Sunday, March 20, 2016

What's in my bag?


These pieces about travel gear seem to be popular and I travel a lot, so here you go. Nothing on clothes or footwear here but I cover most everything else.

I've previously written about my carry-ons. Depending upon the trip, I typically either bring an Osprey travel backback or a Patagonia over-the-shoulder/backpack-in-pinch. It really depends on how much schlepping I'll be doing. I have a variety of other bags for when I'm checking luggage or am not travelling by air, but those two cover at least 80 percent of my air trips.

I usually carry a Timbuk 2 messenger bag as my "personal piece" as the airlines like to refer to it. This is also my day-to-day "briefcase." Comfortable to carry, nice internal compartments, rugged as heck. You can also stuff a lot into it in a pinch. The main downside is that the material is heavy duty so doesn't stuff down as much as I'd like when I consolidate it into another bag. Nor does it make a particularly good "man purse" for walking around town; it's too big. So I have a couple of other fanny packs or over-the-shoulder bags I carry when I don't need something bigger (as I often don't with laptops more petite than they used to be).

I tend to switch various bags around from trip to trip, so one thing I've found important is to compartmentalize contents. I use two primary bags for this.

An Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter is made out a thin, light high-tech material. (Technically I guess it’s for toiletries.) For most trips I find this is perfect for holding:

  • Spare pair(s) of reading glasses in case
  • Bottle opener (plus USB key)--thanks OpenShift by Red Hat
  • Corkscrew
  • Small first aid/medical kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Spare contact stuff
  • Travel-specific electronic adapters: e.g. ethernet dongle and ethernet cable, international plugs, car power adapter
  • Small plug-in microphone for iPhone
  • An envelope or two
  • Small plastic bags
  • Earplugs
  • Very small notebook
  • Chapstick
  • Wetnaps
  • Earplugs

For a longer trip or one that needs  more of this miscellaneous gear than average, I have a second one of these bags that I can use or I consolidate this bag and bulkier discrete items into an Eagle Creek half-cube or something along those lines.

My day-to-day mesh ditty bag that holds all my electronic cables, etc.:

  • USB plug
  • USB auto "cigarette lighter" adapter
  • USB to XYZ (Lightning, micro-USB, etc.) adapter cables
  • Hands-free adapter for telephone
  • Good ear canal headphones (I use Klipsch E6 but I'll probably splurge for Bose noise canceling ones of these days)
  • External battery to charge phone. I have a Tumi that I was given. It's bigger than my other ones but it does hold a lot of juice so that's what I carry.
  • Business cards/case
  • Remote laptop control for presentations (I use a Logitech model)
  • Any necessary dongles for laptops. (I assume VGA output only unless I've been told otherwise. I do have an HDMI dongle for my primary laptop and a retractable HDMI cable to use with hotel TVs but I don't routinely bring those.
  • Plastic "spork"
  • Small LED headlamp
  • Pens

The retractable cables are nice although, if you look at the photo, you'll see it's a bit of a hodgepodge given that some of this is stuff I've picked up at tradeshows etc. Make sure that higher-current devices like tablets will actually charge using the parts you bring.
I've tried out Chromecast and travel routers for hotel rooms but I've given that up as being too associated with the pain that happens whenever you fiddle with networking gear.

Prescription glasses in a tough case

iPhone 6

Given said iPhone 6, I don't regularly carry my Canon S100 any longer even though it shoots raw pics and has an optical zoom. I do have both Fujifilm and Canon systems as well and I'll bring one or the other--usually the Fujifilm EX-1 (along with associated batteries and chargers)--if I'm doing more serious photography.

The requisite quart Ziplock for toiletries of course.

For a long time, I looked for a travel portfolio to carry my passport, spare cash, backup credit card, and various other info/cards that I like to have with me on most trips. I had a couple tall portfolios that were too big; you don't really need a portfolio that carries a sheef of airline tickets these days. I had a nice leather one I was given that was about the right size but it didn't zip up; I stopped using it after I lost some of its contents when they fell out one trip. I finally found one by Eagle Creek that is just right for me. (They don’t seem to make the one I have any longer; this looks like the current equivalent.)

Typically my MacBook Pro (but sometimes an Asus flip-top Chromebook) plus (usually) a tablet device of some sort whether a Kindle Paperwhite or an iPad 3.

(Mostly for longer trips) a thin 8 1/2 x 11" plastic portfolio to carry tickets, printed-out information, maps, etc. Yeah, a lot of this could be (and is) on my phone but I find carrying some paper backup to often be useful.

I usually just carry my regular wallet (leather, not a lot in it, put in a bag or a side pocket) though I do have various zippered wallets that hang around the neck or otherwise aren't in a pocket that I'll sometimes take for non-city trips.

Nylon (or whatever) reusable grocery bag. Weights nothing and more and more places are starting to charge for bags. Can be handy to organize stuff as well.

I have a small lightweight mesh laundry bag I often bring but almost any sort of bag will do.

Sometimes I pack either a foldable duffle or a foldable day pack for extra space on the return leg.

I'll close by noting that I don't typically bring everything listed here on a single trip and certainly not on the all-too-typical out-and-back to a hotel and office trip. That said, I do try to keep the "standard gear" relatively compartmentalized and ready to grab and go, even if I could trim it back a bit for a given trip. Other items that aren't part of my day-to-day routine I mostly keep in a box which I can go through if I'm going to take a longer/international/more varied trip.

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