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Travel: Technology Devices that Enhance a Vacation

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Vacation is a time to unplug, relax, and get away from the demands of our everyday life. Many consider technology as one of their main stressors, so it makes sense to want to leave it all at home. But have you considered that technology can also be used to make your vacation better?

Earlier this month, I traveled with the Microsoft Windows team and a few journalists to St. John, Virgin Islands. The trip was funded by Microsoft with the purpose being to demonstrate the myriad ways technology can be integrated with travel and recreation to make it better. None of the technologies we saw were earth-shattering new ideas or items, but from underwater cameras to storing and sharing information in the cloud, I really did come away with a new determination to involve tech in my adventures.

Surprisingly, we found that rather than a luxurious hotel with eager staff at our beck and call, we were staying at something called an eco-resort. In tents. I’m not complaining, as they were nice tents with amazing ocean views, and we each got our own. As intended, the primativeness allowed us to truly appreciate and focus on the things we were being shown.

3 Technologies that Enhance a Vacation

I’ll discuss three of the handy technologies we used. In a few days, I will go more in depth in a post over at my own site, Dadventurous.com. Please come over and check it out.

Windows Phone

Keep in mind that for the most part we didn’t have phone service, but that didn't mean our phones weren’t useful. The camera on my Samsung Focus (and pretty much any smartphone these days) can take higher quality pictures than the first digital camera I purchased 10 years ago (and I couldn't surf the web on my camera). The phone is lighter, has much better storage, and even costs less than my original camera.

This particular device allowed me to take a picture almost instantly, even when the phone was locked. And, of course, it also records video! As I mentioned above, we did not have consistent internet or phone service on the island, but whenever we came into range, Windows Live allowed us to snap the pic and then immediately share it via Twitter, text, email, and even Facebook.

Portable GPS

We were also outfitted with a BackTrack GPS made by Bushnell. This light yet rugged device fed us the simple real-time stats such as  location, distance, and speed. But the fun part is that the information is all stored, allowing you to download it to your computer. I can now pull up virtually my entire trip and see a Google map of my travels as well fun information like elevation, temperature, and speed. Using a similar device, I recorded every single run I did last ski season down to the slightest turn (and fall).

Ruggedized Laptops

I heard of these before, but never saw one up close and personal. The demonstrations took place on the beach, right there in the sand and surf. We used a few different units including the Panasonic Toughbook, and each one was as sturdy and durable as they claimed. We poured water on them, buried them in the sand, and even threw one against a tree. They all continued to work as if they had never left their desks. Finally there are computers I would feel comfortable letting my kids use.

This was just a sampling of the devices and technologies we used to enhance our own Caribbean adventure. We would have had fun no matter what, but the technology our trip even better.

What tech devices do you bring with you on vacation? How do you use technology to enhance a vacation?

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A frequent contributor to Mom It Forward, Troy's home base is http://Dadventurous.com where he has been know to wax poetic on topics ranging from wax to poets. Trivia: Troy once won a trip to Europe by utilizing a high-powered TV camera, 65,000 of his closest friends, and an eager-to-please Dalmatian named Rebel. Well, that's part of the story at least.

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