Syncing with iCloud despite XP incompatibility?

I have an iPhone (4S) and an iPad (2) and would love to sync with iCloud.  But, because my PC is running Windows XP and Outlook 2003, both of which seem to be incompatible with iCloud, I have stayed away from iCloud, and I sync/backup both mobile devices exclusively to the PC.  Normally this works fine.  I work at my PC most every day and syncing to it is almost as convenient as to the cloud.
Soon, however, I’ll be traveling and away from my PC.  I’ll have both mobile devices with me and will be editing and adding entries in Calender, Contacts, and who knows what else.  I don’t want to have to make the entries in two devices, so iCloud could be very useful to me.  I spoke with a specialist at a local Apple store who said there is no reason I can’t use iCloud to sync the devices, as long as I don’t bring the PC into the mix.  He told me to go to Settings > iCloud on each of the devices, turn ON the items I want to sync, and make sure that "iCloud Backup" is OFF.  Also make sure that the option "Back up to this computer" is checked in iTunes on the Summary tab for each device.  He said I’ll be able to sync the mobile devices during my trip (when connected to a power source and while both are within the same WiFi network).  When I return home, I can backup to my PC and the changes made on the devices will sync cleanly with the PC.
The Apple specialist said he has personal experience with this issue because he has an older Apple computer with an OS that, like XP, is incompatible with iCloud.  He said the  solution is just to keep the incompatible OS away from the cloud.  If it is only the mobile devices (running the current iOS) that are syncing in iCloud, and the PC is kept away, everything will be fine.
I’ve read a lot of online posts about the XP-iCloud issue and none have suggested a solution like the one I have just described.  Enough of them have recited horror stories of duplicated entries and other problems, such that I would like to have a second opinion (or three or four, or more) before I dare take the leap. If anyone has thoughts on this, please jump in.

Sir Winston, thanks for chiming in.
I do intend to sync and back up to iTunes before the trip. 
With respect to turning on iCloud backup while I’m away, my understanding of what the specialist told me was that iCloud backup should remain off all the time.  I may have misinterpreted what he said. or maybe I got it right and he was just wrong.  I don’t know.  Is it possible that backing up to iCloud and then later backing up to iTunes (in XP) somehow causes the duplication of entries that some users seed to have experienced?  I don’t know why it would, but I don’t know.

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