Here’s what I take with me when I travel.
Packing a travel bag for Google I/O is not dissimilar to going on vacation, at least not for someone who lives and breathe technology. There’s the laptop and the phone(s), the cables and chargers, the adapters and other accoutrements that make the experience a little more productive during work, and more enjoyable during downtime.
What’s interesting about this year is how much less stuff I am bringing; the older and more experienced I get at these shows, the fewer essentials I feel pressured to bring — to the delight of my beleaguered back.
Here’s what I’m bringing to Google I/O this year.
The bag – Tylt Energi Pro
I usually have pretty short honeymoon periods with backpacks, but I’ve found a long-term winner with the Tylt Energi Pro. It’s not the included 20,100mAh battery charger and cable routing, but the design and quality of the bag itself.
Excellent, weather-resistant materials mean that I don’t have to worry about my stuff getting drenched in a storm or dusty from porousness. Tight, well-constructed zippers ensure that they won’t break from applying too much force and, when closed, water won’t seep in.
I love the number of compartments, and the easy access to ones on the side when I’m in a rush. The main compartment opens vertically, and is designed for camera equipment and other larger pieces; I can easily fill it with cameras, lenses, cables and adapters and still have plenty of room left over.
The laptop compartment is nicely cushioned and features a number of smaller mesh areas for storing tablets, phones and other diminutive pieces of tech.
Finally, the straps are fully adjustable, and wonderfully cushioned for longer day trips that have me wearing the bag for long periods.
The computer – 2015 MacBook Pro
An early 2015 MacBook Pro is still my workhorse. It’s spec’d out, with a Core i7 and 16GB of RAM, though Chrome churns through memory so I rarely feel its full speed potential.
Still, unlike Andrew I haven’t moved to the newer form factor, for, as much as I love simplicity I’m not ready to give up MagSafe for dongles.
I may have to look at another laptop soon, though: the battery life on this computer isn’t what it used to be, and I struggle to get more than four or five hours from a charge. In that case, I’d look into a Surface Book or an equivalent high-end Windows laptop. I like Mac, but I want to explore the latest in Windows — provided the notebook has a trackpad that’s equivalent in performance to this one. You still can’t beat Macs for trackpads.
The phones – Galaxy S8 + Pixel XL
I’ve had great battery on the Galaxy S8+ so far, and don’t expect that to change even while roaming, though connecting to a non-native network does typically impact battery life.
In the other pocket, a Pixel XL, which I may use to load the first Android O beta when it’s announced during the keynote. I still love this phone, and often go back to it for a few days just to remember what I’m missing — the smoothness, the minimalism — when I switch to the Galaxy S8.
The camera – Sony RX100 IV
This year, I decided to keep things simple and bring just my Sony RX100 IV, a fantastic point and shoot that outperforms rivals in its size range, and many larger DSLRs, too.
Google I/O isn’t typically a photo-heavy event, but I’ve taken the RX100 to product launches, too, and have rarely been disappointed with the results. If there’s one gripe I have with the damn thing, it’s the lack of a microphone jack, but I’ve solved that issue, to a large extent, with the next item on the list.
Zoom H5 microphone + input
Have you listened to a live Android Central podcast over the past year? You’ve heard this handy microphone in action. The Zoom H5 is a field podcaster’s dream, with two XLR inputs along with a super-sensitive default cardioid mic attachment that does well in a pinch.
Rodelink wireless lav microphone
The next piece of the puzzle is capturing audio wirelessly, and the Rodelink wireless lav is amazing. It hooks into the Zoom’s auxiliary input and allows for the capture of high-quality audio from practically anywhere, even outside in the wind.
It’s not cheap, but the Rodelink is a great deal if you’re looking to capture vocals without having to worry about long cords or standing close enough a boom mic.
There are a couple of essential chargers and adapters I always include in a travel bag: my three-port AC adapter extension from Belkin, which swivels at its base to make sure it works in any plug; and my Aukey 5-port USB-A hub, which is perfect for charging all the things. One of the ports on the Anker is Quick Charge 2.0-compatible, which is helpful, but generally I just fill them up with whatever cables and accessories need topping at the end of the day. Easy, peasy.
Battery pack – Tylt 20,100mAh pack
This is the Tylt 20,100 mAh pack that I mentioned earlier. It’s awesome: it has two USB-A inputs, including one that supports Quick Charge 3.0, along with a USB-C port that doubles as both juice in and out — it can give charge as well as receive it. I’ve only had the battery pack since March, but I am incredibly impressed with the quality of the cell.
Headphones – Blue Satellite
Of course, my headphone load is my latest rave review: the Blue Satellite wireless headphones. They’re comfortable to wear for long periods, and have both active noise cancelling and a separate amp, in case your source isn’t particularly powerful. The dual 44mm drivers also sound great, with accurate mids and deep, rich bass.
Other items (not seen)
I brought my Nintendo Switch because why the hell not? The idea of playing some Mario Kart with some buds in the middle of Shoreline Amphitheatre sounds great. Sure, it’s probably not going to happen, but we have to have some fun at these events, don’t we?
I also lugged along my Kenu Stance USB-C tripod, which is an awesome little gadget for watching movies or framing video on the go.
Other than that, there are cables, granola bars (Nature Valley what up) and some adapters, as well as some roaming SIM cards from Roam Mobility in case I run out of data.
What about you?
What do you bring on your trips? Let us know in the comments below!