Traveling, whether for business or leisure, is made a lot more enjoyable with a little planning ahead. And although one cannot plan (or pack) for all situations, I've learned over the years that there are a few devices and accessories which take very little room in luggage and you'll never regret taking them along...
- Karma Wi-Fi Hotspot: the Karma 4G mobile hotspot is a little different than other wireless hotspots, as the service revolves around the idea users will share their open wi-fi network with others, and in the process both earn more access data in increments of 100mb per new user. The Karma works well in airports, hotel lobbies, and other public areas with a lot of other fellow travelers looking for wireless access (and is a great conversation starter). I was fortunate and purchased the Karma during their discounted launch promotion, but even now the $99.00 price is a solid deal as a backup access point to share with friends and strangers alike.
- International Power Adapter Plugs: Some international hotels will have sets of power plug adapters at the front desk, but at just under $7 purchasing your own kit is a wise investment while traveling abroad. Even more affordable are plugs specific to a region, like this $2.50 UK adapter.
- Computer Screwdriver Kit: Not only are these affordable screwdriver kits handy in cases of tech emergencies (like the time I found myself repairing/replacing a failing hard drive while in China), but the mini screwdrivers are fantastic for tightening eyeglasses and sunglasses during more leisurely times.
- USB Flash Drive: we all have a few of these flash drives laying around. I always keep one of at least 1GB in size for "just in case" moments in my laptop bag, especially now optical drives are disappearing from the landscape. A flash drive makes sharing photos and other files with friends and coworkers easy when there's no wireless network around. There are even spacious 64GB models bordering on internal drive size available for under $40 online.
- Eye-Fi Card Reader: I usually bring my DSLR when traveling longer than a few days, and that means I'll likely need to dump the contents of the SD cards after a day or two. Even with the convenience of the wireless Eye-Fi SD card image transfers, I also bring the card reader itself for use with larger capacity non-wireless cards. Sometimes it's just as easy and fast to pull out the cards from the camera and pop them into the reader to transfer to the laptop. The readers themselves are available online for under $8.00.
- Mophie Juice Pack Helium: you'll never ever regret bringing a backup power source for your phone and/or tablet, especially when the battery is incorporated into a fairly sleek case design like the Helium. Locally, I carry around my phone sans case, but while traveling my iPhone is always accompanied by this battery backup (especially during trade shows or while hiking in back country), outlasting accompanying friends who don't come as prepared.
- Microfiber Cloth: I not only always have a microfiber cloth in my travel pack, but also one in the car, and yet another by my desk. Like the screwdriver set listed above, the bespectacled will find having one of these around useful for keeping lenses clean, along with the other screens on cameras or laptops.
Throw everything inside something like this slim heavy canvas pouch (dyed made using fermented juice from unripe persimmons, how cool is that?) and you'll always be ready for an assortment of situations anywhere and everywhere.
(Image: Gregory Han)