What’s In My Laptop Bag?

Last week The Points Guy took Singapore’s all-business class service from Newark to Singapore and wrote about the travel products he took along with him on the world’s largest flight.

Inspired by Brian, and sitting on board a much more pedestrian American AIrliens Pheonix – Chicago run powered by Gogo Inflight internet, I thought I’d share the contains of my laptop bag.

Verizon MiFi. I create my own wireless hotspot, and the speeds are pretty good. 5 gigs of data are included in my plan each month and then I buy additional gigs at $10 each. It’s not for streaming movies, but it does the job with email and websurfing and covers me for uploading photos I want to include on the blog.

Kensington Empower Adapter. Sadly too many aircraft still use the cigarette style outlets for their seat power, and I need to plug in. Fortunately after I got rid of my Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook (which I hated) I’m back to one (Lenovo u300s, which I love) that they make tips for.

Denon AH-NC800 noise cancelling headphones. All the cool kids use Bose QC15s, and I’ve only compared my Denons head-to-head with the Bose QC2s. I like the Denon’s better for music and movies, the Bose better for keeping out the sound of screaming children in the cabin.

Monster Outlets-to-Go power strip. Hotels never have enough outlets and I need to power up several devices at a time, I like a power strip that lets me do that, and it’s best when that strip is compact. I reviewed one of these back in 2009.

Cell phone and charger I still haven’t replaced my 3 year old Blackberry, I’m holding out for that ‘perfect device’ but I’m anxious. On international trips I bring along an unlocked phone with an Estonian SIM from OneSimCard.com. I dial the number I need, it calls me back and connects me, getting low incoming rates in a ton of countries worldwide.

International power adapters. I carry a generic all-purpose one pretty much all the time, but when I’m headed on a long international trip I also bring along of bunch of region-specific power adapters since they’re smaller. Most folks are best off just with the generic ones, but I have a collection of European, Asian, U.K, South Pacific that I throw into the bag before heading to those regions, where I’ll want to be plugging in several items at once.

Canon S95 Camera. Based on reader advice I got the s95, brought down in price with the introduction of Canon’s s100.

Tumi travel wallet. This has all of my travel program cards, my coupons (lounge passes, free rental days, hotel BOGO certs, etc.) And it has a place for passports and I zipper pocket I keep foreign currency in.

Wireless router. I stopped carryin this for awhile, since nearly everywhere I went had wifi, and when I’m not near a signal I have my Verizon MFi. But I’ve been to too many hotels where the signal was virtually unusable, but that if I had plugged into the wired signal I’d have been just fine. So I started packing my six year old D-Link pocket router again, and it’s still a gem.

Also in my laptop bag: the current issue of The Atlantic for when we’re below 10,000 feet, my laptop power cord (oh, yeah, and my laptop – Lenovo u300s with i7 processor), and my freedom baggie (containing purell, chapstick, travel-sized toothpaste, travel-sized deodorant, and that’s it – though I’m messy enough I should probably bring along a Tide stick).

Relatedly, here’s More than Mary with tips for women on packing more efficiently something I know very little about!

What’s in your? carryon?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Good article. A few other things I’m never without in my laptop bag include my tempurpedic eye mask, earplugs (don’t like sleeping with my bose headphones on), a travel umbrella, teabags, ibuprofen, a shoe horn, a bottle opener and a lint roller. The latter is specific to owning three cats and sometimes wanting to look professional on the road.

  2. Will any unlocked phone work? What rate do u end up paying for incoming and outgoing and what about texts?

  3. An iPhone, a MacBook Air (running Windows 7), and an AirPort Express would suit you better if you weren’t so averse to Apple products.

  4. A lot of cell phones now offer mobile hotspot capability. I’m not sure if you could add additional GB’s each month as you mentioned though. Whenever you get around to upgrading your phone, maybe you could look into that. It could mean one less device to carry.

  5. @ Ken, even the iPad 3 offers mobile hotspot capability. I’ve retired my mifi (the one Gary has) and eliminated one charger and device. 5 gigs is more than enough and up to 20 megs speed with 4G

  6. I noticed some of your carry on items are for the destination, others for the plane. I almost always check luggage (and go abroad), so for the flight (and layovers) I want to have: Good eye mask (my kids call it my eye bra), inflatable neck pillow for coach, earplugs, Nook, magazine, ibuprofin, Tylenol, pseudophedrine, toothbrush, deodorant, toothpaste, hand lotion, band aids (plasters for you Brits), change of shirt / underwear / undershirt / socks, plastic bag for laundry, empty zip lock bags for anything in my pockets while at security, earphones, laptops (yes, plural – ugh!), laptop power pack, international adapters, compact wireless mouse, eyeglass case, pens, passport, copy of passport, vaccination card, car power style power converter, phone and phone charger, network cable, light jacket, Clif Bars (you never know when you may not have food available), and canvas tote for carrying laptops aboard when gate checking carry-on.

    As for phones, my company takes care of that, so I am fortunate. However, I do have a Mophi Juice Pack plus for my iPhone. It gives me a second full battery available – I never run out of battery power. It is worth the extra weight.

    I’m an IT guy and I never thought about the wireless router. Brilliant idea. However most of my rooms are not as palatial as the ones I see in your reviews 😉

  7. Does the wireless router get around the ‘only one device can be connected at the same time’ restriction some hotels impose?

  8. I was looking into getting one of those Monster power strips, but some of the reviews mentioned the electronics were only rated for up to 125VAC and that using them in foreign countries would cause problems. Have you seen any problems using the strip overseas?

  9. @thrashsoundly that would be news to me, i have never had a problem, would appreciate links to see what’s up? i’ve been using them for quite some time without incident.

  10. I just read reviews on Amazon and Monster cable. It seems like such a great product, so I was surprised there was a bunch of negative reviews. The major complaint was the USB didn’t have enough current to charge some devices, but some people also mentioned the device documentation said the cables are only rated up to 125 VAC. If this is true, it could be dangerous to use in foreign countries, but YMMV I suppose.

  11. So no Kindle or iPad/Tablet huh? I like my iPhone but for longer flights, I’d much rather read on something larger. A Kindle is great for reading, holds an immense amount of stuff, and Amazon is going to be around for years unlike some of the competition. You can also read their books on other devices as you desire using apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Windows PCs, etc.

    An iPad is a great great thing for keeping a toddler distracted, or for watching video on an airplane. And of course it’ll keep running for an 8-hour or longer flight unlike most laptops.

  12. @Glenn I was quoted in a Time magazine piece this summer about why no e-reader… I carry a book with me because i read during takeoff landing when those are supposed to be off..

  13. There is one item that should have been included. There is a new design for a travel pillow that actually works called Caesars Crown Travel Pillow. If you want to sleep on a plane it is a must. Available on Amazon.

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