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…