What's In Your Electronics Bag?
Most of us carry our laptops in a backpack or shoulder bag. The days of briefcases are long gone. And in our bags, we carry all sorts of cables, chargers, and gadgets. There is a limitless array of things to put in your bag to make your life easier and power all your stuff. You could spend hours on Amazon reviewing gadgets. And the gadgets change frequently and are improved continuously. And too many gadgets can get heavy. So, how to go about deciding what to put in your bag? Here is my approach:
I devised 4 use cases which encompass the situations I typically find myself in:
On a plane: I will likely need to charge my iPhone and possibly iPad (I like to watch movies and series from Amazon and Netflix while flying). That requires a charger capable of charging both devices simultaneously, plus cables. The laptop should hold a charge for 8 hours, so no charging needed unless I drained it previously or am on an international flight (and I tend to try and sleep on overseas flights – I suggest you do too. More on that later).
At a customer site: A good consultant is self-sufficient and can also support team members. All you need is a plug, and maybe not even that. When at a client site, I need to be able to work off my laptop, connect to the internet, present to a conference room TV, and charge devices.
At a hotel: Hotels have gotten pretty good about providing power and USB outlets. Still, you need to recharge everything at night, including your Apple watch, Fitbit, phone, headphone, AirPods, etc.
Driving: I seldom drive, but for those of you who spend a lot of time on the road, prepare for it.
The list below shows what is in my bag. The devices are optimized so most can cover more than one use case, and there is some redundancy built in, in case something gets lost (which will definitely happen). The goal here is to balance self-sufficiency and versatility with weight.
61 watt USB-C charger: This little brick can power a Mac, MS Surface, or virtually any laptop. You can directly charge any device with a USB-C port with this. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TC53ZYD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
MS Surface Connect cable: If You have a Surface or Surface Book, use this cable to power the laptop from the brick above, and leave the big one at home. There are similar cables available for Macs. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KY31Q4Y/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
18 watt USB-C charger: This tiny charger is the same size as Apple’s little 5W charger, but is over 3 times as powerful. It will charge multiple devices simultaneously. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WRKXQ8W/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Retractable multi charging cable: This cable has 2 lightning ports, 1 micro USB and 1 USB-C. And you can use all 4 simultaneously. I have a few of these at home and 2 in my bag. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01JFZWGCU/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
18 watt USB-A & USB-C charger: This has both types of USB ports. Acts as a backup in case I lose the tiny one. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GPVMG23/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
61 watt USB-C and USB-A charger: this device is a backup to the laptop charger. But I can also use it to charge the laptop and all my peripherals at the same time. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VLKKRP7/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
30 watt Power Strip with USB-C: Sometimes you need an extension cord, because there are several of you in a room or the plug isn’t close by. This is an extension cord and power strip all in one. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WLBZFDH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
2 in 1 Wireless Charger: This handy gadget will charge your iPhone and Apple watch in the same device. I use this only in the hotel room when travelling and just leave it there during the day. Also have one on my nightstand at home. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PF2NK62/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Retractable Lightning cable: Just a basic USB to Lightning cable. Because sometimes that’s all you need. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M4QAS14/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
HDMI retractable cable: For when you need to project to a big screen or TV. Not all conference rooms have these. And virtually no hotel rooms have one. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019J96PSI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
HDMI to Mini DisplayPort: If you have a laptop that has a Mini DisplayPort port. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NH13K8S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
HDMI to USB-C: If you have a laptop that has a USB-C Thunderbolt https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-QGeeM-Thunderbolt-Compatible-Pixelbook/dp/B07JW7GT7H/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=hdmi+to+usb+c&qid=1581203147&s=electronics&smid=A3OQU8EXMVAZGF&sr=1-4
USB-C To A adapter: port. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PDLQ555/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Wireless Presenter and Remote: Don’t get caught without one of these handy. Never rely on a strange conference room to have what you need. https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Presenter-Presentation-Pointer/dp/B002GHBUTK/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=wireless+presenter&qid=1581203284&s=electronics&sr=1-5
