Travelling – the Communications Rule of Engagement…

So what has been learned from the travel part? Quite a number of things about hotel and equipment requirements to allow you to be flexible as you go, and yet relaxed – concentrating on the trip and not the arrangements.

In order to travel flexibly and change arrangements efficiently (without stress and a huge phone bill) you must be able to access planning resources and advice easily. Many venues require net access to make efficient tour-time reservations and/or buy tickets at a discount (eg. Hearst Castle and Warner Brothers Studio). You get less service and it is more time consuming without net access.

An online device (with both wired and wireless connectivity) is an ABSOLUTE necessity. Some nay-sayers will suggest that this is just to avoid tech withdrawal? Wrong! To easily check out, arrange and especially change places to stay and attractions to visit you need net access. It can be a laptop, or possibly even better, a palm with a portable keyboard. I don’t care if you have to leave your underwear behind to fit it in – TAKE THE LAPTOP!

With wireless access the actual hotel equipment set-up isn’t a big deal, since as often as not there are open networks visible with better signals than the hotel router. Also, don’t forget a patch cable for when the room has a router but no cable! That way you can also have solid access if the wireless is overloaded.

In Ottawa we often hear that we are so much better wired that most other places in North America. Believe it! I was amazed how even the big hotels were full of legacy equipment, with little or no apparent support. I never came across even a single LCD display in any hotel, even at the front desk. They were legacy, legacy, legacy.

Many hotels advertise net access with a big flourish, but in reality we found they were mostly only wireless (supply your own machine), and often spotty at that (poor access point planning). If they did have lobby equipment it was expensive to access (only in three hotels were guest access machines). With your own access device you can dynamically re-plan and be flexible – and much more relaxed. The majority of people I saw using lobby access devices were try to get tickets, tour slots or hotels info.

So no matter what anyone says to encourage you to leave it at home, INGORE THEM and TAKE YOUR ACCESS DEVICE!

Lastly, and it should go without saying, is Cel access with a roaming plan. We saved both hassle and time being able to call attractions and hotels for confirmations and quick directions. Not to mention checking back home. A very inexpensive one month block of LDX time covered it all easily. And signal strength, even on the most remote coastal beach, was better than it is in Ottawa!

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