Secrets of the Savvy Android Traveller

SIM/micro-SIM Holder on eBay

While you’re reading this I’ll be madly packing for my flight to Hong Kong. It’s always a bit of a scramble — especially in those last few frantic minutes before the cab pulls up. Despite this, the last thing I pack is my mobile tech, probably because I’ve put the most thought in to it.

I’m happy to share what I’ve learned over the years. But rather than burden you with an exhaustive list of every single accessory and app that I use when I travel, here instead are those that are most important to me.

I. Hardware

ABC – Always Be Charging

This was the mantra taught to me by George Kelly on the Nokia N97 24/7 Tour, and it’s a good one. The last thing anyone wants on their holiday is to be faced with a once-in-a-lifetime photo or video opp and not have enough battery to capture it for posterity.

To this end I’m bringing not one, but two different types of portable chargers:

1) Japtron PLB974LF

To see the specific product I’m talking about you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page at the link above…

These little chargers were all the rage in Hong Kong when my girlfriend and I first went there together in 2011. I ended up buying one on that trip; my better half got hers the following year. Though maybe a bit awkward to hold they are extremely well-built, and their 2,800mAh capacity is enough to give a Nexus 4 or 5 a full charge.

2) LuguLake 6,000mAh Portable Qi Charger

There are a couple of ways that I could put this beast to use. I might pack this in our day bag with the Japtrons, or I might instead put it to work in the hotel room while we’re gone.

A total of four devices are coming with us to Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur — my older Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 tablet for the girlfriend and my newer Nexus 5 and 7 for me. The plan for using them is fairly simple: tablets in the hotel room, phones everywhere else.

Unfortunately it seems that more and more hotel rooms have this “feature” where you must place your key card in a slot to activate the lights, air conditioning and power outlets. Which means that any device left behind to charge won’t charge.

The LuguLake is perfectly suited to address this little problem…

SIM-ply Brilliant

Way back in 2009 when I visited Taipei I got a local SIM at the airport, plus a complimentary credit card-sized holder for my home SIM (plus three more).  This ingenious little accessory has been an invaluable travel companion to my unlocked phones ever since. At least until now — the current phones in this house use micro-SIMs.

eBay to the rescue! I found this snazzy SIM/micro-SIM Holder which has way more slots than I need, and also holds one of those stupid but very necessary SIM ejector tools. No more wondering where our Koodo SIMs are when we touch down at YYZ…

II. Software

I use a number of travel apps. Most are fairly obvious and unremarkable — currency converters, dining recommendations, local transit maps, etc.

These four titles, however, make all the difference when I’m travelling abroad:

1) FlightTrack

Enter your itinerary and you’ll be rewarded with real-time updates on your flight, including delays and gate changes. And if you’re connecting somewhere you’ll no longer have to crowd around a TV screen in the arrivals hall to find out where your next flight is; with FlightTrack you’ll already know.

2) KeePassDroid

This is the Android version of KeePassX, the fantastic (and open-source) app I use to store important numbers and passwords on my computer. Transfer the encrypted database file from computer to mobile device and you’re good to go.

Forgot a loyalty card? Need online banking info? KeePassDroid has got you covered.

3) Octopus Balance Reader

This one’s specific to Hong Kong. It does one thing and does it very well.

Those lucky Hong Kongers can pay for buses, minibuses, trains, even convenience store purchases with their Octopus Card. I’ve still got mine from 2008; thanks to NFC and this free app I don’t have to go to an MTR station to check my balance — I can do it anywhere I want.

4) Touchnote

This one’s for dear old mom… In trips past I’d write postcards over breakfast and have my hotel mail them. Then when I got home I’d have to make prints of my holiday snaps to give to her.

Touchnote lets me kill two birds with one stone. Any photo on your device can be turned into a postcard, sent over the interwebs and dispatched from the closest post office. You can pay per mailing or buy bulk credits for additional savings. I got enough credit for 10 cards (via PayPal) for $11.92 USD, which seems about right.

… So there you go, my travel secrets. After posting the news this afternoon I’ll be away until just before Valentine’s Day, with lots of mobile insight from Asia to report on when I get back!