Tag Archive for ‘Travel’

A Travel Packing List Shortcut ➝

Shawn Blanc:

Having a pre-populated packing list is one of the greatest “travel hacks” I’ve ever done.

It takes all the guesswork out of packing. And it saves me quite a bit of time as well. I just follow the list and when I’m done I don’t have to worry if I forgot about anything.

He setup a Shortcut to generate a packing list in Bear, which is a pretty slick setup.

My current packing list is built in Things. I have a project that contains all of the items I need for traveling. When I have an upcoming trip, I’ll duplicate the project and give it a name to match the location I’m going. It’s worked out well, but it means I have an omnipresent project called “Packing List” in Things’ sidebar.

I think I’m going to give Shawn’s approach a try. My biggest concern is that I might be less likely to revise my packing list overtime, since Shortcuts isn’t exactly the ideal app for editing the list. But removing the project from Things and keeping the whole setup out of view unless I need it might be worth the trade off.

Tech Travel Kit

This past week, I traveled to New Orleans for a work meetup with my Happiness Engineer team. It was an incredible experience with a lot learning, amazing food, and games. I learned that Overcooked is an excellent game and there are actually legitimately good team building-type exercises.

This was my first time traveling for work and thought it might be useful to share the tech-related items that I brought with me during the trip. Not just because I’m obsessed with this sort of stuff, but because I’ve learned a bit about what I actually need and more importantly, what I don’t, when traveling.

I kept the majority of my tech items inside my carry-on, which was a Tom Bihn Pilot. It might be the best bag I’ve ever owned and it was roomy enough to hold all my gear while still remaining fairly compact. It has a vertically oriented water bottle/umbrella pocket with a metal grommet at the bottom, which will let water leak out instead of soaking your bag. I also made good use of all the o-rings inside of the Pilot to attach keystraps and various Tom Bihn pouches to organize my kit.

Here’s the full list of gear that I kept in the Pilot:

  • MacBook Air (2018): it’s a fantastic machine with a severely flawed keyboard. I still run into issues with duplicate or missed key presses, but hopefully I’ll have a chance to get the keyboard replaced with the latest iteration soon. I love every other aspect of this machine, though, and am glad I chose it instead of one of the Pro models.
  • iPad Air 2: It’s over four years old for me, but is still my primary machine for non-work tasks. Writing, browsing the web, watching video, and reading are at their best on the iPad. At least for me. Armed with my essential Shortcuts, I can do just about everything I need to do.
  • Nintendo Switch: This is an item that I don’t expect I would bring next time I travel. Two or three of my teammates also brought their Switches and I never ended up taking mine out of its case.
  • USB-C Charging Cable: I just use the standard USB-C cable that came with the MacBook Air, nothing special. I do have a fancier Anker cable, but It’s about six inches shorter than the Apple cable. I probably would take the Anker in the future because it’s a bit thinner and easier to wrap up and store. In practice, the length difference wouldn’t have mattered.
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable: I have this one from Anker, mostly because I’m a big fan of their other Lightning cables. It’s nice and durable and is great for charging my AirPods or iPhone while I’m working from my Air.
  • Magic Mouse 2: I might eventually replace this with a more ergonomical alternative. But until I find one that I like, it’s a nice, portable option that gets the job done.
  • Anker PowerPort Atom PD 1: The existence of these ultra-compact, relatively high power output chargers is one of the major reasons why I went with the Air. This charger can power my device without a hiccup and is much smaller and lighter than the default charger.
  • Sandisk USB-C Thumb Drive: This serves as my portable Time Machine Backup that I leave in my suitcase while I’m out and about with my laptop. This way, if anything happens to my Air, I can get back up and running quickly after acquiring a replacement.
  • Tile Mate: If I ever get separated from my bag, I can use the Tile app to trigger the unit’s audio tone to help me find it or make use of the map feature and rely on other Tile users to track it down. I started using these last year and don’t plan on looking back — every bag I own needs a Tile.
  • AirPods 2: The best headphones available. You might notice the omission of “wireless” in that last sentence and I can assure you, it was intentional. The battery life is great, they’re more pocketable than just about anything else on the market, and can switch devices is a snap.
  • Lighting Cable: A standard USB-A Lightning cable from Anker that serves as my primary charging cable for iPhone, iPad, and AirPods. It’s sturdy and does the job well.
  • Watch Charging Cable: I typically don’t travel with my Apple Watch, but thought I was going to do enough walking during the trip that it would be worth the extra gear in my bag. I ended up appreciating it much more than I initially expected. The ability to receive notifications on my wrist so I can keep in touch with my wife and having a timer that I could use without disturbing those around me were quite handy.
  • Anker PowerPort Mini: My go-to bedside charger, which typically powered my iPhone and Apple Watch. Every couple of days I’d use it to top-off my AirPods and iPad while I was working in the hotel or getting ready to head out in the morning. It’s the most compact two-port charger I’ve seen and the primary reason I haven’t dove head-first in to USB-C yet.

