View Full Version : Business Travel Carry - How do you keep it light?

05-29-2014, 04:10 AM
Before you say it, I know, carry less.

Here's the thing, when travelling for business, there is often so much associated with the tools just to do the job you are going to do. I carry a Tristar and cannot seem to get much below 10kg/22 pounds. Walking through the airport with the absolute strap is ok but any further, even with the backpack straps, its a burden.

I'm looking for any techniques that regular business travellers have to cut down on weight and make the carry a better experience.

I break my carry in to three main areas, Clothing in the back section, Work/Technology in the middle section and Toiletries/Accessories in the front two sections.

I think I have the clothing nailed with lightweight creaseproof clothing where possible and taking only the bare minimum. Toiletries as well, I only take the minimum in small quantities. Its all the other stuff that gets me, the heavy work laptop (no macbook air for me unfortunately), laptop charger, notebook, pens, cables, adapters, papers, kindle/ipad etc.

Somethings I have been thinking about which may be a bit extreme:

Don't use a cache for the laptop - just adds bulk, should be safe in the middle section of the tristar anyway.
Leave the laptop charger at home - Most times I travel with colleagues to one of our company locations. Will be able to share 'power' during the day, and battery should last in the evening for any activity required at the hotel
Don't bring any iPad/Kindle - Just use my phone for any 'entertainment' such as reading or music. Do without any video.

Are there any specific techniques to reduce weight in the stuff you bring or ways to avoid bring things in the first place?

Lastly, anyone moved from using a Tristar to a Western Flyer for business trips? How does this work for you?

Thanks all.

05-29-2014, 05:30 AM
I would say that whether or not you bring an iPad or Kindle depends on the length of your trip. Unless you have so much work that there is no downtime, it is a nice addition and makes the plane ride bearable. The Kindle, in particular, is so light that it's hard to justify not bringing it, particularly when you compare it to the weight of a book.

People on this forum may disagree with me, but I check a bag when I travel for business, at least for trips of one week or more. They reimburse for any fees, and if I carried on I'd still be waiting with my colleagues for their bags to arrive. I do carry all the necessary technology, papers, entertainment for the plane trip (particularly overseas), and a few changes of clothes in case the suitcase gets lost, including sleeping clothes and one set of clothes suitable for meetings/presentations. I make sure these essentials are in a soft-sided bag. I think the Western Flyer would be useful in serving this function.

I'm sure other forum members will chime in with answers that more closely match your original question: How to manage with everything in one carry-on bag.

05-29-2014, 07:10 AM
DH and I have both pretty much stopped carrying a laptop when travelling - they're just too heavy when you have to lug them and their chargers on top of all your personal stuff. His company has issued staff with (Android) tablets, and I use an iPad Mini with an ultrathin keyboard. Probably not much help in your situation, though :(

However I would agree with @bchaplin that a Kindle is so light that it makes no odds, but a full-sized non-Air iPad is quite heavy in my experience (with a keyboard, it weighs about the same as an 11" MBA) - that's why I downsized to the Mini. In your situation I'd definitely leave the iPad at home, but maybe take the Kindle on longer flights.

05-29-2014, 07:24 AM
I have used the WF as my single bag for business trips, but I do not bring a laptop with me on travels. An iPad is sufficient for everything I need for work. See http://forums.tombihn.com/photos-videos/7112-first-trip-western-flyer.html. Recently, however, I've switched over to the TS in order to bring an extra set of shoes and clothing for my daily workout.

05-29-2014, 07:25 AM
I have spent more time traveling for business than I care to remember. Here's a few thoughts on how to lighten your load.

Paper is one of the heaviest things you can carry. Carefully review your files and see what can be left behind and what can be carried as an electronic document. I actually use my Kindle Paperwhite to hold pdf copies of reports, manuals, etc I might need on the road. For the remaining paper, I use double sided copies where possible. I now take a few dozen sheets of paper, at most, compared to hundreds before... a big weight savings. I use a softbound Moleskine notebook instead of the hard cover books. Again, each ounce I can shave from my load counts. The notebook looks professional so I can use it in meetings without the need for a heavy & bulky leather portfolio.

