my road warrior arsenal

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I don't travel nearly as much as some of my international jet-setting friends, but I do travel enough that I've assembled a nice collection of portable tools to make traveling more productive and less stressful. Since many of them are currently making my five-hour layover in Newark more tolerable, I thought I'd share the list with you, my faithful readers.

Computing Devices

iPhone: 'nuff said, right? phone, iPod, portable computing with always-on networking.

Asus 1005ha netbook: My newest toy. Less than 3 pounds, nice bright screen, reasonably workable processor, wifi/ethernet, video out, 3 USB ports, 170GB drive, 10 hours of battery life. Did I mention it's less than 3 pounds? Fits neatly into the side pocket of my camera bag, which means I can bring my camera (see below) when I travel, and still not have to check a bag. And it cost less than $400!

Canon EOS 30D camera: Gerald bought me this camera two years ago, and because it was so hard to carry it and a big-ass 17" powerbook I didn't take it with me nearly as much as I would have liked when I traveled. I'm so happy to be able to bring it with me on this trip, due to the reduced bulk and weight of the netbook vs the macbook. I have the 18-55mm kit lens, and a 70-300mm IS telephoto lens.

Accessories

XBrand Laptop Desk: I bought this back when my first-gen MacBook Pro was burning my lap through my clothes, but even with the netbook it's useful--it keeps the computer from sliding off my lap, and, more importantly, gives me a little mouse shelf. I get a lot of wrist pain if I work exclusively with a trackpad, so I always use a mouse when I can. This makes it easy for me to do so even when there's no desk nearby.

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Mouse: I've been using this mouse for years, and it continues to be my absolute favorite--not just for traveling. I have fairly small hands, and many "standard" mice are just too big for me. This fits my hand perfectly, and the ergonomics are just right.

Apple Airport Express: I still have two of the first-gen versions of these, and I always bring one with me when I travel. It's particularly useful if my hotel room only has wired access--I plug in the airport express, and have instant wifi. If I'm traveling alone I can use the computer from bed instead of being tethered to a desk, and if I'm traveling with someone else we can share the wifi while only paying for one computer's connection. (It's wise to bring an Ethernet cable, too, whether or not you have the airport express; you never know when the hotel's "free internet" might require you to buy an $8 ethernet cable from them.

Monster's Outlets-to-Go Portable Power Strip: I love this bit of "social hardware", which allows me to share scarce outlets on the road with others--and also means I spend a lot less time unplugging lamps in hotel rooms so that I can charge my computer and phone simultaneously.

Etymotic ER6i In-Ear Earphones: I bought these several years ago, and I still love them. Perfect for traveling, since they're less bulky and power-hogging than sound-isolating headphones, but still block out a huge amount of background noise in airports and airplanes.

Software

TripIt: This amazing website and iphone app combo is a traveler's dream. You can simply forward your travel confirmation emails to it, and it automatically builds a detailed itinerary for you on the website. The itinerary is then available on the iPhone app (even when you're not online), and can be shared with others. Useful for both me and Gerald when I travel, since he has all my travel details in one place. (Free, with a paid pro version that I don't need or use.)

Evernote: This is a really lovely note-taking application for Macs, Windows, and iPhones. It syncs your notes to the web, allowing all your devices to easily share and coordinate notes. I can take a note on my Mac, access it on my iPhone, and edit it on my NetBook. Once notes are sync'ed they're available offline. I keep all my frequent traveler numbers in this, instead of carting around all the cards. When I get to a hotel or airline desk, I can easily retrieve the relevant number whether or not I'm online. Evernote's coolest feature, however, is its ability to extract and index text not just from your typed notes, but also from images--so I can take a photo of a whiteboard with my phone, add it to Evernote, and then be able to search based on the text written on the board (or the napkin, or the business card, or anything else that I've captured an image of). The basic version that I use is free; a paid version gives you an ad-free interface on your computer (I don't find the ads intrusive), and more storage space.

Boingo Wireless: I signed up for Boingo last year, back when it was $9.95/month for three months and then went to $21.95/month. It was still worth it--on a given trip, I typically save $40-$50 because I almost never have to pay for airport or hotel wifi. The problem is they don't allow you to use it on your iPhone, which is an issue for me only if I'm traveling overseas (because data roaming internationally is ridiculously expensive). When I logged onto Boingo's site last night to sign up for a month of mobile access for my phone I realized they'd lowered their monthly price for the laptop service to 9.95, but I was still being charged $21.95--happily, they changed it as soon as I called them. That means that if I add the mobile, which is $7.95/month, it would still be less than I was paying. However, I really don't need the mobile unless I'm traveling internationally, so I doubt I'll keep it after the 30-day free trial that I'm using for this trip.

Kindle Reader for iPhone: I have no intention of buying a Kindle (even less so after the ironic and enlightening episode last week where they removed purchased copies of two books--Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, believe or not--from customers' devices. And I won't buy DRM versions of books I might ever want to share with someone else. But for trashy airplane reading, this is a great way to avoid the bulk of paper copies. I find it very readable, despite my rapidly aging eyes.

1 Comment

I'm looking forward to how the netbook worked for you.

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This page contains a single entry published on July 22, 2009 3:03 PM.

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