When you have the perfect tech setup at home, it can be difficult to leave all that behind when you go on a trip. Here are some tips and tricks to get the best experience possible with what you can bring with you.
From that one Joni Mitchell song (perhaps made popular by the Counting Crows), there’s a saying: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I’ve been constantly battling with this whenever I travel—I never really think about all the tech comforts I have in my home until I go on a trip, and then suddenly I panic and realize what I’m missing. Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve been consistently perfecting my travel tech setup. Granted, I’m no backpacker or business traveler, but several times a year I’ll go on long trips, and on top of that my wife and I visit our parents for the weekend every few weeks.
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From that, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me cope with being away from my home tech, and these tips might help you as well.
Use Cloud Storage
I’m lucky enough that my one and only computer is a laptop, so I’m able to take it anywhere and have all my files come with me. However, if you only have a desktop computer that you can’t really lug around, things get a bit tricky. The good news is that cloud storage can come in handy in these cases.
With cloud storage, you can sync all of your important files across all your devices. So, if you have a secondary laptop that you take on trips or have access to someone else’s computer while you’re away from home, you can at least access your important files wherever you are.
Most could storage services have a free tier that you can take advantage of (with Mega offering the most at 50GB free), as well as offer more storage for a monthly fee if you need it.
If you’re going to set up your laptop to sync files with your desktop, it’s probably best to go ahead and do the syncing while you’re still home and connected to good internet. You don’t even have to sync all the stuff from your desktop. Most cloud storage services offer selective syncing, where you can select which folders get downloaded to each device.
And if you forget something, you can always use whatever internet you have while traveling to sync more.
If you’re using OneDrive, you can even enable a Fetch feature that lets you remotely grab any file on your PC—whether it’s in your OneDrive folder or not.
Get a Chromecast
If you frequently watch Netflix at home, there’s no need to give that up when you travel. I always recommend getting a portable streaming stick like a Chromecast (or a Roku Express or Fire TV Stick) to put in your travel bag.
Sure, you could just use your smartphone or a laptop if you have one, but why watch shows and movies on such a small screen when most places you go will likely have a proper television that you can use?
For that reason, I always carry a Roku Express with me when I travel, that way I can just plug it in, connect it to the Wi-Fi, and start streaming my shows on the big screen without much fuss. They’re also cheap enough that I can just leave one at my parents’ place so that it’s ready to go whenever, as well as a second one that I keep in my travel bag whenever I travel somewhere else.
You should also consider carrying a USB extension cable in your kit, just in case the space behind the TV is a little too cramped to plug in your streaming stick.
Use a Travel Router in Hotels
If you have multiple devices with you when you travel, it can be worthwhile using a travel router (like this one from TP-Link) wherever you’re staying.
Connecting to a hotel’s Wi-Fi isn’t too big of a deal. You usually just have to enter in your name and room number and you’re off to the races. However, it gets a bit more cumbersome when you need to do that with your laptop, phone, tablet, and anything else that connects to Wi-Fi.
With a travel router, you plug it into the ethernet cable or port that the hotel room provides and then you have a little Wi-Fi network of your own to which you can connect all of your devices—you only have to log into the hotel’s Wi-Fi once.
Stock Up on Chargers & Cables
Being on the road and realizing you don’t have enough chargers and cables to plug in all your devices is not ideal.
Most people probably just pack one charger and one cable when they travel, and that at least works temporarily. But you may not realize that you probably have chargers and cables sprawled out across your house in places like the living room, bedroom, and bathroom. It’s really easy to forget about that kind of convenience.
That’s why I pack a couple of portable USB chargers (I’m a big fan of these) and put one by the bed and another by the desk in the hotel room. Then, I bring an assortment of cables that I always keep in my travel bag—they’re so cheap that it’s pretty easy to stock up on them without spending a fortune.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have a portable battery pack handy, for those times when you’re truly on the go and don’t have access to an outlet. Or if you’re taking a road trip, don’t forget a good car charger.
Just Bring As Many Accessories As You Can Fit
When it’s all said and done, there may come a point where you just decide to pack anything and everything you can. This is especially true if you’re not too worried about packing lightly—road trip, anyone?
Are you attached to your keyboard and mouse? Bring it along. Do you love music and want better sound than what your phone provides? Pack a Bluetooth speaker. Hell, do you love your desktop computer so much that you just can’t spend one night away from it? If it can fit in your car, go for it!
It’s good to be strategic with what you pack, but if you have room in your suitcase, why not fill it up?
Image from photobyphotoboy/Shutterstock