I also ended up with a small collection of tech kit in my checked bag. It was all the items that I didn’t expect I’d need or want on my travel days and consisted of the following:

  • Tile Mate: Again, there isn’t a bag I own that doesn’t have a Tile inside of it now. Having one in my checked bag was especially neat, I could often launch the Tile app and see that the unit was connected from inside the plane, which confirmed that my bag made it on the flight.
  • Lightning Cable: An additional Lightning cable that I could use for charging my devices. I never ended up using this item, so I might leave it at home the next time around.
  • Twelve South Compass 2: This is my go-to stand for the iPad, but something I never touched during my travels. I think I’ll keep it in my kit, though, because I did find myself using my MacBook and iPad simultaneously a few times. In hindsight, I should have grabbed the Compass, which would have made these situations a bit more comfortable.
  • Lightning to HDMI Dongle: Another item that never left my bag. I brought this in case I had some time to watch YouTube or Hulu before falling asleep, but I never had time. At night, I threw in my AirPods and listened to a podcast while I was getting ready for bed. That was the extent of my hotel room entertainment.
  • Apple Watch Woven Nylon Band: I like to switch out bands frequently and wanted to give myself the option to do so during my travels. I would definitely bring one again because I switched twice throughout the week of the meetup.
  • Switch Accessories: My portable dock (using this shell), power adapter, and Joy Con Straps never saw the light of day — I just didn’t end up using my Switch at all.
  • HDMI Cable: This served as a way to connect my Switch and my iPad or iPhone to the TV through the HDMI to Lightning adapter. I plan to leave this off my packing list next time as well.

As an aside, I used an Away suitcase as my checked bag for the meetup. I bought the medium sized model in asphalt. It’s a joy to use with all sorts of nice little features, but the built-in lock ended up breaking during my travels. The slider mechanism will release the zippers regardless of what combination you enter — that’s not exactly ideal.

I don’t want to give the bag up, though, and wouldn’t mind adding another to our luggage collection for when my wife and I go on trips together. I plan on contacting Away within the next couple of days to see if they can offer a replacement or if there is some trick that I’m unaware of to get it working as expected again.

One last thing to note, Automattic will have me traveling at least a couple of times each year. So if you’re as fascinated by gear as I am, you can expect I’ll be publishing articles like this again the future.

Zens Power Bank With Integrated Watch Charger

Last year, I wrote about removing everything from my travel kit that charged over micro-USB. My iPhone and iPad charge over Lightning, why can’t everything else? It was a neat idea that worked well. At least, for the most part. The two biggest hurdles were in finding a way to charge my Apple Watch and tracking down a power bank that featured a Lightning port.

Zens Charging iPhone and Apple Watch

If you read my piece from last year, you may remember that I discovered that Aukey offered an external battery that charged over Lightning. It was a neat product — it didn’t have much capacity, but it was more of a safety net than anything else. I didn’t need a giant battery to charge all of my devices at once, I just wanted a compact unit that I could use to top-off my iPhone in a pinch.

The Aukey has a couple of other downsides, though. It often got warm while in use and it took, what seemed like, forever to charge. That’s not something I would normally complain about, but when you’re leaving on a trip the following morning, it’s nice to have everything actually packed the night before. With the Aukey, I would often have to leave it to charge overnight and risk forgetting it in the morning.

