Friday, July 24, 2009

How The Road Warrior Rolls

Flying back from the east coast I was reading an airline magazine and it had one of those "what's in my bag" articles, where seasoned travelers talk about what they take along with them and what they can't live without while on the road. I'm always interested in what other people pack in their bags, so here is my own version.

(And yes, I'm sure there will be some of you who won't be the least bit interested in what I pack on a trip. If so, feel free to move along now. I won't be offended.)

Losing my luggage on my last trip made me thankful that I only had clothes and toiletries in my suitcase. On plane trips the stuff that is really valuable and that I can't do without is in my shoulder bag.

For years I used to have a giant Jandd Hurricane messenger bag that I got at a bargain price when Jandd Mountaineering still had a factory store near Santa Barbara's funk zone. (BTW, anyone know whatever happened to Jannd? I seem to recall there was a rumor about a messy divorce between the owners.)

Anyway it looked great, and I liked the fact that it was made by a Santa Barbara company and even had "Santa Barbara" stitched onto the front flap (albeit very discreetly.)

The problem was it was too big. When I removed it from underneath the seat in front of me, or from the overhead bin and slung it over my shoulder, the contents of the bag would shift. Everything would get lumped into one side of the bag. And the charcoal colored, waterproof interior lining created a huge black hole that the contents disappeared into. Fishing things out of there while on the plane was a major hassle.

I recently started using a slim shoulder bag made of heavy duty canvas I got from the Gap a few years ago as my main travel bag. It's proved to be a much better solution. Although it doesn't have as much storage space as the Jandd bag, it's much easier to keep organized.

Here's what you'll find inside.

My laptop. When I got my iPhone, I figured I could leave my computer behind when I travelled. I used the iPhone to blog from China and Europe, but alas, composing a a 500 word post on the iPhone's virtual keyboard was too time consuming. Last February I bought an MSI Wind Netbookwith a 10 inch screen for a little over $300. Here's the kicker though, I hacked it to run Apple's Macintosh operating system instead of Windows XP which came installed on it. (I don't have time to do viruses.)

I also got the nine cell battery to go with it which means it can run for six hours between charges and will last for the duration of a cross-country flight.

I carry my camera which is a Canon PowerShot SD 790. The camera has an SD card which I can pop out and put into the SD card slot that's built into my laptop so I can get my photos off the camera and upload them to the web if necessary.

I haven't invested in noise canceling headphones. I just use my iPhone earbuds. I don't carry a separate iPod like my son does. He has something like 10,000 songs on his, I only have a few hundred or so, hence all my music fits onto my iPhone with plenty of room to spare.

I also take along at least two magazines to read. Vanity Fair is my favorite to have on the plane with me. Lots of great articles, not to mention stunning photos to look at.

Also in my bag, earplugs, a sleep blindfold and Tylenol Simply Sleep for redeye flights.

A zip lock bag with Chex Mix. (Because, sometimes the flight attendants are stingy with the snacks.)

Tucked away in a pocket of my bag is $40 cash, an extra credit card and my old, expired drivers license. Just in case I lose my wallet.

It's only the panhandlers on State Street who should have the impression that I don't carry any cash.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and