Backpackers trek the globe with tech toys

Tue Dec 7, 2010 11:58am EST
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By Natalie Armstrong

GOREME, Turkey Dec 7 (Reuters Life) - Backpackers are traveling the world with high-tech toys and are often searching as much for free Wi-Fi as for historical sites.

And they are in touch with family and friends thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Skype and instant messaging.

"It's for family and friends who first of all want to know that I'm safe, or know what I'm doing, where I'm going and what I'm seeing," said Dave Arnold, who set off for a year after taking a buyout from a Canadian telecoms company.

"In the past, you'd get a postcard or a letter in the mail every month if you were traveling around the world for a year. It definitely gives family peace of mind," the 35-year-old from Toronto added.

Arnold, who is carrying about $9,000 worth of technology, including a netbook, an unlocked Android mobile phone, an iPod touch, two USB drives and a SLR camera with three lenses, said the gear helps him update his blog, Twitter and Facebook, and to call home and book hostels using apps on his iPod.

Since he began traveling in July, he's used free Wi-Fi in hostels, on buses and in McDonald's and Starbucks. In Amman, Jordan, four of five travelers in his hostel lounge were on their own personal netbooks.

"Within the last three years, the landscape of backpacking has changed dramatically just from the evolution of technology," said Arnold, whose iPod contains 100 downloaded guide books, 10 books and his entire music collection.

"There are Lonely Planet guides that you can download and pay for as opposed to lugging around a book for every country that you've been to. As I travel, I can download them as I go," said Arnold, who has 20 DVD movies for buses and flights.   Continued...

<p>Traveler Sumin Kim, 29, of Ilsan, Korea, (L) looking at her camera while traveling companion Sul-hee Kim, 25, of Seoul, (R) looks for Wi-Fi on her iPhone 4G in a restaurant in the Sultanhamet area of Istanbul, Turkey on September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Natalie Armstrong</p>