So now that you’ve got your perfect travel laptop picked out, what are you going to take with it?
Here’s a run-down of accessories you’re going to want in your pack before heading off into the great unknown.
1. Charger. A no-brainer really, but it’s got to be on the list. The best thing about laptops is that because the wall charger has to convert AC to DC for the computer to work, they almost always have a voltage converter. Meaning it will work fine whether you’re in London, New York, Tokyo, or Delhi.
2. Plug Adapter. Don’t forget this one, because what’s cheap at home will certainly cost more when you really need it. Get an assortment so you’ll always have the right one on hand.
3. Case. Make sure you have something durable to keep your laptop from getting nicked and scratched, and to dampen any vibrations caused by moving around on bumpy roads or ancient buses.
4. Dry bag. Protect your laptop from a sudden deluge during monsoon season, an accidental dip during a river crossing, or even fine dust and sand, which can slip through standard cases and packs. They roll up nice and small, so carry it with you and you’ll always have peace of mind.
5. Blank CDs/DVDs. Prepare for the worst by backing up your data often on writeable cds or dvds. You can also use these to transfer data to internet café computers when you can’t get a connection on your laptop.
6. Thumb drive. Another way to back up information (depending on size). Especially handy for moving data between your computer and an internet café.
7. Software backups. Bring backups of any essential software you’ll be using on your trip, as well as the operating system (OS), just in case something happens and you’ve got to reformat the harddrive.
8. Warranty information. If you’re still covered under warranty, make sure you’ve got everything you need to make a claim (and how you could do this where you are going) in case something stops working.
9. Phone and ethernet cables. Believe it or not some places still use cable connections. Keep these on hand for just such an occasion.
Those are what I would call essentials. Here’s a list of optional accessories to help you get the most out of your laptop on the road.
9. Wireless adapter. If your laptop doesn’t have one built-in, getting one of these will allow you to surf the internet in some pretty surprising places.
10. Wireless network detector. Small enough to fit on a keychain, these useful devices are fairly cheap and will tell you if you’re in range of any wireless networks. Saves you from breaking out your laptop and booting it up only to find out that there’s nothing in the area.
There are also plenty of websites that list known wireless hotspots, so be sure to have a look at where you’ll be heading before you leave.
11. Mouse. Some people prefer to use a real mouse.
12. Headset. Use this to make cheap or free VoIP calls from services like Skype when on the road. Helpful for internet cafes too, as some places don’t have them, or if they do they are often broken or charge a fee to use.
13. Webcam. If you plan on staying in touch or teleconferencing, a small one of these can be useful. Keep in mind that many digital cameras can double as webcams when plugged in via USB.
14. Small speakers. Everyone loves music. A small set of travel speakers will sound infinitely better than the built-in speakers on your laptop.
15. Extra battery/external power source. An extra battery can come in handy, or better yet, get a nifty external battery or portable charger. These are rechargeable batteries that can power a range of devices, like a laptop or digital camera.
16. Travel surge protector. You could take your chances, or you could protect your gear with one of these. If you’re going to be plugging in to a phone jack or wired ethernet, get a room for these inputs too.
Of course there are plenty of other accessories you could bring along, but this list should get you started.
In the next episode in this series, I’ll talk about how to keep your computer from being lost, stolen or broken.
This is Part II in our series on Laptop Travel. Read Part I here.
Any other essential laptop travel items you would bring on the road?