that old joke about how rich people only travel with their toothbrush and a credit card? Forget it. My carry on contains a lot of special items that are fairly hard to find.
- To have Internet everywhere, I carry a CradlePoint 500 router ($80 used, $100 new), an Option 442 datacard ($170 at Expansys), and an external battery ($71). The Option 442 operates on I/II/IV/V UMTS bands which pretty much covers the world (every GSM-like provider in North America, practically every in Europe, most in Asia, most in Australia). In the USA I am using a T-Mobile datacard with the SideKick data plan which gives me Internet access for $1 a day. They block port 80 but I am proxying my traffic through SSH anyways (google redsocks nat for instructions on Linux). My CTR 500 sometimes seems to be stuck in a "reboot cycle" the rectangular button on the side helps. I have no idea what it is supposed to do but it certainly helps it get unstuck.
- I really like this little power strip. The USB port does not have the juice to power the CTR500 directly (that thing has crazy amperage requirements) but it can charge the Tekkeon battery. It cranks out 1A so two devices at the same time are OK. I find the Motorola Y charger cable handy. It needs an A-A cable from Monoprice for another dollar. I have seen USB A to a mini/micro T-plug retractable cables on eBay but never tried 'em. In case you get a CTR 500 used w/o an AC charger, like I did this looks good specs wise (yes, 3A).
- Your portfolio of SIM cards in this holder. The whole flyertalk forum has no better idea about what to keep your SIM cards in than this five bucks piece of plastic. But hey! It works. Flyertalk forum? That's a fantastic knowledge mine.
- As I mentioned, food and drink. Zone bars work well but makes you thirsty -- you need water anyways.
- OK, this is easy to find but immensely useful compared to its size and weight: a coffee spoon. You can buy almost anything you want in a supermarket and eat it. If you have no spoon, how are you going to eat a salad? Yogurt? Do you think I am obsessed with eating? An experienced traveler's first concerns are where am I going to sleep, what am I going to eat and when I need to be at the airport next :) Tip: do not mix up your flights. I have shown up at the hour of another flight once. Did not work well...
- Universal plug adapter. BEWARE: this does not ground your equipment. If you have one that needs it, especially Apple ones, then get a grounding plug adapter! This is not a joke, people got hurt in the past from not grounding their laptop chargers. Try https://www.myinnergie.com for lightweight, universal chargers that do not need grounding. Does not apply to Apple, of course. The only other place I have seen this kind of plug converter is this Road warrior kit and it does look cool and so on but the price is ouch.
- Active noise cancelling headphones. It can save your sanity to block out the drone of the jets. Some time ago I was flying with the cheapest crappy Creative and even that helped. These days I am flying with a Bose QC15 but I heard good stuff about the much cheaper Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B.
- I mentioned the SkyRest pillow already.
- I carry an Ear Popper. Yes it's expensive as hell but how about this -- excruciating pain when landing that might hurt for as long as a day or $200? See. That's an offer few could refuse. So if your ears tend to misbehave when flying have this at hand. It's prescription only in the USA but in Canada you can walk in to London Drugs and buy it. You have Canadian friends, don't you?
- I mentioned moisturizer and saline nose drops already. Never, ever, ever try to land with congested sinuses!!! I did it once. It's. not. pleasant. Seriously, postpone your flight.
- Sanyo Eneloop batteries + charger. Dell runs often discounts on them. The QC15 and the Ear Popper both uses AAA batteries.
- Some zip ties. They make good ad-hoc zip pullers, you can even link a few together for a clothesline.
- Laptop riser. It's good if you can get hold of a keyboard at the other end (or carry yours as I do). The U-Top is really great as it can raise the laptop really high and superb lightweight. I carry it in a bubble envelope -- although it's not sharp I am still worried about what a thin sheet of metal might do to my luggage. And then there is the Keynamics laptop stand which raises the laptop just a little. Specifically good for plane seat trays.
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