I travel a lot. In 2009 I have logged more than 80,000 miles spread across 25+ trips. I have more bags for specific types of trips than anyone I know. Packing and unpacking is something I’ve perfected over the years, if only out of necessity.
So here I’m going to share some my best “secret weapons” for traveling and living a location independent lifestyle. These are all tools I’ve used to make my life easier, whether traveling within the US or abroad. Hope you find this list useful and if there are any tricks or tools that you’ve found especially helpful in your travels, please share them in the comments.
1. Moleskin Notebook – I bring an empty one of these every time I am abroad and it’s perfect for taking notes, doodling, and writing down phone numbers, addresses, new facebook friends contacts, and a lot more. I’ve danced my ass off in London until morning, soaking all my clothes, and the moleskin has survived that and much more. I get the really thin pocket version, which you can pick up in a 3 pack at a Border’s near you.
2. Kayak Flight search – This is my first stop for searching flights for both domestic and international travel. 90% of the time it has the best airfare prices anywhere.
3. 13″ Macbook Pro – The best laptop to lug around, period. I just got one and absolutely love it. I switched to a Mac 1.5 years ago and have not looked back since. Everything just works and is easy (esp. Time Machine). A lot of people like netbooks, but they’re way underpowered for video viewing or graphics work so I’d stick with a 13″ Macbook Pro.
4. Dropbox – file storage and syncing – I put all my important files (website files, documents, etc.) into my dropbox folder and it automatically backs up and syncs all of them. Bonus: You can access files on your iPhone, share folders with friends, and more. It runs in the background and doesn’t drain your system resources like a lot of the other apps.
5. Boingo Wifi Access – Boingo rocks! It only costs $10/mo. and lets you access WiFi from a bazillion places on earth, including Europe. I signed up for this in the UK last year and it cost me $30/mo, so it’s much better to get it while you’re still in the US. I use it to get free WiFi at every Starbucks I go to (that in itself is worth the price). It also includes most McD’s and a whole lot of other places – usually you just click on the “roaming access” button (or something similar) and sign in.
6. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II compact camera – The smallest pocket camera that also takes the sharpest pictures out there, plus it has HD movie mode which takes high quality video. My friends always rave at the quality of pictures this thing takes and it fits in the smallest pockets without being bulgy or uncomfortable.
7. iPhone – Not a travel “must-have” unless you want to jailbreak it, but I have one and I use it well. While I can only use voice services in the US without paying expensive roaming charges, I use this thing for WiFi access all the time. I used it in Barcelona airport to hop on a Boingo hotspot and book a hostel this summer without having to pull out my laptop. Plus, if you turn on international roaming, it’s something like $1.50 per minute – not cheap but it’s still available if you need it. I use Skype for most calling outside the states, but sometimes it’s worth having the phone on you. Just be sure to always disable data roaming when outside the US. Bonus – I use it to listen to all my music and audiobooks (via Audible, see below).
8. Audible – I usually download audiobooks before a long trip and listen to them while in flight, in line, or anywhere else where I want to put my downtime to good use.
9. TripIt – Whenever I book a flight, I forward the confirmation email to email@example.com and it keeps all my trips organized automatically. I then sync it with Travel Tracker ($20 but worth it) on my iPhone. This has saved my ass a few times when I I was running late for a flight and needed to look up a confirmation number at the check-in kiosk.
10. Heart-Thrive snacks – These are the best on-the-goal meals, period. I stick a few of these in my bag whenever I travel and I always have breakfast or a snack on a plane when I’m hungry. They’re small, pack a lot of protein, are dairy and gluten free, & are pretty tasty.
Software I use on my Mac: (Free) Gmail & Google Docs, Skype, FireFTP, Tweetdeck, Evernote (Expensive) Lightroom, Photoshop, Dreamweaver
Hope this above gives you some ideas and will make your travel easier. Feel free to add more in the comments. If there’s anything I would say to conclude this is “experiment and find what travel gear works for you” since every single one of us have our own personalities, desires, and requirements.