The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Wikipedia can improve the way that you travel by putting a vast store of knowledge at your fingertips. Offline versions allow it to be carried across international lines without incurring massive data charges.

Many of us have fond memories of reading of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect traveling the galaxy accompanied by their towels and depressed robot. Readers will remember the friendly book inscribed with the words Don't Panic, the story's namesake and described as "the standard repository for all knowledge and wisdom". Back in the 90's the idea of a device with compiled information on nearly everything small enough to carry in your pocket was laughable. The closest thing at the time were encyclopedias spanning entire bookshelves (or CD-ROM's).

Today we have our own form of the Guide, and it's better than even Douglas Adams could have imagined: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is the ultimate travel resource. On a trip across the country it lets you look up everything—from towns and landmarks you're visiting to fact checking your tour guide.

This would be a world with almost perfect flow of information if not for one thing. In every country on Earth, phone carriers actively encourage technological retrogression by keeping data roaming rates prohibitively expensive—and you're going to need data for a Wikipedia lookup.

As luck would have it though, there are a few solutions that will compensate for 3G deficiency on international trips. I personally download a 5 GB dump of Wikipedia with AllofWiki, and furthermore use it to browse offline in any country. While traveling Europe last month, I used it to look up the Berlin Wall, Kunsthaus Tacheles, the Lady Moura (anchored in Monaco), the Catacombs of Paris, the TGV, and the English language (good read!) amongst hundreds of other subjects. A few days into the trip, it became an absolutely indispensable resource.

3G Kindles are also a good options with international wireless Wikipedia access (for free). Also try Offline Wiki in HTML5 for a nice notebook solution.

Although we're not yet having Wiki updates pushed to us via the Sub-Etha, this feels like the future.

Posted on January 2, 2012 from Calgary

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My name is Brandur. I'm a polyglot software engineer and part-time designer working at Heroku in San Francisco, California. I'm a Canadian expat. My name is Icelandic. Drop me a line at [email protected].

Aside from technology, I'm interested in energy and how it relates to our society, travel, longboarding, muay thai, symphonic metal, and the guitar.

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