That brings me to the other hurdle associated with an all-Lightning lifestyle — charging my Apple Watch. Up until a few months ago, my solution was to just leave my Watch at home when I traveled.

This worked out okay for a while — I would have those moments where I’d look down at my wrist for the time and realize I’m not wearing it, but I didn’t miss it much. That is, until last Fall when I made an attempt to better utilize the Watch in my daily life — which manifested itself on this site when I wrote about my favorite watchOS apps.

My newfound love for the Apple Watch made it much harder to leave home without it. But I didn’t have a great solution for charging. I brought my Watch’s charging cable a few times, but I hated having to bring a dedicated cable that serves no other purpose than to charge my Watch.

Zens Power Bank in Hand

Then I stumbled across this nifty Zens Power Bank. It doesn’t charge over Lightning, but it features an Apple Watch charging pad and a USB port for powering my iPhone, iPad, or AirPods. I could leave my Watch charging cable at home and replace the Aukey battery with this Zens model.

I’ve had the Zens Power Bank for just under two weeks and I’ve been very impressed so far. The hardware feels study, without being too heavy, and the outer casing has a grippy coating to it. This material makes it easy to carry and helps prevent the unit from sliding off of surfaces or slipping out of pockets in a bag.

Before purchasing the Zens I was little worried about whether the magnets in the integrated Watch charging pad were going to be strong enough. I didn’t want my Watch to be easily knocked off of the Zens, especially since I was going to be using it for travel where I wouldn’t have the familiarity of my home’s bedside table. I just imagined setting my phone down for the night and accidentally bumping my Watch off of the charger without realizing it.

Luckily, the folks at Zens must have considered that possibility because the charging pad’s magnets feel stronger than those in Apple’s own charging cable. To test their strength, I tried holding the battery upside down with my Watch attached to it. The magnets were powerful enough to maintain its hold on the Watch, even with a bit of shaking. I have no worries, at all, that my Watch will get bumped off the charger.

The Zens Power Bank has a 4000mAh capacity — the product page says that it should offer up to ten full charges of an Apple Watch or two charges of an Apple Watch and iPhone simultaneously. This is a great capacity for me. I can take the Zens on a weekend trip and charge my Watch every night without having to bring the Watch’s charging cable. And on the way home, the Zens will still have enough power left to top-off my iPhone in a pinch.

Zens Power Bank’s Power Button, USB, and Micro-USB Ports

The power button, USB, and micro-USB port are located on the small edge of the Zens, right next to the Watch charging pad. And it features a small, dimly-lit LED that indicates how much charge is left in the battery — blue is 90-100%, purple is 20-90%, and red is 0-20%. I wish there was an additional color to indicate charges below 50%, but there are so many benefits to using the Zens that I can forgive this little annoyance.

As for the Zens’ use of Micro-USB and my interest in keeping my travel bag Lightning-only, I don’t plan on charging the unit’s battery when I’m away from home. The Zens will be, primarily, used to charge my Apple Watch while traveling and will only be used to power my iPhone if I’m stuck in some unforeseen circumstance away from a power outlet. And even then, if the Zens is only able to provide my iPhone with one full charge, that should be more than enough to get me by. I can still leave my Micro-USB cables at home without worry.

I own a handful of power banks and the Zens is by far my favorite. It doesn’t offer the largest capacity, it doesn’t have multiple USB ports, and it charges over Micro-USB. But it offers a unique feature that helps it stand out amongst a sea of competitors. It features a great balance of capacity and physical size giving you a fair number of charge cycles without having to sacrifice too much space in your bag. If you’re an Apple Watch enthusiast looking for an external battery pack for travel, the Zens is a fantastic option.

Lightning Everything

It’s safe to say that I was a bit concerned when the Wall Street Journal published a piece that indicated Apple would be removing the Lightning connector from future iPhones and replacing it with a USB-C port. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of an open standard for charging — having a single cable that will work on Android phones, iPhones, MacBooks and potentially iPads would take a huge step towards simplifying the charging process for everyone.

