SAM 0130 300x194 5 Essentials For Your Laptop BagThere is a ton of stuff you can throw into your laptop bag (besides the laptop and the power cord), but what are the things that are really useful that you can put in there? I’m thinking about things that don’t add a lot of weight, but give you a big bang for your buck. While I carry a lot more than these five things, if I had to only carry my laptop, the power cord, and five things, these are the things I’d pick.

  1. Folding laptop stand. Between keeping your laptop cool and setting it at the right height for work, this folding stand that I found is perfect and I never go out without it.
  2. Flash drive(s). I always have at least one flash drive on me at all times (two in fact), but in my laptop bag I make sure I have a few there too. For me “a few” is 6, but a good 8GB drive is perfect for most people.
  3. Portable power bar. I use a three outlet model that also sports a couple of USB ports for charing phones and such. Nothing makes friends faster in a crowded coffee shop, airport, or conference than whipping out a small power bar to offer more outlets to power-starved laptop users.
  4. Charger cables for your phone. I keep a standard iPhone/iPod/iPad cable in my bag all the time. If I don’t need it to charge or transfer files, chances are someone else might. If your phone needs a special cable (not an iPhone or miniUSB) it’s essential that you have that with you. Finding someone with an iPhone or miniUSB cable is easy…a speciality cable? Not so much.
  5. Headphones. I keep the headphones that came with my iPhone in my bag all the time so that I can listen to music in a noisy place, answer calls easier, have a Skype call, or even do a little light podcast recording.

For Mac owners I’d add a couple of additions:

  1. Video adapter dongle. I have a miniDisplayPort to VGA adapter in my bag all the time, not because I’m always connecting my Mac to a projector or monitor when I’m out, but because I sometimes do (like teaching or giving talks) and I don’t want to have to remember it.
  2. Power cord adapter. Most of the time I keep the longer cord attached to my power adapter, but sometimes I like (or need) to have it set up in the more compact form. Since the adapter to slide into the block is small and light (and I have a couple of them) I just keep one in my bag.

Of course I have a few other things I like to carry in my bag and while they aren’t essential they are handy when I need them.

  1. Mini USB hub. Just a wee one that I can use to hook up a flash drive or SD card reader or something.
  2. SD card reader. My MacBook Pro doesn’t have a built in reader, so I’ll often toss an SD card reader into my bag.
  3. USB extender cable. I don’t know why it is that some USB devices have to be so wide that they block the ports next to them, but my EVDO modem and FlipCamera are big offenders at this. I connect them with and extender cable so I can use both USB ports at once.

Other stuff? I’m sure you might have a different set of 5 things as well as the 5 extras that I put in, so sound off …

What are the 5 essentials in your laptop bag?