Travel Tech: Become A Master

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Everybody knows that airport security is nothing but a headache. Today’s traveler is usually carrying loads of gadgets: a smartphone, a tablet, an mp3 player, and a laptop. Digging through your carry on bag to extract each piece of tech can be a real pain, and usually you can feel the people waiting behind you staring daggers into your back. The Nerds from Nerds on Call are here with a few tips that can help you breeze through security, even with a bag full of travel tech.

Travel tech has become a bit of an art form in recent years. With new, stricter guidelines being passed by the TSA almost every year, the lines between what is acceptable and what is not have been permanently blurred. Even if you attempt to check your bag full of travel tech, chances are that your laptop or DVD player will raise suspicion and end up being pulled out of a checked bag for examination. Who knows what the security agents do to or with your belongings at this time, but chances are they can get away with much more than a TSA agent could at a security checkpoint with you standing right in front of them.

The most important part of mastering travel tech is to pick a TSA-compliant travel bag. For a Nerd, the go to is usually a backpack with padded shoulder straps. The eBags TLS Professional Weekender is a great choice for travel tech novices and experts alike. It includes a lie-flat laptop compartment that can hold computers up to 17 inches wide while still meeting checkpoint guidelines. The TLS Professional Weekender also has room for clothes, and a hard-cased A/C adapter storage space at the bottom. There is also a zip-top compartment for easy access to your tablet, and every single compartment includes a zipper to keep items secure at all angles. At a price of $135, this travel tech bag is a decent deal because you get plenty of specialized features without an absurd price.

 

 

Another travel tech backpack that the Nerds enjoy is the NorthFace Surge II. Although it is nearly $100 more expensive than the TLS mentioned above, the Surge II includes a weather-resistant Joey T55 power supply for recharging phones, tablets, or anything that can be charged via USB.  This backpack has been endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association for benefits related to how the pack fits, and the amount of pressure that is relieved from the shoulders and back through the design. The NorthFace Surge II also comes in various colors, and includes a lie-flat laptop storage compartment, making it a great travel tech backpack for the active gadget-phile.

If you truly want to take advantage of owning a lay-flat laptop bag, be sure that your laptop is the only thing in the lay-flat compartment, so that the X-Ray scanner has a clean unobstructed view. Remember to pack cables, chargers, and accessories separately so that they do not interfere with the scanner. If you do not have a TSA-compliant carry on bag, the TSA recommends that you pack clothes on the bottom and electronics on top for quick removal. The guidelines for air travel state that anything the size of a “standard laptop” or larger needs to come out of a standard bag. By definition, a standard laptop is 12″ x 14″ or larger, which means that 11″ laptops, e-readers, or tablets do not need to come out of the bag as long as the agent can clearly scan them.

It is also important to neatly wrap your cables and cords and secure them with a rubber band or zip tie. If your bag does not have a dedicated cord storage area, place them in a zip top plastic bag. Masses of tangled cords and cables can look potentially dangerous through X-Ray scanners. Since we are on the topic of cables, the Nerds would like to recommend bringing an external battery pack so that you aren’t fighting with everyone in the airport for a power outlet. The Anker Powercore+ 26800 is a great battery back up, and for $80 can charge up to 3 devices at a time. Their most recent tests have found that they Powercore+ can charge an iPhone 6 ten times, and a MacBook at least 3 times. With something that Anker called PowerIQ, the battery can sense the device that you are charging and maximize the charge speed of the device. With a Quick Charge 3.0 wall charger, the PowerCore backup battery can reach a full charge in as little as 8 hours, which is about half the time of competitive products.

There you have it, the travel tech tips from your local Nerds. Remember to always keep your laptop in its own lay-flat compartment, wrap your cords neatly and keep them in a bag, and always have a backup battery in case of emergency. If you do not have a TSA approved carry-on bag, be cautious of the order that you pack your things in, and be sure that your electronics are easily accessible in the security line! For more tech tips and advice be sure to check back on our blog regularly!

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.