What's in My Bag

What’s in My Bag? – Mark Frauenfelder

The things I carry with me on flights


What do you bring along when you leave your house? What do you bring when you fly? What do you take with you on hikes?

I’m always curious about the things people bring with them when they travel, whether they are going out for an afternoon or leaving the country for months. I suspect Cool Tools readers have more interesting things than other people do. We’d like you to share your photos and stories about the things in your bag. To get the ball rolling, I’ll start with the stuff I take with me when I fly. (Click any image to zoom in.)


Personal items: an Altoids mint gum tin filled with Zyrtec, Sudafed, Motrin, and a cough drop (blue tape is to keep it closed). Chapstick (my lips get dry when I travel, every time). Nailclipper (hangnails drive me berserk). Styptic pencil (because for some reason I cut myself shaving much more frequently when I’m away from home).


Amazon Basics Electronics Travel Case: $14. Reviewed on Cool Tools here. This small case holds everything in the photo except my laptop, umbrella, and ChicoBag.


Super Talent 16 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive: $14. I got a 4GB version a few years ago and since then the price has dropped to the point where the 16GB is less than what I paid for mine. This holds my Keynote presentations in every file format imaginable. It’s tiny, and I keep in it one of the little zipper compartments of the Amazon case.


Compact umbrella and ChicoBag: I was in Paris last year and it started raining while we were waiting in line for a museum to open. A man with a cardboard box filled with small umbrella materialized, and sold them all for five euros each. I still have the one I bought. (I actually  keep it in my carry on luggage, but I wanted to include it in this list because I bring it with me on every trip I take.) I can almost hide the nylon ChicoBag ($17.50 for a four pack) in my fist, but it opens to 18×14.5 inches. Great for groceries, carrying my computer, or the beach.


USB Charger and USB cables: The PowerGen White Dual USB Wall Charger ($11) has a 2.4 Amp outlet that charges phones and tablets fast. The BlueLounge Kii ($20) is a keychain USB charger for iPhones and iPads.


Playing cards and card manipulation book: It’s ridiculous that this miniature edition of S.W. Erdnase’s classic book on card manipulation is selling for $200 on Amazon. You can buy the (admittedly uglier) Dover edition for $9. This book, along with a deck of cards, will keep me busy for hours on a flight as I practice different kinds of cuts, shuffles, and double lifts.


Snacks: I don’t like airplane food. I’ll either fast or bring along a bag of macadamia nuts (lots of omega-3 oil) and a few Epic Gluten Free Grass Fed Bison Bacon and Cranberry Bars ($40 for 12).


11.6-inch MacBook Air: Some people manage to get by with a tablet when they are on the road, but I need a real computer. The 11.6-inch MacBook Air ($860) has everything I need. I keep it in a STM neoprene Glove ($30). I also bring a USB Ethernet adapter (for hotel Internet because WiFi in hotel rooms is usually slow) and a VGA adapter (I put my email address on it so I can get it back if I forget it). The charger cable is shielded with split loom tubing ($12 for 100 feet) so my cats won’t bite it. See the Cool Tools review here.


Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation: This 6000mAh USB charging unit  ($88) keeps my devices running for days without having access to an AC outlet. In the comments of my Cool Tools review, many readers suggested less expensive and more capacious chargers. Try them and report back!


iPhone 5s and Mophie Space Pack: This case ($160) is a combination battery pack, protective case, and 32GB storage device. You can load it with movies and leave plenty of room to take photos and shoot video.reading

Reading material: A small paperback book, a Kindle Paperwhite ($119 for the version that displays offers from Amazon when you are not using it — and the offers are often good). I picked up the reading glasses in Little Tokyo (Los Angeles) for a few bucks.

OK, now it’s your turn. Send photos of the things in your bag (and of the bag itself, if you love it), along with a description of the items and why they are useful. Make sure the photos are large (1200 pixels wide, at least) and clear. Use a free file sharing service like Bitcasa to upload the photos, and email the text to editor@cool-tools.org.

-- Mark Frauenfelder 05/12/14

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