To blog or not to blog (from NZ)

In just a short 10 days I will be heading off to the wilds of New Zealand for a month-long birding/nature trip. I’ve been thinking about how to pack for this for a long time. It’s a bit challenging with all the many habitats from tropical to glacial that we’ll be encountering, and being out in the weather everyday – layers and weatherproof gear mandatory. Then there’s the bulky equipment – binoculars, field guides, camera, journals, hiking boots, etc. Can’t get those any smaller – so clothes are going to have to be very efficient to avoid over-packing. Since we’ll be moving nearly every day, that’s important.

Now comes the real dilemma – technology. I already decided to leave my cell phone at home. My family would beat me about the head and shoulders if I did not take ANY pictures, so a very small (but high-tech) camera was purchased, which talks wirelessly to… the netbook. The subject of my dilemma. I bought this very light and small netbook exactly for this trip – though I now use it for traveling anywhere and everywhere. My whole idea here was that I could use it in the evenings to upload pictures from the camera, blog about the trip, and also to start back up writing my books (which have suffered lately). We’ll certainly have wireless at least part of the time, so it would get used if I had it. No matter what, I’ll have my Kindle with many, many books loaded – a huge improvement over trying to carry enough books to read on a long trip in the past.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if the computer is incompatible with the whole purpose of this trip. For various reasons I have come to look upon the daily immersion in nature as the part most looked forward to, deeply healing and potentially life-altering. At the very least, a much needed break from my “normal” life, and at best, a way to build new habits and ways of living that get me out in the natural and social world more. Would having a computer with me keep dragging me back into my old world? And what about shlepping it around every day? It won’t go in my daily backpack – that will have all the aforementioned birding gear, and layers of clothing. Of course, it is pretty small and light, and very easy to manage in airports and such compared to most computers. Presumably it would survive packed in the middle of my suitcase. Hrm. It really seems like less would be best on a trip like this. But, hrm.

Take the Computer
– Somewhere to put all the pictures I could take, otherwise have to get more memory chips
– Allows blogging about the trip, which would be fun for me and others
– Can receive e-mails in emergencies, can send e-mails if I get lonely, otherwise pretty much unreachable
– Would minimize the horrible backlog of e-mails I’d have after a month offline (thousands, literally)
– Might mean that I’d make progress on my books (not at all sure of this)
– Ways to look up weather, check flights and train timetables, info for the non-tour part of the trip

Don’t take the Computer
– Freedom from excess stuff, weight, cords, etc.; easier packing
– Almost no technology/real-world intrusions into vacation/nature
– Might help me spend more time socializing and being where I am
– With Kindle, probably would have enough to do even in remote places

Hm. Both sides are pretty compelling. I’ll just have to turn it over in my mind for a bit. It’s telling all by itself that the decision of whether or not to take a computer on my travels is such a big deal. For years there has been no question – I always take it. On the other hand, I’m usually not packing and moving every single day or being so outdoors focused. So…


4 thoughts on “To blog or not to blog (from NZ)

  1. gretchen says:

    I’d say that if you have an ipod touch or a phone that can handle data at all — get a few more memory chips and go computer free. It sounds like you’d find that pretty relaxing. A lot of your reasons to have the laptop boil down to “maybe there will be an emergency” or “so I could work while on vacation.” A limited way of sending email would handle emergencies decently but not let you actually work, so you could focus on your vacation. :)

    Also if you have an emergency you can always find a way to call or send email; worst case an Internet cafe?

    • True -but, I’m waiting for the Nexus One and Verizon – or the iPhone and Verizon. It’s not so much work I’m thinking of doing, but writing books that I never get to do at home because I’m working or distracted. Although I’m not sure that’s the reason…

  2. Coppermoon says:

    What if you take it but allow yourself only a limited time with it? Those of us who will be without you for a month would suffer less if we could at least read your blog….. :-)

  3. Chris Cerutti says:

    This is why I don’t take my computer on vacation…it is a VACATION. To me that means a break from the routine, having to live in a different way, a tapping into something different from my everyday life.

    I guess it depends on what you want from this vacation…do you want to maybe work on a book, have that tie to your regular life, or do you want to experience something different? I guess I look at a vacation as an immersion experience-you can do it halfway and see what it’s like to “sort of” do it, or you can go all of the way. Again, it depends on what you want to get out of it.

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