My concerns were primarily selfish in nature, though. Just a few weeks ago I started the process of transitioning everything in my travel bag to replacements that charge over Lightning. The primary goal was to reduce the amount of cables I needed to bring with me and eliminate the frustration associated with finding the right cable for each device when I’m riffling through my bag.

Imagine my surprise when I read that Ming-Chi Kuo had clarified the rumor, saying that future iPhones would retain the Lightning connector, but that it would gain USB-C capabilities — much like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which supports USB 3.0 transfer speeds and faster charging when used with a Lightning to USB-C cable. This was great news. I could continue transitioning to Lightning everything without the worry of reverting my bag to a mess of cables when I purchase the next iPhone this fall.

You may be wondering what I could possibly have in my bag that allows me to go all-in on Lightning. There certainly must be something that requires, at least, a micro-USB cable. Well, no, everything in my bag has a Lightning connector.

My bag contains my entire everyday computing setup. I’ve been able to pare it back considerably since I’ve switched to iOS, but I’m still able to get everything done on these devices without ever needing to interact with a non-Lightning power cable. I specify “power” because I still have to carry an HDMI cable with me for the times when I want to watch video content on our hotel room’s television.

The first, and most obvious item in my bag is the iPad Air 2. It’s my primary computing device and where I do the vast majority of my work. It’s powered over Lightning, like the iPhone in my pocket, and every other iOS device Apple makes. And will make for the foreseeable future, thankfully.

Next, we have the Magic Keyboard and the Aukey 3600mAh Portable Power Bank. The Magic Keyboard isn’t anything particularly special. I’ve only had it for a few weeks and I’ve been lukewarm on it so far. The slim design and Lightning charging port are fantastic, but I still find myself getting a little lost in areas of the keyboard — especially the arrow keys. I haven’t found the shallow key travel to be as irritating as I was worried it would be. The pleasant clicking sound of the butterfly mechanism more than makes up for their lack of travel.

The Aukey Power Bank is a unique product, though. It’s the only external battery I’m aware of that charges over Lightning. It doesn’t appear to feature MFi certification, so my impression is that Aukey made it without Apple’s blessing. That would explain why no one else is making portable batteries with Lightning ports. But this is a tremendous product. It isn’t going to give you multiple-days-worth of charge for your iPhone or iPad, but its small enough to fit in your bag without adding much weight and the convenience of the Lightning port is unparalleled.

For trips when I expect to have a fair amount of downtime (which is rare) I have the SteelSeries Nimbus. It is, what I’d consider to be, the absolute best MFi controller available. I can prop up my iPad in the Twelve South Compass or plug it into whatever television is available, with the Lightning to HDMI adapter, and play some of the best games that iOS has to offer. And when I’m finished gaming, I can recharge the controller using the same cable I used with my iPhone.

The Future

There are two more Lightning-powered items that I’d like to add to my kit — AirPods and the Beats Pill+ (or a similar, Lightning-powered Bluetooth speaker). I’ve already ordered the AirPods, but Apple’s having serious supply issues and the estimated ship date isn’t for another five weeks. I’m hoping, by some miracle, that Apple will get them to me sooner than that. I’m growing tired of fighting with wires and I’d like to take them with me on a weekend trip in early April.

Everything I’ve read about AirPods have been positive overall and I imagine my experience with them will be no different. I’m ready for this courageous, new wireless world and a pair of Bluetooth headphones that charge over Lightning and are built on the W1 chip seem like the absolute best way to go.

I wish Apple offered a similar solution in the Bluetooth speaker market. The closest device available is the Beats Pill+, which charges over Lightning but isn’t built on the W1 chip. It’s a nice speaker, by most accounts, but I would hate to spend over $200 on a speaker that could be replaced by something significantly better sometime this year.

Luckily, I don’t find myself wanting a Bluetooth speaker too often. I think I’ll be able to hold out until later this fall to find out if Apple releases one with the W1 chip. If not, I’ll probably end up with the Beats Pill+, if only because its powered over Lightning.

