With the recent relaxation of restrictions on travel to Cuba, many U.S. birders are considering a visit to that bird-rich nation so close to Florida.

What to bring? – binoculars, for starters, and probably a field guide. But what sort of field guide? – print or electronic? In this primer on international travel in the digital era, we look at the various resources you might consider loading onto your phone or laptop.

Article by Diana Doyle • St. Augustine, Florida • [email protected]

My husband and I depart soon to go birding in Cuba. Like most weight-conscious travelers, I don’t want to carry heavy books. Why should I? It is the digital age, after all, so I expect digital resources, be they full-fledged birding apps, geographically specific supplemental apps, or field guides converted to ebooks.

But it’s not as easy as one might expect to find and collate digital assets for international birding, whether for Cuba, Korea, or Colombia. Fundamentally it’s a needle-in-a-haystack problem. Resources may be out there, but the search tools haven’t caught up to the size of the haystack. So it takes a fair bit of time and bandwidth to find out what’s available for your destination. Time and bandwidth are two resources that typically are limited while you’re traveling, so it’s worth having an efficient process to locate, amass, and organize these digital assets while you have hot-and-cold–running domestic internet.

I’ll share my search strategy for Cuba, the idea being that a similar process would apply to any other country. In addition, I hope the Cuba example is particularly compelling for the ABA readership, now that we’re witnessing the end of travel restrictions of our Caribbean near-neighbor.