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My Travelling Tech Gear

While on a project, a bunch of us sat in the “war room” for more than 7 months. During the time, we often talked about various technologies, including what we carry with us from day-to-day. When someone would mention some cool gadget they had, of course, in short order, many others in the room would buy the same gadget. It gets contagious. So I thought I would list what I carry from day-to-day.

My backpack of choice is the Tumi Business Class Brief Pack. This is a durable Checkpoint Friendly backpack. If you’re not familiar with Checkpoint Friendly bags and backpacks, they are bags designed to help you breeze through airport security. They do this by keeping the laptop area completely separate from the rest of the bag. That area unzips partially from the rest of the bag so that while it’s going through the x-ray, it’s clearly visible.

I’m in airports about a hundred times a year, so not having to take out my laptop and put it into a bin by itself is quite convenient. The rest of the gear that gets crammed into the backpack includes:

  1. Lenovo X1 Carbon with an i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. This thing has a 256GB SSD. It’s MUCH lighter that my previous beast.
  2. Toshiba 14″ USB powered monitor. This is one of the best items I’ve purchased. This gives me a multi-screen solution while at customer sites.
  3. Bose QC20 noise cancelling earphones. These replaced my QC3 headphones just to conserve space and weight.
  4. Microsoft Touch Mouse. One, two, and three finger gestures.
  5. Satechi Portable Energy Station. Always convenient to recharge things like the iPad, Kindle, or cell phone when in an area that has no outlets, like smaller airport terminals.
  6. Griffin Technology USB mini-cable set
  7. 6′ stereo audio cable
  8. 6′ HDMI cable. Great for watching movies from the laptop on the hotel TV.
  9. Bose MIE2 earphones. Great for listening to hair metal, or taking the occasional call. These are very comfortable, and are my headset of choice for long cell calls.
  10. An audio “Y” cable
  11. A Square reader. This is perfect for when I need to perform a credit card transaction. Works great with the iPad. And it’s free.
  12. A pair of Oakley reading glasses
  13. 12′ CAT6 LAN cable (that rarely gets used)
  14. A small prescription bottle with meds and various medical remedies like Aleve and cold/sinus medication.
  15. CountyComm Compact Battery Holder with 4 AA batteries for my mouse.
  16. 2 Sandisk 32GB thumbdrives. One is bitlocker encrypted (just like my laptop drives). The other is a bootable Win 8.1 unit that also has all of my laptop software in case I need to reload on the road (which happened once when the primary SSD on my Dell laptop failed).
  17. A  compact Microsoft 3 port surge protector. It’s small and comes in handy in conference rooms where there are never enough outlets, as well as in areas where power can be unpredictable.
  18. 3x Startech 6″ USB Micro cables.
  19. 2x Startech 6″ USB Mini cables.
  20. 3′ USB extension cable
  21. Jabra Speak 410 Bluetooth speakerphone that also works great as a microphone into Microsoft OneNote.
  22. Platronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset. REALLY cool unit that even recharges in the case!
  23. 13″ Apple MacBook Pro w/ Retina Scan
  24. Apple Magic Mouse
  25. PlugBug World
  26. The Ethernet dongle for the X1
  27. Hardware tokens including RSA, and the one for my code signing certs
  28. A couple of small screwdrivers that fit the tiny screws on laptops
  29. An SD card reader
  30. A small card/organizer that has membership cards for all of my travel accounts, including air, hotel, rental car, etc. I also keep all of my courtesy coupons in there.
  31. A small micro-fiber cloth and small brush to keep the laptop screen and keyboard clean.

Many of the cables and small items are attached to a Cocoon GridIt to keep them organized, as well as keeping them somewhat flattened out to make it easier for TSA to see things on the x-ray. The GridIt comes in a ton of various sizes.

Some things that are usually in my roll-aboard (summer) or Scottevest Fleece 5.0 (24 pockets – spring/fall) or Scottevest Revolution jacket (26 pockets – winter) include

  1. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 digital camera

The only reason these last items aren’t in my backpack isn’t because of space. It’s TSA. Too much gear crammed into the compartments of the backpack makes it hard for the TSA folks to get a clear view via X-ray, and results in having to remove some items and have the backpack rescanned. That’s of course, counter-productive to having this particular backpack. I don’t use either of these too often, but keep them handy just in case. The items in my backpack are carefully placed in specific locations to avoid TSA issues. I have, however, been asked by TSA several times about the Toshiba monitor. It folds pretty flat, and some agents are just intrigued by it.

And items that are always in my roll-aboard:

  1. 2nd power supply for the laptop
  2. power supply for the Surface Pro

These are generally used in my hotel room. If I’m on a long-term project and have a dedicated seat or cube, I often bring a Dell docking station to leave at the site with a power supply. This makes things more convenient.

Yes. The backpack is heavy. But that really doesn’t bother me, and I sometimes walk 1/2 mile or more from a hotel to a client site.

Some things that have previously been in my backpack, but have been replaced by other gear:

  1. Dell Precision M4500 laptop. It has an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and two SSD drives. The 15.6″ screen works great. A 3M privacy screen helps when using the laptop in an airport or on a plane.
  2. iPad 64GB 3G. This will likely be replaced soon with a Samsung Series 7 slate running Windows 8.
  3. Kindle DX. This is the larger screen model which is great for reading tech books with screenshots.
  4. Polycom CX100 USB speakerphone. I use this for Lync calls occasionally.
  5. Jawbone Jambox (Black Diamond). This is relatively new to the backpack. Great sound and much more convenient when on conference calls, or when calling PSS.
  6. Plantronics Voyager Pro+  wireless headset.
  7. Kindle cable and AC adapter
  8. FitBit base station
  9. A super small microphone. This plugs into the laptop, and is used by OneNote when I’m at conferences to capture the presenter’s voice while I take notes.
  10. Garmin nuvi 680 GPS and car mount
  11. Bose Bluetooth headset
  12. Bose QuietComfort 3 noise cancelling headphones
  13. 6′ VGA cable.
  14. A Verizon 4G/LTE MiFi that gets used heavily. I use this at conferences (where WiFi can be sporadic at best), in hotel rooms (for connectivity for laptop and tablet), and client locations where the MiFi might provide quick, unfiltered Internet access.
  15. Plantronics .Audio 470 USB headset. Perfect for long calls. Long cable, audio in both ears, comfy….
  16. Microsoft Surface Pro w/ 64GB microSD card and type cover

So, what am I missing? If you have a piece of gear that you simply can’t live without when traveling, comment below.

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  1. December 26th, 2011 at 14:10 | #1

    I heard of the Toshiba 14″ USB powered monitor from your site and promptly purchased one for myself. It is bar none one of the most valuable and used items in my travel bag. Thanks much!

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