The Rise of the Laptop

In the Beginning

When Iain and I met in 2000, neither of us owned a computer. We used them daily at work and regularly kept in touch by e-mail but didn’t feel the need to have one in the house. As we started to plan our Round the World trip we spent more and more time on the internet, still, of course, on Company time. We rarely, if ever, used internet cafes and didn’t even have personal e-mail addresses.

Then we left work. We were no longer able to go on-line any time. We went to internet cafes, we used the library, we signed up on Yahoo, we signed up for internet banking. We were ready to go. It didn’t occur to us to buy a laptop and take it with us. It was hard enough to keep the content of our backpacks down. Laptops were heavy and they were valuable….and not that necessary.

During our first trip we checked in on-line maybe once a week, e-mailing home, checking up on finances and surfing a little. We didn’t even upload our own photos. We would take our full card to a photo shop and have them put the pictures on CD for us. Once in a while we came across someone travelling with a laptop but these people were rare and we thought they were mad.

The demise of the dining room

On our return to the UK we bought a desktop computer and our usage grew……….loading our photos, shopping on-line, selling on e-bay, doing a lot more research. Our computer began to become a necessity. Nevertheless, when we departed on our next long trip we packed the machine up, put it in storage and continued travelling for another four years without a laptop to call our own. We still hadn’t cut our baggage down enough to make room for one and still thought it was too expensive a piece of equipment to have to worry about. We managed. But now we had started to envy that increasing number of backpackers who hogged all the dining tables in hostels, not eating but surfing on their laptops. We wanted one too.

And at last we got one. Admittedly, it was during our first long-term stay in one place. We had rented a flat in Chania. It was big, modern with great views. But there was no telly, Greek internet cafes were expensive……………….and we wanted one. We could watch DVDs, listen to music, upload our photos. For a while we were quite addicted to solitaire!

Now

Well, now we have one each. Somehow, we have      made room in our luggage. In fact, we find we now carry less than ever. We don’t carry guide books, we get all the info we need from the internet. We don’t carry books – we read e-books or listen to audio books. We don’t need chargers for our MP3 players. We   charge them in the computer. We don’t really need the MP3 players either as we have all our music on our computers. We no longer suffer from Computer envy. We Facebook, we Skype, we blog, we love it!

There is a downside of course. When we have internet, we’re never off it. When we don’t, we have separation anxiety. And when things go down we get techno-rage! Being connected certainly has its benefits and we wouldn’t be without it. But sometimes its nice just to get out and see the real world, not just the virtual one on our screens. That’s what travelling’s about, isn’t it?

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