June 27, 2010

Traveling Lite

I recently returned from a business trip to our corporate HQ in Helsinki, Finland. Spending 10 days in Helsinki, I tend to bring far more items than on a quick business trip. I spend hours before traveling trying to decide what the right gadget payload is for a longer trip. At the end of this trip, I decided to do a post mortem and determine if I pack too much or little. Maybe there is a bit of wisdom you can use in this post mortem or some advice you can give me to lighten future payloads.

Gadgets making this trip:

  • Mac Book Pro with Power Charger, airplane power adapter
    • Original justification
      • I just got this Mac Book Pro 15.4", so I didn't have time to configure it before leaving. I took an additional external hard drive with all of my apps, movies, etc. to install while traveling. I justified bringing this gear because I never know when I'm going to have to do information creation while traveling.
    • Worth the weight?
      • Only if the trip is information creation oriented.
      • If I need to create presentations, answer a tremendous amount of email where a keyboard becomes useful, or write code, this device is a "must travel with". If I'm just reading email, watching movies, listening to music, etc., then this is a un-needed, 5 lb+ addition to my bag
  • iPad with Power Charger
    • Original justification
      • This is just my second trip since I got my iPad, so I decided to again test the utility of this device. I wanted to listen to music, read books, view the web, and quickly scan email while traveling.
    • Worth the weight?
      • My new primary travel device for trips focused on information consumption.
      • I can read my email, respond to issues, view the web, play games, watch movies, and listen to music in a less than 2 pound package with a 10 hour battery life. I didn't purchase the iPad with this role in mind, but it seems to perform well. I need to add a Microsoft Office viewer, but that is the only modification I need.
      • The iPad and Mac Book Pro appear to be a binary selection depending on what I have to do on a particular business trip.
      • I don't think I'll ever carry paper books again unless it doesn't exist in the Kindle book store. iPad is a fine book reader.
      • I really wish this had a front facing camera for Skype calls.
  • Phone (iPhone on this trip)
    • Original justification
      • Listen to music, international phone calls, SMS
    • Worth the weight?
      • Absolutely
      • My only advice is to get an international pre-paid SIM in the country you are visiting, because AT&T engages in highway robbery in terms of their international voice and data rates, even with their special plans. I now have a local Finnish SIM for my visits there. I'll be taking my new Nokia N900 on my upcoming trips
      • I really wish this had a front facing camera for Skype calls
      • I charge this via either my Mac Book Pro or the iPad charger.
  • 3 pairs of headphones
    • Original justification
    • Worth the weight?
      • One pair too many!
      • Who carries three pairs of headphones on a trip. The Bose are mission critical for 16 hours of flight time. The Adidas headphones are critical for the gym, where their form factor keeps them on my noggin and off the floor. But the etymotic, no matter how good, seem like a lightweight but un-needed addition to my bag
  • Travel mouse
    • Original justification
      • I carry for the Microsoft Wireless Presenter 8000 because it has a laser pointer in it. Enough said?!
      • In all seriousness, I get serious hand fatigue using the trackpad of a Mac Book Pro. If I have a lot of work to do on my portable, I like a portable mouse
    • Worth the weight?
      • If I'm bringing the Mac Book Pro, this gadget is a must carry accessory
  • Nintendo DS Lite with charger and games
    • Original justification
      • I bought this well before the iPhone and iPad came out, and I now ask myself it it is worth carrying this because of the games on the iPhone and iPad. So I took my best games (Mystery Dungeon, Pokemon Heart of Gold, Civilization Revolution) and challenged the DS Lite to delight me
    • Worth the weight?
      • Headed for eBay after this trip ;-)
      • Nintendo, I'd be cowering in fear about mobile phones. Today's smart phone has better graphics, great games, and additional functionality to justify their existence. The DS Lite has exclusive titles and better game controls to justify its existence. For me, I'm switching to iPad games ;-)
  • international power convertor
    • Original justification
      • Adapt all of those US power adapters
    • Worth the weight?
      • Worth every ounce
      • I have Euro adapters for all my Apple gear and Nokia phones, but I'm always carrying something that only has a US power charger.
  • Paper book and pens
    • Original justification
      • I live to take notes. My notebook is the center of my Getting Things Done universe. I use a Moleskine book and the legendary Fisher Space Pen for my writing. The Fisher Space Pen is a marvel of engineering, and writes where other pens fail mightily.
    • Worth the weight?
      • Pen and paper are like blood for me; I don't function without them
      • I lived the Livescribe digital pen lifestyle for almost two years, but almost lost the $200 pen on a flight to Korea. Then it stopped holding a charge. Both of those events, documented in this blog entry, sent me scurrying for a lower cost solution.
      • I tried to use Penultimate on my iPad to take digital notes on this trip, but taking notes with Penultimate is like using fist sized crayons to draw fine art. The pen control in that app is terrible. This is a market (iPad as digital book) waiting for its killer app.
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