Travel Essentials: Office 365 Home Premium Proved Its Worth in Mexico

 In Caribbean and Mexico, Tech

I am not a list maker, but when it comes to certain items that I have to pack, my laptop is way at the top. It is pretty much on pare with the baby’s pacifier, maybe higher. So you can imagine my shock and dismay when I was in the TSA line (airport security) last week at 6am, throwing my liquids in one bin, and went to grab my laptop to put in another bin and my computer wasn’t there. Where was it? I panicked, and then I mentally kicked myself. It was sitting on my desk charging up for our flight.

I had left my laptop out assuming I would never in a million years forget my precious lifeline to everything I had to accomplish that week, not to mention the calendar I failed to sync with my phone before we left. I didn’t know how to function without that computer. I started looking up how much it would cost to ship the computer to my hotel in Mexico, while simultaneously texting my husband to freak out that I had left my computer behind.

The final result was that it would cost me over $175 to ship my laptop to me in Mexico, and it wouldn’t arrive until we were already halfway through our trip. My computer wasn’t THAT vital to my trip. Yes, I had a ton of work to get done, not to mention I wanted to be able to let the kids Skype with their dad while we were away. In the end we came up with a plan B.

We were stopping over in LA for a night so we could catch the one flight down to Loreto the next morning. There was a Best Buy (a big electronics store here in the USA) close to the airport. I would simply buy a cheap laptop to bring down with me. This may sound extravagant, but at the time I knew I needed that laptop to get a few key tasks accomplished. The bigger problem was that I didn’t have my programs loaded on the new machine, and I couldn’t afford to buy a laptop AND the necessary software.

Enter Office 365

Earlier this year I won a copy of Office 365 from fellow blogger Camels & Chocolate (a great blog you should check out by the way!) I had played around a little with the software, but hadn’t been able to jump in too deeply and appreciate some of its finer points. Mexico showed me just why this package was necessary for the absentminded (and even the highly organized) traveler. You see I could take Office with me anywhere.

With my subscription I received a 1-year subscription of Office 365 Home Premium that I could install on up to 5 machines, whether it was a PC, Mac or a PC tablet (sorry, no iPads yet gang.) As soon as we got to our hotel I downloaded the Office Suite so I would be ready to head over the border the next morning.


Office 365 comes with the usual Office programs many of us know and love like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. What makes it different is that there is also access to 20GBsworth of cloud storage (more on this in a minute), and 60 Skype World minutes per month. The Skype minutes are worth the price alone if you regularly travel and need to stay connected back home. You can still video chat for free, but the world minutes let you call any phone in over 40 counties.

SkyDrive, the Office cloud storage that gives you 20GBs of storage for your documents, photos, and videos, is what really saved the day, and my wallet, on this trip. Thanks to that extra storage, something I didn’t have up until now, I was able to upload everything I had written and all of my images onto my SkyDrive account on the PC laptop in Mexico, and have my husband download all 1200+ images onto my Mac laptop at home. I ended up wiping the PC laptop and returning it in LA as we flew through. Shhhh… don’t tell customer service!

Other new additions to Office that come in handy are the layout possibilities with Word. I am used to only using programs like Adobe InDesign, but obviously I don’t always need something that powerful, or have access to it. With the new Word I can design a beautiful page to send out to clients, editors, and friends, even when I am on the go. For those of you who are trying to dive into design, but don’t want to get an undergrad degree in it, Word is a great way to get your feet wet and play with page layout.

Subscription software

I’ll admit that the idea of paying a yearly subscription for software is new to me, but this seems to be where technology is going. Video game consoles have been doing it for more than a few years, Adobe is doing it with a some of their programs, and so now is Microsoft. You get regular updates, and a few extra perks not offered to the one-time downloaders. If you normally buy software updates this may just solve your problems and save you a little cash in the process, but you are the master of your own budget and can make that decision for yourself.

  • Pricing: As of March 2013, a one-year subscription to Office 365 Home Premium costs $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month (download on up to 5 computers).

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Waggener Edstrom and Office 365 for providing a copy of their latest subscription service to my readers. Although I did win a copy from another blogger I was not required or even asked to write a specific review. My opinions are always my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.

