Luggage? Check. Wallet? Yep. Tech? You bet.
Today’s travelers likely have some high-tech companions to help keep them organized, productive, entertained, and in touch with those who matter.
But to avoid any hiccups while on the road – whether it’s for a Spring Break vacation or quick business trip — the following is a look at a few considerations before you pack your gear-to-go.
When going through security, you’ll need to take out your laptop – as it’s likely in a backpack, briefcase, laptop bag, purse, or small carry-on suitcase — and place it in a bin for it to be scanned by TSA. While they don’t ask as much as they used to, you might also be instructed to turn it on after it passes through the machine, to confirm it’s really a working computer.
You can leave all other tech in your bag while scanned at the airport, if you like, such as a smartphone, tablet, camera, or battery charger.
Keep in mind, any spare lithium-ion battery you have – say, an extra battery for a laptop — must be carried in carry-on baggage only. If you leave it in your checked suitcase, it could be declined once scanned, which could complicate your travels. Therefore, take it out and bring it with you onboard the aircraft.
If you like using a mouse with your laptop, it's a good idea to bring a wired mouse. Though the FAA has now eased restrictions on short-range Bluetooth devices, it's up to the airline — and recently a flight attendant asked me to put away my Bluetooth mouse.
Pro tip 1: Your local “dollar store” sells compact mice, which are perfect for travelers.
Smartphones and tablets
Because they’re thin and light, smartphones and tablets make for great travel accessories.
Bring your USB charger on the plane, as many airlines let you keep your battery topped up by plugging it into the back of the seat in front of you or in the armrest. A back-up battery is a must for travelers, so you can charge up your phone while still walking around, instead of being one of those “wall huggers” at an airport, where you’re stuck standing by your plugged-in phone.
Pro tip no. 2: If you forget your wall plug but still have your USB cable, plug it into the side of the TV in your hotel room to juice it up.
If you need to get work done while traveling, which might require a lot of typing, be sure to invest in a mobile keyboard that lets you crank out long emails or documents on your phone or tablet – which will be faster, more comfortable and offer better accuracy than trying to type a lot on a small touchscreen.
If you’re using your phone outside of the U.S., remember you’ll incur roaming fees, so contact your carrier to inquire about the best travel plan they have, or stick to Wi-Fi hotspots to pull down your messages in an airport, hotel, or coffee shop. Those who travel overseas might consider renting or buying a local SIM card to put into the phone, as it’ll likely be cheaper than paying your carrier.
Pro tip no. 3: You can use your tablet to make free calls back to the U.S. or Canada over Wi-Fi. Apps like magicApp Calling & Messaging (iOS and Android) let you call any 10-digit landline or mobile phone number, for free.
Be careful when using Wi-Fi hotspots, as there could be cyber-thieves trying to access your info. Do simple things like read the news. Don't enter sensitive data – like online banking info -- when browsing the web via a Wi-Fi network. If you can, also download and use free VPN (virtual private network) software or use your smartphone’s hotspot feature, which is safer (but will use up data).
Headphones and earbuds come in all shapes and sizes, but they can be an invaluable companion for travelers.
Noise-cancelling headphones could be a godsend on a noisy airplane, especially if you’re easily distracted and need to crank out a sales report on your laptop. Nothing like a crying baby in seat 8A when you’re toiling over a project for the boss.
On the fun front, headphones and earbuds mean you can listen to music, podcasts and audiobooks to help keep you sane on those hectic travel days. If the airline hands out free headphones, they usually say you can take them with you, and while they won’t be as good (or comfortable) as your own earbuds, keep them in a laptop bag as a backup pair to use in a pinch.
A few other thoughts:
When traveling overseas, it’s usually cheaper (and less aggravating) to bring various power adaptors with you opposed to buying them there.
Pro tip no. 4: Check the voltage of your devices as you only may need an AC adaptor – to change the shape of the plug -- rather than a currency converter, which costs a lot more.
Never pay a car rental company for a GPS unit when you have your smartphone with you. If you don’t have a good data plan, Google Maps now lets you download directions to use offline.
While you should be doing it even when you don’t travel, be sure to backup important files – like irreplaceable photos, documents, and such – just in case your phone, tablet or laptop becomes lost, stolen or damaged. Take advantage of free cloud storage, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive.
Pro tip no. 5: While you’re at it, keep a digital scan of your passport on this cloud drive, just in case this is stolen or lost, too, which could be a help before getting replacement documentation.
By Marc Saltzman for usatoday.com | http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/03/19/can-you-bring-back-up-battery-airplane-and-other-pro-tips-travelers/99366118/ | Photos: Pixabay CCO