Tips for Traveling with Your Notebook
So far in this chapter, we've covered a lot of ground in terms of how to best travel with your notebook. There's still more advice to be had, however, in the form of the following tips:
- Travel light. When you travel, you don't have to take everything with you. For example, if you're not going to be taking pictures, don't carry along your external media card reader. The same goes with software; take only those programs and accompanying files that you're going to use. The less you carry with you, the less you'll lose if your notebook happens to fall into the wrong hands. (This goes double for any confidential or sensitive files; delete them before you leave, unless you absolutely, positively need them while you'll be gone.)
- Back up your data. Minimize your potential losses by backing up all of your notebook's data files before you leave. That way you can restore you data to a new PC if your notebook gets stolen or breaks down while you travel.
- Identify your notebook. If your notebook gets stolen and subsequently found, how can you identify it as yours? Try taping a business card to the bottom of your notebook; it's both unobtrusive and practical.
- Print out what's important. I also like to carry a hard copy printout of important data—contacts, phone numbers, account numbers, and the like—in addition to the electronic versions on my notebook. I carry these printouts in a separate bag, so that if my notebook is stolen, I still have this important information.
- Work it out before you go. A trip away from home is no place to learn how to use a new notebook PC or software program. Get familiar with your hardware and software before you depart and make sure that everything is working properly. (That includes doing a test connection to a public Wi-Fi hot spot.) And, if you need to, take along the relevant instruction manuals—just in case.
- Charge the night before. Make sure your notebook battery is fully charged before you leave; otherwise, you might not be able to use your notebook until you get to the next hotel.
- Take an extra battery. Along the same lines, it doesn't hurt to travel with a second fully charged battery. When your main battery runs out, replace it with the auxiliary battery.
- Check on Internet availability. If you're like me, your choice of hotel is dependent on Internet availability. Some hotels offer Wi-Fi for free, others charge per night, and a rare few don't yet offer any Internet connection. If there's no Internet in the hotel, check on the location of the nearest public Wi-Fi hot spot. (Starbucks are always good.)
- Don't drink and type. I know you'll be using your notebook in a coffeehouse or Internet café. Everyone does. But be careful when you're drinking that venti mocha cappuccino with extra sprinkles; knock that cup over and you could have a very wet and nonfunctioning notebook. Keep your drinks a fair distance from your notebook, and try very, very hard not to spill anything on your keyboard.
Use a privacy screen filter. Want to keep your nosy seatmate or the guy at the next table from seeing what you're typing? Invest in a privacy screen filter, such as the one in Figure 15.11. This filter fits on your notebook screen and uses microlouver technology to reduce off-angle viewing. You can see what's onscreen, but people on your left and right can't.
Figure 15.11 Keep your computing private with 3M's Privacy Filter (solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/ComputerFilter/Home/).
- Turn down the sound. When you're using your notebook in public, whether at a Starbucks or on a Boeing 767, turn down or mute the sound; you don't want to disturb others nearby. Even better, use a set of earbuds when you want to listen to music or a movie soundtrack.
In essence, when you travel with your notebook, you want to be cautious, courteous, and connected. It's a matter of using common sense and of being prepared for all contingencies. Are you ready to go?