USB battery charger: Simple and effective. You *do* use rechargeable batteries, right? https://www.amazon.com/Jullynice-Rechargeable-Capacity-Converter-Accessories/dp/B082VHGC98/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=small+usb+AA+AAA+rechargeable+battery+charger&qid=1581203681&s=electronics&sr=1-8
Rechargeable batteries: http://www.tenergy.com/Rechargeable-Batteries-Category
Arc Mouse: I like these because they are light and fold flat. And use rechargeable batteries. https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Arc-Mouse-ELG-00001-Black/dp/B072FG8LBV/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=arc+mouse&qid=1581203826&s=electronics&sr=1-3
24 watt dual USB car charger: In case I’m in a car and need to charge something. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01KQ5RHTK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
75 watt Cigarette Lighter Power Inverter: If you spend enough time in a car, you will need one of these. https://www.amazon.com/BESTEK-Power-Inverter-110V-Converter/dp/B003Q54V88/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=Cigarette+Lighter+Power+Inverter+Adapter&qid=1581204066&sr=8-12
25000mAh Battery: Lots of USB ports of various sizes. Will power lots of everything except a laptop. If you ever travel with teenagers or millennials this is a must-have item. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KYGJB5K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Micro Router: Sometimes, you don’t have WiFi or network access. So, make your own. Use one of these and link it to the hotspot on your phone or a LAN connection, and Presto! Instant network. In all honesty, I haven’t used it in quite a while. But on the occasions I’ve used it, it was a real lifesaver. https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Wireless-Portable-Travel-Router/dp/B00TQEX8BO/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=mini+router&qid=1581204641&sr=8-3
Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones: I never fly without these. Screaming kids, engine noise, chatty seat neighbors, babbling flight attendant. Can’t hear any of it with these on. Combine these with earplugs and you you’ll be able to hear your own heart beat. On a plane. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MY4P9EZ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
International Plug Adapter. There are many versions of these available. Just remember that in the UK, the plugs are recessed. Carry more than one so you can keep one in the hotel and have another to take to the customer site. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLTCHN2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
3-Outlet Wall Tap: You may only have one plug on the desk for 3 of you. And overseas, you will only have one or two international plug adapters. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-15-Amp-3-Outlet-Cube-Wall-Tap-LA-20/306625670
Rip-Tie: To keep your cables tidy. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003ZKBTSE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Bigger Ties: For bigger cables. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QMMLS10/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Labels: Label your stuff. It increases the odds you get it back. https://www.labeldaddy.com/
USB flash drive and SD card, You never know when you need to transfer or copy data the old fashioned way.
Pen and post-it notes. Because sometimes I actually have to write something down.
Earplugs. Walgreens or CVS. Get 32 DB reduction or higher. Essential for overnight flights.
Sleep mask. Available in any airline amenity kit.
The following I keep in small bottles or zip-lock bags. You don't need a Costco-sized container. Just enough to get you through the trip or till you can get home.
Aspirin/Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen: Because headaches & sore muscles happen.
Melatonin: Helps me sleep on international flights and overseas. Compatible with wine or scotch!
Tums: For heartburn.
Cough drops. For coughs.
Extra business cards.
Global Entry card: If you have one of these, keep it in your bag. In the event your wallet is stolen or lost, you at least have a federal ID available and it will get you through airport security.
Emergency Passport Kit: If you travel overseas, this is essential. Have the following printed. Put it all in a zip-lock bag:
DS-82 Passport Renewal Application (fill this out in advance – it will save you time when you need it) https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/forms.html
DS-64 Lost or Stolen Passport Form
A color copy of your passport, driver’s license, Global Entry card and any other federal and state ID you have.
2 color photographs for your passport on photo paper. This should be the same photo that is on your passport and the same size. Ever try to get a passport photo taken in a foreign country?
Printed map of the location of the US embassy or consulate in the country you are visiting.
Address, phone number, and operating hours of said embassy/consulate. Many require an appointment to replace a passport.
Put all of this in a PDF and store it in the cloud and on your phone, so you can reprint it in case of a total catastrophe.