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Showing 20 comments
  • Tonya @ The Traveling Praters

    Well, since I’m dreaming, all of Europe would be my dream destination. My daughter wants to visit Paris, my husband and boys’ want to visit the major battlefields from WWII and I’d love to see the Prater Ferris Wheel. 🙂

    I have a feeling this software could be very beneficial to me. My laptop crashed and burned last month and I lost all of my pictures, video, partial blog post and *gulp* a nearly completed e-book. I can’t believe I was so stupid and didn’t back them up! Still kicking myself.

  • Kristina

    I agree this is probably the way things are going with software. The good part of it is that you’ll always have the latest version. Good for you for making the best of a bad situation.

  • Cassie

    $100 a year seemed steep until I realized it’s a license for 5 computers. And SkyDrive is great, I switched to it as my primary cloud service from Dropbox and Google Docs about 6 months ago. They offer 7GB for free which I believe is the most anyone offers right now. The upgrade to 20GB would be nice!

  • Traveling Well For Less

    Hey Keryn,

    Yikes, glad you were able to pick up an inexpensive laptop.

    Great timing. I just learned about Office 365 last week, but was told the license was only for 1 computer. I’d be interested to compare Office 365 vs Open Office.

  • Tiffany F

    How has technology saved me while traveling? Well, we were able to sell our house from Edinburgh, Scotland! We used technology to electronically sign two counter offers! Being able to do this from abroad helped so much – not having to come home and live while the house is on the market was a real benefit (especially in muddy PacNW, with two boys and a dog!).

  • wandering educators

    OH man – we’ve forgotten our computer on trips, it’s horrible, esp when you need to work. this sounds like a great solution!

  • Adrienne

    I seriously need to look into this – sounds great. Promoted your giveaway too!

  • Allison

    I am so glad everything worked out. Thanks for the product review! We are in the market for a new computer and software.

  • Kim

    Thank goodness you didn’t forget your camera!

  • Pointsanddtravel

    I have had so many IT problems on the road that I can’t even count them. So I don’t have a good answer for you…yet

  • Pointsanddtravel

    great pic by they way

    • Keryn @ Walking On Travels

      Thanks! I thought the picture was appropriate for the insanity I was facing. Not only did I not have my laptop, which is set up exactly how I want it, but the internet access was also horrible where we were at.

  • Bron

    When we traveled through South America for 8 months I never could have created, saved, and backed up the more than 16,000 photos I took without our little technology bundle (Nikon DSLR, Asus notebook computer and 2 portable hard drives). Can you imagine trying to do that photo essay trip back in the all film days!?

    • Keryn @ Walking On Travels

      I did a 3 week trip across Europe with my college after my junior year. The amount of film I was hauling was ridiculous! Took weeks to process and print. I swear I still have a roll or two that I need to process. Digital is SO much easier. Although I do miss the smell of stop bath 😉

  • Jenna

    It’s hard to say because technology definitely affects so many aspects of travel now, but it played a huge role in my trip to FLorence last year since I was there as a “social media reporter.” I enjoyed being connected and sharing stuff most of the day.

  • Amy @ The Q Family

    Ok. I have seen the post from Kristin on planning her trip using Office 365 and now from you about page design. I hope I win then. 🙂 We have 5 computers at our house so it’s perfect!

  • Laurel- Capturing la Vita

    Would LOVE to have this! That photo on the top is fantastic 🙂

  • Kate - CanuckiwiKate

    This actually sounds like what I may need… I’ve finally bought myself a MacBook, which I am instantly in love with – I’m just lacking a word processer and have been looking around at my options. Also, my DropBox is full (I don’t even know what is taking up all the room, but I have not had time to sit and fiddle with looking through it all lately).. so 20GB of extra storage sounds devine. I spend $10/month on more useless stuff – but winning this one would be ideal!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Colleen Lanin

    As a blogger, technology is necessary for me during my travels so I can keep up with writing posts while away from home and updating readers using social media.

  • Lauren

    I’m using Office 97, probably time to enter this century 🙂

Loreto, Mexico