What's In My Bag - 2017
28 Jun 2017
I work on the road a lot. This is one of the reasons we decided to close our offices this year.
Currently I’m in Lisbon, Portugal and have about another 4 weeks on the road before I return to Los Angeles. I posted a snap to my Snapchat account the first night here showing an amazing view behind my current work station. I had some questions about the stand, keyboard, etc. I was using. Rather than answering individually I figured I’d post a “What’s in my bag” post, following the lead of people who’ve helped me with my packing list in the past. Mostly Matt Mullenweg and Nate Green. Other remote workers post similar lists to help people prepare for long trips where they have to work on the road. So I should probably help as well since I’m a pretty seasoned remote worker these days.
Here we go:
- 511 Rush 12 Backpack - This is a field backpack more geared toward military, law enforcement, hunters, field men, etc. It’s super durable, light, and holds a ton. The MOLLE straps on the outside help with various utilities.
- 511 H20 Carrier - This is an attachment for the pack that let’s me hold a water bottle. Though I no longer use a hard bottle (see #9) so now I use it to store snacks like trail mix or kind bars.
- Bull Rest Travel Pillow - I’m not a big fan of travel pillows but I bought this when it was still a kick starter. This is definitely the best I’ve used, though I’m not sure I’d use it again on very long flights. Pillow or not, my neck hurts when sleeping on a plane. So I may skip this in the future.
- Aerobie Dogobie Disc - This is a handy tip from Nate. This thing is light, flexible, and fun for just heading to the park and throwing it around. It’s a great way to meet people and it’s “something to do” when you’re bored.
- iPad Air 2 with Anker Keyboard - iPad with external keyboard. I may stop bringing this along. I never really use it on trips. I mostly use it to play music in my house these days.
- Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Headphones - I just got these before my current trip. They are amazing! Comfortable with superb sound. The noise cancellation works great and they last 20 hours on a single charge. Well worth the money. Not just for flying but for when you need to block everything else out and get some work done.
- Alaska Bear Eye Mask - This mask is so comfortable. They’re very helpful for sleeping on long plane rides and early bright mornings in AirBNB’s that don’t have great window shades.
- Birksun Air Power Bank - Love this thing. It holds a couple of charges in it. One annoyance is it takes all night to recharge but it’s light and easily portable. I never leave on a trip without it.
- Vapur Collapsible Water Bottle - I got this from Matt’s latest “in my bag” post. This thing is great! I will take it with me walking around town or fill it up once past security at the airport. It easily clips onto my bag so I don’t have to worry about it much. It’s durable and completely foldable when empty. It does have a draw back though, and that’s filling it up from a water fountain is a pain and you can never get it past 80% full (any techniques I should know about?)
- RHA Noise Isolating Earbuds - I use these less since getting the Bose headphones but they are still useful. Especially for phone calls. I may drop these in the future as the Bose work fine with calls as well. I’m a creature of habit so I like having these around as a backup. They’re small enough.
- Western Digital My Passport Hard Drive - I put movies, etc. on this. I also use it for backing up my laptop while on the road.
- TP-Link N300 Travel Router - I’ve only had to use this a couple of times and each of those times was in Las Vegas. Still, I bring it just in case. It helps when the WiFi in a place I’m staying is not very strong. I simply plug into the ethernet jack and use my travel router’s WiFi signal. It’s actually very strong and works great. It’s the size of a business card and weighs practically nothing. The only inconvenient thing about it is it’s power cable.
- Belkin Audio Splitter - This thing is so handy. Especially when traveling with friends or children. Currently I’m on a European trip with my 2 daughters. We watched Beauty and the Beast (laugh all you want, I liked it! Hah!) on the flight from NY en route to Morocco. This let’s us all listen in and watch the same screen. (Note: Yes, I know Morocco isn’t in Europe. It’s the one country we visited on this trip not in Europe so it’s just easier to say “European trip”… ok?)
- Belkin Retractable Ethernet Cable - Another gem from Matt. This thing is tiny and extends up to like 10 feet. Perfect for plugging in your laptop or travel router into a wired internet source.
- Monoprice Retractable Audio Cable - Like the cat5 cable above, only for audio jacks.
- Apple USB to Ethernet Adaptor - I rarely use this. If I need to plug into an ethernet jack I usually prefer the travel router so I can move around the space with my laptop. Still, it’s there for emergencies.
