Computers and Accessories

It pays to have a computer when traveling cross country in your minivan camper conversion. Besides running our internet business, and needing to stay in touch, here are just a few things that you can use a computer for when traveling:

  • Looking up your next camping spot, and within this topic it also includes going to the web site online to see what it looks like, checking the amenities, and making reservations.

  • Checking out what is around your destination site, and for that we use Google Earth, a free download from Google that gives you both satellite pictures as well as topographical information. After all, you don’t want to stay somewhere that is back to back with a landfill and have rats running around at night!  Nor do you want to park somewhere with a low elevation and then find that the park floods every time it rains!

  • Getting maps of the area from a REPUTABLE company like RandMcNally.com where you can believe what you see!

  • Checking the weather to see what’s up ahead for the next ten days, so you can avoid problem areas and stay safe!

  • Checking for the cheapest gas prices around your location to save you money!

  • Checking for repair places in the area in case you break down while traveling!

  • Storing pictures from your digital camera, so you don’t have to buy extra memory cards for it.

  • Editing and organizing travel photos and movies WHILE you’re traveling.

  • Blogging about your travels to a personal blog, which can be public, or private for only the family back home to read!

  • Emailing, which may include sending picture and videos to family back home

  • Having video calls with people back home through Skype, also a free program

  • Using your computer as a back up for your cell phone, in case it’s dead, damaged or lost. If you have a cheap plug in phone, you can use Magic Jack with it and your computer to have a regular handset to talk to people (with no video)

  • Saving money on long distance calls, because internet calls are usually free (unless you call a land line).

  • Ordering something that you need that can’t be obtained locally (you can have it shipped to a local physical address, such as your campground office, a UPS Store, or for USPS, you can have it sent to General Delivery at the local post office and then pick it up there).

  • If you can’t get local TV stations, you can look them up and find them on the web, and usually get local news.

  • You can also find most any TV program that is on the broadcast band, also on the internet, free of charge, and it’s like having a digital recorder. The shows appear 24 hours after they air, and usually stay up for a week or more. You can watch them at your leisure, pause them when you need to, or rewind to watch again!

  • If you want to watch a DVD, most laptops also have a DVD drive installed so you can watch movies, and most parks have movie rentals available, sometimes for free.

  • You can look up things about your local area, such as city sites, where you can usually find links to events and things to see, do and eat in the area. And that also includes finding the local grocery stores and hospitals

  • You can use the online white or Yellow pages to look up people and businesses in your area, including restaurants, in case you have a taste for something special. You can also check for gas stations, repair stations, RV stores, and much more, complete with their address and phone number

  • If you need medication, you can see what drug stores are around you and then call ahead to have your prescription waiting for you when you get there.

  • If you have social hobbies, like square dancing, or model airplane flying, you can search for clubs in the area, and find out when they meet.

  • And if you have an “air card” in your computer, you can do all this from anywhere you can get cell phone coverage, because air cards use the same towers!

OK, does this sound like we would be lost without our computers?  You bet we would, both emotionally and literally!

Anyone who travels without a computer is doing it inefficiently, unsafely, and could be putting their life at risk! That’s how important it is! How many lives could have been saved in campground floods if someone had been paying attention to both the weather and the terrain? How important is it to find an emergency room if someone has a health problem? How important is it to know where the closest drug store is when you lose your insulin kit? How much money can you save by knowing where to buy gas, food and services at the best prices?  I could go on and on… but you get the idea!

As far as what kind to buy, there are as many choices as there are cell phones! Almost any kind will be better than nothing, but if you have special needs, like a lot of photo or video work, then you need something to handle the memory involved with huge files. If you have a need to carry it with you in rough terrain, then maybe a “ToughBook” or something similar will be better to stand up to the rough treatment. If you don’t know what to buy, talk to a computer specialist… NOT just a clerk!

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