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This article was published on December 11, 2016

Five things you desperately need in your carry-on luggage this Christmas

Five things you desperately need in your carry-on luggage this Christmas
Matthew Hughes
Story by

Matthew Hughes

Former TNW Reporter

Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twi Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twitter.

Over the Winter break, like millions of other people, I’m going to be catching a flight (multiple flights, actually) to see friends and family. And I’ll carry with my a small, carry-on bag, which will contain all the electronics to get me through the ennui of hours spent in airport terminals and A320 cabins.

By their very nature, carry-on bags are small. You don’t get to bring all that much shit with you. You’ve got to be strategic with what you pack. While each person is different, I’d like to think I’ve got this nailed down to an art. Here’s what I’ll be packing this winter.

Skyroam: Data roaming without the bill-shock

I’ve owned one of these for over a year. Essentially, they’re mobile Wi-Fi hotspots that work pretty much anywhere in the world. Rather than pay for data by the megabyte, you simply pay $8 for a full 24 hours’ worth of blissful connectivity.

It can connect five devices to the Internet simultaneously, and in my own experiences, speeds are respectable.

The device itself is hard to lose. It looks a bit like a block of plastic, orange cheese. Undeniably chunky, it packs a battery that can endure with 8 hours of continuous usage.

I can also attest to its sturdiness. I took it with me to my brother’s bachelor party in Madrid where it was dropped many times, and even survived being drenched with a full pint of Estrella lager.

At the time of writing, there’s a deal on the SkyRoam website where you can get the device for $79.99. Ordinarily, this goes for $99.99. This offer generously includes three free Internet day-passes, with a value of $24.

Flip Quad: A multi-port USB charger that you can fit in your back pocket

Multi-port USB chargers are big. They’re bulky. They occupy a lot of space, and most of them don’t retract. Blegh.

The Flip Quad is different. This is smaller than a pack of Lucky Strikes. As the name suggests, it packs four legacy USB ports, and can pump out 5.0 amps of power through them. There’s also a small, ladybug-sized button which, when pressed, causes the bottom to flip open, exposing a wall socket.

Again, this is the size of a pack of smokes. At its thickest point, it measures 18mm, meaning it can comfortably fit in your back pocket.

As far as I’m aware, OneAdaptr, which is the manufacturer of the Flip Quad, only makes it in a UK version. While this is handy for me (I live in the UK, and regularly visit Ireland and Malta, where UK-standard plugs are still used), Americans will be disappointed. But you guys get Hulu, so it all balances out in the end.

You can grab one on OneAdaptr’s website for $34.99.

Twist+ World Adaptor Duo: Use your MacBook anywhere

If you’re only traveling with a MacBook and devices that rely on USB to get their juice, you don’t really want to carry a standalone travel adaptor, do you? Which is why Twist+ really impressed me.

This works by replacing the plug aspect of your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro power brick with a universal adaptor. As the name suggests, you select the type of plug you want to use by twisting the bottom of the device.

It works in a variety of regions, including the US, Japan, Australia, China, Europe, and the UK. In total, the manufacturers say it can be used in over 150 countries.

It also packs two USB ports, which can output at total of 3.4 amps, as well as a universal AC outlet. While I’ve not tested this personally (I haven’t felt the need to), it supposedly can charge up to four devices simultaneously.

Convinced? You can get one on Amazon for $39.99.

NomadClip Carabiner

Besides a Canadian flag, the only other thing you need to attach to your backpack this Winter is a NomadClip Carabiner. It’s a Carabiner. But it’s got a USB or Lightning charge cable built into it. Beautiful, right?

I’m a massive fan of Nomad’s stuff. I own one of their MicroUSB keyrings, as well as one of their (apparently since discontinued) MicroUSB cards. In short, it means that I’m never far from being able to charge my phone.

The MicroUSB version goes on Amazon for $31.39, while iPhone users can get a compatible carabiner for slightly less – only $29.99.

Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2: The best noise-cancelling headphones I’ve tried this year

If you forget to pack headphones before stepping on a long-distance flight, you can usually count on your airline to have left you some complimentary ones on your seat. At least, British Airways does. The problem is that these are often, in a word, shit.

They’re like dollar store headphones, at best, and are unable to drown out the roar of a 747’s four engines. This means you must strain to hear every word of dialog spoken on the movie playing on your personal in-flight entertainment system. On the plus side, my propensity for forgetfulness has spared me from many a crap Harrison Ford film.

But that’s not ideal, obviously. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of great noise-cancelling headphones on the market. Might I suggest you check out The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2?

BackBeat PRO2 Black Case and Cords

I don’t want to bore you with an in-depth review of how it sounds. Just take me at my word when I say that these Bluetooth, over-ear cans sound ex-fucking-quisite.

I was flying back from a weekend break in Belfast the other week on a particularly noisy turboprop. The noise-cancelling on these bad boys meant that I was able to catch up on This American Life without struggling to hear.

And with active noise cancellation (ANC) activated, it can endure for about 24 hours of continuous listening, which is handy if you’re taking an ultra-long-haul flight, such as from San Francisco to Singapore.

As far as medium-range blueTooth headphones go, the Plantronic BackBeat Pro 2 is pretty reasonably priced. Amazon sells it in the US for $250, while in the UK, it’ll set you back £229.99.

Over to you

Are you jetting off over Christmas or the New Year? If so, what’s going in your cabin baggage, and why? Leave me a comment to let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

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