Susan and I both like to take pictures. With digital cameras, we can take pictures abundantly without costing us an arm and a leg when developing them. We estimated that we might take about 200 pictures a day at 1 MByte per file. This came out to 22.8 GBytes (200 * 114) of files. Then there would be many video clips we would take with our cameras so that may be another 10 to 20 GBytes. I had a Toshiba laptop from work but it only had about 20 GBytes of free space. Also it did not have a DVD/CD burner as I would like to burn DVDs along the way to mail them back just in case something happened such as theft or computer crashing. We needed to have something else.

I was hesitated to bring expensive equipment on this trip as we cannot carry them with us most of time. They would be in the van and attract potential thieves. After debating getting an external DVD burner for a couple of weeks, we relented and decided to get our own laptop with a DVD burner. This was a once a lifetime trip and we wanted to have a backup system so we wouldn’t lose anything. We bought a Dell laptop, our first, and I started to put needed software on both laptops: Microsoft Streets and Trips, Magellan MapSend and Garmin MapSource. It was a hassle to have two systems but we didn’t want to take a chance.

We uploaded pictures into both machines as we traveled. After we had more than 5 GBytes, I would burn a DVD to store as a backup. But we were lazy to send out the DVD we burned. After the scare in Vermont in July where our van was broken into and our wallets were stolen but luckily not our computers, we did not procrastinate anymore and sent back all the DVDs we had burned up to that point. And we started to hide the computers in the van underneath a lot of things.

We were happy that we didn’t run into any more problems after that. One computer filled up around mid-August and the other computer also filled up in early-September. Luckily we were close to home so we filled up all the memory chips and made back home without having to delete pictures from the computers. We didn’t want to delete any pictures just in case if the DVDs we sent back had gotten lost or damaged. It had happened to us when we traveled around the world and one of the packages we sent back from France never arrived. We learned from our past mistakes.

Was it necessary to bring two computers? Probably not. However, they gave us a peace of mind and now we have 20,000+ pictures to edit. It has taken us longer to edit all the pictures than our whole trip but it is fun as we have a chance to re-live our trip.