The Writer’s 10 Essential Gadgets for Airline Travel

August 5, 2009


There are so many things to remember when packing for an extended stay.  Whether you plan on writing when you settle in wherever you're going, or you want to take advantage of writing time mid-flight or in between flights, make certain your gear bag has all the geekd'm you need.


# 1 – Ultra Portable Laptop (approx 2 lb – 4 lbs) – When you have 7 minutes to haul your keister from boarding gate #1 to gate #68 you feel every ounce packed into your bag.  Do I recommend buying an ultra portable laptop solely for airline travel? No.  I recommend buying an ultra portable laptop period.  These devices have all the power and networking that a writer will ever need, so why opt for some heavy albatross?


#2 – TSA Approved Laptop Bag – We covered two of these TSA approved bags in one of our most popular hands-on reviews What Bag Carriers Your Geekd'm.  Both the Belkin Flythru and the Tom Bihn CheckPoint laptop bags are ultra light and save time at security checkpoints by allowing you to keep your laptop inside the  computer compartment as it proceeds through the x-ray machines.   The one pictured in this article is called CheckPoint Flyer by Tom Bihn.  Great bag!


#3 – eReaders – My reading habits mid-flight are usually page-by-page interests in a magazine I picked up at the newspaper stand, and the current issue of USA Today.  Admittedly, it's odd behavior because unless I'm in an airport, I otherwise never buy USA Today.  With eReaders and the ability to carry a virtual library inclusive of periodicals, journals and books – this odd habit may soon become old hat.  And let's face it, we all are guilty of putting off books we want to read until vacation. EReaders greatly reduce the bulk of paper-bound books.


#4 – AC Adapter Cord –  Leaving my power cord is tantamount to departing on a trip and leaving the front door unlocked, because without access to my computer after the battery dies, I feel completely vulnerable.  


#5 – Noise Reduction Headphones – For those of us who are sensitive to "the white noise", the invention of noise reduction headphones has replaced medication and years of therapy.   If you have not tried a pair I recommend you place an order with a 30-day guarantee and test them out on your next airplane excursion.  Bose is a good place to start.


#6 – Smartphones – Next to computers, smartphones are the greatest invention since sliced bread.  I always have my itinerary emailed to me, as well as directions, and car rental and hotel reservations so that I have everything I need literally in hand (smartphone).  I just purchased the new BlackBerry Tour (best smartphone I have ever owned) and equipped it with a 16 GB microSD – ample storage for music, videos, voice recording etc.  Thus, my smartphone has replaced my need for an iPod.  In addition, I can also use it to store/backup any important papers that are germane to the journey, and locate great local restaraunts and entertainment. Oh, one more thing…With the right mobile software application, you can tether your smartphone to your laptop and gain access to the internet while waiting at the gate.


#7 – MP3 Player –   It's not an essential gadget if you have your music stored on your laptop or smartphone, but if you are using a separate MP3 player such as an iPod to transport more music…don't forget to toss it in the bag.  Music and noise reduction headphones are necessary amo to thwart the screaming two-year old one row in front of you.


#8 – Travel Pen – The worst thing to bring is a roller ball pen that explodes mid-flight and leaks all over your bag.  I recommend the Fisher Space Pen for travel.  It can withstand cabin pressure literally from the moon and back.  


#9 – Backup Battery –  Have you ever seen folks hovering like vultures over the one power outlet in the gate area?  It's ridiculous that airports are 20 years behind technology and have not made better accommodations (more power cords and free WI-FI!!!) for mobile office patrons. My advice is to bring your own juice and forgetaboutit.  Most laptops have an OEM swappable battery option that you can purchase as an add-on.  Note: The MacBook Air does not, so you'll need an external battery substitute if there is no in-flight power supply.

Check out this article for backup battery solutions.  I prefer an external  backup battery because it allows me to leave behind the power cord bricks for all my other devices  (bluetooth headset, smartphone, laptop) and just carry the A/C adapter for the battery.  Both the Tekkeon and Electrovaya external batteries include a plethora of attachment heads that allows you to recharge darn near any gadget.

#10 – Neck Pillow – And for those of you who don't plan on doing a darn thing during the flight except sleeping, give your neck a brake (and the poor soul next to you) – include an inflatable neck pillow in your laptop bag.  The one pictured comes highly recommended from Eagle Creek.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Co. August 16, 2009 at 11:18 pm

I agree, the noise cancellation headphones are a staple in my carry-on. Bose makes several good sets but Sony also has a digital pair that is supposedly even better.


Ron Co. August 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm

BTW – – Love this blog!


ScreenwritingFlyer November 22, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I have an amazing pair of noise cancelling headphones, and they only cost 10 cents. They're called ear plugs. Bah dump bump. Ching!


Dorcas November 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hello! I know this is somewhat off topic
but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
I’m getting sick and tired of Wordpress because I’ve had issues with hackers
and I’m looking at options for another platform.
I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.


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