I tend to be a long-term traveler (like two years in Taiwan, long-term), but trips home and short vacations around Asia have taught me that a writer must be prepared for anything. Those who don’t prepare can expect to enjoy a word count of zero and experience the joy of schlumping around a dead weight laptop.
Before the trip:
- Assume the worst. Your laptop is stolen and all your documents and photos are lost. Before you leave home, have a backup system in place. I swear by Carbonite, which is always running in the background, but there are plenty of services out there, and you can simply save to Google Drive if you don’t feel like paying.
- If you’re traveling somewhere with medieval internet policies (China, Vietnam, the Middle East) and staying online is VITAL to your work process, you may want to consider a VPN. Not that you won’t have internet, but you could get blocked from your blogs or social networking sites. Either way, Facebook will be there when you get home.
On the road:
- Converters! I can’t stress this one enough. Even in Taiwan, where no voltage converter is needed for American travelers, three-prong plugs are tough to find. Bring an appropriate voltage converter if one isn’t built in to your setup, and a multi-plug or country-specific adapters. Given, you can buy this on the road, but these guys are crazy overpriced in touristy areas, and searching for one is a waste of your travel and writing time.
- A convenient (padded) laptop case. Digging your computer out at airport security isn’t the worst thing ever, but it doesn’t help your stress when you’re already juggling your baggie of liquids, shoes, carry-ons, and jacket. The backpack I travel with has a built-in pouch that makes the process easy in and out. If you don’t mind digging, at least spring for a padded sleeve. You’ll be on planes, trains, boats, and tuk-tuks, and everything you’re carrying is gonna get jostled.
- A notebook and pen. I don’t go anywhere without my trusty Moleskine. Traveling sparks amazing ideas and you went to be able to record them without dragging out the electronics. Notebooks are also unlikely to get stolen, and if you’re on a multi-country itinerary, you’ll need 37 pens to fill out all the visa paperwork and exit forms anyway.
- Minimal accessories. You can probably live without a mouse and a cooling pad and you don’t need to travel with your laptop, tablet, phone, and e-reader. Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder, streamline the tech stuff. Otherwise, when you get to your hostel or hotel and realize it’s not the safest place to leave your gear, you’ll be hauling half an Apple store along on your day trips.
Most important? Don’t forget your power cord!