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What I Use: On the Road

What I Use: On the Road

I bring a small subset of technology with me when I travel

Every so often, I published an updated version of my “What I Use” document, which details the technology products and services I actually use day-to-day. Since I’m currently on my third business trip in five weeks, this is perhaps an ideal time to discuss the technology products I rely on when I travel and a few related points.


When it comes to traveling, everyone’s needs are unique and some of the advice here is specific to my own routine. For example, I fly out of Boston’s Logan Airport, so my airline of choice is JetBlue, which has a massive Boston presence, with an entire terminal essentially to itself and non-stop flights to everywhere I travel regularly. Jet Blue also offers “extra leg room” seats—a few rows in the front of the plane as well as the exit rows—which are generally an additional $40 per flight. I always pick up such a seat—in fact, I’m almost always in 10F, an exit row seat—because the space lets me open a laptop and get work done. And because you have to pay extra to sit in these rows, the middle seat next to me is often the last one purchased on these flights. More often than not, that seat is empty.

Those extra leg room seats also enable skip the security line at Logan and, as important, board the plane first. I am always among the first five people on the plane (more often than not, literally the first person), so I never check bags. Everything comes with me. (The only exception is non-work-related family travel.)

The one thing JetBlue doesn’t have, so far, is Internet access. I’m a bit mixed on that. On the one hand, I like the separation and the ability to work without interruption. But I often need to research something and would like pay to get online if it was available.


Because I live in Boston, I often travel to New York or Washington D.C. on Amtrak’s excellent train service. I almost always use the high-speed Acela Express service when possible, and will pay extra for that. Amtrak offers power ports, seats with tables, Internet access (spotty at times), and even decent food offerings. I love Amtrak, and working on a train.


After purchasing an embarrassing number of travel-related bags over the years, I’ve found what I consider to be the perfect solutions for my needs. I exclusively use bags sold by European travel expert Rick Steves. This includes my carry-on bag, a Velocé Shoulder Bag (sort of a mini-backpack), my luggage, a 21-inch Wheeled Bag that fits in any overhead compartment, and even my toiletry bag, the Compact Travelin Toiletries Kit. In fact, I travel enough, that I work out of my toiletry bag even when I’m home. That way I’ll never forget anything when I do travel.


While this is perhaps ever-evolving, my carry-on includes the following items:

Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook. 15-inch screen, but very light and thin for its size. Enough battery life—7 hours—to work through any flight when possible.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. For reading, books and newspapers.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9. For rented movies and reading magazines.

Amazon Basics mini travel tablet stand. Tiny and light, this keeps the Kindle Fire at the right angle if I am watching a movie.

Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones. These noise-cancelling headphones are a must on loud flights (and train travel).

Apple EarPods. Backup headphones that take up no space at all.

Nokia Lumia 920. My smart phone. Used for music, podcast and audio book playback on flights.

Nokia USB portable charger. For keeping the smart phone charged up so it works for the rest of the day after I arrive. It comes with a small USB cable so I don’t need to carry a second one.

A couple of notes here. I like to separate work and play. So my computer has no media on it at all, just the applications I need to get work done and the synced SkyDrive folders and documents I use on all my PCs. I could imagine using a single Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7-inch) I place of the Paperwhite and the bigger Kindle Fire HD. But I personally prefer the Paperwhite for reading, and the bigger screen for movies.


I bring an audio cable with me in case the rental car has line-in input as I prefer to listen to my own content—audio books, podcasts, music—than the radio. (Bluetooth is even better and is getting more common.) I would never pay for a GPS since the Nokia stuff is excellent. I also bring a tiny USB adapter for the car so I can charge the phone through the cigarette lighter.

Packed tech

I throw a small bag of technology inside by luggage. This includes the car charger mentioned above, a USB cable and charger, my Ultrabook power supply, a headset/mic for podcasts, a (now discontinued) Microsoft Explorer Blue-Track mouse, and several extra batteries (AA and AAA, for mouse and the Bose headset, respectively).


I’m probably missing some stuff, but like the more general “What I Use” article, I could see updating this over time as my travel bundle evolves. Am I missing anything useful here?

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