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Prepare for connectivity issues
Traveling often presents various difficulties getting online and it is wise to prepare for that possibility. It is hard to believe but some hotels still offer no connectivity at all, while others charge an arm and a leg to get you online. Frequent travelers have no doubt seen that hotels may promote in-room internet connectivity, wired and/or wireless, but it can often be a mixed bag. Either the connectivity doesn't seem to work or is horribly slow.
The best way to prepare for this is to bring your own mobile broadband if at all possible. Many smartphones now have the ability to serve as mobile hotposts to tether laptops or tablets to them to get online. It may require activating the hotspot capability on the phone before tethering is allowed, so make sure that is done and tested before the trip. Note that serving as a hotpost for hours can eat into the data plan on the phone.
Those who own iPads or iPad minis with LTE have a better option for dealing with bad hotel connectivity. These can serve as mobile hotposts for laptops and other gear for extended periods. I always travel with my iPad mini which can serve as a fast mobile hotspot for over 20 hours on a single charge. The same concerns about watching the data usage on a phone hotspot apply to the iPad solution.
Having redundant mobile connectivity won't do any good if your carrier has no data coverage so be sure and check the carrier's online coverage map before your trip. These are accurate and provide a visual clue about what to expect with mobile broadband where you are going.
This sounds like common sense but packing smart can make the difference between a happy trip and one you'd rather forget when it's over.
Packing smart starts with a good piece of luggage, and these days that means a carryon bag. For years I preferred to check my main luggage so I didn't have to deal with it at the airport but savvy business travelers convinced me that carrying all bags on the flight is the way to go. I've taken that advice the last few trips and I quickly realized that carryon is definitely the way to go with fewer hassles. It also avoids the exorbitant fees to check your baggage.
Carrying bags on the flight means having a good carryon bag, and there are lots to choose from that you can find online. I settled on the Travelpro Crew 8 bag pictured above and it has been wonderful.
Whatever bag you choose should have lots of pockets for packing tightly. I can easily pack clothes and items for a four-day trip in this bag, as you should be able in any quality carryon bag.
One particularly useful feature of the Travelpro bag is a special zipper that runs all around the bag. This can be unzipped, extending the main compartment by two inches. This lets me pack extra stuff for extended trips. Once packed, the bag can be closed normally with this extra space. Then, by simply pushing down on the top of the bag, the special zipper can be zipped close. This brings the bag back to the proper size for fitting in the overhead bins on the plane. This has saved my bacon a number of times, eliminating the need to check the bag due to its overstuffed state.
The cable stash covered in an earlier slide goes in a pocket on this bag so I don't have to carry it in my shoulder bag. My laptop goes in a special compartment on the bigger carrryon bag which is shown in the next slide.
I also carry a small shoulder bag while traveling for my tablet and other stuff I may need on the plane.
Laptop in the carryon bag
As mentioned in the previous slide, a handy feature of my Travelpro carryon luggage is a nice zippered pocket on the front of the bag (when it's vertical). This compartment is designed to be a mini-briefcase with easy access on the front of the bag.
I put whatever laptop I am bringing on the trip in the compartment designed for that purpose, along with typical gear like pens, folders, etc. I can get to the laptop easily should I need it at the airport, while keeping my shoulder bag as small (and light) as possible.
This has worked marvelously on my last two trips and I have come to love having this laptop compartment on the carryon luggage. I always use another shoulder bag for stuff I use during the travel portion of the trip, and I make sure the laptop will fit inside for carrying during the day at the destination.
Be aware that if flights are overcrowded flight crews may make you check your carryon bag. You probably don't want to do that with your laptop inside so it's a good idea to make sure your shoulder bag has just enough room to squeeze your laptop inside.