To recap, here are the Lightning-powered devices that I currently have at my disposal, or plan to have in the near future:

As I said, that’s my entire, everyday carry computing setup. I do have a Mac mini at home that I occasionally use for tasks that require a Mac, but those are few and far between. And of course, I always interact with the Mac mini over VNC using Screens on the iPad — I almost never need direct access to the machine, I can do it all remotely, wherever I am.

I couldn’t have been happier to hear that Apple isn’t going to leave Lightning behind anytime soon. With everything in my bag being powered by the same cables, I can reduce clutter and limit the total number of cables required to power all of my devices. For the foreseeable future, I don’t expect to need more than two Lightning cables and a single, two-port charger when I travel. And that is something to get excited about.

My Tech Travel Bag

Early last week, my wife and I flew to Jamaica for our honeymoon. We had a wonderful time relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and eating some of the best food we’ve ever had. This trip was also an opportunity for me to evaluate the tech we bring with us on trips and whether we could pare it down to a more simple kit. This is what we brought with us:

What's in my bag?

  1. Tom Bihn Ristretto: This isn’t the current version of the Ristretto, it’s an earlier iteration that’s designed to fit the 11-inch MacBook Air. I like it because of its sturdy construction and numerous pockets for all our gear. The newer Ristretto features a zippered front that helps prevent your stuff from spilling out. The one thing keeping me from upgrading is that Tom Bihn no longer offers it in the smaller size. Which is unfortunate, because this size makes a great iPad bag.
  2. Canon PowerShot G9 X: We bought this a few months ago, upon the recommendation of The Wirecutter. It’s a compact, lightweight camera with more features than we know what to do with. We were looking for something that was easy to use at the start, with more advanced features we could learn down the road. We wanted something that gave us photos that were better than those taken with our iPhones and the G9 X fit the bill perfectly without costing us an arm and a leg.
  3. 32GB SanDisk Extreme SDHC Card: This SD card was available for free alongside the G9 X when we ordered it earlier this year. Unfortunately, that deal is no longer available, but it’s still a great product. I’m sure there are better SD cards available, but I’ve been more than happy with this one.
  4. Tom Bihn Medium Clear Organizer Pouch: I like to keep my gear as organized as possible when I’m traveling and these zipper pouches from Tom Bihn are perfect. Their best feature is the little clip on the corner that can be used to secure the pouch to the inside of your bag. I left it attached the entire trip and only pulled it out of the Ristretto just enough to get the cables or adapters I needed without having to separate the two.
  5. Two Apple EarPods: While most of our friends have upgraded to fancier in-ear headphones, my wife and I have stuck with Apple’s white earbuds. I’m sure we’d be happier if we bought something else, but these work just fine. We find them comfortable to wear and the audio quality is perfectly acceptable given that we spend most of our time listening to podcasts with varying degrees of audio quality.
  6. Case Logic Ultra Compact Camera Case: I needed something to protect our camera from drops and prevent damage if it was jostled inside our bag. This was an inexpensive case that claimed to fit the G9 X and that’s exactly why I bought it.
  7. Lightning to SD Card Reader: While the 32GB SD card was more than enough storage for all the photos we took during our trip, I still wanted to offload images onto the iPad before we got home. That way we could view the images on a larger screen, edit, and share them throughout our trip. We could have used the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, but this is a much cleaner solution.
  8. Canon Battery Charger: In hindsight, I don’t think I would have packed this item. We used our camera quite a bit and never ended up needing to charge it. But even if we did, the cameras in our iPhones would have sufficed. If we were going on a longer trip, maybe, but at just five days, it wasn’t necessary.
  9. Original TwelveSouth Compass and Sleeve: I bought this for my first-generation iPad several years ago and I continue to use it today. If I was in the market for one now, I’d probably purchase the Compass 2. Although, saving about $20 by buying the older model is also appealing. There isn’t that much difference between the two models and, in my experience, they last forever.
