Packing Light: My Minimalistic Tech Travel List

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Packing Light: My Minimalistic Tech Travel List

Traveling with Technology

I just returned from a great little five day trip to southern California. I wasn’t there doing my regular business — but I was doing a little work with a national video company that hires me (and my significant other) to travel around and work something completely different several times a year.

Since I wasn’t going to be doing my regular work, and since we were trying to avoid any kind of checked personal luggage, we wanted to pack and travel light. Of course, I ALWAYS want to travel light. I’ve been known to travel for a week on business and carry only a carry-on and a laptop bag.

This time, I wanted to try to go as minimal as possible and still be able to function if I had a client emergency while I was away — oh, and I didn’t want to take my laptop.

This was the first time I’ve flown since 9/11. I’d decided when all the security stuff went into place that I was finished flying in this lifetime. It’s been THAT many years and I’ve stuck to the “if I can’t drive there, I don’t need to go there” mindset. I even quit planning overseas travel that I always wanted to do. I decided it just wasn’t worth it to fly.

With that said, I had to actually look up all the regulations on what was permissible and what was not. This only strengthened my decision that taking less was the only option. Packing few clothes was easy. Packing few toiletries was a snap. Packing my tech stuff was a challenge.

No Laptop

Without a laptop, I still needed to have a way to work, if I needed to do so. I didn’t plan on working, but you can never tell when something will happen… and it did, so I’m glad I had that covered.

What I Took

  • Android Bionic – This smartphone has the best radio for getting signals of any phone under any carrier. I even downgraded from a more up-to-date model to get the superior radio. I have an extended battery and carry the phone “nekkid” without any case. It is my phone and my Internet connection. It keeps me connected.
  • Slim BT Keyboard – Yes, there are smaller options, there are even “fold up” options for this, but after trying many MANY of these options, I decided to sacrifice the space and weight for this option so I could work without wanting to curse.
  • I type quickly, I “hammer” the keys on any keyboard. It’s how I learned to type, it’s how I will always type, I’ve quit trying to change that about myself. I need a full-sized, sturdy keyboard. Period.
  • Nexus 7 – This was my laptop replacement, my right hand (just like it is at home and in the office when I’m more than a healthy stride away from my laptop). I took the purple low-profile swivel case for my Nexus 7, so I could watch it on the airport trays in landscape or portrait (and of course on the bedside stand in the hotel) all while keeping it slim and lightweight for travel.
  • The Nexus was also set up to be my entertainment and client file access point by using the Nexus Media Importer app by Homeysoft. I also loaded up a couple missed episodes of Walking Dead for the planeride (using the tTorrent Lite app by tagsoft). So, I had my books (Kindle App), my movies, my “catch up” reading materials (Pocket app by Read It Later) for informing and amusing myself when I was offline and a lighter weight option for both on and offline when I did have a good wifi connection with my phone or the hotel wifi.
  • Charging Cords – I took two. My main one, a flat purple one that wouldn’t get tangled no matter what happened to is and a micro short one that folds up into a key fob (for a charging emergency).
  • Charging Block – I have a slender HTC one that is a quick charger (2.1 amps rather than the standard 1.0).
  • USB drive – I carried my 128 GB Backup Flash Drive and added a USB 2.0 Female micro USB converter cable to be able to access, read, and alter my client files on the road. It was also where I stored a few movies and a more extensive music selection than I keep on my tablet… just in case. A definite keeper (and so tiny!)
  • Earphones – Unfortunately, the earphones I took crapped out mid-flight and I had to buy a new pair of earphones for the return trip.
  • Earphone splitter – I got this to share a movie with my boyfriend on the trip.
  • Battery power pack – This pocket sized battery pack would charge my phone twice (to full capacity). Whenever my pack wasn’t in use, I had it charging. It was a lifesaver for on the plane and in those places where I had no access to an outlet. I’ll never leave home without it again. No extra cords are needed, and I used my standard cord and charging block to juice it up.
  • My Favorite Stylus – I took this for taking quick notes using my handwriting app (Hand-rite Free by NC Corp.)

What I Wish I’d Taken/What I Should Have Left

  • Charging Cords – Next time, I’ll trade the micro short one for cool, short charging one I have on order that uses a magnet attachment to create a bracelet. I might even take two of these, since cords were always in short supply. What could be better for travel than that?
  • Earphone Splitter – The problem was volume. By splitting the signal, neither of us could hear the movie — even though I was using the Sound Booster app. Fail. Sound was fine without the splitter. I’ll leave this at home next time.
  • Earphones – I’ll have a nicer set before next trip because it’s really hard to go from my amazing V-MODA earphones at home to earbuds on a plane. If I weren’t packing uber-light, I’d take the V-Modas with me! If I ever go for an extended trip, I will take them and just deal with the loss in room for other items.
  • Charging Blocks – Before I go anywhere again, I’m going to see if I can find a slim dual charger that offers two high-powered  (2.1A) USB plugs for one outlet. Most of the ones I’ve seen so far either offer only one fast powered one, or split the current between two devices. Neither is an acceptable option. If you are traveling, be sure you have at least one 2.1 amp charger for faster charges while you are on the move. I may opt to carry one uber-charger to leave at the hotel room and keep the slender one with me. Night-time charges were the most difficult with only a single block since I was carrying a tablet, a smartphone and a battery pack (all of which needed charged at the end of the day). Having full charges each morning would have reduced the “oh crap, I need a plug” instances during the journey.
  • Car Charger – I didn’t carry my rapid car charger. If I’d thought that one out (we were going to be in a rental car once we arrived), I would have brought one. Next time I will. (We bought one once we landed out of desperation.)
  • My Stylus – I lost my favorite stylus on this journey. It was “clipped” to the inside of my Nexus case (just clipped with the pocket clip). It must have fallen out during boarding or disembarking the first plane. I won’t take another one without a good way to secure it (either a case that offers that, or can be altered to create that) or a pen-pocket in a bag. I HATE that I lost it. It took me forever to find a really good one. Now I’ll have to buy another.

This was a good trip overall and for a first longer, leaner trip with the tech, I’m pleased. All my tech stuff came in at under five pounds — including the bag I carried it in (which also held my lip balm, hairbrush, cash, cards, tickets and gum. Just a little tweaking (and maybe a quick order from Amazon) and the next one will be even better!

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