Electronics are heavy, but don't get rid of essentials. Obviously a MacBook Air would save lots of weight, but unfortunately it doesn't sound like an option for you. Dont leave the power supply at home... if you find yourself separated from your colleague you may soon find yourself out of power. Do examine the need for an iPad. If it's a full size iPad, perhaps you could convert to an iPad mini. Also, does the iPad fill a role you can't satisfy with another device (PC, Kindle, iPhone, etc.)? While it might be nice to have, ditch it if it duplicates something else in your arsenal. The cache is great for protection and it's pretty light but I find it adds lots of bulk. Its risky to go without protection, but there may be a slimmer option available to free some space in your bag.

Try two bagging it. I know it's sacrilege to some people, but I find breaking my load into two parts is the single best way to easily carry everything. I probably carry about the same weight load as you. When it's distributed across two bags it feels so much lighter that it makes up for the added inconvenience. My Tri-Star with just clothing for up to a week (including suits) feels very light. My briefcase with everything else feels very manageable too. Together, it's uncomfortable and starts to hurt my shoulder. If you work in an environment where a backpack is acceptable, consider one of the Synapse bags for your work items... that way your hands remain free to carry your much lighter Tri-Star.

05-29-2014, 07:50 AM
I agree with giantsteve on the tablet. I would say go down to a kindle fire or an iPad mini.

Also, can't you buy a travel battery charger? Many companies sell these aftermarket and they are much smaller power bricks, especially for PCs, and that would help you lighten your load tremendously. But I wouldn't go without a power brick myself. What happens if you get stuck somewhere for a few days because of weather or some kind of travel delay?

Finally, is it possible for you to buy an ultrabook that would meet your needs (think pad, samsung, even dell has them) go to your IT people, have them outfit it with what you need and have that be your travel laptop? I realize that this means out of pocket money but it might be well worth it and you could always write it off on taxes. I'm in the process of doing this-- my work laptop was a MacBook Pro, and even though I love it, it's a beast when I am off doing research. So I am buying a MacBook Air next week, (my own money out of pocket) and my IT guys are going to outfit with what I need in terms of programs, so I can use it for ethnographic research. I realize you can't buy an air, but they now make ultrabooks for Linux and windows and it might be worth the expense, if you travel so often that carrying the darned thing is a burden. Just a thought.

Auntie Em
05-29-2014, 07:52 AM
You might want to share how you are using the laptop. If a VPN solution would work (via an iPad), then you could leave it at home.

05-29-2014, 08:11 AM
I was recently at a conference with a colleague who didn't bring her charger. Although my laptop was fully charged I still found it a little annoying to hand over my brick for the day. But I'm weird like that. Anyway if the laptop is a burden imagine how annoyed you'll be carrying it around if you can't even use it!

My phone is a Galaxy Note 2. Aside from being a great piece of equipment, it is large enough that I have no need or desire for a tablet. I read on it, watch videos, surf the web, and play games just fine. It might be a bit much if you carry your phone in your pocket.

You can save a few ounces but still protect your laptop if you use a large bubble envelope meant for shipping instead of the Cache. It's not exactly a classy way to carry your laptop, but if you can manage to get your laptop in and out of the envelope without taking the envelope out of the Tri-Star, no one needs to see it. There is also a tutorial (http://www.instructables.com/id/EY1X2UQF35J1IBA/?ALLSTEPS) on making your own Tyvek sleeve out of a FedEx shipping envelope.

Agree on trying to bring just the bare essential papers, and that goes for pens, too--how many do you really need? If you need multiple colors, there are 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 pens that will pare things down. Rotring even makes some that include a mechanical pencil.

Frank II
05-29-2014, 08:27 AM
I just downsized to an ultrabook running win8.1 It will do everything my old laptop will do except it only has 1 usb port (I use a usb splitter which works well.) It comes apart so I can just take the tablet or use it together as a regular computer. Touchscreen. The charger is micro-usb and comes with a wall plug that weighs practically nothing. No big brick. Costs retail about $450. It weighs under 2 lbs including the charger. Asus T100.

The hard drive is only 64GB so I carry an external Passport 1TB drive which runs off the USB splitter. Besides work stuff, I have a bunch of videos on it since the T100 has a micro-HDMI slot. If you don't need 1 TB of space, you can plug in a few 64 or 128 gb flash drives. The charger for this could also charge a kindle or Ipad but you wouldn't need an Ipad if you had this.

05-29-2014, 08:35 AM
Can you upload files to Dropbox or something similar, and then access the through another computer when you get there? Then you could ditch the laptop and its power supply.

I agree, put as many documents as possible in PDF form, then put them on a Kindle/USB key/Dropbox. I would only carry books or magazines in electronic format.

