I’m always taking advantage of the mobility that web work allows. Once a week, I spend a night or two with relatives in another city. Also, when I travel, I prefer to stay in my destination for more than a week. But whether I’ll be away for a night or two weeks, I find that the things I bring with me are predictable and consistent.
I use an ordinary backpack that I found in a sale bin. It’s well-padded and it’s also the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever had. It has a lot of secret compartments in which I hide valuables.
My backpack is important because I live by a “one bag” rule: If it doesn’t fit in my bag, I don’t bring it. My friends always laugh at me for having the lightest luggage, but I’m not the one who gets slowed down because of the weight I’m carrying. To paraphrase something I once read, “You’ll find that you can take anything with you. The joke is that you have to carry it yourself.”
I own a MSI Wind U100 netbook. It has a 10-inch screen and weighs 2.3 lbs, which is light enough to bring when I’m traveling. I store it in a padded pouch to keep it dry and protected.
My phone is a five-year-old Nokia 3200. This is a hand-me-down from my sister, and I use it exclusively for texting and making calls. Since texting is so popular here in the Philippines, I always keep this phone on silent, otherwise I’d be interrupted every five minutes.
One of my most important gadgets is a 3G HSDPA modem from SmartBro. I always have two prepaid cards for it so that I’ll have enough credits to use it for emergencies. When 3G access is unavailable, it allows me to connect via GPRS. This may sound like a nightmare, but it’s an absolute necessity if you want to do online work in rural areas.
The speakers on the MSI Wind aren’t very good, so I always bring my Philips earphones. I also have a no-brand MP3 player that needs to be replaced soon.
I also bring an power strip if I’m staying at an unfamiliar place. It’s frustrating to find only one working socket if you want to charge your phone and your laptop at the same time.
If I’ll be gone for a long time or if I need to carry around large files, I bring my Maxtor external hard drive, which has a capacity of 320 GB. Also, if I want to take photographs, my partner lends me her Canon PowerShot S3 IS.
Clothes and toiletries are a must, but I never take more than four days’ worth of clothes. If I’ll be away for more than a week, I prefer washing my clothes rather than lugging around the extra weight in my backpack.
I usually bring two notebooks with me: a small one for idea generation and my journal. For writing and drawing, I bring gel pens in different line weights. There’s also at least one book in my bag at all times. Waiting areas, long queues and boring afternoons were made for reading.
So those are the simple but useful things I bring with me when I step outside my home office. How about you? What’s in your bag?