- TravelMore Travel Lock - I use this to lock my luggage when needed. I carry two of them. One for my backpack and one for my TravelPro carry on (I very, very rarely check luggage. Always travel with carry on only.)
- Apple MacBook Air - I think this is the 2015 edition. I only update my MacBook’s once the Apple care expires.
- Logitech K811 Bluetooth Keyboard - This thing is awesome! I got it specifically for this trip and I’m so glad I bought it. It types like a dream and feels meatier than the standard Apple keyboard though it doesn’t weigh more or take up more space. I never enjoyed working from Apple keyboards (though the MacBook Air keyboard suits me just fine, go figure) so this Logitech is definitely a nice upgrade.
- Amazon Kindle PaperWhite - Books on books on books. I love the Kindle PaperWhite. I always have a queue of 15–20 books so I’m never without something to read.
- FieldNotes Notebook - I usually bring a moleskin or some journals with me but this trip I decided to skip those. This little notebook works fine for work notes, etc. For journaling I’ll just write on a random piece of paper. If something is important to me I’ll use my phone and scan it to Evernote for the future. Otherwise, I throw the journal entries away. It’s really just a way for me to clear my head anyway.
- Roost Laptop Stand - I bought this when it was a kick starter. Perfect for setting up a long haul workstation. If I plan to work longer than an hour I’ll almost always take the few minutes to setup a workstation with the stand & keyboard. It’s just more comfortable and I feel more productive.
There are some items I carry that are not shown. Mostly because they aren’t very important. Just extra cables. However there are a few things worth noting below (the first four items I carry in my backpack, the rest in my luggage):
- Cell Phone Charger - Currently I use a Nexus 5X and Google Fi (amazing for travel!). I’ve forgotten my charger before and the Nexus 5X uses USB type C, so finding a cable can be a pain in the ass. Though it’s getting easier with Apple adopting it.
- Macbook Air Charger - Can’t work without juice in the laptop, so I obviously carry this with me as well.
- TravelPro Passport Wallet - This thing is great and easily holds three passports, boarding passes, entry/exit paperwork, travel cards, and has a zipper pocket perfect for receipts and excess cash. This was a gift nearly a decade ago. I can’t seem to find a link to the version I have. Just know it’s awesome! Too bad TravelPro doesn’t make them anymore.
- Rayban Wayfarer Sunglasses - I don’t even know the version or model number. They’re at least 6 years old and I refuse to get new ones. I love these ones to much. I know I’ll be pretty bummed when I finally break or lose them.
- Anker Bluetooth Speaker - Another tip from Nate. I used to travel with the Oontz Angle which is fantastic, but this new cube is so tiny, it’s so easy to throw into the luggage and not even think about it. The sound quality is quite good too.
- USB Cable for Phillips Norelco Beard Trimmers - The adapter for the beard trimmers is proprietary. So I used to have to bring an extra charger with me just for my trimmers. Matt also uses the same trimmers and he recommended the USB cable so it can fit into the single USB power block I already travel with. One less charger to carry.
- Kandoo Flushable Wipes - OK, yes I’m spoiled. These things are one comfort I don’t want to do without.
- Earth Pak Dry Bag - If I know I’ll be near the beach or a lake I’ll bring a dry bag so I don’t have to worry about ruining my phone, getting my wallet wet, etc. This is a big back but I simply fold it appropriately and lay it at the bottom of my carry on and pack everything else on top of it. I don’t even notice it’s there and hasn’t affected how much I’m able to pack.
This is pretty much everything in my backpack when I’m on the road. Whether in another country, another city, or at a coffee shop or co-working space. My carry on is a whole different beast that I have an entire system created to pack as much as I can into the luggage. Hell I even have steps to order, and stack, the items in my toiletries bag to make the most of the space. I’ve basically got it down to a science. Maybe I’ll post about that sometime.
I’d also welcome any tips for other items I should carry, anything I should replace, and especially packing tips. I’m always trying to squeeze more space out of my carry on so I welcome all advice.
PS. - No affiliate links are used in the post above. Mainly because I just realized Amazon disabled my affiliate account for some reason and I don’t care nearly enough to resolve it. In any case, everything listed above is something I actually use. So I’m recommending it because it works for me. It may, or may not, work for you. Enjoy.