Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Constant Carry-on?

Earlier this summer I spent a night at my grandparents' cottage in Michigan, and a few of my teenaged cousins from Florida were there as well. Throw in a couple of aunts, plus my mom and grandparents, and we were probably looking at dozen people spending the night at "the lake."

What was striking to me did not have to do with the reality of cramming all of us in a 3 bedroom cottage. We do that all the time. The cottage has a number of extra spots for sleeping, so we were all set.

What did catch my eye about that evening was the sheer number of computers around the place. Mostly white Mac laptops, plus my work HP laptop. There couldn't have been less than 8 computers in that cottage. Everywhere I looked, there was one plugged into the wall. Otherwise someone was at the kitchen table looking at facebook, or someone else was sitting on the couch playing online Scrabble.

At first, I thought, Come on, folks. Can't you leave your laptops at home when you come to the cottage?

But that, let me assure you, was completely hypocritical. If faced a week at a cottage somewhere where I knew they'd have wireless, I'd probably bring my computer, too.

I don't know when it started, but a while back Josh and I began to take along a laptop when we'd travel. At first I thought it was ridiculous - I mean, couldn't we survive without the internet for a couple of nights? But then it became nice to check email, search for good restaurants, look at a map, etc. from the comfort of our own hotel room in the evenings. Having a computer with us became the norm. We wouldn't be on it all day, every day, when on vacation, but it would definitely be referenced from time to time.

Well, taking one laptop with us slowly but surely stretched to taking two laptops with us. You see, we'd sometimes get cranky with each other for "hogging" the computer at night. Both of us like to unwind sometimes by doing a little internet browsing. Josh likes to read about sports, and I like to check blogs, and they can't really be done at the same time. Solution? Just take two computers.

Is it ridiculous? Maybe. Should we just take one and learn some lessons about self sacrifice and patience? Probably. But for the sake of marital harmony, it is sometimes worth it to just lug two computers around. Especially when we're going somewhere for longer than a night or two. And, granted, sometimes that is a work-related necessity. I travel for work, and Josh sometimes comes with me, but has work of his own to do. So we'll have two along, for legitimate reasons.

At first I thought that maybe we were weird-o's for taking two computers with us when we go places. But then my grandparents spent the night with us a couple of weeks ago, and they each brought a computer with them, too. So maybe it is just the norm.

And now I'm all curious...

Do you travel with a computer? If so, how much do you use it when you're gone?

If you're married or have bigger kids, do you guys end up travelling with more than one computer? Do you feel weird about it?

Is there something to be said for just cutting yourself off from the lures of the internet when you're away from home?

Or do you feel like your left arm is cut off when you're parted from your machine?


Janine said...

You know, I thought about this last weekend when I went to Chicago with my mom, sister-in-law and oldest niece (she's 16). The hotel we stayed at had free internet, and when my niece found out about that she said that she wished she had brought a computer. I thought about bringing my computer just for the convenience of being able to look up stuff but I chose not to. And you know what, I didn't miss it at all. The hotel concierge can answer just about any question you throw at 'em, and some places even have a business center where you can use their computers. If I was going to a cottage on the lake for a week I don't think I'd bring a computer. Sometimes I just need to get away from everything and that includes not just work but also anything that runs on a battery or plugs in! I can't enjoy the beauty of God's creation if my fingers are punching the keys on the keyboard and my eyes are glued to the screen.

Searle Family said...

We take 2 laptops with us. Yes, we do check email etc., but it has been really handy to look up places of interest or directions. Now, what is probably totally an excess, we do occasionally take our smaller printer with us as well. If we are going to be somewhere for more than a day or two, it is nice to have.

Jenni S. said...

Funny you should blog about this -- Dave and I just had this discussion about taking the laptop when we travel. However, we take it to let the kids watch a movie in the room if we need to be in there for Lily's nap/putting Lily to bed earlier than the other two so that she can fall asleep. We have a no e-mail/blogging/Fb policy when we're on family vacations unless there are special circumstances (needing to get in touch with people we're trying to connect with on vacation). And I really enjoy it. I love dropping out of visibility for a while and having that face-time with Dave and the kids that we often don't get at home.

Allie, Peeps2 said...

We usually only take one laptop with us, and only if our trip doesn't involve us having to carry it around. For example: this week we took a road trip through the mountains straight to the hotel. So, laptop. We used it to check email and watched some shows on it.

When we go to Southeast Asia in December, however, we're going to leave it at home. We'll be traveling by foot and by train, and it's just not worth the weight! We figure we can always find an internet cafe or use the hotels' services if we need to find a restaurant or something.

Kristen said...

we travel with one computer. even if we are somewhere without wireless (like family ranch) so that i can upload photos. it actually came in very handy last year when i got stranded in portland with three kids one of whom had the stomach flu - movies or online games were perfect. just for that fact it is worth it!

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