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Living the iLife: technology and nomadic lifestyles

Thrusting technophiles are ridding themselves of their possessions and conducting their lives from a laptop. These digital minimalists can access their entertainment and work from any computer in the world and move house or country at a moment’s notice.

These cyber-warriors sell off their record collections, dump the TV and leave their book collections in their parents’ garage.

Londoner, Hermione Way, has sold her belongings and transferred her life online. She runs everything, including her video production company, from three gadgets; her MacBook, iPad and iPhone.

Way says: “I don’t have a CD or DVD collection and I can read all my books on my iPad. I haven’t owned a TV for three years; I watch online, using things like iPlayer to see programmes from anywhere on the planet.”

She says: “The key advantage to living from a laptop is the freedom. Books and things are clutter and now I can get up and go anywhere in the world; it’s incredibly liberating. I can’t think of anything I miss. I’ve just come back from three months in San Francisco; I had a pack with some clothes in and my handbag with my computer inside.”

“I don’t need physical possessions and I don’t want them. I have a flat in London, which I rented out when I was in America.”

Even Way’s business exists in the ‘cloud’, that invisible internet space where people store and retrieve data. She recently stopped renting her office and she and three employees, have all been signed up for a private members’ club, which they use for meetings. She says: “All you need to do this is a fast WiFi connection.”

Cloud technology has freed people from their laptop’s hard drive, which solves the problem of your machine breaking down or being stolen. “All my data is stored online, so even if I lose my computer it’s no big deal, I just log onto another and all my information, music and pictures are there.”

Digital minimalism is going mainstream; worldwide CD sales have fallen 50% from 2005 levels and the revenue from digital music has quadrupled in the same period. People now store their photographs on Facebook or Flickr and the advent of Kindle and the iPad, means the sale of books will be next in the firing line.

Paul Carr is a writer who believes that for the ultimate in iLifestyles, you need to sell off any property may own as well. He sold his flat and lives out of hotels, with his laptop and a few clothes.

He is currently working in San Francisco and also says he has found the whole experience liberating. “If you take into account the mortgage, council tax and bills, it is massively affordable.”

He says it is easy to find cheap hotels, but that he can afford to stay in boutique hotels for less than the price of his mortgage. “Living in hotels is addictive and I can’t see myself going back. My life is in my hand luggage and I can pack be out in five minutes.”

Carr says: “You have to be a certain type of person to do this, but funnily enough I actually now see more of my friends than ever before. It is very easy to live the iLife and I’d recommend everyone give it a go.”

Rod Bailey, ExecutiveSurf’s ceo, likes the idea, but says: “It sounds great, if you don’t have any commitments, but, unless you want to sleep on straw, hotels in major cities are expensive. How about living in a van?”

Bailey likes the idea of travelling where and when you want, with guaranteed accommodation. He says: “I think a nice comfortable van or SUV to sleep and work in would be great and I reckon it could take off. What you need though, is somewhere safe to park over night, with facilities. Maybe hotels could provide cheap parking and showers.”

Kit Hesketh-Harvey is an entertainer who has bought a van and turned it into a travelling hotel. He has a proper bed, a goose-down duvet and a brushed aluminium reading lamp in his converted white van.

Other luxuries include a desk, hot and cold washbasin, a microwave and coffee maker. He says: “I’m a cabaret singer and you never know when a gig will end. I’ve been to Berlin and Nice in it; in Potsdamer Platz it cost me five euros for the parking meter and I parked on the Mediterranean coast where hotel residents were paying 3,000 per night. Luckily theatres have showers.”

He advises buying a high-top van, to avoid a cricked neck and says: “For the sake of anonymity and security, make sure it’s plain white, with as few windows as possible.”

Whether you want de-clutter, move into a hotel, or become a self-contained traveller, Carr has some tips and tools for making the most of available technology.

He says a webmail account (Hotmail or Gmail) is a must, allowing you to access email from anywhere and music lovers should consider Last.fm, the radio station which learns what music you like and also notifies you of live performances and Spotify allows you to stream their music library.

Lovefilm, blinkbox and skyplayer let you stream films online and most TV channels have online services, so you can watch television live or later.

Dropbox is an online file locker, which is like having your own internet-connected hard drive and when it comes to work, Google Documents is the perfect cloud replacement for office essentials and documents can be accessed from any machine.

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