As Macworld|iWorld is upon us I’m starting to put together my travel bag. Being a geek, I spend more time these days packing my tech bag than my clothing bag. Over the years I’ve tried to streamline my gadget packing down to the bare essential and after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally got it. Since being turned on to the idea in a recent Workflows episode with Alex Lindsay, I’ve started using the Cocoon Grid System to organize my tech accessories. The Cocoon comes in various shapes and sizes, but I picked the model that is the same size as my laptop so they’ll always fit together in the same bag. With the Cocoon packed I now only have to grab two things for my various travel bags and I’m to go for most any situation, my MacBook Air and my Cocoon.
So, here’s a look at my travel bag with explanations:
- Apple USB Ethernet Adapter: This may seem like a silly addition in a world of ubiquitous Wi-Fi, but there are still times when you just need to plug in and the MacBook Air does not have an Ethernet port. Wi-Fi at hotels can be iffy at best and when speaking at conferences, especially tech conferences, there are generally Ethernet ports available for guests and speakers to connect and access content. In fact, at WWDC, the only way you can download the gigantic developer released at the show is via wired connection. For $29, this is a small adapter to throw in your bag and priceless if you need it. The only downside is this adapter does not support Gigabit, but it still is much faster than most Wi-Fi.
- 3-Grounded Outlet Adapter: There are all kinds of travel adapters, including those that have built in surge protectors. However when space is at a premium I wanted something small and mobile. This 3-outlet adapter is very small and will allow three grounded (or not) cables to plug in to a single outlet. This is great for airports or conferences when power outlets are at a minimum. When the power plugs are already taken, it’s a lot easier to ask to jump in when you have an adapter that will allow you to share the power with your new friends.
- Callpod: This is one of the ultimate travel accessories. The Callpod allows you to charge up to six mobile devices at the same time. You can purchase specific adapters to match your devices. In my case I have 2 30-pin dock adapters for my iPad and iPhone, 1 mini-USB adapter for my Richard|Solo backup battery and 2 mini-USB adapters for my Mophie Juicepack and other accessories. Item 3a in the photo is the Callpod body while item 3b are the adapters that power my devices. When all connected together it looks like a giant octopus of tech.
- Logitech Wireless Presenter: I tend to give a lot of presentations both at my local Mac Users Groups and when I’m traveling for work and at various conferences. I previously traveled with an Apple wireless remote (great because it doubled as a remote for the AppleTV) but since the MacBook Air doesn’t have an IR port, I’ve found this inexpensive presenter works well for me. This presenter isn’t the fanciest, but it gets the job done and also includes a laser pointer.
- Apple Airport Express: This is another devices that is great for travel. These days I travel with multiple network connected devices including MacBook Air, an iPhone, an iPad and sometimes an AppleTV. If I’m traveling with someone else, they probably have their own host of Internet connected devices. For optimal results, these devices all need to be connected to the same network and be able to talk to the other. Some hotels will provide a wired connection in the room (always preferred to Wi-Fi) but that’s only good for connecting one device at a time and not always in a convenient spot. Plugging in the Airport Express allows me to create my own sub-network with an additional level of security to connect all my devices. Even if the hotel doesn’t have a wired port, I still travel with the Airport Express as I frequently travel with an AppleTV and in order to stream content from my computer, iPad or iPhone, they need to be on the same network which I use the Airport express to create.
- Griffin Mini-Cable Kit: When out and about the last thing I want to do is deal with a tangle of various cables. Griffin offers a pack of mini-cables that are around 3” long. The set includes a 30-pin dock connector a mini-USB cable and a micro-USB cable. That combination of 3 cables covers just about everything I need. The cables do support charging and syncing so I find no need to carry the longer cables when on the road. Less mess, less fuss.
- Twelve South PlugBug: This is the newest addition to my travel kit but one that I can already tell will make the greatest difference. The PlugBug attaches to the top of the standard Apple MacBook Power Adapter and adds a 10 Watt USB power port. This is good enough to charge an iPhone or an iPad on the road, but used when in conjunction with the Callpod (see item 3) I can now power my Macbook Air and all my mobile devices off a single plug. Of course, the more items you add to the chain, the slower they’re all going to charge, but I’ve found it more than adequate to charge up all my devices overnight. The PlugBug does add a little more bulk to my MacBook Air power adapter, but not too much and it keeps me from having to bring a separate power adapter for the Callpod so saves me space overall.
- Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter - Nothing fancy here - but if you give presentations and connect your Mac to a projector this is a necessity.
- Richard|Solo 1800: This is the all purpose battery charger I like to take on the road with me for extra juice. the Richard|Solo will fully charge my iPhone and then some. It will charge just about any device with a 30-pin dock connector and while it doesn’t officially support the iPad because of its increased power requirements, it will work to trickle charge in a pinch. While the Richard|Solo is always in my gear bag, I do carry a Mophie JuicePack Air on my iPhone whenever traveling for more than a day trip or when I expect to be away from power for an extended period of time.