I like to hit the road with all the travel technology I need, just in case – so, it needs to be ultraportable and compact. Curating the ultimate road warrior travel kit has been a process of trial-and-error. Here is my current bag-du-jour… (roughly left to right, then top to bottom)
Rechargeable Power Supply. I like these to be credit-card size, so I can shove them in my wallet. This one is from OREI and is a 3,500mAh battery. It uses the same port to power other devices as it does to recharge itself, which is convenient, except that it uses micro-USB. That means I have to pack along a micro-USB to female USB-C connector, so that I can actually power USB devices from it.
Flat Pack Sunglasses. The Nannini sunglasses have an ingenuous mechanism that allows them to pack completely flat. My personal preference is for the Flatmatic S1. You can order them direct from Nannini or if you like in the UK, you’ll get even better prices from Goggle Eyes. Amazon US has a very limited selection, but you could start there, if you prefer.
Flat Pack Computer Reading glasses. Again, from Nannini. The lenses are tinted to a warmer colour temperature for using electronic devices late at night. In addition, the lenses are specially treated to allow your eye to focus correctly on the pixels of the screen, instead of trying to focus just behind them (as the eye is want to do), which leads to eye fatigue. The lenses can be in different magnifications, or not. Buy direct from Nannini, or in the UK from Goggle Eyes. If you’re just interested in clear reading glasses, you’ll find a wide range of pack flat reading glasses direct from Nannini or from Goggle Eyes in the UK. Also, check out this ultraportable pair of reading glasses that not only fold flat but also in half!
Plantronics Voyager Legend. This is my current favourite bluetooth headset for telephony. It comes in a great little recharging case (the case itself is a rechargeable battery for the earpiece that also docks the USB dongle magnetically, so you won’t lose it). Click here to read our review.
Apple MagSafe Airline Power Adapter. This is a God-send for Macbook users who take both domestic and international flights. In the US, you can use it to plug into cigarette lighter sockets (I see these often on American Airlines). On international flights, the same cable will plug into those peculiar round sockets (found on Virgin Atlantic and British Airways flights). Even though planes are gradually upgrading to have standard power sockets, you’ll still run into these oddities from time to time, so it’s good to be prepared… otherwise, you’re entire flight could be ruined.
Amazon Fire TV stick. I like to travel with an AppleTV, too, but having a small Amazon Fire stick or Chromecast dongle is very convenient – especially when plugging it into a hotel room TV. Amazon Fire, unfortunately, seems to be locked to the country of origin, which is very annoying. That is not true of the Apple TV, which you can use anywhere and still see the content of the region in which your credit card is registered.
Elgato Turbo video rendering dongle. My compact camera shoots 1080p in a format that isn’t appreciated by my laptop or by YouTube, so I do a quick render into MP4 format by using this dongle. The dongle has a dedicated rendering chip built into it, so rendering is off-loaded from the host computer, resulting in much quicker render times. BTW, if you’re looking for a good video player that can handle pretty much any format on earth, check out VLC.
Retractable power cable. This one also comes with an adapter to enable it to be used on different types of equipment – for example, female three prong connections. However, I seem to have lost the adapter! Also, get yourself one of these right-angle adapters. They are very handy for plugging in things close to the wall – like a portable router.
3-port USB auto charger. It’s important to get a device that can fast charge three modern gizmos at once. Check the wattage of the one you buy. Also, I like to get chunkier auto chargers and not super tiny ones (ie. something like this). The reason being that the really small ones can get stuck in the cigarette lighter and you won’t be able to get them out with your finger nails. I’ve had to abandon a few in rental cars because of this.
Car Phone Mount. I like the Airframe+ from Kenu, because it is simple (no moving parts) and stretches wide enough to hold an iPhone 6 plus. If you need to mount a tablet, I found this one from Satechi pretty good, because it mounts in the beverage cup holder of the vehicle, giving it a tighter seal and connection than the sucker ones that attach to the dash or the grill of the air vents. As you turn its base, it expands outwards to wedge itself into a vice grip within the cup holder. This allows fairly heavy tablets to be held firmly in place.
Universal Power Adapter. There are so many to chose from but this one is the smallest and most versatile that I’ve come across for use in the UK. Here’s the same plug but for use in the USA. It has no fiddly bits to slide or damage.
USB Power Charger. Anker is my go-to brand for USB power chargers. The one pictured here is an Anker 2-port but they have a fantastic 60W 6-port option. They also recently came out with a 42W 3-port version. Check out our page on USB power chargers.
Retractable HDMI Cable. This comes in handy when I want to connect my laptop, tablet, or streaming video device to a hotel television to watch my own movies or to give a presentation. I also travel with a small u-bend HDMI right angle adapter, because there are often obstructions on hotel TV’s from strange mounts or the in-hotel entertainment systems. This helps me to get around them.
Portable SSD. This one is a 256GB SSD from Freecom and is really tiny. I use it to back up videos and photos from my camera when on the road. I couldn’t buy it from Amazon USA but they sell it on Amazon UK. I do own a Transcend 1TB external SSD drive but I find it very buggy; a lot depends upon the quality of the thunderbolt cable used with it. On the topic of portable drives and videography, I recently bought an OWC Thunderbay 4 mini with Thunderbolt connectivity. You can make an array of 4 SSD or 2.5″ hard drives – it’s up to you. The speed is great and the unit is small enough to pack in a carry-on bag.
All-in-1 media adapter. The one I’m using is from Transcend. It’s extremely small – the size of a USB stick – and can handle most camera storage media. Here’s a similar all-in-one USB media stick from TechNet.
Sidekick Touch Screen Cleaner. This handy gizmo gets all the grease and smudges off the glass of my smartphone, tablet and laptop. It uses some kind of chemical pad, which swivels out and presents itself when you slide this thing open. You can buy replacement pads. I think each one is good for 500 wipes. Don’t touch them, though, or they’ll leave a black smudge on you (and your clothing).
Recoil cable winders. I love these little things. They come in a variety of sizes and you can keep all your cables tidy. They are spring loaded, so you just loop your cable around the plastic hook inside, give it a tiny tug, and it coils itself up with your cable. You can buy them direct from Recoil or from Amazon.
Micro-USB to Lightning Adapter. Whenever I misplace my Thunderbolt USB cable, this allows me to use one of my other cables, instead. Very useful.
iUSBPort2. This WiFi enables any portable external hard drive or micro-SSD card, so that the content can be shared and streamed to multiple devices. I use this to get around my tablet storage restrictions, especially on my iPad. Because it contains a rechargeable battery, it can power up an external USB hard drive. We wrote a review of the first iteration of the iUSBPort, although this is now an updated version 2.
Now, I didn’t put it in the picture but I do like to travel with the newer Sandisk Connect, as well. It’s storage, however, is built-in and not upgradeable. Nevertheless, it’s the size of a stick of gum and very convenient in a pinch. Just have to remember to recharge it, before hitting the road!
Sandisk iXpand. This serves a similar purpose to my iUSBPort2 and Sandisk Connect devices, but there are times when I just want things to be easy and straightforward. This storage device connects directly to my iPhone/iPad via its built-in Lightning connector. I have the earlier model and there’s now a newer (and smaller) one available.
Very Short USB Cables. I love having short cables with all kinds of connectors lying around in a pinch.