In the first part of the article, Travel Tips For Your Laptop, Part I, I went over how to get your computer ready for a trip. Now I’ll continue on with some of the tricks of the trade that the consultants and I have developed over the years to make traveling easier, and more painless. Let’s talk a little bit about luggage and gear.
Get The Right Computer Bag
A good computer bag can make the difference between showing up at a client looking haggard and hurried or presenting a professional and prepared image. First off, ditch the bag with a strap. If you have your laptop, an extra battery, maybe an external drive, you’re going to be putting a lot of stress on your shoulder. It can also slip off when you get bumped- dropping thousands of dollars worth of equipment onto the ground. Finally the shoulder bags tend to wrinkle your suit or dress. You want a bag that will not add to the stress of your trip, or to you fatigue as you invariably have to walk to the furthest point in the terminal to catch your connecting flight. We’ve had great luck with the Samsonite Wheeled Portfolio Computer Case. This bag has enough room for your laptop, the associated peripherals with room to spare for reading/presentation materials, and several well thought out additions, such as a clip to hold your keys in the front pocket. There’s organizers for pens, and pouch that holds a business card holder nicely. There’s also a few removable, zipped mesh bags that are held in place via velcro. You can put all the little parts of your cell phone, or ipod in one, and know exactly where that charger is, or never lose that USB thumb drive again. Walking through the Denver airport, I pulled it with one finger, so the handle while rugged, balances out the load perfectly. It also stows comfortably in an overhead bin, or under the seat. It’s simply the best travel bag for a laptop we’ve found.
Gadgets for the Road Warrior
First off, you’re going to need more USB ports. Invariably you’ll need to plug in your blackberry, or USB external drive, and you’ll be out of slots on the computer. A simple and quick solution is the USB Squid, which allows you turn your last USB port into 4. It’s particularly handy because each port is on its own cable, allowing you to place the peripherals where you want them.
Next up, we use one type of USB flash drive for anything proprietary. The Iron Key was originally developed for military applications- in fact I should probably write a post about it’s features. Just to summarize, this amazing drive is encrypted with AES, and allows you to securely store documents, as well as passwords. It comes with a hardened version of Firefox. It’s also filled with epoxy, so if anyone did happen to steal it and attempt to remove the chips, they’re going to be out of luck. It’s waterproof- and if you put the wrong password in 10 times, the security chip destroys itself. It’s the ulimate USB flash drive. They’re expensive, but they’re worth it when you’re concerned about security.
So what about an external USB drive? We’ve tried several different brands, including buying the enclosure and building them ourselves. The best balance of price and performance has been the Western Digital My Passport Essential USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive. You can get half a terabyte for a little over $100 as of this writing, which is big enough for most applications. We’ve found in some emergency situations it’s cheaper to load up a couple of hundred gig backup onto one of these drives and fly out to a site than to wait for the data to transfer over the wire. They’re handy for a variety of uses- including backups, storing your presentations, and of course holding .iso images of CDs.
Wearable Luggage – The Amazing SCOTTEVEST Products
I saved some of the coolest technology for last. SCOTTEVEST has developed a line of clothing designed to accommodate all your gadgets. There’s jackets that will hold a LAPTOP. Shirts with integrated loops for your ipod in the collar. iPhone pockets that are touch sensitive and allow you to push buttons. I’ve had the Essential Jacket so loaded that I didn’t need to bring another bag- 18 pockets will do that for you. The website has a cool X-Ray view so you can see how many pockets are where, and suggested items to into them. The nice thing about SCOTTEVEST is the pockets are cut and located so you can’t tell you have all the gear, but it is easily accessible.
With a little planning and the right equipment, traveling with your laptop is easy. If I missed anything or you have additional suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.