Technology can be both a blessing and a burden when it comes to traveling. Sure, it’s great to have the ability to take thousands of pictures, edit and store them, but carrying around all that precious data can be a bit wearing on the soul. At any moment you’re one spilled drink or one purse snatch away from losing those coveted photos, journals, etc.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve spent over 7 months traveling and I became pretty fed up with maintaining my responsibility as my own personal data mule. Luckily, technology is a fast moving creature and great improvements in consumer-based cloud computer and user-friendly web applications have made traveling without digital baggage easier than ever.
Traveling and photography have been joined at the hip since the advent of the first camera. With today’s digital cameras and smart phones it’s possible to take hundreds of photos a day. Instead of leaving these perfectly preserved time capsules on my camera or even saved on my computer, I prefer to use Flickr.com.
Flickr, owned by yahoo, is a free photo storage gallery allowing users to upload up to 200 photos free of charge. This may be enough to hold you over until you get home. If not, there’s an unlimited option (which I subscribe to) for only $20/year. Once uploaded, the images are saved to Flickr and barring a nuclear winter, you won’t have to worry about losing these photos.
The great thing about Flickr is that it not only stores your photos, but also allows you to organize them into collections, sets and add tags. Additionally, it is able to determine from photos taken from most modern smart phones and digital cameras when the photo was taken. Users can also add locations to their images and become members of different photo groups.
Serious photographers and photo editors may need to look away from this section, but for those looking for a simple, user-friendly photo editing solution that doesn’t require a software install, I suggest Picnik.com.
Picnik is perfect for casual photographers and is a web-based photo editing application. Basic photo editing features such as cropping, exposure, and color adjustment are free of charge to use. Extra features for those who require them can be purchased for a reasonable $24.95/year.
Personally, Picnik proved invaluable for me when I was traveling in Thailand for several months and using a borrowed laptop. Because it’s web-based, all I needed was a web browser to edit my photos.
Known mostly for selling everything under the sun, Amazon.com lovers will be delighted to know that they also offer cloud storage. Amazon Prime users in the US can utilize their own 5gb slice of the cloud for free. If you need more, an additional 20gb can be purchased for a mere $20/year.
For pure document storage, it’s pretty difficult to beat Google Docs which provides gmail account holders to save, store and share documents, spreadsheets, etc. all online.
Realistically, there are an innumerable amount of other options out there, but these are just some suggestions. They’ve helped me over the past few years to release myself from the burdens of being a data mule.