The "Go Pack"

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I’ve found myself traveling quite a bit this year, with more travel on the horizon. Like many, I travel with a fair bit of technology and of course that means keeping things charged - both on the go and at rest.

And, like a lot of folks, before every trip I found myself running around the house collecting cords, chargers and adapters to toss into a Ziplock bag. Then unpacking and returning them to their correct places when I got home. It works, but what a pain!

A Better Way

After hearing him talk about it on various podcasts (most notably ATP), I finally took Casey Liss’s advice to heart and started thinking about putting together my own set of tech accessories dedicated to being on the road. Then I saw Deborah Melkin’s (blog | twitter) post about her “speaker bag” (aside: I have since seen the speaker bag in person. It’s quite a thorough kit).

My goal wasn’t to have a complete kit that can do everything at once. To do that would be quite expensive. But when have you ever had to charge everything simultaneously?

The Bag

A couple years ago, we were fortunate to have an REI Co-Op store open locally. Browsing through their travel section, I found the Travel Kit - Small (I also discovered packing cubes but that’s another story). Not too big, not too small, very accessible and if I need to, I can secure it inside my backpack with its webbing loop (assuming I can find an anchor point in the backpack). There’s a separate zippered pocket on the inside which I can use to store cables that are more likely to get tangled or items that are easily lost.

It’s marketed as being for toiletries but who’s going to stop me? Nobody, that’s who.

The Contents

  • Anker Elite 2-port USB Charger. I love Anker gear and have the previous version of this charger behind my nightstand at home (as well as a larger version for common area use). Lightweight, packs small, charges fast, runs cool. What more can I ask for?
  • Anker Astro E5 15000mAH battery pack. This pack has served me very well over the 5 years I’ve owned it but I may need to retire it. It has two USB A ports (which is fine), but only one puts out 2 Amps; the other is 1 Amp. If I need to charge two devices fairly quickly, it can’t keep up. Having a battery pack with multiple ports is especially useful at conferences as it’s a great way to make friends - everyone loves someone who can top off their phone!
  • 2x Anker PowerLine 6’ Lightning cables. For personal gear I’m all-in on Apple (iPhone, iPad, AirPods, Apple Watch) and my wife carries an iPhone as well, so Lightning cables are a must.
  • 1x 3’ Micro USB cable. The only devices that charge with this are my Anker battery pack and my wife’s Samsung tablet.
  • Retractable 7’ Ethernet cable. You can still find Ethernet jacks in many hotel rooms (look at the side of the phone). Is hotel WiFi reliable enough for getting work done? Not to mention the security concerns of public WiFi (though we have VPNs for that too).
  • Logitech Wireless Presenter R400. This is the “budget” presentation remote but for my usage, it gets the job done.
  • Apple Lightning EarPods. Because sometimes, you forget to charge the AirPods case.
  • Apple Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. Almost no one has Mini DisplayPort connectors on their projectors. For that matter, no one’s making laptops with Mini DisplayPort connectors either! My MacBook Pro is old enough that Apple doesn’t even sell this adapter anymore! This might make me a hipster. I hope not.
  • Apple Watch charge cord. There was a time where I didn’t carry one with me at all times, instead opting to just grab the one cord I do have from my nightstand before hitting the road. Then this happened and I found myself at the Burlington, MA Apple store dropping $30 on a second cable out of necessity. Oh well, problem solved for the future. But yeesh, $30 for a 0.3m or 1.0m cable to charge my watch.

Added Benefit

In addition to the ease of packing that keeping all this in one bag brings, getting though airport security becomes a lot easier. No longer do I have to fish cables, chargers, and batteries out of various places in my backpack and then try to cram them all back in after the X-ray. I reach into the pack, grab this one bag, put it in the tray and I’m done.

I’ve done four trips with this Go Pack already and it has made them a lot less stressful. A worthwhile investment!