I’ve been an Amazon user since the Nineties. I joined Prime as soon as Amazon created it. I bought my stepson one of the first Kindle e-readers sold to the public.
In all my years as an Amazon user, I’ve relied on it for its wide selection, informative user reviews, innovative devices and services and great prices.
So, why is Amazon Prime a good idea for the GoGo2SlowGo traveler? Although we have used free 2-day shipping on occasion to our hotel, this is not primary reason. There are more than 20 reasons to get prime but for the traveler, they fall into 3 categories.
Amazon is in direct competition with Netflix, so it is creating its own content. All of the content is streamable and free with your paid Prime subscription. You also can purchase movies or TV shows of your choosing and keep them in your video library. Then, you can stream your purchased movies when you travel.
We use the Amazon Fire TV Stick when we travel and plug it into the hotel TV, so we can stream all of our movies and shows when we want. More on that later when we talk about the Fire TV Stick.
We love music. I am more old school and I have purchased vinyl, cassette, and CD versions of music over the years. All of these have been converted into MP3 or equivalent files. Amazon lets you upload all of your music and it will store all of it for free with your subscription. It also improves the recording if it already has a version of your music to a higher quality standard.
Prime Music has over a million songs available that are included in your subscription. Prime Music is not the subscription-based Amazon Music, but Prime members get a substantial discount on Amazon Music. We do not subscribe to Amazon Music since we have uploaded so many of our music already. However, if you love music and you don’t feel like purchasing your music, you can use Amazon Music to stream even more songs of your choosing.
We take photos on all of our trips and you see many of them on our blog. Prime Photos lets you store all of your photos for free on Amazon. We have all of our photos stored on a hard drive, but we want a backup of all of our photos. Prime Photos does this. In addition, when you are on the road, you can refer to them quite easily as long as you have an Internet connection on your tablet or phone or PC/Mac.
We also use the Prime Photos app on our iPhone devices. This automatically loads the picture into Prime Photo so there is no chance of losing your photo even if your phone doesn’t work for some reason.
We use a variety of Amazon devices. They offer many useful and unique features and great value.
The Amazon Fire tablet family competes with the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and others. Like those tablet families, the Fire comes in many models with differing performance, features and screen qualities. There are even kids models! But you'll most likely be interested in the Fire 7, HD 8 and HD 10.
While it is an e-reader and can access all of your Kindle books, it differs in that it has a color screen and is designed for all-round entertainment, including video streaming, Internet, games and the like. And unlike Kindle e-readers, which are glare-free, these tablets have glossy screens. You can use them outside, but you’ll need some shade.
The advantage of these tablets is the entertainment options they provide. As long as the devices are connected to a Wi-Fi connection, you can watch your Amazon content, listen to music, view and edit your photos, browse the Internet, play games, engage in social media. The possibilities are endless! And Alexa is embedded in the device, so you can use her wherever you travel.
We usually take a Fire and a Kindle with us wherever we go. We only need two devices, and both allow the reading of books without the need for a Wi-Fi connection. The battery life of these tablets is much less than the Kindle readers since it’s powering a color screen and processing web pages, apps and other features.
You can browse your photos on your Fire Tablet as well since the screen is very sharp and you can even get HD or 1080p HD.
As with the Kindle Readers, the Fire Tablets come with or without special offers. We never choose special offers since we don’t want the advertising that comes with them. But this usually adds another $20 to the price.
We currently use an older Fire HD 7 and newer HD 8.
Madeline and I are avid readers! Instead of dragging around hardcover and paperback books like we did in the old days, we bring all of our reading material on a Kindles. The Kindle devices come in many styles; we opt for the least expensive basic Kindle. Other models are available, including the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis. All are excellent and include useful and innovative features, but for our money we stuck with the basic Kindle.
We make sure that we have plenty of books that are available before we travel. However, you can download books using a Wi-Fi connection.
