I travel quite a bit for both business and for fun, and I can’t think of the last time I went somewhere without some tech in tow, whether a digital camera, my mobile phone, iPad, laptop or netbook, or some other gizmo. These devices are so much a part of our lives that it’s hard for us to go anywhere without them. But how can we take them with us in a way that makes sense, keeps them accessible and organized, and doesn’t leave us with a huge and heavy carry-on bag?
Consolidate. This may seem like strange advice coming from a huge gadget fan, but when traveling, my general philosophy is “the fewer devices, the better.” The less you bring with you, the fewer devices you have to worry about losing, the fewer chargers you need to bring, and less you have to carry. One way to bring less tech with you is to leverage something you probably already use all the time – your mobile phone. Your cell phone can do so much for you – and can save you tons of bulk during a trip by consolidating the functions of many other devices into one. Especially if you have a current smartphone, you can often leave your digital camera, mp3 player, portable video game, camcorder, and GPS unit behind. Granted, you may not get every single feature that you’d have with each and every individual device, but the benefit of leaving them at home is far less bulk, and less to lose. One note: if you’re traveling abroad, make sure to review your data service plan or turn off your data (just leave your phone in flight mode) to avoid exorbitant roaming charges.
Charge smart. It used to be that every device needed its own charger, which can add lots of bulk to your travel case. I remember the days when I’d bring a charger for my laptop, my camera, my cell phone, my mp3 player, and my portable video game – and I’d try to shoehorn it all into one small bag. By the time I was done, my carry-on would be filled with chargers and cords! Luckily, that’s no longer the case. Many current devices can be charged via the USB port on your computer, or via a wall charger with a USB port. Instead of carrying around a wall adapter for each device, instead carry one USB-equipped wall adapter, and use a USB charging cable for your device (most devices, including cell phones, mp3 players, and many digital cameras, already come with such a cable). If you’re bringing your laptop with you, you may not even need to bring the wall adapter at all!
Organize and contain. Even if you have whittled down your devices to just one or two and have consolidated your cables to the bare minimum, you’re still going to have to deal with what can often be a tangled mess. What you don’t want is to open your bag and have to untie a big knot of cables – that’s no way to get a trip started on the right foot! Instead, make sure you’re using the right tools to help organize your cables and keep your devices safe. You’ll want to make sure you have a space for each of your devices, along with any chargers, adapters, extra memory cards, and the like.
When I travel, I like to use the Grid-It (http://www.cocooninnovations.com/grid.php) system to help keep all my chargers and cables organized. What’s great about this particular system is that it’s flexible and adaptable to whatever combination of gizmos and cables you happen to have with you, and it holds your stuff securely. I also like the Kangaroom Personal Media Pouch (http://bit.ly/pmOMoU) which can hold your devices and cables and then can slip into your larger laptop bag or briefcase.
These days, we all travel with something that has a button or a battery. What do you do to keep your tech organized when you travel?