Electronic devices when traveling: the must-have accessories in my carry-on bag

For some people, preparing a trip, no matter how long it is, turns into an ordeal when it comes to packing with the fear of forgetting something essential.

It is obvious that when you travel a lot you do things more and more mechanically and prepare your suitcase or your carry-on bag more or less on autopilot, but no one is safe from an oversight. If you have never been to an airport and realized that you have forgotten the charger for your computer or cell phone, be the first to blame to the neophytes and the most stressed out.

I know that a lot of things can be bought at the last minute, at the duty free or on the spot but it’s even better if you don’t have to do it, especially when it comes to things that are not necessarily cheap and sometimes not easy to find anywhere. A phone charger is easy to find and affordable, other things less so.

In this post we are going to talk about what are, for me, the essential things that I systematically put in my carry-on bag when I travel. Depending on your specific needs you may have more but, in my opinion, rarely less. It has a double vocation: to serve as a reminder and, why not, to make you discover things that you did not think of.

Have everything in duplicate (or almost)

Before I begin, I’ll start with what I consider to be a golden rule that I’ve made my own over the years: in all your electronic equipment there are things that are useful, even essential, to have in duplicate.

Indeed: there are things we use in different contexts. At home, in everyday life, at work, while traveling, on vacation…

And these things are, according to this, made to change “container”. Sometimes placed on a table at home, in your pocket, in the pocket of a coat, in the bag you use every day for your computer, in the one you take when traveling.

As far as I’m concerned, it came from the fact that I quickly started to use two different bags depending on whether I’m in my daily context or when I’m on the move, even if, a priori, I can be led to put almost the same things in them.

In my daily life, to go to the office or for a short trip of a day or two, I just need a bag thin enough to put a MacBook Air and some chargers.

On a business trip or even more so on a trip, it is often accompanied by an iPad, a Kindle, a number of documents (it can be useful to always have a hard copy of your reservations, passport, health documents…)… in short, I needed something bigger and more solid.

Two bags means frequent shifting of stuff from one to the otherand this is the best way to forget something that was left in the wrong bag.

That’s why I decided to have some elements in double or triple. Some of the things I have in my everyday belongings are doubled up in my carry-on bag and never leave it! When I have to leave, it’s almost only the computer that changes bag but my travel “setup” is already in the right bag and never leaves it.

My carry-on bag

While we’re at it, I might as well anticipate the question, I use a computer bag / document holder Alpha 3 from TUMI (from whom I also buy my suitcases but we’ll talk about it another time)

I like it for its capacity, its practicality and functionality (especially when you have a lot of things to put) which allows me to separate computer, tablet, documents, to have a pocket for chargers, one for batteries … all easily accessible. In addition, even if it is more anecdotal it is perfectly matched with my two suitcases from the same collection and that I bought shortly after as I was so satisfied with the bag.

For the record, it replaced an Air France bag that did not survive a trip to South Korea. The old Air France collections were in leather but when I bought my bag they only offered them in a kind of nylon…which didn’t survive the load nor the frequent travels and which I had to replace in Seoul after it almost exploded during a connection in Beijing.

Of the interest to choose robust things: they hold longer but, especially, do not risk to let you down at the worst moment. A piece of luggage will not, in principle, break when you are at home. So by definition it will do so at the worst possible time.

By the way this bag is available in leather and ballistic nylon…I took the second option.

Now let’s move on to the content and the “must-haves”.

A multi-device charger

How many devices do you need to charge when you travel? One or two phones ( professional and personal ), computer, tablet, kindle, camera, electronic cigarette, various batteries.

How many sockets are available to you? In a hotel room? An airport lounge? A plane?

Even in a hotel room you may not have enough outlets (especially if there are two of you). And how many times have you had to scatter your devices all over the room and on your bedside table even at the risk of forgotting one? And I’m not talking about having to carry a charger for each device and all the cables that go with it. As I used to say before: “I travel with enough cables to dry my laundry”.

Here you just need the USB cable, forget about the plugs, chargers and cables that go with it.

In short, I don’t go anywhere without a charger that allows me tocharge 6 USB devices on the same plug. For the extreme quality of the products I chose an Anker and, at the time, the Anker 360.

