It can be hard to decide what to pack and what to leave behind.
Being away from the United States is pretty fun — you get to take a break from greasy food and expensive living. However, traveling abroad might also force you to take a break from the tech that you’ve grown to love.
If you’re a student with a job (like me), you need to be connected. Daily news notifications, emails and texts are not something I’m giving up — I want to stay up to date. However, in Madrid — where I’m currently based — electricity is conserved and maintaining technology is expensive.
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In my New York City apartment, I’m used to controlling lights, coffee makers and even chargers with just a tap of my phone. In Spanish homes, however, I’ve found that most people I meet don’t have even a clothing dryer and that gas sometimes shuts off at night to conserve energy. The locals are generally less dependent on gadgets and live with fewer of them.
Before I got to Madrid, I was told to be extra careful while considering what devices to bring with me or leave at home. Now that I’m living in Spain, I don’t, for example, leave anything plugged in when I go out. I always turn the air conditioning off when I leave as well (which is good advice anywhere you live, honestly). Electricity bills pile up in Madrid — quickly —and if you’re constantly charging your connected devices, your monthly expenses can skyrocket.
My smartphone was an obvious yes on what I wanted with me — but my smartwatch didn’t get an invite to Spain. Due to the factors listed above, I cut my smartwatch use. The wearable needs to charge and it doesn’t connect as easily as my phone. T-Mobile covers me in Madrid, but with a smartwatch I may have needed a phone card for extra data and minutes. Everyone should at least consider whether they want to waste extra (read: expensive) data on devices other than a phone no matter how they use their devices.
My Hue lights and Wemo plug also didn’t make it into my suitcase. Leaving devices like these behind would be easy if I was away for, say, a week. I’m in Spain for the entire semester, though, and so I needed to do more than make a hotel room feel a bit like home. I actually moved into a new home (even if it’s just for a semester abroad).
Because of the adapters that I’d need to run my smart lights and smart plugs — which are actually a bit of an investment for someone on a student budget — I decided to trim down to one adapter, which meant that nearly all of my smart devices would have to stay in New York (that’s why none of my connected kitchen devices made it into my suitcase, either).
Honestly, nothing besides my smartphone made the final cut. I recommend that if you’re sold on bringing devices that connect to your smartphone, make sure they don’t need Wi-Fi or data. My Canon DSLR camera is definitely my baby and I’d bring it anywhere I go, especially since it links with my phone via its own Wi-Fi. Similarly, my Beats headphones come in handy on long weekend trips or during work sessions at the nearby café.
All of that said, I can’t wait to return to the U.S. Even though traveling is an amazing experience, I’m honestly excited to get back to my connected life. In my case, that means my Starbucks app and being able to turn the lights off while I’m in bed with Netflix playing on my laptop.
This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
Featured Image Credit: iStock.