My family and I have happily returned to vacation travel across this past year. We started in February with a little skiing at Bousquet Mountain in Massachusetts, then visited New Orleans over spring break, relaxed in Maine in June and of course, we just got back from our great trip to the Southwest and Grand Canyon.
And while it’s not too complicated to throw some clothes in a bag and board a plane, it is important to remember that bringing your tech along requires more attention if you want it all to come back with you.
If you misplace a shirt, that’s probably not deal breaker. A missing piece of gear can really ruin your day.
What are the Odds Some of Your Tech Won’t Make It Back?
Let’s face it. Losing your gear on the road is surprisingly easy to do. There are plenty of ways to inadvertently part with your expensive gadgets and their accessories.
- Chargers and Power Cables
How many times have you left behind your smartphone charger or laptop power cable plugged into the desk in your hotel room
- Lens Cap
And if your DSLR’s lens cap is not tethered to your camera’s lens, it’s constantly pulling a Houdini, right?
You Won’t Lose It If You Don’t Have It
Much like over packing clothing for a trip, we also have a tendency to travel with too many gadgets. (I surely do.) So, one solution is simply to leave the tech behind that you can do without.
- Don’t take that laptop if a tablet will do.
- Don’t take the tablet if your smartphone can handle the job.
Sure, many hotel rooms are now equipped with mini safes. And laptops are small enough these days to jam into these tiny vaults. But then you’ve got to remember to clear out the safe before you leave.
(And no matter what, isn’t it always a rush?)
Maybe you won’t forget the laptop, but what’s hidden behind it might get missed with a hurried exit.
Five Ways to Hold onto Your Tech on the Road
But if you absolutely must bring it, here are five tips to help you increase the odds you’ll come home with all your precious tech gear and accessories.
1. Use the Right Carry-On Bag
Keep your tech with you at all times. Assume an 800-pound gorilla will be jumping on your stowed luggage.
So bring a carry-on bag with distinct compartments and keep each piece of tech in its designated position. Then take a moment to memorize where everything belongs.
That way, you’ll be able to quickly scan if all your digital tools are in their right place.
2. Have Power in a Pinch
It’s always nice to bring a little backup power in your bag while you’re going about your day. That way, you don’t have to worry about where you’ll be juicing up your smartphone next.
More importantly, that also means you don’t need to spontaneously set up a portable charging station at the nearest outlet. And you don’t need to pull out unnecessary gear while looking for your charging plugs. Exposing all of your items in public is never a good idea.
These days you can store a power stick that’s not much larger than a pack of gum.
It’s worth it.
3. Keep Your Pockets Light at Security
When going through airport security, it’s always such a fire drill to get everything back on your body before rushing to the gate.
I always feel a sense of dread as all of my pocketed gear disappears down the conveyor belt in bins to be scanned. Yes, I’ve always gotten it all back, but you never know about the next time.
Reposition as much digital paraphernalia as you can into your carry-on bag.
4. Watch Your Laptop Like a Hawk After the X-ray Machine
I’m not talking so much about someone stealing your laptop from its bin while you’re putting your shoes back on. I’m referring to simply protecting it from being harmed.
During a work trip years ago, I watched in horror as a bin holding a laptop rolled out of the X-ray machine conveyer belt. It got squeezed by a bin jam ahead of it, and then it veered off the rollers, dumping the laptop onto the cold, unforgiving cement surface below.
No, the poor laptop didn’t bust into multiple pieces,
but I’m not so sure how solid its guts were after that kind of spill.
Try to position your laptop bin so it comes out of the X-ray machine soon after you’ve walked past your own X-ray body scan experience. That way you’ll be close by to rescue your laptop if a bin jam becomes imminent.
5. ID Your Gear
Sometimes, no matter what you do, fate still intervenes.
So when you end up losing a gadget like your tablet or eBook-reader on a plane,
in your hotel room, or after a lunch at a restaurant… what do you do then?
Well, you’d better leave a trail for someone to find you.
(Like simply taping a business card inside your new iPad case)
If your gear is in lockdown mode, there’s no way for anyone to know it’s yours.
Sure they can do some sleuthing based on your reserved plane seat or hotel room record, but would you want to leave your gadget’s future in the hands of an Inspector Clouseau?
It all comes down to spending the time to pack your gear properly, keeping it with you as much as possible and having a plan when the unexpected happens.
Alternately, just don’t take it. Sometimes, less is more.