In a typical year, I’ll travel internationally five to seven times and interstate 15-25 times. With many of the domestic trips being day trips, all up I spend over a hundred days on the road. And I’ve been doing that for the last three or four years. Over that time I’ve refined my traveling routine, learning from my mistakes and adapting to the changing security rules at airports. Here’s what I carry.
Day trips are the easiest to prepare for. But my goal is to be a minimalist – I’m going to have to carry a satchel or backpack around all day so keeping the load light is essential.
One of the benefits of attending lots of conferences and events is a plethora of backpacks and satchels to choose from as a result of collecting conference swag over the years. I’m not sure of the make and model of my current backpack but it’s light and comfortable. It lacks waist and chest straps but as I need to get the pack on and off quickly as I move from meeting to meeting that’s not a big deal – this is for work, not going on a hike.
Inside, there’s a compartment for my notebook computer and a smaller one that is perfect for my iPad mini (which I use for reading and watching videos on planes, and for speaking notes if I’m presenting or MCing an event. An outside pocket is good for my wallet and there’s an external compartment for a drink bottle.
Aside from the laptop and iPad mini, I carry a power supply for the laptop and two small bags – one with a USB-C hub and charging brick, and another with charging cables for my iPhone, Apple Watch and micro-USB devices. The bags, by the way, are the small toiletry bags they give out at the pointy end of the plane. They make great accessory carriers so you don’t end up with next of cables in your bag.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a must if you spend time on aircraft. Even if not connected to anything, they can dull the aircraft’s drone and make sleeping easier on long haul flights. I have a pair of Bose QC20 buds that work really well. I also have a pair of the larger QC15s at home but I’ve stopped using those when I travel as they’re quite big.
The case for the earbuds can hold the Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle so I can use them with my iPhone as well as the adapter for connected stanndard headphones to the two-pronged aircraft audio system.
In case all my batteries fail, I also carry a couple of magazines.
Overnight domestic trips
For overnight domestic trips, if I can’t carry everything in my backpack then I use a cabin-sized rollaway. My advice for domestic travel – do it with carry on unless absolutely avoidable. On busy routes, the need for airlines to turn planes around quickly means exiting planes is fast now. Most of the time time you’ll be at the carousel well before luggage is unloaded, even if you have priority baggage service.
My carry on for international trips and one-day domestic trips is pretty much the same with one exception. I carry printed copies of my flight itinerary, hotel bookings, event invitations and other documentation to support why I’m entering the country.
This is partly driven by paranoia but I had an experience at San Francisco airport. After printing my boarding pass and checking my luggage at a kiosk I queued up at security only to be refused passage when I reached the front of the queue. The kiosk that printed my boarding pass only printed my initials and not full name. The security guy would only let me pass with a printed copy of my itinerary.
Also, if I’m questioned about my trip as I pass through customs, I can produce proof about the reason for my trip without logging in to my computer or smartphone.
With travel adapters, I have two multi-country adapters that also have a pair of USB ports for charging mobile devices. I carry one in my carry-on and the other in my checked luggage.
Apps and services
When it comes to travel apps, TripIt is a must. I’ve reviewed it before but its ability to handle all my flight accommodation car parking and other related bookings is super useful.
Access to roaming data when overseas is getting easier with all the Australian carriers offering different connectivity options when out of the country. I used to carry a second phone and grab a local SIM but I find that to be a pain.
I’m a Telstra customer and they offer a business plan that delivers 35GB of local data, unlimited calls and text locally and internationally, and 1.5GB of overseas data each month. I can share that with two other numbers.
There are also roaming packs with Optus and Vodafone.
The trick with these is making sure they are ready to go before you leave.
With credit cards, many companies prefer you let them know you’re leaving the country so your cards aren’t blocked when they detect overseas transactions and flag them as potentially fraudulent. I use one credit card when overseas and the supplier is aware that I travel so I don’t have to call them every time I travel.
What are your tech travel tips?