I will soon be leaving on a jet plane, connecting to another jet plane, and then, a few days hence, a third, fourth, and fifth. Two weeks later, I'll be doing it all over again.
Traveling isn't a particularly pleasant activity for most people — the waiting, the scrutiny, the running through terminals, bags flailing, to catch tight connections — but more and more these days, it's the packing I find most intimidating. The clothes and toiletries part I have down to a science, though; it's the technology side of things I am always unsure about.
On a trip like this, where part of it is for work and part for fun, I have a baseline tech packing list that is, I'm sure, pretty familiar to most people: phone, laptop, tablet, camera, headphones, battery packs, and chargers. But what about an e-reader, for which I'll have the best intentions but likely won't touch at all, and my Nintendo Switch, which I've brought with me on my last three trips and have neglected each time. My backpack usually has a hornet's nest of cables — a mix of USB-C, Micro-USB, and Lightning — and AC adapters, though I've effectively consolidated them to a single multi-port adapter.
It's not clear to me why North America uses the clearly-inferior 110V standard, and don't get me started on the Imperial system.
I'll be traveling through several countries, totaling three different plug designs, all of which support 220V input, so I'll be packing a bevy of adapters while ensuring that all of my electronics support the change in voltage. Ultimately, though, I'm going to minimize wall charging by using high-capacity battery backups and charging my portable electronics through them wherever possible. But those packs will need to be charged, and thankfully my largest one holds 22,000mAh and can be charged overnight with USB-PD.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining — these tools definitely enhance the travel experience. But as they get further entrenched in our home lives, they become more indispensable when we're away, too. The tablet will go unused for all but a few hours on the plane, for example, but I'd rather lug it around than watch the same content on my phone or laptop. It's a problem of my own creation.
You want to account for every possibility while traveling, so you bring everything. On the other hand, purposefully (or accidentally) leaving something behind forces you to contend with the unknown, from wiling away the long plane hours watching someone else's movie sans sound (we've all done that, right?) to reading all of those magazines you've been reluctant to throw away for this very occasion. Should my adapters not work or my batteries deplete, I will gaze instead at the unfamiliar stars of an unfamiliar city, or aimlessly walk the streets to learn more about them. That's the point of traveling, isn't it? When tech becomes a chore, or interrupts the moment, or just doesn't work, it becomes a burden, a weight I wish I wasn't carrying in the first place.
So maybe, while packing this week, I'll choose to bring fewer gadgets and leave more room for being lost, confused and aimless.
At least that's the intention. Thankfully, good intentions don't weigh anything.
And now, onto some other matters.
We're only a few days away from the start of Mobile World Congress, and we're already awash in details on what's to come. Obviously, Samsung's Galaxy S9 series will top the list of important announcements, but it's not the only show in town. LG has scaled back its plans, but we're expecting a V30 refresh of some sort, while Sony will likely announce its latest flagship in the Xperia XZ2.
ASUS is looking to make its first big splash at MWC with the ZenFone 5 series, and we already know that Alcatel has at least three phones to talk about at this year's show. Alcatel's sister company, BlackBerry Mobile, unveiled the KEYone's name and availability at MWC 2017, so it's possible we'll see its sequel this time around. We already know that Huawei isn't unveiling the P20 until March, but it's possible we'll see new MediaPad tablets from the Chinese giant, and Lenovo is sure to show off a few of its innovations, too.
As usual, I'm excited to hang out with the AC team in the beautiful city of Barcelona, so follow my adventures on Instagram for the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, if you're so inclined.
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