I say at the time because now they are doing even better and you even have models that mix USB C and USB A to also charge a laptop.

I leave the 5 cables I need the most permanently connected on it, the others being stored in the bag in case of need.

In travel configuration it looks like this.

IMG_7450

It is light and I don’t have to take with me the chargers and plugs of each device.

It also optimizes the power of each port according to the needs of each device, and has a charge booster. It therefore charges much faster than a normal charger and, for example, sends more power to my iPad than to my iPhone because the two have different needs.

When I talk about having duplicate devices…I have a charger in my travel bag, one in my everyday computer bag and one in my bedroom. That way I’m sure I’ll never forget it.

A Power Bank

Sometimes you don’t have a socket nearby and you need to be able to recharge on the move. Hence the need to carry a charged battery at all times.

Still at Anker, I chose a PowerCore 20100 mAh. Today they have much more efficient models but overall it fully recharges an iPhone 12 5 or 6 times and recharges it to 50% of its capacity in 30 minutes.

With its capacity of 20100mAh, it is at the limit tolerated for a battery on a plane. Anyway, for more comfort I recommend a 20100mAh rather than a 10000mAh, you are sure never to be caught off guard

A 4G hotspot

Since roaming fees have been abolished in Europe, we have almost forgotten that, once upon a time, it was better to turn off your data plan when abroad if you didn’t want to have to make a loan. But when you travel outside our borders the problem arises again in a painful way.

That’s why I bought a Skyroam Solis that I’ve already talked about here.

The principle is simple: you buy daily or monthly packages… (8 euros per day for unlimited data), your hotspot connects to the local 4G and you connect to the hotspot via Wifi. Experience shows that it is sometimes even faster than some hotel wifis(and definitely more secure).

Its weak point is its size: it fits in a coat or jacket pocket, otherwise it’s better to have a bag on you because it’s complicated in a pants pocket.

With this, you can enjoy using data as if you were at home. But it’s more than just comfort: even if things are getting better, you can’t find free wifi everywhere abroad and it’s still very useful to use Google Maps, to get information on a touristic spot, to buy a ticket for an exhibition without queuing or simply to book a cab, Uber or other.

One AirTag

For those who don’t know it yet, the AirTag is a tracker that allows you to locate an object you attach it to. As far as I’m concerned, I have an Airtag in each suitcase (I said in, not attached to the outside…), on my carry-on bag and on my key ring.

No need to explain its usefulness: to know if your suitcase has been loaded and has arrived or is well arrived at your connecting airport, to have an alert if you move away from your keys (or if they move away from you…)…

But the device is not magic. You have certainly read a lot of articles explaining how people have been able to find luggage lost by airlines, stolen suitcases or keys…

In a future article (I am waiting for the final word) you will also learn that if your suitcase was stolen from the airline under its responsibility, that they don’t care about it and that you go to the French police and tell them that you know where the suitcase is…well, no one will take care of it in spite of your complaint.

Let’s just say that the AirTag alerts you in case of forgetfulness and allows you to anticipate things (misplaced luggage in connection) and understand them. But if the people who should act don’t, it won’t bring your stuff back alone.

A comfortable headset

When you want to listen to music or watch a movie on a plane, you quickly realize that it’s a really noisy environment. Even if the Airpods that I use every day have made progress over time, in my opinion they are not comfortable enough on a plane when the first thing I do when I sit down is to take out my iPad to watch a movie or a series. Yes, I am one of those who have stopped using the individual screens on the planes.

So I have a BOSE QC35 II in my bag that I do not use in any other context. It is solid (considering what it has been through and the number of hours of use), and reproduces a sound of excellent quality.

I have often been suggested to switch to the AirPod Max but for the price…no way, I’m sticking with my good old BOSE.

Bottom line

Depending on your own needs you may have other “essentials” but for me this is more than enough. This has, maybe if you put the helmet aside, a very “practical” side but that’s the objective: 2 or 3 multi-purpose devices that allow you to never be caught unprepared and avoid you, moreover, to burden yourself with redundant tools.

And you, what are the must-haves for your carry-on bag to accompany your electronic devices.

Photo : electronic devices in travek by LiliGraphie via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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