I have noticed of late a trend… a plethora of articles listing the contents of one’s laptop bag. Far be it from me to miss a writing bandwagon, so here it goes!
Laptop Bag: Firstly I should mention that I switch laptop bags with boring frequency; at present I have the Ogio VP Messenger which was a present… yes, it is branded Windows 7. However the reason I am so fond of it is because it is TSA-friendly; the main laptop pouch folds out for airport screening. You can check it out at http://www.ogio.com/product.php?product=637. It is probably my third or fourth Ogio laptop bag, and I am on my second Ogio golf bag (I gave the first to my father). They make a great product!
Laptop #1: My primary laptop is a Dell Latitude 6500, and as you can probably imagine it is pretty tricked out… 8GB RAM, 250GB hard disk, and so on. As it is my primary workstation I needed to be sure that it would do anything I needed… fast. http://www1.ca.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop_latitude_e6500?c=ca&cs=cabsdt1&l=en&s=bsd
Laptop #2: I usually carry my netbook in the same bag; A Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with 2 GB RAM and a 64GB Solid State Drive. I like being able to pull that out and work on a plane, in a cafe, or wherever I might not need the full system. It also supports Bluetooth so I can tether my phone to it for Internet connectivity where there is none. It has its own neoprene case… the side pocket is replete with USB keys of sizes from 1 GB to 16GB.
Power: Back to the laptop bag proper, I have two power supplies – one for the E6500 and one for the netbook. I wish they were the same but alas… no. When I am traveling on car trips I also carry with me the car charger kit for the E6500; on a recent journey from Toronto to Montreal this paid off when my project manager called me and asked for urgent modifications to a series of documents; I sat in the parking lot of a Rest Area, plugged the laptop into the lighter plug, tethered my cell phone for connectivity, and worked for three hours. If this kit were 90W instead of 60W I would carry it exclusively… but it is not powerful enough to charge the laptop while using it, and it is relatively heavy so it is often left in the car. (I do have a spare 6-cell battery for my laptop which I would take if I knew I was going to be unable to charge for extended periods, such as on older aircraft)
Because power jacks are often sparse I took to carrying my own power bar with me, and was delighted to find the Monster Outlets To Go Power Strip with USB (http://www.monstercable.com/productdisplay.asp?pin=4646). It is compact and folds into itself, has three 3-prong jacks, plus a USB port for charging my phone.
Speaking of power I never leave North America without a universal prong adapter… I found myself coming back from Asia on an Air France A340 from Paris which supported neither the North American jacks that I am comfortable with, nor the asian jack which I had gotten used to over the previous month. Rather than watch their bad movies for the duration I purchased the World Travel Adapter (SWA1.1) by Swiss Travel Products (http://swisstravelproducts.com/index.php?site=productview&product_id=3) from the on-board duty free shop, and have been very happy with it – in several countries.
Mice: I have two mice in my laptop bag… an Arc Mouse (http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=112) which is what I use most of the time, and a wireless notebook presenter mouse (http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=085). I love the Arc Mouse, and only wish it were Bluetooth capable. I also prefer the black one to the red, but Gingit ate it… sigh.
External Hard Drives: Depending on where I am going I usually have between 1 and 5 portable USB hard drives in the bag, plus a mini-USB cable or three. Right now I have four drives in the bag for different purposes. The mini USB cable also serves to charge my phone when I am on the road.
Networking: Two years ago I came across a Linksys Wireless-G Travel Router which I understand is no longer available; it comes in handy for several purposes, whether I am in a hotel room with a single Ethernet jack, a conference room where I want to share Internet, and a dozen other ‘I never would have thought of that!’ moments.
Headset: No frequent air traveler wants to be without noise eliminating headsets… I smiled when I read David Pogue’s article ‘What’s in Pogue’s Travel Bag? Literally.’ in the New York Times recently (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/technology/personaltech/25pogue-email.html?_r=1). We agree on the Panasonic RP-HC500, which I picked up at Fry’s in Kirkland, Washington about two years ago… I have never looked back! Unlike David though I carry mine anywhere… you never know when you will find yourself working in a cafe with higher than average noise levels! (I used to carry the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 headset & microphone, but decided it was extraneous, with a built-in microphone on the computer)
I should mention that I also carry a cute little speaker which I connect to my laptop for presentations requiring sound, or for my Zune when I don’t need the privacy. The ShoX mini speaker (http://shoxmini.com/) really does provide great sound quality!
Camera: My digital camera (Canon Digital IXUS 96015) is usually in the bag in its own case with an extra SD card… I remember getting to Hong Kong and realizing I didn’t have a camera; it was one of the best investments I have made, having since taken nearly 6,000 photos and 100 videos, many of which have found their way into articles here.
And then… Every professional presenter likely has them, or should – a package of lozenges. They have saved me on a number of occasions – most recently in Bracknell, England where I showed up but my voice didn’t!
A couple of extraneous cables (RJ-45, one proprietary cable for my secondary cell phone), pens, post-its, business cards, and a few stickers to give away. All in all my bag weighs in at about 25lbs, which is probably more than I would carry if I were taking the bus or walking… but as it is usually from the car to the office, or else attached to a suitcase on wheels, I don’t mind. My netbook case is less than 4lbs and is easier to grab and go when I don’t want to lug the whole thing… also when I am not trav
eling many of these pieces stay on my desk.
It is easy to get carried away and carry more than you need; it is equally easy to shed items that may not seem immediately necessary, but turn out to be indispensable. My experience has helped me to balance what stays and what goes, and when… as long as I am willing to lug it, who would argue with me? 🙂