  10. iPad Air 2: Since I purchased this device 18 months ago, it has slowly taken over as my primary machine for nearly every task. I still have a Mac mini which serves as our backup target for iOS devices and hosts our iTunes and Photos libraries. But for all of my day-to-day work, this is what I use to get it done. I own the 64GB, Wi-Fi-only model in space gray. Although, I do have my eye on the iPad Pro lineup. I expect, when I eventually upgrade, I’ll purchase the newest 9.7-inch Pro with at least 128GB of storage.
  11. Tom Bihn Small Halcyon Organizer Pouch: All the features of the clear pouch, but with a punch of color rather than a translucent side. I use this one to house small adapters and cables.
  12. Anker PowerPort 4: I’ve written about this already, but the PowerPort 4 has just enough USB ports to charge all of my devices when I travel. Since I didn’t bring my Apple Watch, I could charge my iPhone, iPad, portable battery, and my wife’s iPhone from a single wall outlet.
  13. Anker Micro USB Cable: The one I have came with the PowerCore 13000 and is about two feet long. It doesn’t seem to be available separately, so I decided to link to a one-foot cable instead. The Anker battery is the only item in my bag that uses it and I’d rather have a shorter cable anyway.
  14. Apple USB Power Adapter: Like every person in the world, my wife prefers to charge her iPhone on her side of the bed. We have — what seems like — dozens of these laying around the house and they’re incredibly compact and perfect for traveling.
  15. Anker PowerCore 13000: Anker seems to have the market cornered on portable batteries. They’re inexpensive, well-built, and reliable. I bought this one specifically because it hit the sweet spot between size and capacity while also featuring two USB ports. In an ideal world, we’d never have to use this. But if anything happened to go wrong on our trip, this would be a godsend.
  16. Anker Battery Pouch: I could have listed this alongside the Anker battery — as I did with the Compass — because it comes in the box and isn’t available separately. But I don’t think I’ll be packing this again. It’s not made out of particularly good materials and it’s just unnecessary. It only holds the Anker battery and I already keep that in its own pocket inside the Ristretto.
  17. Three Apple Lightning to USB Cables: We brought two iPhones and an iPad, they have to get charged somehow. Like the Apple USB charger, we have dozens of these laying around the house and haven’t had any reason to buy new ones. I have my eye on the Night Cable by Native Union for use at home, but I’ll probably continue using Apple’s Lightning cables for travel until they don’t work any more.
  18. Herschel Supply Co. Anchor Sleeve: A very simple sleeve built out of quality materials. I’ve only had it a couple weeks and I’m already impressed by it. I don’t keep my iPad in a case, but if it took a tumble inside this sleeve, I have confidence that it would make it through unscathed. The Anchor sleeve comes in several colors — I considered getting it in black, to match most of my kit, but thought it would be wise to add a little color to my life.
  19. Tom Bihn Key Strap: This is usually just for keeping my keys from falling out of the bag, but we occasionally use it to keep oddball items that we pick up in the airport from getting lost.
  20. 3-Foot RadioShack HDMI Cable: We got this for free as part of a special deal when we ordered our fourth-generation Apple TV. There’s nothing special about it, but it works just fine for our needs.
  21.  Lightning Digital AV Adapter: We hate cable television. And although we don’t spend too much time watching TV when we travel, we like to have it on for an hour or so before we fall asleep. This lets us connect our iPhones or iPad to the hotel TV and watch Hulu, Netflix, or YouTube, just as we do at home.
  22. Tom Bihn Mini Halcyon Organizer Pouch: This was a last minute addition to our travel kit. I wanted a small zippered pouch that we could keep our headphones and a single Lightning cable in for quick access. I was more than happy with the small Halcyon Pouch we had bought previously and decided to buy another one in the “mini” size. It was just big enough to fit the items that we would need during travel while still being small enough to fit inside one of the pockets in the Ristretto’s front compartment.

This setup worked well and there isn’t much I would change about it. I’ll probably drop the Anker battery pouch and, unless I’m going on a longer trip, I don’t think I’ll be packing the camera charger again.

I would like to add a headphone splitter, though. On the plane, my wife and I ended up sharing a single pair of headphones because we wanted to listen to a podcast episode together. A headphone splitter would let us listen from a single device without accidentally pulling the earbud out of the other person’s ear.

One last thing that’s worth pointing out: I didn’t bring my Apple Watch. My original packing list included my Watch charging cable and a couple extra bands, but I decided against bring it on this trip. Don’t get me wrong, I still wear my Watch everyday while at home, but I didn’t want yet another device to keep track of and worry about charging during our travels.

