Work Day 3: efficiencies of gear choice

Today was my third zero mile work day of the tour… I think I have a few opinions on the relative merits of working while on tour. First, let’s look back on the “why” part. The theory is that taking a few zero mile days, while disruptive to a bike tour, can allow one to either bike further or longer, or even take more frequent tours, so long as the work days are earning you money or otherwise keeping you from burning vacation days for your entire time away. So far, I’m finding that to be largely true.

While I can’t say the pauses in the tour haven’t been without downsides (saying farewell to others that you would ordinarily ride hundreds of miles with) it hasn’t taken away from the adventure of the ride, nor the opportunities to “reshuffle” the deck and meet new people. Overall… I think it works.

What I’m discovering, however, is my preconceived notions of what gear will be the best for the tour are slightly off. My main tool has been my iPhone 5. It has been a remarkable device for staying on top of email while on the road during breaks. Cell coverage has been good on this trip, although not perfect. I happen to have an unlimited data plan, and that’s been helpful.

The device combination that I thought would be my workhorse on work days was my iPad and a service called LogMeIn. On a wifi connection (my iPad has no cellular data capabilities) I can use LogMeIn to port over to one of. Couple of Macs I have running in Portland (my laptop I left behind in my brother’s home) and my office iMac in DC. I chose redundancy in case one went down. Having this allows me to take on tasks that my ipad alone couldn’t do easily, such as setting up ecourses or producing podcasts with audio I didn’t have on board. The idea was the ipad has much better battery life, plus if it were lost, damaged or stolen, the pain is much less than if the same happened to the MacBook Pro I left behind.

So… It works. But the efficiency drop is a bit maddening. I can do absolutely everything I could do on a desktop, but the pace is hampered by the interface wackiness (a touch interface converting to a non-touch one) plus the limits of wifi speeds on both sides. My laptop at my brother’s place is far from the router, so it’s pokey. My iMac was the better choice, despite being across the continent!

Still, my efficiency drop is so noticeable, I have decided to make a change for the next tour. Before they disappear rom the market I plan on getting a sub $300 netbook. They are disappearing for a variety of reasons I won’t go into, but I think having a “real” computer OS will up efficiencies for the tasks that require it. I’m happier in the Apple ecosystem, but I can always use LogMeIn to hitch back on a full Mac OS X computer if needed. Weight and battery life will suffer, but overall… I think for my needs the iPad is not the right second device since it replicates so much of what the iPhone can do, without offering much more than a bigger screen. I still love the iPad but not in this context… Unless I can find some apps I’m unaware of to do some of the things I do on a traditional computer.

I have another work day coming up, and I plan on chatting a bit more about what I’m doing while on tour, specifically:
– how I manage my AirBnB rentals and why that’s an important part of funding touring (a big topic!)
– my email and to-do list philosophies that lean heavily on “inbox zero” and the amazing Evernote.

What kinds of tech do you bring on tour to get things done? Just a smartphone? Full laptop? Nothing? My ideas are definitely not the only way to go… Share yours in the comments!