My travelling tech bag

I have a small bag I carry whenever I’m travelling and taking my laptop or phone with me. It includes all the adapters and power cables I usually expect to need. The idea is that I could pick it up at any time, and have it be ready to go. I don’t have to faff around finding parts if I’m in a hurry.

I got a few questions about this at PyCon last week, so I thought I’d make a quick list of what it currently contains. Not everybody needs everything in this bag, but it’s worth thinking about how much (or little!) you could carry and always have what you need.

This is what my bag looks like, straight after PyCon:

A photograph of my tech bag. A rectangular pouch with two compartments, stuffed with electronics equipment.

What cables and adapters you need depends in part on what equipment you’re carrying, and what you expect to do with it. My personal laptop is a 2016 MacBook (with the one USB-C port) and my phone is an iPhone. Sometimes I take my Kindle as well, but it’s very rare that I need to plug that into anything else.

So, what’s in the bag?

Power

When I’m travelling for longer than the battery life of my devices will last, I need a way to charge on the go. This is what I carry for charging:

I don’t carry a foreign power adapter. Although I own one, the majority of my travel is within the UK, and they tend to be quite bulky. If I’m travelling overseas, I have enough advance warning that I can grab it – and even if I don’t, I can get by with the Anker battery for several days.

Video

I’m often presenting and/or going to places where somebody else is presenting. Most projectors only have HDMI or VGA inputs, whereas my laptop only has USB-C out, so I always carry my own adapters. (Even if the venue tells me they have adapters, I take mine anyway. Venue adapters have a bad habit of wandering off.)

For my current laptop, I carry two adapters:

My previous laptop was a MacBook Air, which had Mini DisplayPort for video out (not Thunderbolt; it was too old for that). Although I no longer have a direct use for them, MiniDP is common enough that I still carry the adapters, ready to lend out if necessary.

I to have a MiniDP-to-DVI adapter, but I so rarely see DVI on projectors that I stopped carrying it.

Networking

Conference/hotel Wi-Fi is often flakey or non-existent, so I like to be able to use wired Internet as a backup. Just two cables for this one:

Other

A few other items that don’t fit into the other categories:

And not in the bag itself, but I have several Sharpies (both black and metallic) for labelling all my equipment when I buy it. This has a dramatic effect on the return rate of cables when I’m lending them out. Naming items is definitely worth doing.

The contents of the travel bag haven’t changed much in the last few years. When I bought my new laptop, I added the USB-C video adapters and swapped out a MagSafe adapter for a USB-C cable (much lighter, yay), but that’s about it. Not too cheap, but this collection of cables covers all the bases. I can’t remember the last time I was out-and-about, and found myself desperately needing a cable it didn’t contain.