Road Warrior eTravel Kit - Laptop Computer Travel Essentials

Your laptop is mission critical equipment when you are on the road. Many of us hit the road everyday unprepared for common travel related computer crises and challenges. Here is a list that I think will help make your life on the road easier and much less hectic.

The Essentials:

  1. Before taking off on the trip always:
    Dust off the trusty lap top, turn it on and make sure it works and that the battery is charged.
    If you have any programs that use on-line updates, spend the time to download the updates. Examples would be the OAG TIS program, the Net-Roamer dialer and phone book and of vital importance, the anti-virus program of your choice. When you travel you will be exposed to disks from others and the ever-present e-mail threats. You should assume that these all carry viruses.
  2. Software First-Aid Kit: take a CD carrying case with your Windows operating system and key operational programs so that you can re-load if corrupted. Make and carry an emergency boot disk.
  3. Bring a miniaturized tool kit containing as a minimum pliers, wrench, Phillips and flat head screw drivers. I use a nice kit put out by Leatherman Tool Group Inc. If you use glasses, don't forget an eyeglass repair kit also. A spare pair of eyeglasses is always a good idea. (Keep in mind that with the new security restrictions, most of the tools may need to be relegated to checked baggage.)
  4. Pack a complete telephone connection kit. It should contain:
    2 RJ-11 extension cords (if you only have one, the connector is sure to break.)
    an RJ-11 jack box from Radio Shack pre-wired with two wires to the line one terminals and alligator clips at the other ends of the wires. (There are still hotels out there that do not provide RJ-ll jacks and you will need to un-screw the wall panel and connect to the wires in back.)
    Radio Shack line tester - gives a red/green correct wiring, reverse polarity and non-operational test capability. If you need to use the above jury rig, this will ensure that you connect the clips to the right terminals.
    a digital / analog line tester. I use a nice inexpensive model put out by Targus.
    An RJ-11 2 to 1 splitter.
    An RJ-11 extension connector. (This in case you need to connect the 2 RJ-11 cords together for a longer reach.
    As you travel to different countries, you will find some that use different type modem plugs. (The UK is an example) Adapters for your RJ-11 cord are country specific can usually be picked up from the bell captain at the better hotels in the country. Buy it and add it to your kit if you will be returning.
  5. Power Equipment: This should be adapted to the destinations, but in general should contain:
    1 or 2 extension cords. (Sometimes the only 110 volt outlet is in the bathroom.) Also, the extension cords have 2-3 outlets so that you can connect your peripherals at the same time.
    An international plug adapter kit, easily available in most airports, containing all the various type plug adapters.
    A small 220 to 110 transformer. Sometimes these come in the plug kits, but they are also available in most international airports.
    One or more of the 3 prong (2 flat hot and 1 round ground) to 2 flat converters. Most extension cords, power converters and international plug adapters can accommodate the two flat prongs, but don't have the round hole for the ground. Rather than yank out the round ground connector from your equipment's power cords, these adapters allow you to connect.
  6. A cheat sheet. A sheet of paper containing all the critical settings of your computer, e-mail, modem etc. This should include tech support numbers, serial numbers, express service codes etc.

The items above, I consider critical. Here are some items that may come in handy depending on your portable office set up:

  1. If you carry a printer, make sure to carry spare inkjet cartridges and the printer manual for trouble shooting. Also, carry a supply of ink jet paper in your preferred size (81/2 X 11 or A4). Availability of good paper when on the road is haphazard, at best, and often you may have to accept paper of a size different than your settings. That will require you to modify the paper parameters in all your documents.
  2. For portable storage, nothing beats a ZIP drive. The newest ZIP 250 can read and write to 100 MB as well as the 250 MB disks, and when bought with the optional PCMCIA adapter card, is powered by the laptop and does not require external power supplies.
  3. Finally - for security or peace of mind. The DEFCON 1, put out by Targus, is a motion sensitive, cable locking device that can be used to protect your laptop when in the hotel as well as the carrying case when in restaurants, airports etc. Keep in mind that the LOCK port on your laptop is only plastic, and a determined thief can break that with a hearty twist. I find that if you buy a second DEFCON 1 (or one of the cheaper, non-motion detecting cable locks) and use the second to wrap around your laptop, either under the hinges or on both axis, to prevent a cable security that is much harder to cut. Then use the DEFCON 1 to tie that harness and laptop to a pipe or some other immovable object.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Please visit for more great travel tips and to sign up for affordable dial up internet access in over 150 countries.

Tony Fiore
Chief Road Warrior



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