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Should I Take a Computer

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kingston, canada
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36 posts
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Should I Take a Computer

I will be leaving for Guatemala soon and will spend about 6 weeks studying Spanish at various schools and staying for the most part in homestays. I have an opportunity to purchase a cheap used netbook and am trying to decide whether this would be a good thing to take or if it just would be more of a hassle than it's worth.

I would use it mainly for checking e-mail, online banking and account transfers, skyping home, storing photos and maintaining a trip blog. I realize that most of these things can readily be done in public internet places or at the Spanish schools so I really am unsure whether I would be much further ahead having my own computer. And then there is the possibility of theft!! How do others handle this problem?

I have already downloaded Google Chrome portable on a flash drive which I had intended to use on public computers to prevent leaving any passwords behind.

Any thoughts about this from the many savvy travellers on this forum would be appreciated.

Port Richey, Florida
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1. Re: Should I Take a Computer

Hi there....I never do. Because in guatemala you can find internet cafes all over the country at real cheap rates and I only go for a week or two weeks max. But on the other hand I've read of people that do. So, I think you'll be fine if you take it with you. Because from what I've read that is not a common issue at homestays. Good luck.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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2. Re: Should I Take a Computer

I traveled without one for years but the last few I've packed along a little Asus eee900 series netbook. I like it for sorting photos but you'll have to back them up on a flashdrive or SD card as netbooks rarely have much storage space. I used to have to leave my SD cards at internet cafes to have CDs made for backup and I like this MUCH better. I blog as I travel, too; with the netbook I can get the photos and text figured out whether I have wireless or not, then only take a few minutes to post the content once I have it at a cafe or Spanish school.

I was never tempted to take my "real" laptop because of size/weight (I'm a light packer), risk of theft, fear of losing content, etc. With the netbook I'm not as worried since it's much less valuable, don't mind the size/weight, and look less obvious where potential theft is concerned because my day pack is obviously much too small for a conventional laptop.

Have a great trip, whatever you decide!

Bethesda, MD
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3. Re: Should I Take a Computer

I used to agree with Kyle. Generally speaking, I still do. But I've seen more and more netbooks the last few years, and they seem really handy and easy to travel with compared to a larger laptop. So I got one back in the fall and I'm looking forward to trying it out this summer because, while there are internet cafes around, you have to deal with their hours, power outages, waiting for an available computer, etc. Among other things, I'm looking forward to reading the news with breakfast for a change, and doing some writing.

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4. Re: Should I Take a Computer

You can find internet cafes in many places but I've found most of them to be extremely hot over the years. They're not always that way, though. The keyboards on the computers they furnish will mostly be Spanish versions and have configurations you're not accustomed to. Also, the keyboards will have letters worn off and sometimes I've even seen them in Chinese while visiting places like Belize.

If you have a small netbook, then by all means, take it with you and use the free wireless service many restaurants and hotels offer these days. I take mine with me on every trip to Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, etc. and have never had any problems with theft. It fits neatly into my backpack and is very light as well.

I never leave mine in the hotel room while I'm visiting Maya sites or doing excursions during the day, either, unless I know the owner of the hotel personally. If I don't know the owner of the hotel, I simply take it with me wherever I'm going for the day.

If it's a normal-sized laptop, though, I would think twice before I took it. The normal ones are just too big and heavy for a backpack and if you leave it in your hotel room every day while you go out on excursions and such, it may not be there when you return if you do not know the owners of the hotel where you're staying.

An additional good reason for using your own netbook or laptop computer is that if the island loses electrical power while you're typing up a large email to someone using a computer in an internet cafe, you'll instantly lose whatever you were typing as soon as the power goes off. If you're using your own netbook or laptop, however, you can continue to work on the email on battery power and save a copy of the draft on your hard drive to simply copy and paste into the body of an email once you're back online again.

Just some additional thoughts....

5. Re: Should I Take a Computer

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