I've got some really weird habits.
People laugh at me all the time.
Particularly when I'm traveling.
Before I even leave my home country I'm obsessed about 2 things and 2 things only…
1. Can I get power…
2. Can I get Internet.
I call these my 6th and 7th elements…
Lovers of the great film “The 5th Element” will know what I'm talking about.
The first 4 elements are Fire, Water, Earth and Air…
In this movie the “Fifth” element is “Love”. (Aww…)
But in 2012 the more important elements are Internet and Electricity.
If you're a knowledge worker like me… then you can pretty much live and work ANYWHERE in the world (I'm typing this Blog Post out in a Cafe outside on of my favorite Tenpin bowling centers)…
Without these two critical life-blood elements work is impossible…
So let's go through the craziness that is me shall we?
Let's start with Power…
So… one day I see a special on a retail website for a huge car battery camping power device… that has a 240volt output as well as USB. Awesome… I knew I had to have it. That would power me … and my laptop for about a day…
It arrived at the office.. everyone laughed… until there was a power outage.
One of my best buddies and fellow co-workers, the good Dr. Anthony Fernando had a power outage at home. We had to do some marketing work on a very tight deadline… and this lack of power almost destroyed the chance of the project's success.
He wasn't laughing anymore I can tell you.
In my laptop bag I travel with a 100wh hypermac battery. It gives my MacBook Air another 6 hours or so of additional power. So I can work about 8-10 hours straight without needing to be plugged into the wall. This gives me so much freedom. I can work out in the forest if I want to – and I have. I don't have to stress about getting a seat in my favorite cafe with a power socket near it. I can sit outside… It's awesome.
I can fly from Melbourne, Australia to Los Angeles and not be worried about running out of power on my laptop or my mobile devices.
It weighs a bit.. but it's worth it. It fits into my tiny laptop bag. I actually own two of them, in case I ever need to go to the UK.
When I don't have to worry about carrying my laptop with me I travel everywhere with a small portable re-chargeable battery called the Innergie Powercell. It's tiny, but holds 3000Mah of sweet power… I can recharge my iPhone 5 to full, or recharge my iPad mini to about 60% with this little bad boy. It's really tiny, but I won't go out without it.
My current pet hobby-horse with power is looking at renewable energy. Yes, I have some great solar rechargeable batteries… but I'm also eagerly watching companies like Horizon and Powertrekk who have rechargeable hydrogen fuel-cells! The Horizon Minipak can be charged with Solar energy… and recharges portable Hydrogen Fuel-Cells. It's really neat. They don't have the best energy density in the world… But they'll get better with time.
Yes – I'm a little nutty.
Which brings me to the 7th Element – Internet Connectivity.
I don't have to tell you how critical this element is to a knowledge worker. EVERYTHING needs Internet. Particularly if you're traveling. Being able to use Google Maps while you're traveling completely transforms the travel experience. You can can navigate around a completely new town like a pro if you have data and Google Maps.
So… before I even LEAVE for a new country that I'm unfamiliar with I'll buy some pre-paid data SIM cards for all my devices from eBay so I've got them there and charged up with data before I even arrive.
I've done it in France (because it's tricky to get internet access without a physical address), and recently a few weeks ago in China. I usually pick up SIM cards at the airports.. but sometimes you arrive before any of the shops at the airports are open – which is what happened in my last trip to Beijing. So… if you're worried – do this!
Yes… there are so-called International 3G roaming cards… but they're really expensive and don't work that well in practice. The best and cheapest way to make sure you have internet access when you're abroad is to pick up a local pre-paid data cards.
And here's a little trick – they don't even need to have to be able to make phone calls. They just need data. So you can often pick up a cheaper data-only SIM card… which usually still allows you to send SMS messages. Given that you're living in a different time zone anyway, and you're likely to be making international calls with FaceTime or Skype, this is often the best way to go.
So… as I said… some people think I'm crazy. But I think if you're a knowledge worker… You need these two critical elements – Internet and Electricity… and you can do and work practically anywhere!
What do you think? Leave me a comment.