Some people should vacation with a pack mule.
Youve probably seen them. Heck, you may even belong in this group: people who travel with a suitcase crammed with gadgets.
It starts out innocently enough with a GPS and a smart phone. A laptop computer can make a lot of sense. Pretty soon, you add converters and batteries, and the load grows.
With enough high-tech gear, its no vacation at all. Instead, it can easily become an exhausting high-tech caravan.
Let me suggest that, this summer, you go on a shirt-pocket vacation when it comes to technology. Lets plan a trip where your load of gadgets will fit in a single shirt pocket.
As you drop the high-tech pounds, youll also find theres a weight to gadgets that has nothing to do with ounces and pounds. The notion of a vacation ought to be to get away from the daily routine, to take a break from your responsibilities and to relax.
Its no vacation to stay closely in touch. Technology makes it too easy to remain a part of the workaday world.
Technology is a mixed blessing, but its a blessing nonetheless. So the notion here is to pare things down without losing the advantages high tech brings.
Theres a lot you can do while still at home. Before you leave, spend some time at Mapquest. Youll save a few bucks by avoiding the need to buy maps when you arrive.
Do some advance Web scouting and get detailed information about popular tourist sites.
This advance work can turn into fun. Its almost as if youve already started the vacation while sitting at the computer. With any luck, you might even find a coupon or two that will cut the price of a meal or admission.
Now lets talk about gadgets that actually will make the trip.
In my case, its an iPhone. In yours, it may be some other smart phone. But, especially for trips within the U.S., this tiny device lets me avoid lugging around a laptop, its charger and the various other accessories.
The advantages are easy to see. In one small package, I have the ability to call for help if the car breaks down or to make reservations at a restaurant. I can check email and even use the iPhones built-in navigation system to pinpoint my location on a map when Im lost. I can use the Web to find out when an attraction opens.
Best yet, Ive already shed several pounds by leaving the laptop at home.
Also keep in mind that there are other ways to check email or browse the Web. Many hotels offer, free or for a small charge, a well-equipped business center complete with printers and computers. And Ive had no trouble finding Internet cafes even in villages where there are more sheep than people.
I no longer take along my professional digital camera and the knapsack full of lenses. Instead, I carry a $130 digital camera. Digital cameras have come a long way. In most cases, when I show off a particularly breathtaking sunset, even my most photo-savvy friends wont notice that I used an inexpensive camera.
The little digital fits into a shirt pocket and weighs just a few ounces. And I lose the fear that Ill break or lose my professional gear, which is worth several thousand dollars. I prefer the photos from my shirt-pocket digital to those I can take with the iPhone. But if your phones digital still and video quality suits you, leave the camera at home, too.
email@example.com. Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.