Friday, July 13, 2018

A Digital Packing Checklist | A Little Digital Prep Goes A Long Way

Your phone is a near infinite source of entertainment and knowledge. Yet, find yourself without signal or WiFi, and resources you've come to depend on quickly dry up. I've been refining a Digital Packing Checklist that tries to avoid just this frustration. By running through this list, I'm prepared for offline-life, wherever my travels take me (even to a signal-less Doctor's office).

  • Download Amazon Prime Videos - Nothing makes the 2 hours delay of your flight fly by quite like watching a movie. Download a number of genres and kid-friendly titles, and you'll be ready for anything.
  • Rent Audio Books from your local library - Get sucked into a story and you won't even care that your doctor made you wait 45 minutes for a 10 minute appointment.
  • Rent eBooks from your local library - Leave the headphones at home by accident? No problem, go old school by actually reading.
  • Download Offline Google Maps - Out in the boonies? With a bit of preparation, you can still have maps and driving directions. Perfect for finding your way back to civilization.
  • Download Hiking Maps - You're not going to have signal at the trail head, but that shouldn't keep you from taking a hike.
  • Download Local Geocache Details - Adding a 'treasure hunt' to any destination makes it more fun.
  • Download Amazon Prime Music - Like Prime Video, Prime Music makes it easy to have media available offline. Poll folks ahead of time for their favorite tunes to make the ultimate mix tape. Music is magic: use chill music to turn a busy train station into a serene work environment, or 80's power ballads to neutralize endless switchbacks. You're limited only by your imagination.
  • Search out interesting radio frequencies to monitor - you may hear static or you may hear interesting chatter. The latter can give you a truly unique view into your destination.
  • Setup critical Google Docs to be available offline - Google Docs are ideal for collaborating on trip plans. Take a few minutes to make sure they're marked as Offline Accessible, and you insure that no-WiFi doesn't mean no-clue.
  • Snap pics of important documents or items - Luggage missing? No problem, here's a photo of the bag right before I checked it in. Lost boarding pass, Passport, Driver's License or Credit Card? A pic of the original will go a long way to getting you out a jam. There's certainly security considerations for some more sensitive documents, but the risk of having them in the cloud for a trip outweighs the risk of relying on originals.
  • Google Translate - Download offline dictionaries to support WiFi-less language translations. Plus, it's less slimy than a Babel Fish.
  • Programming Praxis - Want time to fly by? Program it away. Cache a Programming Praxis exercise locally, and work on it using your phone as a dev environment.
  • Cache Atlas Obscura Locations - Find the quirky and unexpected in whatever location you find yourself in.

(Did I miss anything?)

I've learned the lesson over and over: spending 15 minutes running through the above checklist can be the difference between a bad situation turning good, or bad situation turning worse. And best of all, you can pack all the digital content you want and it won't make your bag heavier.

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