We always choose our Kindles without special offers, which is essentially advertising from Amazon. This adds about $20 to your purchase price, but it’s worth it to not have ads in our reading.
I recommend purchasing a Kindle either during Black Friday or Prime Day sales. Amazon really wants you to use their devices, so they lower the list prices considerably and often.
Fire TV Stick
Fire TV Stick (Standard or 4K) has been a real game changer for us when we travel. If you’ve traveled overseas a lot, you soon realize that TV is not the same as what you have at home. This device lets you bring your movies and TV shows with you as long as they can be streamed.
Netflix started the biggest revolution in streaming when they added a streaming plan along with their existing DVD plan. We have both plans because we find that many of the first run movies are available on DVD long before they are available on streaming.
We also are Amazon Prime members. We originally did it just for the two-day free shipping, but Amazon has offered so many other services that are now included in their Prime membership that we will never give up Amazon Prime even if we didn’t order physical goods.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick plugs into your hotel TV. We bring along a couple of power strips on our trips because in many cases, the location of the TV and the nearest electrical plug is either nonexistent or greatly inconvenient. The stick needs electricity and it can handle international voltage so wherever you go, it’ll work.
You plug the stick into a free HDMI port on the back of the TV in your hotel room. I know this might sound daunting, but it is really very easy. Once it is plugged into the TV and plugged into electricity, you can turn the TV on and use the Source or Input button on your remote control to select the HDMI port you plugged the stick into. Sometimes this requires a little patience because you may not be sure where you plugged the stick in. I try to see if there is a notation on the TV for the name of the HDMI port. Sometimes it might say HDMI 2 or HDMI 3 or HDMI side. You may have to scroll through a few source or input locations until you see the Amazon logo or home page show up.
After it is plugged in and you can see the screen, you’ll have to connect the stick to your hotel’s Internet connection. That shouldn’t be hard, but it may require a password to get going. Once you have connected the Amazon Fire TV Stick to the Internet, you are in business.
Now you can watch all of your Prime TV channels including movies and series. All of your Amazon purchased movies will also be available.
Echo and Alexa
Amazon really took the world by storm with Alexa. Voice activated, hands free and super helpful, Alexa allows you to do all kinds of things without skipping a beat. Create and add items to lists. Play music. Control your smart home. Listen to the radio. Look up information. Listen to jokes. You can do all of this while cooking, cleaning, watching a show, changing diapers or driving.
Alexa is the personal assistant that helps you do what you need to do. She comes built in with these devices and others from Amazon. And there’s an Alexa app for you phone and tablet.
Life sure has changed with Amazon’s Alexa devices. We have Alexa-powered devices in our home. We bought the first model of the Amazon Echo.
We do not take the Echo when traveling. Although it has a better speaker than the Echo Dot, the Dot is much more portable and easy to pack.
Echo Plus is the basic Echo but adds a built-in Zigbee hub so you can connect other smart-home devices. As long as they are Zigbee-compatible, you can use your Echo to control your security cameras, garage door opener, thermostat and more. You can also get a free Philps Hue smart light bulb.
The Echo Show 8 has all the great features of an Echo and gives you an eight-inch screen. So you can watch the news, TV shows, movie trailers and music videos, too. Following recipes is snap with the Echo Show, as is video messaging and calling.
We have subscriptions for HBO Go and Showtime Anytime at home. It’s nice to be able to watch these shows when you travel. In order to do so, you download the Apps from Amazon for HBO Go and Showtime Anytime. Be sure to choose these applications because there are other variations on this. If you are already paying for HBO or Showtime at home, your subscription can follow you when you travel as long as the appropriate application is downloaded to the Fire TV Stick.
After you’ve downloaded it, enter your cable or satellite provider and a username and password. You should do this before you travel and write the information down somewhere in case you forget. Now you easily can watch Showtime or HBO on your Fire TV Stick.
We’ve done this all over the world. It’s very nice to be able to watch something you enjoy when you want in the comfort of your hotel room.