I’ve been away for some time but with good reason! In February, my husband and I adopted our son from Russia. Traveling to Russia on three different occasions gave me a chance to experience first hand technology usage in other countries albeit only for brief occasions.

It’s funny how times have changed in the airports. I can remember travelling several years ago with my laptop and searching around the airport for a place to plug in and charge my laptop. Now, there are charging stations readily available in most major airports.

The second noticeable aspect is the availability of Wi-Fi throughout the airports. Most have services that you can purchase for a few minutes, hours , days or even monthly subscriptions. These were definitely more cost effective than using your cell phone provider’s data plan. The international rates were outrageous — by my calculations, it would have cost me $1000+ for just a few hours of usage over several days.

In St. Petersburg, the hotel we stayed had free Wi-Fi which was wonderful. But in the small town where we spent the bulk of our time, no such luck. Our hotel had a shared computer with Internet that we paid by the minute for usage. Alternatively, we could walk down to a more sophisticated but less convenient hotel that offered one of the services I referenced earlier.

On our final trip, I finally broke down at purchased one of the NetBooks I discussed in an earlier blog post. No I didn’t get the Vivienne Tam HP NetBook even though I secretly wanted to. I ended up selecting a Lenovo for a few reasons (1) it received excellent reviews based on the Internet research I did, (2) it was easily upgradeable, (3) it was made by a reputable manufacturer and therefore, had decent warranty options and (4) finally, I got a great deal at Circuit City because of their impending demise.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the netbook. I still use it although not as heavily as my primary laptop. It does fit nicely on my kitchen counter and is useful for web browsing while cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner. I wish it were a little faster, some of my applications didn’t display too well on the small screen and initially, it was difficult getting used to the small keyboard. But for the size and especially the weight, I really like it. If you want something that is easily portable and has more capabilities than a smart phone, give the netbooks a closer look.

While these may seem like random ramblings, my point is that technology has influenced every facet of our lives, especially travel. If you’re traveling in the near future and think you’re going to require Internet access or some sort of computer, it pays to check out the multitude of options readily available today. I’d love to hear from you about technology products or solutions that you’ve found to make your travels easier or more enjoyable.