Packing slowed down by carry-on gadget decisions


My husband and I are in the middle of packing for the last vacation we'll take before our lives are changed forever, and while he knew immediately that his Samsung NC10 and iPod touch would be coming along, I've been mulling over what I should take for the past few weeks and am still undecided. I'm a chronic gadget overpacker and tend to come home with more than I left with, so regular readers might be surprised that I'm having trouble making up my mind this time.

My daily gadget routine and general interest in mobile devices were significantly affected by how terrible I felt in my first trimester, but now that I'm feeling better and can use multiple gadgets every day just for fun, my "non-essential" gear is starting to look attractive to me again.

If I were still feeling the way I was several weeks ago, I'd bring nothing but my Sony Vaio TZ. It's my primary computer at home, a good traveler, suitable for work and play, and the only piece of tech I used while my pregnancy-induced sickness was at its worst. When I'm not sick all day/night, however, I tend to choose excess over necessity and dedicated devices over convergence. That's why even though a single gadget can often perform multiple functions, I would rather carry several gadgets and use each one for the single function it does best.

So even though I could certainly get by with just my Vaio TZ on this trip, I'm leaving it behind and taking a handful of other devices instead. I do this whenever I travel, as evidenced by the "chronic gadget overpacker" links above and my excessive packing for a 7-hour day, but it feels different this time because I haven't finalized what I'm bringing yet.

This is our last pre-baby trip so I want to be as unplugged as possible; I don't want to carry anything around that enables/encourages me to work when we're out and about (the main reason I decided not to get a Verizon MiFi for this trip).

Most of what I've decided to bring so far, then, will be limited to in-flight and occasional hotel room use. Here's my list of "must takes" (and yes, there's redundancy in it):

  • Sony Vaio P. Although I've traveled with multiple computers in the past, I'm only taking the Vaio P this time because it's all I really need. The keyboard is fantastic and I can do all of my regular Pocketables work (email, site updates, forum, comments, general maintenance, etc.) with no compromise. Battery life isn't an issue because of the extended battery; the only time I'll be using the P outside of the hotel will be on the flight and maybe at the airport, anyway, so all-day power while mobile isn't a factor.
  • iPhone 3GS. This is my primary phone, so traveling without it isn't an option. Though its mobile blogging capabilities are better than they used to be, they're still not good enough to tempt me into doing any "real work" when I should be unwinding. In addition to quick internet and email access, the iPhone will provide in-flight entertainment (games and ebooks) and has a decent camera for those rare occasions that my shutterbug husband isn't already taking pictures and videos.
  • Cowon S9. The S9 is the best-sounding DAP I own right now and outperforms the iPhone's audio quality by miles. It can do more than just play music, of course, but that's where I think it shines most brightly.
  • Archos 5. Just as the S9 is best suited for music, I think the Archos 5 is best suited for video. Archos has always been my portable video brand of choice and the playback quality and format support just seem to get better as the years go by. I have the 250GB model so I have a lot of movies and TV shows to choose from while on the plane.
  • Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro. This is my current pair of canalphones, which means that leaving it at home would be madness.
  • FiiO E5. I like using this little headphone amp with my triple.fi 10s. It makes everything sound better to me and is an incredible value for the price.
  • Monster Outlets to Go with USB. I have a smaller non-USB version of the portable power strip as well, but I like this one because of the USB port. Very handy for computer-free charging.
  • Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. I don't mind the Vaio P's trackstick but if I have the choice of using a regular mouse instead, I'd choose this Bluetooth one. This will be a fixture on the desk in our hotel room.

And here's what I have on my ever-changing "might take" list:

  • mintpass mintpad. The only reason I'm thinking of taking this is so that I can write my full review in short bursts on the plane and in the hotel room. I wanted to get it done before the trip, but I think I'm only going to have time to take the pictures instead. I don't really want to write a review while on vacation but then again, I don't want the work waiting for me when I get home either. The unit is so small/light and uses the same cable as the Cowon S9, so packing it wouldn't be an inconvenience.
  • CradlePoint CTR500. Our hotel has free WiFi but in case it also offers a hardwire connection, the CTR500 mobile router would be great for creating a secure network that only my husband and I can use. The router can also be hooked up to USB modems, ExpressCard modems, and cell phones to create a personal WiFi hotspot that up to 16 devices can connect to at once.
  • AT&T USBConnect Mercury. I haven't activated the Verizon account on my Vaio P and I'm not going to bring my Xperia X1 to tether or run WMWiFiRouter, so the only way I'll be able to get online while at the airport is with my USB 3G modem.
  • U2O iWalk 5400mAh battery pack. I usually bring the Tekkeon MP3450 portable power station when traveling, but since I won't be working away from the hotel and the gadgets I'm bringing will easily last throughout the flight, I'm thinking of bringing the smaller U2O iWalk as an emergency backup (my husband's iPod touch has lost some of its battery capacity and he sometimes forgets to charge his phone). It can't be used to charge my Vaio P, but it will work fine with everything else.


These four "might take" items (shown above without their accessories) are all small enough to easily fit into my carry-on, but little things do add up and contrary to what my "must take" list might suggest, I am actually trying to travel light for the first time in my life.

The four items, along with their chargers/cables, weigh about 2 pounds total; the other stuff already weighs about 5.5 pounds (cases/chargers/cables included). Although I've traveled with more than 7.5 pounds of gadgets and accessories before, carrying an extra 5.5 pounds is obviously better than an extra 7.5 (trust a pregnant woman on this!).

We're not leaving today so I still have some time to decide on my final list, but this is where I'm at right now. What would you do with the "might take" devices? The "must take" gadgets and peripherals aren't up for discussion; despite the overlap in function, those are all coming with us.

Note: Pocketables will continue to be updated while I'm away.You'll likely see more guest articles than anything else during that time, but I'll pop in with some stuff when I can as well.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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