Travel Kit Additions

In just a couple of weeks, my wife and I will be sitting on a beach in Jamaica on our honeymoon. And of course, I’ve been thinking a lot about the gear we’ll be taking with us on the trip. We previously purchased a Canon PowerShot G9 X to take pictures of our surroundings and a Lightning to HDMI adapter, so we could watch movies on the TV in our room. But Sunday night I ordered a few more products in an effort to further upgrade our kit.

All of these items should be arriving later this week and they may be the subject of a future review, if I feel there’s something interesting to say about them. But either way, I’ll certainly be sharing my first impressions on Twitter as the products arrive.

Mini Halcyon Organizer Pouch: we own two medium-sized clear pouches from Tom Bihn already and they’re absolutely fantastic. This is how we keep all of our cables and adapters organized inside of our Ristretto bag.

But we were looking for something a little bit smaller where we could keep all the items we want quick access to — headphones, lightning to USB cables, and so on. The Halcyon Organizer Pouch fit the bill perfectly and looks pretty stylish to boot. My favorite feature is the clip on the corner that we can use to secure it to the inside of our bag ensuring that it’ll never fall out accidentally.

Case Logic Ultra Compact Camera Case: This little camera case is nothing special. It’s big enough to hold our PowerShot G9 X and an extra SD card. It has a carabiner that we can use to secure it to the inside of our bag or on a belt loop.

I’m sure I could have found a camera case from a more high-end brand, but this one was advertised as being able to fit our camera. The last thing I wanted was to order something that I thought would fit, only to have it arrive and find that it’s either too big or too small. There’s not much time to order a replacement if it doesn’t work out, so I just went with the safe bet.

Herschel Supply Co. Anchor Sleeve: This is the item I’m most excited to get my hands on. Up until now I had been using an Incase sleeve for my iPad Air 2 that was designed to fit the original iPad. I’ve been meaning to buy a new one since I purchased the iPad last year, but it wasn’t until now that I had a good reason to.

The Anchor sleeve doesn’t have a lot of features, it’s just a single compartment with a zipper closure. There’s a lot of little design details, though, that made me choose this one over the other options. The fleece-lined interior, the rawhide zipper pull, and the striped pattern just inside the compartment makes this sleeve look like a high-end product, even though it’s available for only $30. That’s a small price to pay for such a stylish iPad sleeve.

‘Take Only Your iPhone and One Other Device if You Need It’ ➝

Ben Brooks, on keeping your electronics kit light:

You need far fewer electronic devices than you think. All I carry is my iPhone and my iPad Pro. Done. My rule here is very simple: take a phone and one other device. Unless you have a major reason why you need three devices, take only two.

I’ve been following this rule for over a year and don’t expect I’ll ever look back. I currently travel with my iPhone and iPad Air 2. And Like Ben, I could probably get by without the iPad. Though, if I find time for writing, I really appreciate the extra screen real estate.

I used to lug my MacBook Air with me, up until I bought the new iPad last year. One huge benefit of going all-in on iOS is how much lighter your bag is. Not only are the computing devices themselves lighter, but everything I travel with charges over USB. I can bring a single, 4-port Anker USB charger, the necessary cables, and I’m able to charge everything I need to.

Anker PowerPort 4 ➝

I decided to purchase this four-port USB charger after spending a few nights in a hotel room for my wedding. With my purchases of an iPad Air 2 last year and an Apple Watch last fall, I now travel with three devices which charge over USB. But the hotel room didn’t have enough power outlets where I needed them to accommodate all of my single-port USB chargers.

I’ve been using this unit by Anker for a couple of days and it does the trick. I can charge my iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch at the same time with only a single power outlet. And when we travel on our honeymoon this summer we can also use it to charge her iPhone, if need be.

I’m not too keen on the LED that remains illuminated while plugged in. But it’s not bright enough to disturb me while sleeping and the positives vastly outweigh this one little annoyance. If you’re in the market for a multi-port USB charger, I highly suggest putting this one under consideration.