Since I’m stuck in the Cleveland Hopkins airport after missing my flight, I’ve decided to do a short writeup of the tech gear that I’ve found helpful while traveling.
My general rules for tech on the road (and in life, really) are:
- Tech must be relatively inexpensive
- Must be very useful
- Must be portable
With that in mind, let’s start with an item people always want on the road but never pack in their bags: A power strip / extension cord.
Anker PowerPort Strip PD 2 Mini
This thing is great – long cable that rolls up well with a velcro strap and has two power outlets, two USB IQ charging ports, and USB-C with Power Delivery that works with my Lenovo X1 Carbon and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S with no problems.
It’s currently not for sale on Amazon for some reason, but there are similar cube-looking pieces of gear that I assume will do the job just fine for under $40.
USB-C Dongle w/ PD, Ethernet, HDMI
I use the Lenovo USB-C adapter for maximum compatibility with my X1 Carbon laptop, but Anker’s hub at under $40 is a great deal as well. I refuse to buy an expansion dongle unless it has the following ports:
- Gigabit Ethernet adapter (Wi-Fi becoming less and less reliable in hotels and other places)
- USB-C Power Delivery
- At least one USB 3.0 port
Travel Router – GL.iNet
A travel router is probably one of the most useful tools for the business traveler, especially when you’re with a team – doubly so if you use a small area network like Driveline Baseball does with its Edgertronic and motion capture setup.
The GL.iNet GL-AR750 at under $50 has two LAN ports (to expand the network) and one WAN port (to connect your source Internet) into, and comes with OpenWRT / LEDE installed plus simple OpenVPN client mode. This means you can set it up as a repeater with instant connection to a VPN server to access your behind-firewall appliances in the office, or to a privacy VPN provider. There’s a configurable switch on the side of the box you can use to set VPN on/off if you like, or other modes. The admin interface gives you full access to OpenWRT’s advanced menus as well if you want to hack it.
Awesome for repeating Internet signals in your room over Ethernet to beat unreliable WAPs installed by the hotel or conference center, with instant-on VPN protection so you don’t have to mess with client-side tunnels.
Travel Monitor: ThinkVision M14
This 14″ monitor at under $250 on Lenovo’s site has been awesome for me, and fits perfectly alongside my X1 Carbon. Powered by USB-C with ports on both side and having PD passthrough for your laptop, it simply works – and the picture quality is extremely sharp.
Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD
An external battery is vital when you’re traveling – but most of them don’t deliver PD over USB-C or have enough options at a decent cost. The Anker PowerCore+ 26800 battery (usually around $100-120) has two USB-A ports and one USB-C hybrid port that does both charging input and output.
The USB-C input can be a bit tricky – don’t try charging your battery with a heavy duty laptop charger that goes over USB-C, as it only takes very specific combinations of voltage/amperage (up to PD60W max usually).
The PowerCore keeps my X1 Carbon refilled on planes, in the field, and at hotels where the outlets might be hard to reach – and when I’m just plain lazy – with plenty of juice in the tank at 26,800 mAh.