September 6th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Technology and travel

Chris Guillebeau
AC360° Contributor

Approximately one billion people—perhaps slightly less—have recently asked me about what kind of travel gear I use to roam the world and work.

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty basic. I can’t claim complete minimalism, but I’m not really that high-tech of a guy. My strategy is “use what works and keep it simple.”

So here’s what we’ll do: I’ll tell you what I bring with me wherever I go, and the fellow travelers among us can chime in and say what they bring for their own trips.

My Stuff (Hardware)

Laptop — This summer I took the plunge and converted to the cult of Steve Jobs by buying my second MacBook. A couple of years ago I had one but didn’t fall in love. This time, the relationship is progressing nicely. I still use a PC for some things, but overall, I love the MacBook. I use it with the Logitech Anywhere Mouse.

I also have a Dell Laptop that I use at home alongside the MacBook. Thankfully, the list of PC-only programs that I need has dropped considerably at the same time I’ve become more comfortable with the Mac.

FlipCam – A few trips ago I picked up the MinoHD. It’s so much fun, and only costs $200. I also use this as a still camera now. My photos aren’t the greatest, I know, but that’s the fault of the photographer himself more than the camera.

iPod Touch – It’s the iPhone without the phone, and therefore without the contract. More than once, it’s helped me read emails, edit comments, and monitor everything else in my online world without getting out the laptop.

Helpful travel tip: iPods work best when you don’t leave them in the back of taxis. And if you do leave one behind on a trip sometime, try not to leave the replacement behind on your next trip. This adds up to a very expensive, worldwide iPod collection.

Phone — I just have a basic Verizon LG model, which only works in the U.S. and Canada. Because I live in North America, our international phone options are limited. I’ve thought about getting a world phone, but since I don’t answer the phone at home very often, I decided there’s not much of a need to ignore it elsewhere in the world.

Verizon MiFi — At least in the U.S. now, I have my own WiFi hotspot wherever I go. I can also share it with up to four others, which I like to do in airports that don’t offer free WiFi. Coming back to Grand Central Station from Hastings, New York recently, I was able to work online for 40 minutes, and I shared the signal with my friend Ishita so that she could work too.

Again, if you live in a more developed country than mine, you might not understand why this is so awesome. Those of us not in Finland or Japan have to struggle to get online when we leave our homes and offices. For me, the MiFi is great and definitely worth the $60/month I pay.


My Stuff (Software)

The MacBook comes fairly well-equipped with most of what I need, and a lot of applications are web-based these days.

Video – Everything is done either with the built-in camera and iMovie software on the MacBook or the FlipCam, which has its own software. I then upload video and stills to Viddler or Flickr.

Audio – I record and edit audio sessions for the products with Audacity. You can’t beat the price of $0 or the 15 minute learning curve.

FTP – I use Coda, which at $99 is admittedly a bit pricey for simple uploading, but I like the ease of use. I also have DreamWeaver (a friend gave me his unused copy), but it looks too complicated for my needs.

Internet Phone – It’s hardly non-conformist now, but at least I can say I’ve been using Skype for five years and counting. Again, you can’t beat the price (free when calling other Skype users, low-cost for other calls).

Camtasia – Two of my upcoming business projects will feature a complete set of screen-capture videos and tutorials. I’ll be using the new Camtasia for Mac to do these — for an early example of the format, check out the 676,358 Frequent Flyer Miles video.

For anyone who cares, the PC version of Camtasia is still much better, and a number of features are missing in the Mac version. They’re still on the first edition, so I’m hoping to see some updates soon. (I know other people use ScreenFlow; I just prefer to stick to something I already know.)

Gmail Offline – I love the new Gmail Offline feature (it’s in Labs) so I can process my email no matter where I am. If you use Outlook, of course, you already have this option – but as a Gmail fan, this feature rocks my world. On a typical 10-hour flight, I’ll reply to 150 or more messages, which will then zip away from the outbox as soon as I land and go online. To get it, check out this short tutorial from the Google team.


That’s pretty much it. Other than the laptop, nothing is really essential.

What about you? Feel free to share your own gear list or other ideas.

Editor’s Note: Chris Guillebeau writes for a small army of remarkable people at ChrisGuillebeau.com. Follow Chris's live updates from every country in the world at @chrisguillebeau.

Filed under: Chris Guillebeau • Travel
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Chi

    Hmm too many new words, Kris 😀

    September 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  2. Lisa in Louisville, KY

    Yikes! You're a traveling information center! Usually my travel is just for pleasure – nothing buy my cell phone. I travel VERY light! 🙂

    September 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm |