There were very few things that I could not have done without as, if you think about it, most places you go have a lot of the same shops as home so you can always by things, but one thing that I would have been lost without was my laptop. The ability to search for travel options, hostels, hotels, tours and places of interest without fellow travellers glaring at me and breathing down my neck for their turn on the computer was invaluable. I have always been a bargain hunter, I like knowing that the price I pay for flights, hotels, in fact anything, is the best price I could get and this has never been as important as while travelling the world on a budget, so being able to research all of the options for future plans was very important and over the year must have saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. The only thing booked before I left the UK for a whole year around the world was my flights into and out of each continent and my first hostel in New York, so I definitely had a lot of researching and planning ahead of me.
More trivially, the laptop provided entertainment on those rainy miserable days when the shorts, t-shirts and flip flops didn’t quite cut it. Many a day was whiled away writing emails, watching dvds and going through the thousands of photos I had taken to delete the accidental shots of my feet and deciding which is best of the 45 shots of a temple at sunrise. This was never quite as important as during the Queensland (Australia) floods of early 2011 where I found myself in Brisbane with all roads in and out shut, shops running out of food so remaining closed and in a hostel with very few people as they were all avoiding the area – thank goodness the hostel offered a dvd rental service. Without my trusted laptop, and with a limited supply of books, I fear I would have gone insane stuck inside a hostel for 2 weeks!
One of the aspects that the laptop crucially provided was a life-line to home and to my family as it had a built in web-cam so that I could Skype home and keep them informed as to how my travels were going – something that is very important to parents, and other family members, when it is announced that you are leaving for a whole year in the big, bad, scary world going to places that some people have never heard of, let alone travelled to. Regular text messages and emails helped but nothing alleviated fears quite as much as hearing my voice and being able to tell them how much fun I was having. This did have a slightly negative twist, as it meant that I kept some minor mis-haps (including a fairly bad moped crash, which will be covered in a later post) to myself until a few minutes in the conversation where I would begin a new topic with “so, you can hear that I’m alive and well?”, “yes” my dad would respond apprehensively, “well…….” my story would begin and finish a few minutes later with an awkward silence while he tried to process the latest edition of ‘what not to do abroad’.