Trusty mobile tools and tips for the road warrior

The essential tips and apps for maximizing your mobility when traveling

Traveling is always interesting but not always fun. You hear complaints about going through security, bad flights, and bad hotel rooms -- the list goes on and on. It gets more interesting when you carry multiple devices with you. You start worrying about things like whether your battery will last, whether you left your device in the seatback pocket (sometimes they get returned), whether there are enough outlets, and simple things like how you can get around more easily.

As a frequent traveler never short of a mobile device, here's how I prep for a trip.

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What I carry with me
My goal is always to take as few devices as possible, but because I need to test new devices and new ways of working with them, it's not always easy to keep the number low. My current kit of devices that goes with me everywhere includes a fourth-generation iPad with Logitech Ultrathin keyboard, my iPhone 5, and my 11-inch MacBook Air. I can get through a week without my MacBook Air -- and have done so many times -- but I find that some work tasks are more easily done on a laptop than a tablet. For example, most of the VDI screens my company works with are painful when used on a tablet.

I then pack my second smartphone; it varies, but on my last trip it was an unlocked Nexus 4 Android smartphone. One of my most important devices is my Belkin three-outlet surge suppressor that also includes two USB ports. It's awesome, and when in an airport, people will love you when you expand one outlet at the terminal to three (or even five with the USB ports). I often carry my iPad Mini too.

Of course, I carry all the charging cables and connectors. I recommend that you have either a mesh bag or a Grid It case; I use both. The mesh bag takes any long cables, plus the spare batteries for my phones, while the Grid It neatly organizes my adapters. One benefit of using a fourth-gen iPad, iPad Mini, and iPhone 5 is they all work with the Lightning connector, so I never worry about having the wrong cable with me -- one cable works on them all. If you have an iPad, I recommend you get a 12W charger; it charges an iPad about 45 minutes faster than the common 10W versions -- it charges your iPhone faster, too.

I also carry two types of battery chargers for my smartphones; when traveling, you never know when you'll be near an outlet. I have a battery pack that attaches to my iPhone and doubles the battery life. I also carry a 10,000-mAh battery that can charge any of my smartphones at least five times or almost fully double the battery of the iPad. I usually end up loaning it to someone who didn't think about power when he or she was packing.

When I travel internationally I also need adapters for the plugs. When you carry the Belkin 3 plug outlet you need only one adapter for all your devices. The other way to go is to look at your phone adapter and buy the different plugs. I ordered some European plugs from a reseller for about $3; they fit on all of my Apple adapters and make it easy to plug in anywhere. These same plugs are usually available from many other handset makers, but see if your adapter has an interchange.

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