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My Fully Stocked Laptop Bag

Lots of people carry a laptop around with them. That's nothing new. The availability of free wireless internet has turned loitering in public places into an art form. People generally try to go light or minimal, yet they want the convenience of having some helpful stuff with them.

Three years ago I created a dedicated laptop bag that permanently lives in the trunk of my car. Over time this bag has evolved into a very good system that offers me convenience but without toting around a lot of extra weight. Maybe describing the contents of my bag might give you some ideas?

The Basics

I've tried a couple of different bags, but I ended up using a free laptop bag given out by my local library. When it wears out, I will use a small bag that I got as a freebie from attending a conference. Nothing fancy but durable and easy to carry. You get the idea.

As for the laptop, I deliberately choose an older laptop that was sturdy and still had some miles left on it. I set it up simply, as far as an operating system and accompanying software, stripping away unnecessary bells and whistles. It is convenient and easy to maintain.

I keep few, if any, “real” files on the computer. Services like Dropbox and/or Spideroak let me access what I need. If the laptop were to die (or get stolen), then no harm done – any actual information is synced up with a cloud service.

The laptop has lived in the trunk of my car for the last three years. I'm sure the temperature fluctuations don't do much for its battery life, and a mysterious micro-crack has developed along the side of one corner, but the laptop itself is still ticking along just fine. Meanwhile, I've had to replace the power adapter twice…that's how it goes, I guess.

So besides the laptop and a power adapter, what else is in the bag?

First Aid Kit

I took one of those small first aid kits you can buy for a dollar and re-designed it to meet my needs. I have a dozen pain relief pills (200 mg ibuprofen), a dozen caffeine pills (100 mg), and a dozen anti-diarrhea pills (2 mg loperamide). And just because I like the number twelve so much, I also include a dozen medium-sized band-aids and a dozen hand sanitizing wipes (individual packets).

Music

I keep a dedicated mp3 player loaded with a couple of hundred good songs that I can listen to while working (or to drown out the background noise if I am loitering inside a fast food restaurant, like I am right now). True, I could put the music on the laptop – but that would begin to clog up the simplicity of keeping no files on the hard drive.

I also keep two pairs of earphones that are stored in a small carry case. Normally my laptop is set to mute, but if I need to listen to any Youtube videos or streaming audio files then I can plug in and not disturb my neighbors.

Powerbank

This is a key item. A powerbank is a compact super-battery that is initially charged up from a wall outlet. Once powered up, it can be used to charge other small electronics like phones or e-readers or mp3 players.

The unit I bought off of eBay has a 30000 mAh charge which lasts about a month (several dozen charge-ups) with no issue. It has two USB ports and can pull double-duty, charging two devices at the same time. This is convenient if you don't want to block up your elderly laptop's USB ports.

Cables

Basically my laptop bag has one each of every common cable. This means a mini-USB cable, a micro-USB cable, a USB-B cable, and a special USB cable needed to charge my cell phone. I also keep a male to female USB extension cable in case something doesn't quite reach.

The above list of cables should cover 99.9% of situations. It might be overkill, but they are small and I keep them around in case I find myself in an unusual situation.

Office Supplies

I am a note card guy, so I keep a pack of 3”x5” index cards in the bag along with two ballpoint pens. Two small flash drives are included for if I need to do some file transfers where a wireless connection is unavailable. I also keep a few postage stamps for when I need to mail a letter – still an occasional necessary.

Conclusion

So there you have it…the contents of my laptop bag! Once a month, I take the powerbank inside and let it charge overnight. At some point I also conduct a quick inventory, adding some hand wipes or maybe replacing a couple of pills. But otherwise, the setup is pretty low maintenance.

I probably use my “trunk” laptop about three or four times a week – and it might be a different place each time. I will continue to fine-tune the bag's contents, but as of now I think I am balancing a compact yet mobile setup with minimum fuss.

Lifestyle | Technology


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