Technology and the tent: Camping and cyber safety

June 12, 2017

Modern urban life is full of conveniences designed to make our lives better. But sometimes it can get hectic, and what we really need is to get out under the sky. Being out in nature has been proven to improve one’s physical and mental health. What could be more restful than falling asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees, and waking up to birdsong? And with free access to national parks to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, this is an ideal time to reconnect with the Canadian wilderness.

But what about your phone or your tablet? Can you part with your laptop? Do you even have to?  Some prefer to go old school, with a camping stove as the most technical object they bring, but for those who want the convenience and security of a connected device, there are plenty of options and plenty of uses.

If you choose to head into the great outdoors with a phone, tablet or laptop, be aware that while some campgrounds do offer Wi-Fi, some of the more backwoods sites may barely have phone service. If Wi-Fi is a necessary service for you, double check that the site has it at all, and see where it’s available. Some only have Wi-Fi or hotspots at visitors centres. As always, be cautious when using public Wi-Fi: using a weak password on public Wi-Fi can open you up to cybercrime. Use strong, unique passwords for all accounts, and avoid shopping or banking on public Wi-Fi.

There are a number of apps that can make the trip a bit more entertaining, such as GPS locators for hikes, guitar and ukulele tab/chord apps for campfire sing-alongs, knot-making apps for crafts, climbing and fishing trips, and of course, recipe apps for all your camp food needs. Parks Canada even has an app on camping for beginners.  Keep your data plan in mind if you hand your device over to the kids to entertain them during a downpour or on the ride there or back. With Wi-Fi less available, you could find yourself facing extra data fees.

Solar-powered chargers are a good option, but it may be a good idea to bring along an extra battery pack. For the person who must have the best gadgets, you can buy a camp stove or a kettle that can charge your device using the power of fire or steam. There really is no excuse to run out of juice.

So go outside! Experience the great outdoors! But if you bring a device, turn it off when you’re not using it, or at least turn down the screen brightness to conserve power. Disconnect for a bit so you can reconnect with nature, friends and family.

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