Travelling Light…

I am in France for 10 days. These are the 10 main devices I brought with me and what I use them for. The question of whether I should have even bothered to bring this many things is definitely a question worth asking, but I’ll worry about that slightly more deep and meaningful question later!

iPhone 5

This is the mainstay of all my technology and I wouldn’t leave home without it. The idea of leaving home without a simple form of communication with the outside world seems today like a terrible one. Even if it remains in my bag on airplane mode, that it is ready to be used at a moment’s notice is great. It is also great for being a podcast or music player as well as a great Internet device. Couple this with Three’s “Feel at home” policy for taking the phone abroad and I am onto a winner! No charges for using calls, texts or Internet in several different countries. Amazing.

However the biggest downside to the iPhone 5 I have is the battery life. Mine stays in a case at all times because to replace it would be far too expensive, but even with it, I do love its size and Apple still managed to cram a lot of great technology into its svelte aluminium and glass body, but I would gladly have added a few extra millimetres for a few hours more battery. However I suspect that is one area where Apple chooses form over function repeatedly and as long as battery life isn’t worse than its predecessor, they must be happy with it.

11" Macbook Air (2013)

This is my favourite computer at the moment and it goes everywhere with me. It is too small and yet too powerful to leave behind. If there is any chance I will need a full size keyboard and OS X, then it is better to have it than not. Couple that with its ability to be a hub for all of the other pieces of technology, and its incredibly long battery life, I have absolutely no qualms in bringing it. There is probably a comparison to be made with the iPad mini, Nexus 7 (2013), Chromebook or Surface Pro for portable productivity. However at the moment the MacBook Air is still likely to be the second thing I pack after my phone if there is anything productive that needs doing. At least until the iPad Scrivener app is released!

The only real downside I have found with it is the lack of SD card reader, which is found on the larger 13" model. However that was easily rectified with a cheap purchase from Amazon.

iPad mini with retina display

After owning the iPad first generation for over three years, the introduction of smaller tablets really showed me that I didn’t need a larger one anymore and could definitely make do with one of the 7–8" tablets. My current favourite is the second generation iPad mini as it has better compatibility with my laptop and phone than the Nexus 7 I also own. I currently have a good number of tv episodes and music on it as well as some excellent note-taking apps like Pages or PlainText. Both of these are great for adding to my blog while I’m on holiday and will sync updates as soon as I go back to the WiFi. I picked up a Pelican 1055 hard case for it and it works perfectly. I can throw that into my bag and I know that the iPad will come out the other end absolutely fine.

The biggest downside over the previous iPad is the difficulty of typing with both hands just like on a normal keyboard. At 9.7" the larger iPad does allow for this to take place. At 7.9", the mini only allows for an abbreviated version of proper typing or typing in portrait like on a smartphone. On the other hand, I could have brought my Bluetooth keyboard with me for it, but at that point using the MacBook Air would make a lot more sense!

Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch

I bought one of these over a Kindle for a number of different reasons, but the e-Ink Screen and the long battery life is the biggest deal when going on holiday. When the sun is too bright for the iPhone or iPad and I want to read, it really is the best device to use, especially given how much space real books take up! The Nook has some key differences over the Kindle and a far smaller online library than Amazon’s, but the ability to convert and load my own books and files onto it, and even to root it and turn it into an e-Ink tablet device, it does have a few benefits over its more expensive and more well-known competitor, even if those benefits don’t actually concern its primary use.

Moleskine Diary

I’m trying to use a paper and computer calendar system at the moment in the hope of keeping everything synced up and hopefully don’t forget anything. This is an attempt to have all of my events and to do lists all captured in both. I have already found it both useful and more time consuming than syncing all my events through just Google Calendar, but hopefully it will become more useful as I get used to actually using it.

Paperchase notebook and many pens

It’s old technology, but using a pen and paper is still one of the most surefire ways of getting words down on the page. When the sun is too bright for the iPad’s display or battery life is at a premium, there is something incredibly useful about having pens and paper which are ready to use at any time. Getting words from the page into the laptop or the iPad are also a good proofreading and editing phase and they never run out of battery! It also gives me the impression that if I practise enough, my handwriting will eventually improve. Sadly it still isn’t there yet. Regardless, if there is anything my working life has taught me, one can never have too many pens.

Nikon D3100

I’ve had this camera about a year and it is great to bring along on holidays as the gap between a decent DSLR and the phone cameras of today is still wide enough to notice the difference. Since it has a card with more storage space than my iPhone anyway, it can keep going and going. Still, if space in my bag had been at a real premium it would have been the first thing to get dropped off this list. I wouldn’t claim to be a photographer, but having the camera does provide the opportunity to begin to learn the craft.

iPod Video 80GB

I’ve had this ipod since 2006/7 and it still manages to truck along. It’s the only device I have which is able to hold that much audio, since my iPhone and iPad are only the 16GB models. This means it holds the bulk of my music. I keep telling myself I’ll pick up one of the 160GB iPod Classics that Apple is still selling, but I haven’t had a need just yet as this one keeps working through drops and dents and scrapes. The battery life is still decent this many years on as well and it takes the burden off my iPhone if I need it to have battery for any particular reason, especially when travelling!

Bowers & Wilkins P5

These are a great pair of headphones I bought because they provide good audio and work great as handsfree for the iPhone. Obviously they are superior to any of the earbuds that are packaged with the device and I wanted something that provided a bit more isolation while travelling on the train or the plane. I got mine secondhand, but they still work great even with a few nicks and dents. They’ve also taken a bit of a battering over the last few months but they are made of aluminium and leather and appear very solidly built.

I’m also not an audiophile and bought them mainly for their function as a good pair of headphones with the built-in handsfree, but the audio is superior to anything I’ve owned and that is good enough for me. The only downside some may have with them is their tight fit which took some time to get used to. It also makes wearing glasses or sunglasses with them quite uncomfortable for long periods.

Duracell portable battery charger

This old device sits in my bag just in case my phone needs about 2/3 to 3/4 of a full charge. I always take it on long journeys where I expect to use the iPhone a lot and it will even charge the iPad mini at a stretch. At some point I’ll pick up a newer, better one which uses the newer micro-USB rather than the older mini-usb as standard, but for the time being it serves its purpose well enough!


Originally published on 24 July 2014 at www.dcxiii.com.

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