How to not lose your cables, chargers, and other gadgets when working out and about

If you're the sort of person who spends time working from a temporary "office" at a café or restaurant, then you'll probably know the pain of leaving some vital bit of kit behind. Here's how to reduce the chances of unwittingly "donating" a charger or cable, or other important bit of kit. (Updated from January 2020)

The tech accessories you must include in your travel bag

This time last year, I spent a lot of time working on the move, and that's meant that sometimes I had to set up a temporary "office" at a café or restaurant. But the more gear you have out, the greater the chances of losing something (or, as I think of it, "donating" it). 

Here's how I managed to keep the gear I started out with.

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Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place

I owe this one to my grandfather. "Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place," he used to say (he said it in Welsh, but the sentiment was the same).

It works for me having a good method of carrying my stuff. Pockets are always a compromise.

I tend to pack my gear into Maxpedition sling pack, which holds my MacBook Pro, charger, and other bits. I also have a Maxpedition Wolfspur bag for shorter trips, which easily consumes an iPad Pro, charger, cables, with plenty of room sandwiches, water bottle, and other bits and pieces.

My hard working, hard wearing Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger sling pack

My hard working, hard wearing Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger sling pack

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Make it a habit to check pockets and pouches

I have a habit of unconsciously patting down my pockets every so often, checking to see that I still have everything I expect to have -- smartphone, wallet, pen, multitool. It's a good habit to get into, not in an obsessive way, but occasionally, when getting up from a seat or moving on public transport or about a busy place.

Keep zips and clasps on bags shut

It's incredible the number of people I see walking along with their backpack or messenger bag half-open (I saw it just a few moments ago -- a guy's backpack was open, and his iPad was hanging out, ready to fall out, or be stolen). Again, make it a habit to check zips and clasps on your bags.

Use tech to keep your tech safe

Have "Find my" active on your iOS and Android devices. It's one of those things that you'll thank yourself for if you lose something. 

I've also been using Tile tags a lot lately, and it's been a constant companion around Europe, keeping an eye on my wallet, backpack, and luggage. The hardware and software have performed flawlessly, and I highly recommend the gear.

A Tile Slim tirelessly keeping an eye on my wallet as I travel

A Tile Slim tirelessly keeping an eye on my wallet as I travel

Make your gear distinctive!

I've found that one of the best ways to not lose stuff is to make it distinctive. Not only is it harder to inadvertently leave something behind that stands out, but it also makes it less likely that someone else will take a fancy to it. I find that distinctive Velcro patches on bags (glue them on if you don't want someone ripping them off), and reflective tape on bags, chargers and even cables (the marine grade SOLAS tape will survive years of hard use, and cling on to most surfaces) pays for itself.

For night time, I've found the TEC Accessories Embrite Velcro patch to be very useful for keeping track of my bag (also a handy visual so I don't trip over it or tread on it!).

My charging cables are also pretty distinctive -- I like bright red Amazon Basics cables!

My stuff might look goofy, but it's my stuff, I am out of hoots to give about other people think, and this seems like an effective way to keep my stuff as mine.

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