Traveling as a Mobile, Minimalist and Well-Connected Person

A little history

As someone who has moved apartments at least once a year (sometimes two or three times in a year) for the past 8 years, on top of having traveled a lot within those last 8 years to different client sites by car, train, bus and plane….

…..I’d like to think I know a thing or two about how to be a mobile minimalist who is in love with technology.

Minimize, minimize, minimize the size

Desktop-owner? Switch to a well-made laptop.

I truthfully can’t imagine ever owning a desktop again.

I think the last time I had a desktop, was when I was 18 in my family basement, fighting with my brother over who got ‘net time.

Desktops are just too bulky and difficult to travel with, and not only that, you can get a decent laptop that will last you for at least 5-6 years if you take care of it.

You don’t need the latest and greatest in computing power, which is what a desktop is meant for — geeks like my brother who want the fastest video cards and power to process everything.

If you just surf the web and do normal stuff (office work, or whatever), then any laptop on the market now is more than enough to handle basic processing.

I also suggest a laptop over a desktop if you are physically traveling with your computer, because even if you can manage to pack a desktop into your carry on, desktops can get jiggled around a lot when being toted in a suitcase and tossed hard into an overhead bin or compartment while traveling.

Laptops are more compact and durable for that purpose, and you can keep it right close to you in your carryon so you can take good care of it.

But I miss the desktop feel!

If you want a laptop with a desktop feel, you can get a laptop stand and a full-sized keyboard.

Check out the full set of details on my post on my Current Computer Setup, and read the reviews on the Logitech laptop stand and keyboard I bought here.

NOTE: Which laptop brand to buy?

The Sony Vaio brand has been impressing me as of late, and compared to the Dell’s, Toshiba’s and HP’s I’ve owned in the past 8 years, the construction of the laptop is pretty good & the design is spectacular.

But do your own research and make your own decision about them, they do run up in the thousand dollar range, which is double what a similar Dell would cost.

Consider an external hard drive of the largest memory size you can buy for the smallest size

I am in love with Western Digital hard drives.

Their new 1 TB hard drives (finally) come with a pretty fancy password protection setup. If you are paranoid about your data but too nervous/lazy to set up TrueEncrypt or any kind of encrypting software like I am,  it’s a must.

What’s even cooler about them, is that they are powered by USB!

You have no idea how cool this is, unless you have owned a bulky MyBook before with a separate external adapter for power, and a separate cord for your computer.

It is a serious pain in the butt to have to find enough plugs in a hotel room to plug in your laptop AND your external hard drives (sometimes I have to plug in two at the same time to transfer data).

NOTE: What external hard drive brand to buy?

I have also tried Seagate and Comstar, and they haven’t failed me yet, but Western Digital is the best in my opinion.

(Avoid ZData at all costs. Cheap price = cheap quality that’ll make you lose your data faster than you can say “WTF?”)

My father tried a LaCie hard drive and is having major problems with it.

HP also has their own set of hard drives, but if their laptops are any indication of quality & design, I would highly recommend you steer far, far away from them.

I would also suggest a USB key (16GB or 32GB) to back up your work periodically.

I actually have 2 USB keys and 2 WD hard drives. My USB keys handle my VERY sensitive information, and my 2 hard drives hold videos and photos.

I keep two backups of each, and my laptop never holds any data of the utmost privacy or importance.

NOTE: Which USB Keys to buy?

I am a fan of the brand Verbatim for these lately.

Great password software setup, and if you can’t find Verbatim anywhere, try Sandisk who has a similar software setup for passwords called U3, but isn’t as good as Verbatim’s in my opinion.

The Verbatim software lets you separate the key into “Private Data” and “Public Data”, so that you can use it at work to transfer files without people seeing what you’ve kept under password lock elsewhere.

The Sandisk just password protects the whole thing.

And the software is kind of flaky. Sometimes it asks for a password, other times, no, which worries me.

Buy Universal Travel Adapters

Going overseas, or at least, out of your own country?

You are going to need a set of travel adapters for your plugs.

I didn’t spend much on the kit, about $30 CAD for a little snap-together kit that has all the different “standard” adapters for the world.

It’s quite light and small, but VERY necessary if you are a world traveler from North America who doesn’t want to be caught without a power supply in the middle of Europe.

Buy a Mini Surge Protector

Along with travel adapters, a mini surge protector is a must for me.

Hotels NEVER have enough plugs. It’s a fact of life. I always have to hunt around the room, unplug the alarm clock and shift furniture around to find the plug.

You can certainly buy a cheap wall plug in plain white for $8 CAD that’ll give you 3 extra sockets…

….but if you are dealing with technology and consider them your very expensive and sensitive baby, think about spending the extra $22 and buying one with built-in surge protectors.

I own this one: the Mini Belkin Surge Protector.

It gives you 3 extra plugs, rotates, can feel a bit bulky, but has surge protection built in and even has two plugs on the side to charge USB-powered gadgets.



Consolidate your cables

I wrote about this a while back — get an iGo charger or something similar, and just carry the different heads around instead of a separate cable for each gadget.

Read my full post and review here.

Need to also bring along Double A batteries?

.. but don’t want to bring the charger?

Some gadgets still use Double A’s instead of having a rechargeable lithium-ion battery built in, so this is what I suggest: USB-powered double A batteries from USBCell.

They’ve really gone mainstream — I just saw them in Chapters the other day!

I used to own USBCell rechargeable batteries, but I lost them to a friend.

Luckily, nothing I own runs on Double As, so I’ve never felt the need to replace them.

You can even shove them into the Belkin Surge Protector on the side to charge 🙂

So what’s the total of what I carry on regular business trips as my minimum?

It might seem like a lot, but it really doesn’t take up much space. I can fit all of the following into my purse if I wanted.

  • Laptop
  • Laptop Cord
  • Mouse
  • Mousepad
  • 1 TB Western Digital Hard drive
  • Mini Belkin Surge Protector
  • iGo Chargers
  • iPod
  • Cellphone
  • Camera
  • [Optional] Laptop Stand
  • [Optional] Keyboard for Laptop
  • [Optional] GPS
  • [Optional] International Adapters
  • [Optional] USBCell USB powered Double A batteries

This post originally appeared on The Everyday Minimalist.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.