By Jason Snell
March 31, 2017 4:57 PM PT
What I Use: Travel prep and tech
I didn’t leave North America (a few trips to Hawaii notwithstanding) until I was nearly 30. Since then I’ve traveled quite a bit, and this weekend I’m headed to the UK and Ireland to visit friends and once again attend the Úll Conference.
As much as technology makes our lives easier, packing for a trip can be complicated by the technology you want to bring along the way. For this trip I’ll be toting an iPhone, an iPad Pro, a Kindle, a MacBook Air, and a Zoom portable audio recorder. The four devices other than the MacBook Air require some variation of USB to charge them. So I’ll need to bring a MacBook Air power cable and at least two USB chargers, along with four different power cables. (The Kindle and Zoom recorders can both be powered just as easily from my iPad’s USB charging brick as any other, so I tend to bring extra cables and rotate through the charging of the devices as necessary. So, for example, I’ll leave my iPad and Kindle charging when I walk out of the hotel room with my iPhone.)
About a decade ago I bought the Apple World Adapter Kit, and I have no regrets. It allows me to snap the U.S. plug off the end of any white Apple power brick and replace it with the plug for a different country. I’ve also bought a couple of standard plug adapters; most electronics these days are manufactured to handle power supplies from all over the world, so a simple plug adapter works great in most cases.
Most international flights offer power plugs these days, but I try to bring an external battery with me. I have an Anker external battery that I bring along. On this trip, I’m also testing an Away carry-on suitcase that includes its own battery and USB ports for quick charging. (Disclosure: Away is a podcast sponsor, and they sent me the suitcase.)
I always told myself I couldn’t sleep on flights, but the fact was, I could never stay asleep—I’d always end up nodding myself back awake and generally arrive at my destination with a horrible crick in my neck. I always found the huge puffy neck pillows worn by people on airplanes to be a bit perplexing, but I bought one last year and it’s amazing. I actually got a decent night’s sleep on my flight to Ireland last year, and that pillow’s coming back with me this year.
Much to my surprise, I ended up loving the AirPods, and they have replaced my beloved in-ear monitors for running and walking the dog while listening to podcasts. However, there are a few places where I just can’t use them—and airplanes are at the top of the list. It’s just too loud on the plane for the relatively open AirPods design. I may bring my AirPods with me, too, but I’ll be toting a pair of canalphones with me for use on the plane. And the accompanying lightning-to-minijack adapter, of course.
My iPhone is unlocked, so in the UK and Ireland I immediately make a point of buying a pre-paid SIM card from Three. At Heathrow, there are actually vending machines that will sell you a SIM card while you’re waiting at baggage claim. I was up and texting before my suitcase showed up last time. Just be sure your iPhone is unlocked before you go, or you will be very sad when you try to use a foreign SIM and your phone gives you the cold shoulder. This year, I’m thinking of buying an extra data SIM for my iPad, as well. Couldn’t hurt.
Talk to you when I get back!