In the not too distant past, a cycle tourist went to a good bookshop and brought a guidebook for the region through which they intended to travel. Then hoped the guidebook was reasonably up to date and accurate. After arrival, the traveller’s knowledge base is updated using advice from locals and other travellers.
The advent of the internet means that you could get up to date information but computers were not portable. Every time you arrived at a new town, an internet cafe was high on the list of things search out.
Modern laptops and inexpensive WiFi means it is possible to log into hotel, restaurant and bar networks. Roaming charges for 3G phone and internet access are horrendous in Europe so management of hotels and restaurants often provide free or cheap WiFi for travellers. Many cycle tourists and back packers now pack a netbook.
Foolishly, earlier this year, we decided that the weight of a netbook and charger was too much to carry for little benefit, as we thought Internet Cafes were plentiful in Europe. However, due to the proliferation of free WiFi the demand for internet cafes has decreased to the point where they are only found in the larger tourist towns. It is now common to see people researching the next stage of their journey, updating their FaceBook pages, blogs and checking their emails at cafes and restaurants using a free WiFi connection.
We, on the other hand, were carrying a guidebook and a thick bundle of notes. After a few weeks, we also accumulated several hotel directories. The combined weight was greater than that of a netbook. We could have also used the netbook to maintain our dairies and track our expenses thereby saving some more weight. We could also used the netbook to back up our digital images and netbook to book accommodation ahead.
Recently I obtained an iPad. This light, thin device is a useful tool for accessing the internet, checking emails and performing some simple tasks. It appears to be more robust than a netbook, but does not have all the features of a netbook. However, do you need all the features of a netbook on the road?
We know in the French portion of EuroVelo 6 WiFi internet access is common in most 2 and 3 Star Hotels. If not then a cafe or restaurant with WiFi and for the price of a coffee and sandwich you can connect to the internet. In any case, you have to eat.
Along the Central Portion and Eastern Portions of EuroVelo 6 is WiFi internet access available?
Has anybody taken an iPad on a cycle tour? Was it useful or would a netbook have been better?