If you're stuck with the laptop anyway, can you put your entertainment on it? (Books, movies, audiobooks, knitting patterns, ...) You would definitely need to think about power, though. If you can figure out a way to do without the laptop, can you consolidate all your entertainment on a single, lighter device (iPad or iPad mini, Kindle)?

Can you get shorter power cords for any of your stuff (eg 3" USB charger cords for the Kindle or iPad)? 3-in-1 cords (eg micro-USB/Lightning/dock connector)?

Can you carry smaller notebooks, and single instead of multiple pens?

05-29-2014, 10:25 AM
If you get a note-taking app such as GoodNotes or Notability then you can ditch the paper completely. These both allow you to use a stylus and write directly onto your iPad. The documents can be saved & emailed to your laptop for when you are back in the office.

I have to completely agree with giantsteve - using 2 bags, each is which is not fully loaded is far easier and more comfortable than lugging a single monster weight around.

05-29-2014, 11:11 AM
I carry a Tristar and cannot seem to get much below 10kg/22 pounds.

You mention a "heavy work laptop" which has been the target of much speculation in this thread. Can you provide more details, for instance, the make/model of your laptop and what you usually do on it?

Switching from a relatively large and heavy 15-inch model (at about 3 kg travel weight including the power adapter) to a smaller ultrabook with a lightweight adapter can easily shave 1.5kg off your load (meaning your 10kg would go down to 8.5kg, much easier on your shoulder). Remember the Macbook air is not the only thin-and-light in town; a Dell XPS 13 weighs in at 1.37kg and is powerful enough for most tasks. You can save some weight by getting an aftermarket power adapter (for instance http://finsix.com/dart). This all depends on whether your workload can be handled by a lighter model.

Also, most newer laptops can supply power through the USB port, even when turned off (as long as they're plugged into power themselves). So rather than carrying chargers for the Kindle, phone, ipad and others, you could carry the cables only and use the laptop as a power source. If you play it right, you could manage with just one cable (e.g. an Android tablet and phone with a micro USB connector, or ipad and iphone with lightning port). The Kindle uses micro USB so it'd allow you to one-cable it with the Android combo, but not with the iPhone combo).

05-29-2014, 07:17 PM
Try two bagging it. I know it's sacrilege to some people, but I find breaking my load into two parts is the single best way to easily carry everything. I probably carry about the same weight load as you. When it's distributed across two bags it feels so much lighter that it makes up for the added inconvenience. My Tri-Star with just clothing for up to a week (including suits) feels very light. My briefcase with everything else feels very manageable too. Together, it's uncomfortable and starts to hurt my shoulder. If you work in an environment where a backpack is acceptable, consider one of the Synapse bags for your work items... that way your hands remain free to carry your much lighter Tri-Star.

Completely agree with this suggestion, especially with the weight distribution advantage. The other advantage is that it gives you a more discreet daily carry option for when you are working at destination. It sounds as if you might even be able to downsize from the TriStar to the Western Flyer for your clothes if you went the two bag route.

And I definitely wouldn't be sacrificing the laptop power brick. It may be an inconvenience, but it is an essential.

05-29-2014, 09:29 PM
Thanks for the Asus t 100 tip. I was all set to get a MacBook Air (but felt it was too expensive for just a travel laptop, but I needed a USB drive and stuff so I couldn't just use my iPad for what I need) and I looked up the t 100, which looks like a great option, especially now that you can buy it with the extra 500gb storage in the keyboard and it has the USB drive, etc. Since I mostly just use word files, wave files and pictures, it should all be able to transfer between my MacBook and this thing.
Anyway totally o/t but after reading reviews all day I am sold on that Asus. You just saved me about $500 ;)

05-30-2014, 04:05 AM
Thanks all for the feedback and ideas. Its giving me a lot to consider changing, it seems the general thread is how to reduce the electronics either through size or weight or doubling up on uses.

I heard unanimously from you not to leave behind the laptop charger. I'll be sure to continue to take that but will look into aftermarket lighter options.

I really like the idea suggested about using a second bag to distribute the weight. I have a synapse 25 so could consider that on flights that allow a second person bag. I usually fly EasyJet which has a strict one bag policy. I do have a large packing cube backpack which I take as a day bag when 'in country'. I'm going to try using it for the heavier electronics to carry on my back as I travel and keep the Tristar to the lighter clothing. I'll shove it into the middle compartment of the Tristar when boarding to meet the one bag rule.

Thanks all.