This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
As a frequent traveler in a high tech world, I am always looking for ways to travel lighter, with less luggage and less effort. I started out years ago traveling with a 12-pound laptop computer with a black-and-white screen and two floppy disk drives (and no hard drive). I think the charger added another three or four pounds to my luggage weight as well. That was state-of-the-art in the 1980s. Of course, I was younger and stronger in those days, and carrying an extra 15 pounds or so wasn’t much of an issue.
In those days I had a separate suitcase just for the laptop, charger, modem, and assorted cables plus some tools needed to take apart the telephone in a hotel room in order to hook into the phone system and connect to the outside world. This was before the airlines started charging extra for every piece of luggage. The normal method of connecting online in those days was to use a dial-up 1200-baud modem to connect to CompuServe. The World Wide Web and the phrase “Wi-Fi” had yet to be invented.
Luckily, technology has improved greatly since those days! As time marched on, I went through a long series of laptop computers with each new generation weighing less than the previous. My most recent laptop computer is a 3-pound MacBook Pro that is far more powerful than the 12-pounder I carried years ago. I also carried a charger that added another pound or so to the carrying weight.
There’s even a better solution for today’s traveler.
A couple of years ago, I exchanged the old suitcase for a small backpack. At the same time I exchanged my laptop for a rather powerful, yet lightweight, tablet computer. The tablet computer slips into a small corner of my carry-on backpack. In fact, I now travel with only this one piece of luggage. It looks like a small suitcase except it has wheels as well as straps that convert it to a backpack. I now stow my tablet computer, charger, and enough clothing for a week into that one carry-on backpack! It is small enough to fit in the overhead bins of even the European airliners (that usually have stricter requirements for carry-on baggage). Airline travel is a lot easier as a result.
With today’s technology, we have lighter and easier solutions. A few years ago, tablet computers were not powerful enough to substitute for a laptop or desktop computer. Of course, the technology has changed greatly in the past few years, and now I find an iPad or an Android tablet is a good substitute for probably 95% of the applications I use. The other 5% seem to be applications I don’t use when traveling anyway.
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