Turning My Phone Into a Travelling Computer

Turning My Phone Into a Travelling Computer

Our computer died early on our last vacation. I dragged it along thinking that it may come in handy at some point.

But really, there was no need to bring an expensive laptop along when I carried one – my phone – with me all the time.

The idea of turning my small, portable, powerful smartphone into a portable computer became more appealing.

I began to formulate an idea as I drove along the Sri Lankan roads.


This is what we have (or I’m planning on having) for our next trip.

  • Galaxy On7 Prime smartphone
    • 192 GB storage
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Chromecast
  • Portable speaker
  • Wifi enabled camera
  • Wifi enabled GoPro
  • Tello drone (saves images and video to phone)
  • Portable charging unit
  • Car cigarette charging unit

Our camera and GoPro are wifi enabled. That allowed me to download to my phone any pictures and videos that we took. We use Google Photos so it was easy for me to upload any photos every evening in the hotel in case of a damaged or stolen SD card. This way, there was no running out of storage space.

Next time, I’ll be sure to bring along the Bluetooth keyboard, Chromecast, and portable speaker.

The keyboard will help data entry and allow me to blog regularly. I’m thinking that using the Chromecast may be useful and allow us to connect to our hotel’s TV. The speaker will be nice for playing music.

The key is that they’re all small, portable, and relatively cheap.

Photography & Video

We love taking pictures and the only flaw in this plan is that I won’t be using Luminar 3 on any future trips. This is my new favourite photo editing tool and is fantastic. I’ll have to wait until our vacation is over to use this program.

I do need to buy a better camera app but used the following apps.

  • Light Meter Free
  • Google Photo – photo storage
  • Snapseed – photo editing


I used the following apps on my phone.

  • Aeroplan – our rewards program
  • AirVisual – check on air quality
  • Banking app – to pay bills; check on credit card payments
  • Cheaptickets.com – how we book our flights
  • Calculator – quick conversions, good for negotiating prices
  • Clock – time changes can be tricky; what time is it back home
  • Google Calendar – track hotels and flights
  • Google Drive – keep copies of important documents stored online (passports, visas, etc.)
  • Google Maps – great way to get to where you’re going
  • Google News – quickly keep up with what’s going on in the world
  • Google Translate – because I don’t speak anything other than English
  • Hotels.com – how we book our hotels
  • Messenger – to keep in touch with friends and family
  • Music app – for my Justin Bieber playlist
  • Phone – for emergencies
  • Shazam – what’s that cool song playing?
  • Streetview – what’s that place look like?
  • Tripadvisor – great travel advice and recommendations for restaurants and attactions
  • Uber – no taxis? no tuck-tucks?
  • Video streaming app – youtube, Netflix, Prime Video
  • Weather Channel – help to plan activities
  • What’s App – a great way to communicate with others around the world
  • XE – currency conversion
Castlereigh Reservoir

Sri Lanka

Some colleagues were discussing their no-phone vacation the other day and how much they enjoyed being disconnected. Turning my phone into a mobile computer is the opposite of their approach but fits my techy style to travel.


3 Weeks of Google Maps in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Google Maps

We Used Google Maps for 3 Weeks in Sri Lanka. Here’s What We Learned.

Before landing in Bandaranaike International Airport, I saved the locations of all of our hotels, safari pickups, tourist locations, and more in Google Maps.

Here is our map.

Using the Google Maps app on my cell phone, it was simple enough to get our location and then click DIRECTIONS. Google then plotted several routes and away we drove in our rental car around this beautiful island.

What Went Well

Google Maps got us to our location every time with a few minor miscues. I was pleasantly pleased with its accuracy as it was door to door most of the time.

Google Maps ability to highlight poor traffic conditions was accurate as well. In several cases, it readjusted and mapped a detour around construction or traffic jams. This was nice as it often took us through some residential areas which were interesting to see.

And, if I missed a turn it would recalculate a new route quite quickly.

Castlereigh Resevoir

Hill Country in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka has some of the toughest pronunciations you could ever find on the planet.

It was entertaining to hear Google Maps pronounce cities such as Bogawantalawa, Polonnaruwa, and Udawalawa.

It actually did quite well overall.


In one case, Google Maps took us 500m past one of our hotels. It was simple enough to find the hotel as it was nearby and on the same road but still a minor glitch (fixable).

There were times when our location didn’t update quickly but that is more likely due to connectivity issues.

At times, Google Maps directed us to take a right turn off the highway trying to make a short cut to another main road. However, the shortcut led us down a dirt road filled with potholes and mud. It would have been faster to continue on the main highway even though the distance was further.

For some reason, the voice directing us switched accents. Not a big deal but it got me thinking how cool it would be to have Chewbacca or Samuel L. Jackson’s voice directing us (not sure how well  the Wookie language would work out).

Sri Lankan Highway

The Big Question

The big question is: did Google Maps get us there the quickest way?



Sri Lanka’s highway system is far improved from when we lived there in 2003-2006. It’s still a maze of roads that range from toll highways to paved roads to potholed dirt roads (like all countries).

That makes it hard to determine if the route Google Maps recommended truly was the shortest route.

Our Sri Lankan friends said that Maps did not always plot the quickest route in their experience though.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Would I Use Google Maps Again?


It is much easier than pouring over “paper” maps. The features that Maps offers made it a very useful tool for travelling.

Plus it keeps a nice little memento of our trip.

I’m looking forward to our next trip where we can use Google Maps all the time.


  • Google Maps App
  • Galaxy On7 Prime phone
  • Car cigarette lighter USB charger


I’m always on the lookout for great freeware. Storyboarder is a feature rich program that allows students and staff to storyboard their ideas.

Storyboarder makes it easy to visualize a story as fast you can draw stick figures. Quickly draw to test if a story idea works. Create and show animatics to others. Express your story idea without mak

Source: Storyboarder – The best and easiest way to storyboard. | Wonder Unit


Physical Fitness for Educators

As an educator and a father, I’ve found it difficult to squeeze in taking care of my physical fitness with the demands of life.

Staying in shape was at the lower end of the priority list. I needed to change that so recently I started to lift weights again and enjoyed the benefits. But, I was lifting like I did back in my university days – or at least tried to. While I saw results, it was time-consuming.

As Mr. Wonderful on Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank) says, “there has to be a better way.” So, I did some research and happened across the StrongLifts 5×5 program.

The 5×5 program is very simple and takes advantage of using only 3 compound exercises 3 times a week. So, in three 45-60 minute sessions, I’m able to get a full body workout. I’ve said goodbye to supersets and machines and am dedicated to this new, effective, and efficient workout routine.

StrongLIfts 5×5 is the simplest, most effective workout to gain strength and muscle. 3 exercises, 3 workouts, 45min max. Try it for free with our app.

Source: StrongLifts 5×5: Simple Workout Program for Beginners


Free Glitch Pack for Premiere Pro

Not only are these glitch transitions free but it comes with a quick video tutorial on how to import and use the transitions. I’ve added this to my list of Free Resources, which now contains over 40 free resources for your classroom.

20 FREE Glitch & Distortion Transitions for Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018. RGB splits, noise, movement distortions, flickering and many more styles.

Source: 20 Glitch Transitions for Premiere Pro | Cinecom.net