Packing for a trip: Decisions, decisions

Posted on by Mike Evans

What stuff to pack for a given trip? This is a cause of much cogitation whenever I am planning a weekend away, a one-week break or a longer summer stay in Greece. Should I take the MacBook Air or the Pro Retina? Could I manage with just the iPad mini? Do I need a camera with interchangeable lenses or will I manage with a fixed 35mm focal length pro camera or a zoomed point and shoot?

Often I am dithering up to the moment I jump in the car or leave for the airport. Travelling by car is easy, easy enough to throw in the kitchen sink and not suffer remorse. But packing for air travel, when all this stuff belongs in carry-on baggage, is a different thing.

I am glad I am not alone. Writing in Macworld, Lex Friedman suffers from similar indecision as he packs for a visit to Dublin: Can I manage with just the iPad? Perhaps, but I would need an Apple Wireless keyboard as well. But then the duo weighs as much as the MacBook Air, so I might as well take the Air. The MacBook Pro would be better for the photographer, but doesn’t work well on the tray of an Economy airline seat. If I take the Air, can I manage without the iPad? The options are endless and, in my case, no easier with photographic equipment.

I have sort of reached a set of conclusions which keeps me happy. For a weekend away I invariably choose to take just the iPad mini. I can manage without an external keyboard for two days and I can cope without posting to Macfilos for a weekend. For trips of up to a week the MacBook Air and iPad mini go in my bag. The Air is so light that it is a better option than taking an additional keyboard.

My 15in MacBook Pro Retina, superb as it is, operates as my desktop machine most of the time. It is too big and heavy to make a good travelling companion for short trips. I reserve it for those longer absences when I know there will be a desk waitingat the other end. All I have to do is carry it on outward and inward journeys; once there is doesn’t move around and I can rely on the iPad mini when away from base.

All these decisions would be so much more difficult if it were not for the excellence of Apple’s eco-system and the magic of iCloud. Only a few years ago it was supremely difficult to manage two computers, such as a desktop and a laptop. Now, iCloud and Dropbox ensure that all devices, including iPads and iPhones, are up to date without the need for any advance planning. In other words, we’ve never had it so good. And it is so comforting to know that whatever we decide to pack, we are unlikely to be left completely high and dry without that vital piece of information..

by Mike Evans, 15 April 2013

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