Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Travel Technology: 'Lloyd the Droid' does Europe

Let me be quite upfront about this post:  it doesn’t have tips for great apps nor for enhancing photos.

This is a reality travel post written by traveling ‘techno-dino’s’  for “techno-dino’s” (those who are several leap-years behind current technology). If you are teetering on the edge, not sure whether to ‘take the plunge”  or if you took the plunge and find yourself in a whole new world, this post’s for you.

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It is about that colorful little guy above, “Lloyd the Droid”, the newest addition to our travel team ~ the smart phone we acquired 10 days before setting off for Greece.  We finally gave in to society’s pressures and friends’encouragements (not to mention the lure of all those apps that would enhance our travels and even better, save us money).

Shortly after bringing this ‘being’ home (smart phones didn’t get that name out of thin air, they aren’t phones, they are little brains packaged into small metal and glass casing)– I named our Droid, Lloyd.

Our little gifted one has so many talents (sorry about the bragging, but you know how it is. . .) include an ability to talk: he calls out “Droid!” in a croak much like a frog to alert me to a new FB post (sometimes I think he just likes to hear himself talk). Lloyd corrects me when I tried writing with him (sometimes choosing words that aren’t correct, but he never gives up) and the little fellow even responds to our voice commands to write text messages, find a web site or make calls for us!

And then came our trip to Greece and AmsterdamAmsterdam2013 001. . .

1. First thing our service provider advised, cautioned, warned and admonished us to do was to turn off half of Lloyd’s features as we boarded the plane – all mobile data was shut off to assure we wouldn’t have those astronomical charges based on international roaming. 

So, we had no phone nor text ability until our return, but we had Lloyd! 

The only time we could have used a phone was at the Amsterdam airport  to connect with our waiting driver and that resulted in some Keystone Cop type antics before linking up. When we finally met up, he suggested we get a phone to use while traveling. Sigh.

(We had purchased an add-on package that allowed us to make calls at some still-ridiculously-high cost in case of emergency – thankfully, we didn’t need to activate that plan nor did finding the driver constitute an emergency.)

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2. Lloyd is equipped with GPS – but that also proved to irrelevant as we found ourselves in the midst of the Peloponnese and Crete, on narrow, looping roads that took us into, up, down, and around mountainous areas – places way beyond GPS connections.We used a paper map – in Greek/English (so that we could ‘read’ the road signs).

A fellow traveler in the Peloponnese from North Carolina rented a car equipped with GPS. She reported that it kept calling out, “Turn left ahead” as soon as they left the major freeway. (It wasn’t just Lloyd).

3.  Lloyd was a great backup for internet access.  We checked emails, Facebook and used other social media and the few travel applications we had loaded. (Lloyd did take photos – although limited in style and technique –and it was simple loading those to FB and/or Twitter. If I could do it, any techno-dino could!)

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By taking our Netbook (which I used for writing and posting) and Lloyd on which Joel could check the internet – we cut our computer time in half, giving us more time for travel. Sharing the Netbook always required one of us to be in the ‘waiting’ mode.

Note to you writers out there: Lloyd is great for consuming information – he will never replace the computer keyboard for producing written communication or the camera for photos.

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4.  Finding those great deals : we did book a room using Lloyd during our trip.  For these two old techno dino’s with fat fingers, it was a laborious and irritating process – we hope our skills improve over time, because. . .
There are hotel and other travel deals being offered to ‘mobile app’ users – savings of up to 10% in some cases and in others, offering ridiculously cheap last minute hotel rates. (Expedia and Hotel Tonight, among them).
As for Lloyd. . .he’s part of the family now. We won't be leaving home without him.

Are you a techno-dino who took the plunge? What were your experiences?

4 comments:

  1. I'm a confirmed technophobe. I leave these things to Marlys, who's the "geek" in the team. I'm sure she'll love Lloyd.

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    1. Oh, I like 'technophobe' even better than 'techno-dino'. Glad to know we aren't alone in our reluctance to explore this 'Brave New (Techno) World"!

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  2. As you say, a smatphone can be very handy for Internet access when travelling, and with that and the netbook, you had that bit of flexibility, as a couple travelling together. I have a 7" Android tablet, and it's handy for the same purpose, that is, checking email and websites. I also now take my 11.6" Windows 7 touch screen pc/tablet when travelling. With the digitizer pen, I can even process photos, and don't need to use apps at all, as it's a full Windows computer. And it's so light to carry. All the best!

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    1. I've got a question for you and it probably shows how 'techno-dino' I am: is there a slot in the touch screen pc/tablet for photo cards or external hard drives? I've not looked at them but anything to lighten the load would be great!

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