This is the first time I have been on an airplane in almost a year, but is the first of a series of trips I will be taking in the next two months. Therefore it was a good opportunity for me to get a better sense of what gear is currently best for me when going from place to place with airline travel in between. My writing on Gear Diary affords me a rather wide selection from which to choose, which is both a blessing and a curse. The upside – I have a wide selection of devices from which to choose, so I can pick the ones that work best for me while traveling. The downside – I have a wide selection of devices from which to choose, and ultimately I have to make choices.
I chose two ways to carry my gear and both worked even better than I hoped.
Scottevest- I have an old, classic Scottevest that I got years ago. It is showing its age, but all the zippers and seams are intact. Sure the new ones have a host of new features but after accompanying me on four trips to Israel, countless trips to the Caribbean, and an African safari where I insisted my father-in-law take it with him, it still works as well as the day I first got it. In it this morning were my wallet, my iPhone, my BlackBerry, a touch, an external battery, a pair of headphones and assorted other goodies that would otherwise have been in my pockets. When I got to the security screening I simply took it off, put it in a bin and walked through the x-ray machine. On the other side, I put it on and was on my way. For that reason alone, the SEV vest makes a great travel companion. I’m glad I have one.
Timbuk2 H.A.L. Backpack- I reviewed this backpack a few months ago and was impressed with it at the time. I’m quite glad that Timbuk2 allowed me to keep the review unit because it made a great carry-on today. The bag is just the right size. By that I mean it is not too large to be difficult to handle but not so small that it doesn’t carry what I need. The design is great. An outside front pocket easily holds the thing I need accessible. The inside section is large and cavernous, perfect for throwing in a sweatshirt in case the plane is cold, and a change of clothes for when Continental loses my luggage. The straps are nicely padded and work great over one or both shoulders. Best yet, as I pointed out in my review, the backpack has an unusual pouch for carrying a notebook. Accessed from a zipper that runs along one side of the bag it made it super easy to pull out my Toshiba netbook when running through security or when pulling it out of the overhead bin mid-flight. I really like this backpack’s design and can see using it for years to come.
Music- I’ve always hated the onboard entertainment on planes. Since I get board easily I always make sure I bring enough to do. Before we left I loaded my touch with books and movies. On the plane, however, I found something else that worked much better. At the last minute I decided to take my iPod shuffle along as well. I keep it in the Scosche tapSTICK that adds buttons so the shuffle can be used with any headphones so that came too. I pulled out the Sennheiser headphones I reviewed yesterday, plugged in the included patchcord that allows the Bluetooth headphones to become standard wired-fare and plugged the into the shuffle. In the super tight seats on the airplane cords can be a hastle so I ran the cord down the inside of my sleeve and clipped the shuffle to my cuff. It worked great and meant that when I got up to stretch my feet I didn;t have to give the cords a seconds though (more than once I have forgotten about the cords and sent whatever device I was using tumbling). I should also note that I continue to be impressed by the Sennheiser MM400s. They sound great and although they do not have any noise-cancelling funcitonality, they make a good enough seal on top of the ear that they block out a good bit of engine noise. Then when we land I can pull the plug and go cordless.
Reading- I’m back in “like” with my Kindle in a big way. (See Judie’s unboxing here.)
credit: Marc van der Chijs
The ease of use, the ability to use it with one hand, not needing to turn pages in cramped corners and the ability to have a number of books packed into the thin device is a joy to use. Moreover, up until now I have had mixed feelings about the Kindle DX compared to the Kindle 2 that I used, and sold, a few month ago. Sure, the DX offered a bigger screen (and at the time was the only Kindle to offer native PDF support) but I kept wondering if the added weight was worth the extra screen real estate. This trip convinced me that the answer is… You bet! Reading on it is a joy. That is key since for me vacations are largely spent sitting at the beech and reading. Heck, I am almost through the first book for this brief trip.
I new I wanted to bring some sort of computing device with me on this trip, and I went back and forth between the Toshiba NB205 netbook and my MacBook. In the end the netbook won out. Why? A few reasons. It is super light, gets unreal battery life, goes into and out of sleep mode in seconds thanks to Windows 7, and does everything I need it to do. In addition, its small footprint is perfect for trying to do some light writing while in the cattle-car — uhm, I mean coach section of the plane. Finally, while at $400 plus the cost of the SSD drive I put into it the netbook is by no means a disposable item, if it gets damaged or stolen I will certainly be less bummed than if my MacBook Pro were to befall the same fate.
A few years ago Elana and I realized that we had few, if any, pictures from most of our trips. From that time on I have made sure to bring a camera with me. This time around, I have the Canon G9 that I’ve had the good fortune of using for the past few months. I love this camera which is, by far, the best I have owned. I love the quality of the pictures it takes. Add to that the fact that it is remarkably small (heavy as hell, but small none-the-less), and it makes a great traveling companion. Truth is, during the day I’ll probably just use my iPhone to take pictures, but when we go out at night the G9 will certainly come with.
Finally I brought the PowerPack Wall Charger Battery, which is a great option for charging everything. And if you think the battery part is a gimmick thing again, for some reason my Kindle wasn’t charged when we got on the plane. Thanks to this little accessory, I was still able to read my Clive Cussler book which, as always, is a quick mindless read with lots of excitement, archaeology and intrigue… my kind of vacation read.
In the end I certainly brought more gear with me than I needed, but then again, I am a chronic overpacker in general. Great thing is, this trip will help me make better decisions for all of the upcoming trips, which will help me bring less with me in the future. Maybe…