My Geeked Out Road Warrior Survival Pack
I've built up a respectible arsenal of gadgets and devices while logging almost 200,000 miles in frequent flier miles this year.
Some are necessities, and some are just for fun. Some are just to keep my sanity on longer trips like the one I'm taking this week to Cologne, Germany.
My geeked out road warrior survival pack includes everything from a lithium-ion battery pack that gives my iphone 2 extra charges, to a sleek pair of noise canceling Bose headphones that block out the majority of jet airplane engine noises.
It also makes a great Christmas shopping list for the business traveler or technology addict in your life ;-)
Here's my Letterman's countdown of top ten must-have gadgets when traveling for business or pleasure:
10. Starbuck's Via 3-pack. Technology aside... Let's face it - hotel room coffee tastes horrible no matter what brand they use.
I really need a good cup of coffee to start the day off right (especially for east coast trips where it feels like I'm getting up at 4 a.m.) and these instant coffee packs from Starbucks are just as good as the real thing. You can get hot water from just about anywhere, including an in-room coffee maker without the coffee grounds.
9. iPod nano with armband. Yes, I have an iPhone too (see #1 below) but a small ipod is more convenient for working out, and also provides more hours of music for helping long flights go by faster.
8. Camera. I bring my Nikon D50 DSLR camera along with a 300mm zoom lens when I want to be sure and capture the city views in high quality (and I usually have some time after business hours for touring the city).
That's probably overkill for shorter trips, but my new Canon Powershot 12.1 MP Digital Camera shown below is the perfect size for travelers and records HD video as well.
The Canon has 12.1 megapixels and 3x optical zoom, and will give you much better pictures then your cell phone, blackberry or iphone camera - it also slips right into your pocket because it's only about 3 inches wide and a half inch thin.
7. Web cam with Skype. With 3 kids at home, a mid-week video chat session makes a big difference on the family front. Skype also lets you make free calls over the internet to any other Skype users, which saves a ton of money for international calls.
6. Low profile projector. As an educator, my business trips involve a full day's worth of presentations, and there's nothing worse then staring all day at an old projector image.
I use an InFocus IN15 projector with a bright 2500 lumens. It's only 10 inches wide and an inch and a half thick, so it slides into my laptop bag or slips easily into my suitcase.
5. Bose noise canceling headphones. I bought a pair of Quiet Comfort 15s last week and they've been great for reducing noise on my bus commute back and forth to work. I'm looking forward to using them on the long flight over to Germany this week.
4. Extra laptop battery pack. Truth be told, I find it hard to get much work done on airplane rides. It's very crowded in economy and there's just not enough elbow room, which makes it hard to type anything.
Laptops are great for watching movies though, especially if you've ripped them from DVD into video format. DVD movies drain laptop batteries quickly by having to physically spin the DVD disc.
Videos on the other hand just run from your hard drive, which takes less battery power, although I still find that I need the extra battery pack to finish watching a full length 2.5 hour movie.
3. Backup drive with Norton Ghost recovery software. I've been fortunate in over a year of serious travel, and haven't had my laptop die on the road.
So far the closest I've come to a complete disaster was when I accidentally downloaded the Facebook video virus earlier this year, and spent the night and morning before my training session frantically cleaning off my system. That was before I had a good backup system in place.
It's comforting to know that my entire system is backed up on a 250 GB Maxtor backup drive that's about the size of a 3 by 5 index card and slides easily into a pocket in my laptop bag. Thanks to Norton Ghost, it would only take about 45 minutes to restore all my files and operating system to a new hard drive if necessary.
It's very important for me to stay connected to the internet regardless of my location, and this Aircard with AT&T service gives me 3G connection speeds around the world.
I use my Aircard daily on the bus for an extra hour or so of work on my laptop, and I use it in airports or hotels where wifi isn't free.
1. iPhone with extra battery pack and usb extension cord.
Last but definitely not least, is my iPhone. It's essentially my third hand when I travel, with apps like Google Maps that helps me find my client's offices, or games that keep me entertained, or language apps that help me learn German and Spanish.
iPhones are an essential gadget for travelers, and especially for international travelers (check out my list of Top Ten iPhone International Travel Tips).
One thing I discovered early on with my iPhone is that they eat up batteries like a 10-year old slurps down chocolate milk at dinner time.
That's where the Tekkeon lithium-ion batter pack comes into play, combined with a 3-foot usb extension cord.
The Tekkeon gives me at least 2 full iPhone charges and the usb extension cable lets me keep working comfortably while plugged into the battery pack down in my laptop.
Those are the top 10 items in my Geeked Out Road Warrior Survival Pack. What's in your survival pack?