What’s in my bag? 2023 edition

Back in 2017, I revealed, after just a few months working and travelling for Automattic, what I carried with me in my backpack. Each year I’ve repeated this. Well, until 2020 when travel became a memory. Now, in 2023, with travel very much back, I’m ready to give an update.

My changes often have some kind of theme, but not really this time. You may notice more blue items turning up, as I move from a very much grey tech world to a navy blue one.

As usual, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

  1. Bagsmart extra large cable organizer. See the list below for what I pack into this.
  2. For long flights I find the Trtl neck pillow a God-send. I have it clipped to the outside of my backpack for easy transport.
  3. A slim leather wallet, which holds an Apple AirTag as well.
  4. Hoxton travel pass holder. As my wallet but a rather splendid travel pass holder – whether for plane, train or bus tickets this keeps everything organised.
  5. A small Rollbahn notebook with a Muji hexagonal wooden pencil – I keep these in the small compartment on the front of my backpack for easy access.
  6. The Aer Fit Pack 2 backpack. This is the latest backpack provided by Automattic to its employees. It has a very large front section and a useful shoe holder at the bottom. On one the handles is a Qlipter – a rather neat carabiner that you can twist and configure in all sorts of ways. Handy for hanging bags off of.
  7. Always carry tissues!
  8. A Stay Sixty water bottle. With a twist sip-spout and an easy to carry rubber collar, this is a great way to stay hydrated when travelling.
  9. Apple 14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro. This is my Automattic-provided laptop. When travelling, I also use a privacy screen with it.
  10. This is a Lightning to audio cable, which is sometimes needed to connect my AirPods Max during a flight.
  11. Painkillers and indigestion tablets. Rarely needed but useful when they are.
  12. Sweeteners. I hate tea unsweetened and I’ve weened myself off sugar. With this in hand I can enjoy a beverage even if these aren’t already supplied.
  13. This rather splendid red packet contains two data-blockers from PortaPow – female USB-A to male USB-C and female USB-A to male USB-A. Use this for charging equipment when you don’t trust the source – the blockers ensure that only power is supplied and no data connection can be made. Essential for airports and hotels!
  14. Mints. For fresh, minty breath!
  15. My new travel headphones of choice – AirPods Max.
  16. Manta Sleep Mask. Soft, comfortable and highly adjustable – I love these for long flights.
  17. Diff sunglasses. These have prescription lenses in them.
  18. An Automattic face mask
  19. A Backbone One. Instead of carrying around my Nintendo Switch, I now have this that lets me more easily play games on my phone or, better still, stream from my PS4 at home, using this PlayStation branded controller.
  20. Plasters in a hard case. Always useful to have some to hand, if only to dress a sore foot.
  21. My passport in a fetching leather WordPress cover.
  22. Boots Dry Eyes Eye Mist and some hand sanitiser, already in a bag ready for any flights.

What’s in my cable bag?

  1. Half metre USB-A to lightning cable
  2. Half metre female USB-A to USB-C cable
  3. Apple USB 3 to USB C converter
  4. HDMI extender – useful if you can’t get a Chromecast or similar to plug directly into the original port
  5. One metre USB-A to micro-USB
  6. Half metre USB-C to USB-C cable
  7. One metre USB-A to USB-C
  8. Universal charging cable. 6 different connecters makes this great for slipping in your pocket for whatever you may want to charge
  9. Apple Watch charger – this is the one that comes with the watch itself, albeit with the USB-A connector, rather than USB-C
  10. This is the short Apple Lighting to audio connector
  11. A secure, encrypted Integral USB-C memory stick, which contains my 2FA backup codes. It’s only 4GB in capacity, but that’s all you need for a bunch of text files
  12. A bag containing the following adapters…
    • USB-A to USB-C
    • Micro-USB to USB-C
    • Micro-USB to Mini-USB
  13. A cleaning cloth
  14. SIM card converter kit. A neat collection of SIM adapters, an ejector pin and even a sanding card for getting your SIM to the right size
  15. Mute-Me Mini. A handy USB-C device that makes it easy to toggle mute during a video call
  16. A micro SD to SD adapter
  17. A Roku Express. I’ve recently switched to Roku, when travelling, instead of FireTV
  18. The remote control for the Roku
  19. Belkin USB-C to Ethernet

Missing from view, but still there (in the netted section) are…

  1. A Three sim card (and adapters), which includes a rolling, small, but free, data plan
  2. A Kingston dual USB-C and USB-A memory stick (32GB). This is my stick of choice for backing up my speaker presentations – that way, whichever device I need to restore from in an emergency, this should connect.

As the bottom section is just a jumble of items, it’s not something I can easily number individual, so here is a list based on which part they’re in…

  1. In the middle compartment is my Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition – my reading method of choice when travelling. I take advantage of services such as BookBub to get books at sale prices, so I’ve always got a large library available at any time.
  2. An assortment of cables are in this section…
    1. MacBook Pro USB-C charging cable with Magsafe connector
    2. Apple 2 metre USB-C charging cable
    3. 1.5 metre USB-A male to female cable
    4. A 1 metre Anker USB-C to lightning cable. This is certified and full speed so, when paired with my MacBook power adapter, or similar, will charge my iPhone rapidly
  3. Various plugs and adapters are in the middle section…
    1. iBlockcube travel adapter. This has a mains socket, along with 3 x USB-A and 2 x USB-C
    2. ReTrak extending HDMI cable, complete with mini-HDMI adapter on one end.
    3. ReTrak extending ethernet cable. For those moments when the hotel ethernet is far superior to the WiFi!
    4. Third generation Chromecast
    5. TechRise USB-C hub. This contains both a full size and micro SD card reader, along with 2 x USB-A ports and HDMI
  4. Finally, everything else…
    1. Apple MagSafe iPhone battery pack
    2. Klearlook phone stand. This is an adjustable holder which is particularly good for using your iPhone as a webcam on the go
    3. Apple USB‑C Power Adapter. I have assorted adapters, so add one for wherever I’m visiting
    4. TP-Link travel router. This is new to my bag and is a great solution when travelling. The router will operate in different ways but I use it simply to connect to the hotel/AirBnB WiFi and then all my devices connect to the router – this saved you having, each time you travel, having to set WiFi up on all your various devices.
    5. Apple EarPods (with an audio connector). For those times when I need a quick and dirty wired headphone solution (bus tours!)
    6. Defender Lumos LED Torch
    7. Apple battery charger. Retro tech, purchased from eBay! Will recharge a couple of AA batteries using the same adapter from the standard MacBook charger
    8. USB-C display adapter. This metal cased dongle contains connections for VGA and HDMI
    9. Apple AirPods 3rd Generation, in a silicon case
    10. Assorted Apple Watch straps and Pop-sockets

I would also like to mention that various cables in the bag are held together with some rather cool leather cable straps. These are made from waste off-cuts so, if leather isn’t an issue for you, they’re great solutions with a more positive environmental impact.

Finally, one thing not in there, but I take when needed, is…

  1. Logitech R500 Presenter. Great for presentations or, at team meetups, where we’re doing group calls, this is a laser pointer and remote presenter. Unlike cheaper alternatives, this allows you to re-program the buttons (so I use it, for example, to toggle the mute in Zoom for those groups chats I mentioned). To protect it, it’s stored in a hard case.

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