What's in Your Geek Travel Bag?

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #131


A long time ago I bought a small mesh bag and packed it with all things I like to have when I travel. After a few years I had filled it completely so I bought a second mesh bag, which is now almost full as well. Last week I tried to pare the traveling gadget collection down to a single bag and failed. So here are a few of the items I consider most essential for my bag(s) of tricks.

Since I never know which cable(s) I’m going to need for my Mac or iDevices, I carry a wide variety including several USB-to-Lightning charge/sync cables; an Ethernet cable (many hotel rooms still have Ethernet ports, which usually work better than Wi-Fi); mini and micro USB cables for connecting and charging accessories such as headphones and speakers; and other cables too numerous to mention.

I also carry an HDMI cable and an HDMI adapter for my iPad (my MacBook Pro has a built-in HDMI port). That way, if my hotel room has a TV with an HDMI port (as many do), I can watch my own movies from either device on the big screen without paying an arm and a leg for the hotel’s overpriced in-room movies.

To keep all those cables organized, I have a Grid-It organizer ($11.99 and up), which I love. It’s a flat board covered with a grid of elastic bands that can store over a dozen cables, untangled and organized, with space for other small devices like USB flash drives, headphones, and power adapters. 

This little GridIt organizes almost all of the cables I travel with…

Since I often rent a car when I travel, I have a car charger with two USB ports – one for me and one for a friend or family member — and, of course, more USB-to-Lightning cables. I also carry Satechi’s Universal Smartphone CD Slot Mount ($16.99), which snaps securely into the CD slot of most rental cars to hold my iPhone in an ideal position for navigation.

Since hotel rooms are often short on power outlets, I carry a small 6-outlet power strip. And, since there are never enough USB ports in hotel rooms, I carry a 6-port powered USB hub so I can charge up to 6 devices at once. Because hotel Wi-Fi service is generally lousy, I use a Satechi Smart Travel Router ($49.99), an ingenious little device that has four of the most common AC power plug configurations used around the world built right into it. So, if my hotel room has Ethernet, I can plug in my little router and create my own private Wi-Fi network. Better still, it’s almost always faster and more reliable than the hotel’s WiFi.

Last but certainly not least, since I might have to perform surgery on a device at any moment, I always carry Newer Technology’s 14-piece portable toolkit ($17.00), which includes screwdrivers, tweezers, and nylon pry tools (a.k.a. “spudgers”) in a handy zippered case.

This little toolkit has helped me save more devices than I can count.

And that’s all he wrote…