like iOS or OS X) can be as compatible as possible with all of the parts it’s controlling. Unlike PCs, who are much more liberal about sharing their hard parts with any software that happens to walk by. This Apple hardware-software tie makes Macbooks and other Apple products generally more stable than gadgets running Windows but parts more expensive. The tradeoff – and big consideration for travelers – is that Mac components aren’t as easy to find since stores tend to stock what people buy (roughly 85% of the world uses PC).
For travelers close to an Apple store or large computer retailer around the world, finding replacement parts (e.g. dying hard drive) in an emergency is an inconvenience, but typically not an issue.
- Get Prior Warning Of Impending Hard Drive Crashes – Don’t make these 3 common tech mistakes that can screw up your next vacation.
Business travelers and others who take shorter trips probably don’t have to worry too much but if you’re off for a few months in Iraq, you may want to consider a backup laptop or iPad (as I do) to keep yourself connected until you can locate a repair shop to accommodate you.
For Most Trips The Advantages Depend On Your Preferences
Generally speaking, you buy a Mac because you enjoy its features and like what Apple’s operating systems have to offer. PC laptops aren’t inherently inferior: most of the best travel laptops of 2012 were running Windows. For travelers, the advantages of a Mac or Windows laptop aren’t pronounced. For most trips there’s no real advantage to getting a Mac over a Windows laptop. On extended trips to remote parts of the world however, you might find a replacement part a bit harder to find if that reliable Mac does ever decide to have a breakdown.
The best travel budgets aren’t those you whip up before a trip and then pray to warlocks and wizards you’ll be able to stick to – especially if you want to continue traveling on a regular basis. Traveling is distracting for our brains, which aren’t very good at keeping track of details to begin with, yet that’s where software and web apps excel.
Here’s how you can create a travel budget from the planning stages of your next trip to arrival, and then back again.
First Know What’s Coming In And Out
It’s incredibly difficult to come up with any sort of useful budget without calculating the amount of money you earn and spend on a regular basis…accurately. Start by using the free online budget tracker Mint and adding all of your bank, credit card, and other financial accounts.
- How To Choose The Right Bank Before Going Abroad – Avoid fees, earn frequent flyer miles, and save even more cash.
Mint not only tracks what you spend, but it also notifies you of any fees you’re paying, recommends alternative accounts (e.g. credit cards with lower interest rates), and breaks down where your money is going. Aside from food, rent, utility bills, and other common spending categories, Mint lets you create your own (e.g. iPhone apps).
Keeping track of cash spending is a little more difficult however, and while Mint lets you add cash transactions, you’ll have to remember to enter them after a day of exploring the heights of Quito. To do so, download the free (previously mentioned) mobile app Remember The Milk. Anytime you make a purchase using paper money or coins, simply add the amount and set up a daily reminder to enter the amount in Mint. Since Mint doesn’t do currency conversions, (previously mentioned) free app Currency can for you instead.
Finally, Mint has a budget creation tool you can set up to save for specific purchases – like plane tickets to spend 96 hours in Granada, Spain.
Take Your Budget Mobile With These Apps
Although Mint does a fantastic overall job keeping up with your finances and is available in for iPad, iPhone, and Android, these other apps can help you fine tune your travel spending on the go. Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA; free for Android/iPhone) gives you the ability to create joint accounts to track group savings for a trip with family and friends.
- Splitwise – Have roommates, travel buddies, or anyone else you regularly split bills with? Free on iPhone and Android, this app keeps everyone updated on who owes what.
Lastly, Travel Pocket is a powerful budgeting app that does currency conversions for you automatically as you enter your expenditures from country to country. It’s free for Android devices and $1.99 on iOS.
Use Automated Alerts So You Don’t “Forget” That $5 Latte You Drink Everyday
Most banks and credit cards let you set them up so you can get weekly, daily, or (preferably) instant email or text alerts whenever you use them to make a transaction. Doing so not only puts your spending in your face (as we tend to neglect guilty pleasures like Angry Birds Star Wars) but also alerts you immediately in case of a fraudulent transaction. Such added protection is especially prudent if you tend to use plastic at shops far and wide around the world.
- Find Out If Your Plane Tickets Will Get Cheaper – One of the best flight search engines, Kayak, now gives you advice on whether you should buy now or wait to purchase tickets.
Projected airfare is also a longstanding feature on with Bing Travel’s Price Predictor and you can set up email alerts to track airfare – plus get refunds if prices drop – using the previously mentioned Yapta.
Calculate International Costs Better For Realistic Spending Goals
You should always pad your estimates but don’t overestimate how “cheap” a place is – a delusion many backpackers tend to fall into. The website Budget Your Trip (original post) uses crowd sourcing to give you updated information on common expenses in countries around the world. For longer trips or a better gauge of what locals pay for the things you do at home, check out Expatistan.
Make More Money And Fly For Free
It’s more fun to have more money than to cut your travel budget from the other end. You can save more for travel if you don’t live on a first world income and earn frequent flyer miles without getting more credit cards. When you do have to spend, the free app Checkpoints can give you award points for stuff you’re paying for already (like groceries) while Yowza alerts you to specials and coupons directly on your mobile. (Yowza is free for iOS and Android devices.)
The better you track your expenses, the more efficiently you’ll be able to save and use low budget travel tricks to overcome big budget problems. Which ultimately means you can travel more and spend less.