Choosing Laptop Bag Accessories
A laptop computer is a great tool for getting things done on the go, but like most good tools, it can’t be used alone. There are a variety of accessories that you will need for your laptop and others that you may want. On the other hand, you don’t want to be carrying so much that your bag becomes too heavy or too cluttered to find anything. These decisions become more important on trips away from home, where you may not know exactly what you’ll need or when. We will be examining a potential packing list for a laptop bag. This list is intended as a suggestion, and obviously your needs or wants may vary.
The first category of items are accessories for your laptop. Some might come with your laptop, while others will need to be purchased.
- Power Supply – At least one of these should come with your laptop. Some people prefer to keep one at home or at the office and keep one in their bag to avoid unpacking and repacking it. If you choose to get a second one, you will reusable coffee cup probably need to purchase one from the manufacturer. Keep in mind that a power supply is usually one of the heavier items in your bag after your laptop, so you may prefer to leave this out if you have a power supply at home and at your destination.
- External Mouse – Most laptops come with either a small built-in mouse or trackpad, but many people find this awkward and difficult to use. A simple, small external mouse can often be a good investment. Keep in mind that you will need a flat surface where you’re going to use one.
- CDs/DVDs – Depending on what you use your laptop for, you may prefer to keep some CDs and DVDs with you. These can be software discs such as applications or data that are too big to keep on your hard drive, or they might be for entertainment such as games, music and movies. Having a few blank discs with you (assuming your laptop has a CD or DVD writer) might also be useful if you need to give copies of your data to others.
- USB Key – External storage in the form of a USB key or key chain can often be useful if you need to transfer files between computers. They can also be used for printing pictures at photo kiosks or as a small backup device.
- Spare battery – if you’re traveling somewhere and do not have access to AC power, you may consider bringing a charged second battery. This is particularly true for long flights. While some flights have access to power for your laptop, many still do not. Adding an extra battery might give you a few more hours of working laptop time.
- Retractable network cable/phone cable – Depending on where you’re going, you may want to take advantage of a local area network or phone line to connect your computer. Many computer stores sell retractable phone and network cables to make this process easier.
The next category of accessories are personal accessories. while they are not necessary to operating a laptop, they may be useful to you and are often easy to carry in your laptop bag.
- Umbrella – In the past, I have made the mistake of leaving my umbrella at home only to arrive at work with a soaked laptop bag. Many compact umbrellas are very small and can easily fit in the side pockets of laptop bags.
- Water Bottle – A thermos or water bottle might be a nice thing to have with you while traveling. If you’re interested in being a little more “green”, many coffee shops now sell sealable coffee cups that can be refilled at a discount. Just make sure it’s properly sealed before putting it in your laptop bag!
- Business Cards – Many laptop bags have a special space for business cards. Generally, it’s a good idea to keep them in an easy to reach spot, so that you can grab one easily even if your bag isn’t open.
- Headphones – If you listen to music, watch movies or play games on your laptop, a headset is an essential accessory. It makes it much easier to hear, especially in trains and airplanes and it will avoid disturbing your neighbors.
- Pens/Pencils/Paper Notebook -A small notebook is always a nice thing to have. You never know when you’ll need to jot something down and you may not have time (or the space) to start up your laptop. Whether it’s phone numbers, simple directions or just some thoughts, a pen and paper can often be indispensable tools.
- Books or e-Book reader – For some of us, reading on the screen can become difficult on the eyes (and the battery). Sometimes, there’s no substitute for a good book. If you’re more tech-minded, then some of the new e-book readers that have become popular recently, such as the Kindle, can be a more space efficient way of bringing your books along.
- Cell Phone/PDA/MP3 Player – It seems that just about everybody has a at least one of these anymore. Many laptop bags now come with a pocket for easy access to your devices. You may also want to consider having it somewhere near the strap if you use your phone or MP3 player for listening to music while you’re walking. It makes it much easier to adjust the volume or switch to the next track.
- Cell Phone charger/USB cable – Cell phones are great, but often their batteries are short lived. Keeping a USB or plug-in adapter to your cell phone can make the difference if you are running short on power.
- Bag (plastic or reusable) – It seems like an odd thing to keep a bag in a bag, but you’d be surprised how often having a plastic or reusable bag comes in handy. You might want to put wet things in it on a rainy day to avoid getting everything else in your laptop bag wet. You might also need it to carry anything that’s too big to fit in your laptop bag such as groceries or supplies you need for work.
- First Aid Stuff (bandaids, etc) – You never know when you’ll need a simple bandaid or aspirin. Better safe than sorry.
- Laptop Bag – Last but not least, a good laptop bag is essential for making sure that all your accessories are organized and easy to get to. Many modern laptop bags are attractive and practical.
A laptop computer is a great tool for getting things done on the go, but like most good tools, it can’t be used alone. There are a variety of accessories that you will need for your laptop and others that you may want. On the other hand, you don’t want to be carrying so much…