How I Travel

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I'm getting ready to leave the house for my 2:00am (!) flight to Jakarta. As I packed my bags, I noticed all the things I carry based on my experience travelling for work and thought I'd share the list.

For the flight

  • The Economist and Scientific American: These are great travel reading because they are lightweight, content heavy, and disposable. It takes me a long time to get through these magazines, which is perfect. Once I'm done, I can recycle it vs. having to carry it home. I used to carry books, but I found they were way less convenient.
  • Noise cancelling headphones: I usually bring Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones, but if I'm pressed for space, I'll bring the smaller Sennheiser PCX250's. I like them both, but the Bose just sound better and keep the noise down better. (I should have just bought the Bose first.) You don't realize how loud an airplane is until you wear noise-cancelling headphones. It's amazing what a difference it makes in how I feel at the end of the flight. The only downsides (esp. with the Bose) are that my ears get hot, and I look like every other person in business class (everyone has the Bose headphones.)
  • Cashews: I like having a small bag of nuts to snack on in case I get a bit peckish. I never trust what I'll get on the flight. Plus I never eat nuts at home because the kids are allergic, so it's a bit of a treat. I used to carry water too, but I guess those days are over.
  • Medicine bag: I keep a small baggie with Aleve, diarhea pills (because even a short flight would be disastrous in the event of a problem), cough drops, and Claritin.
  • A pen: This is a good thing to always have anyway, but on international flights you need a pen to complete the immigration paperwork. I seem to always carry a rollerball pen, which I know is a disaster waiting to happen as the pressure changes, but I like them.
  • A little flashlight: I usually have one of these anyway, but a flashlight is invaluable for finding stuff that rolled under the seats, invariably when the cabin lights are out.
  • My computer: Of course. I'll also usually have a second battery or the power supply (or both). I've found that TabletPCs are great on the plane because you can work in tablet mode, even in domestic coach with the seat in front of you reclined. Normal laptops get squished.
  • My clothes: Obviously, I'm wearing clothes, but I'm pretty deliberate about what I wear. I wear stuff that won't wrinkle much like wool or some of the wrinkle resistant stuff. My pants will have pockets big enough for the ticket (so no jeans). I'll almost always wear a dress shirt with a breast pocket for tickets, id, immigration paperwork, etc. I should wear slip-on shoes too, but I don't.

For the hotel room

  • More cashews: I like to eat a little before I go run in the morning; a big room service breakfast isn't what I want. I also sometimes get a little hungry late at night. It's nice to be able to eat a bit.
  • Wireless network router: If I'm travelling with other work colleagues or if I have more than one computer (like a work machine and a demo machine, I'll carry a Linksys Compact-G wireless router. It's very small and has four wired ports too. It lets me share the internet connection among the computers as well as transfer files between machines.
  • A travel alarm clock: I never trust that I'll set the hotel alarm clock correctly or that the front desk will get the wakeup call right. I have this slick little analog clock I got when I visited Apple a zillion years ago. You rotate the face to increment or decrement the hour - very easy.
  • The Squid: There are never enough power outlets near the desk, especially for someone carry two computers, a phone, two cameras, and a wireless router. The Squid is the perfect power strip. I also throw in a 3 prong-to-2 prong adapter just in case.

I like packing my stuff into little bags to keep things organized, but I'm too cheap to buy the fancy bags made for this. I use the bags they give you business class that have the socks and eye shades in them as well as the tons of ziplock baggies.

Oh, crap, time to leave for my flight. See you on the other side.

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Richard Reply

One thing I read about rollerball pens in flights is to always take the cap off with the nib pointing upwards to help avoid any leakage. You might try that. Cheers. Richard

Sandi Reply

Hey, I don't suppose you're travelling to Jakarta via Perth? ;)

Sean Reply

(a) You are addicted to blogging.
(b) It's weird that the Economist is your in-flight reading. That's my in-flight (or train trip) reading too. I got through two of them on my two week trip to SE Asia -- a new record for me. Even weirder (or maybe not that weird all things considered), I had this same conversation with Dean about the Economist.
(c) you are way too organized.

Connie Reply

Hmm. a few thoughts come to mind:
a) Cashews are so rich-- don't they weigh you down before a run?
b) Another ziplock baggie lover-- hoorah!
c) Rollerball pens-- definitely worth it. Although I've had my share of unpleasant leakages over the years. (Bring baby wipes for that.)
d) You just got paid for another click-- to the Bose site. I may finally have to break down and buy a pair before the trip to NZ. How much bigger/heavier are they than the Sennheisers?

Happy travels..

Tony Reply

Richard: thanks for the tip. I'll have to remember that.

Sandi: If I had gone through Perth, I certainly would have told you ahead of time...

Sean: Yeah, I think I am addicted to blogging. Two Economists is a lot. I got through about 3/4 of one today in 17 hours of travel (obviously, I wasn't reading it the whole time.)

Connie: Well, I don't run very far or fast, so cashews aren't a problem. Re: clicks: I only get paid for the Google ads or if you buy something I link to off of Amazon (guess I should have pointed the Bose link to Amazon). The Bose are a lot bigger than the Sennheisers, but Bose now has a smaller set called the QuietComfort 3.

Katya Reply

The Economist rules!

I also like getting a local newspaper (frequently offered on the flight) as I travel through multiple international legs. The Financial Times, this little known rag, has recently become my fav. Most countries in Central/Eastern Europe, for instance, have an English speaking paper aimed at the business travelers. It's a great way to immerce yourself (for, say, 3 hours) in one day in a life of a nation.

Tony Reply

Yes, I like reading the local paper too, either internationally or the local paper for the city/state I'm in.

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