Staying Connected When We Are Off The Grid

Darren reviews our plans for staying connected while traveling to remote areas of the world.

During our 14-month, around-the-world trip, we will be in remote places on the planet. Some examples include the Tian-Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil and the Simien National Park in Ethiopia. While we are on our journey, we have committed to sending Education Modules to everyone who subscribes. In all, 60 modules have been developed and will be distributed during the expedition by email. We also plan to send updates each week on Facebook and Twitter.

This is not that first time we have taken such a trip. In 2003-2004, we took our kids around the world. In all, we visited 12 countries over 4 1/2 months. Back then, we wrote the emails on a Casio Cassiopeia E11 with a small foldable keyboard. Once a week, we saved the text of the email and ten photos onto a CompactFlash card and set off to find an Internet café. Even then, we were able to find an Internet café in even the most remote areas.

These days, it is going to be much easier to find connectivity. However, with this trip, the stakes are higher — we want to communicate more often and with greater fidelity. Combine this with the remoteness of the places we will be traveling, the time zone differences and our weekly schedule and you can see the problem.

In order to increase our chances for communication, we have purchased smart phones from different carriers. Sandy has an iPhone 4 with AT&T. Darren has a Motorola Droid 2 Global from Verizon. Between the two of us, we hope to be able to get a signal. Based on our previous travels, we know that we will almost always be able to send a text message. If 3G is available, we will be able to take pictures and upload them to Flickr on the fly. We also purchased a VPN (Virtual Private Network) plan to overcome blocked services and improve security.

At least once during the trip, we hope to visit a school with broadband and establish a two, three or even four-way link between schools. We have been experimenting with a brand new service called Spreecast whereby up to four video feeds can be broadcast to a virtually unlimited number of viewers. The video is automatically archived for viewing at a later date.

Finally, we have added a new webpage to the Trekking the Planet website called Live Tracker. It shows our current location (powered by Google Latitude), our latest Twitter feed, the most recent photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube. One look at the Live Tracker and you will immediately know where we are and what we are seeing and doing. To view Live Tracker, click here.

Although we will be “off the grid” for much of the trip, we will still have the ability to snap pictures and take video. We have deliberately added rest days to our schedule in places where we are sure we will have broadband access. In this way, we have ensured that classrooms will receive a steady stream of interesting material. The hope is that this strategy will result in greater interest in the world “out there” among the students who are following us.

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4 comments on “Staying Connected When We Are Off The Grid
  1. Shirley Wooldridge says:

    I will definitely be following your adventures. I just wish I were still teaching MGM. What a great program for them!
    Stay safe and healthy!!!!

    • Darren and Sandy says:

      Hi Shirley! We are already half way to Hawaii. We sure do appreciate your encouragment! D

  2. Jim Ryan says:

    On American Samoa the capital is Pago Pago, but it is pronounced “Pango Pango”. What is the reason for this?

    Thank You 🙂

    • Darren and Sandy says:

      I can confirm, Jim, that Pango Pango is the correct pronunciation. My understanding is that the g is pronounced as a “ung” in Samoan. This is from a resident who has lived there for almost two years and has Samoan friends. Hope this helps.