The kit I carried Page 2

5) Laptop/tablet

Once again I brought my Kindle Fire, but unlike last year I also brought my regular Kindle. This is probably overkill for most people, but I just don't like reading on an LCD. With multiple 18+ hour train rides through china, I finished a book and a half on my Kindle, which is pretty good speed for me, especially since 90% of the time we were busy getting drunk on cheap Chinese wine.

What I did bring this year was my little laptop. I bought this Asus 1025C netbook last summer, and it is pretty much everything I've ever wanted in a laptop. It's small (about the size of an iPad), lightweight, has 12+ hour battery life (verified), SD card slots for photo backup, USB connections for recharging gear, and by far the best of all: it was $275. It does more than an iPad for a faction of the price. Done and done.

However, it's a little slow. Worse, it has the worst keyboard of any computer I've ever used. By far. If I ever meet the engineer who designed this keyboard, I'm going to punch him square in the spacebar. It is astonishingly bad. It feels OK in the store, but it doesn't register most key presses, so you'll think you've pressed a key, and in fact, yurjttypingnonsense. For $275 I'll live with it, but if I can find another cheap netbook with a better keyboard (maybe with a little more ram, I'll probably buy it).

If you'd rather just bring an iPad and skip all this noise, make sure you get the SD card reader so you can back up your photos.

6) Audio

Last year I said I'd bring some sort of speakers. I brought a foxL v2, and it worked great. I think because of its form factor (and a brief listen), I'd bring the Dash 7 next time.

7) Other stuff that worked

Here's the stuff I brought last year that worked so well I brought it this year too:

Canon T3i (600D)
Panasonic DMC-LX3
iPod Classic
Kensington Mini Battery Pack
B&W C5 Headphones

8) Different options

One of the people I met on my China trip was using a Samsung Galaxy SIII for everything. I left my HTC One at home, but for someone looking to travel lighter, either option could certainly work. The photos won't be nearly as good as even a mid-range point-and-shoot, but the reduction in bulk is certainly a valid offset depending on where you're going.

I used my netbook to recharge my various devices when away from a plug, but I've always considered getting a battery pack. Monoprice has a bunch of cheap options, and I've read many positive reviews of several others. The tradeoff, in my mind, is between size and mAh (storage capacity). That's a call you'll have to make, but I'd recommend getting one that has at least the outlet plug built in (and retractable). Some models have built-in cables too which can be convenient.

International data plans are expensive, but worth it. Being able to call up Google Maps, or even more importantly, Google Translate, can be invaluable. Double check your phone will actually work where you're going. Europe is almost completely GSM, so Sprint phones (and others) won't work. China is almost completely CDMA, so most Sprint phones will work but some others won't. It's a mess, and will take some research. The iPhone works pretty much everywhere, so there's that.

I recommend multiple mid-sized SD cards, not one big one. Lose that one big one, and you're fraked. At least if you lose one of the smaller ones, you only lose some pictures. Or bring something to back them up (like the iPad/laptop) and do that often.

That's all I've got. Have fun. Wake me up for meals.