On Packing: What’s in my Carry-on

chris milton carry on packing list
I like to travel. But it’s only been recently that I’ve been getting back to traveling on vacations.  As kids we always had places to go and other family to see. Some of my most memorable trips were:
  • the I5 road trips to see family in Portland.
  • the family Disneyland trip complete with Mickey Mouse pancakes
  • losing windshield wipers at the African Safari… In Toronto.
  • pedaling as fast as possible down mt. Haliakala in Maui
  • Rose Bowl games and Parade during winter breaks, then March madness during spring breaks in California
  • the historic hotel and naval base on Coronado Island

productive business travel chris miltonAfter taking sports seriously, the trips were for tournaments and that set in motion my mentality of traveling for a purpose.  Tournaments for sports turned into trade shows and conferences for work. I craved to travel for work when I was starting my career because it felt like I could make a difference and an impact at these events and improve our goals.  To this day, I know how important saying “yes” to every travel opportunity was.

When my wife and I started dating, I remember planning some weekend getaways, quickly realizing that I only been exposed to hotels, restaurants and meeting spaces in these cities. While I had been to many cities, I didn’t really know much beyond their business functions.

So we started to just visit – no work. Knowing we had familiar hotels to stay and the best restaurants, we could both explore the rest of the city for the first time.

Doubling back on this list is far from being complete.  The next step for us is vacations that are family friendly so we can bring our daughter along too.  The logistics of traveling with kids is very different, the opposite of being efficient with packing and focusing of having every foreseeable situation planned for.

While many things are changing with how I travel, one thing remains; I always feel productive on the road and my carry-on is packed with my essentials.

Carry-On Inventory: What’s in my bag

Here’s what I’m currently using on trips. Some items might change from time to time, but the setup still has the same purpose and criteria.

  • Be lightweight.
  • Cover work essentials.
  • Easily capture ideas.
  • Straight forward access to items
  • Simple through security
  • Adds comfort in flight

chris milton carry on packing list

1. PacSafe Instasafe Z400: lets start with the bag itself

I’ve used many different messenger bags, backpacks and duffels over the years and I am so glad I found this PacSafe messenger. While it is Carryology’s messaging bag of the year due to its features and functionality, I like it because of the clean look, comfort, some safety features and the lock-down zipper system. It holds all my stuff. It’s gotta be a safe!

2. MacBook Pro: the brains in my bag

I’ve been a Mac user for years and many versions of notebooks, each getting lighter and more powerful. Not as light as the MacBook Air, but I like having more external ports, especially when it’s time for a presentation with someone else’s projector.

3. Molinske notebook(s), uniball pen, pencil: drawing, sketching and old school notes

Capturing creativity is essential for me. I find being on the road is inspirational and some of my best ideas have been in airports, on trains and in planes. Maybe its the lack of distractions that come with a regular work day, or being exposed to a lot of local marketing and advertising that I wouldn’t otherwise see.  Getting ideas have always come on the road, ever since I was a kid looking at all the cars and trucks on road trips.

The Volant Journals are the best notebooks I’ve found. Low profile soft cover that holds form and just enough pages to get a lot in, but not bulk up the bag.  I like the Uniball pens because they write well, draw nicely and have a cap! The pencil is low profile (doesn’t hold a lot of extra lead though) and straight forward.

4. Electrical mayhem in a toiletry bag: cord management made simple

Once I learned about cord stress, I stopped tightly wrapping my accessory cables. That lead to a super messy pocket in my bag and constant tangles. Meet my solution. A Tumi accessory case, that came with my luggage tags (tip: normally the Tumi Luggage tags come in a box, but around Christmas time, they have a travel kit that includes this case and two tie-downs. Bonus). It fits everything. Here’s what’s inside:

  • micro USB charger
  • Macbook Charger (with both plugins)
  • iPad Charger
  • microfiber cloth
  • apple earbuds
  • LG tone, Bluetooth earbuds
  • ruler

It’s small, compact and it will also fit the pens/pencil.

5. iPad (not pictured, I took the photo with it)

Nothing fancy here, but a rule I learned was to have multiple devices and electronically divide your day. Having my iPad is to be turned off from work. All that I use it for is writing on Evernote (that syncs to my MacBook and desktop), reading (Kindle / iBooks / Pocket), a few games and surfing on Safari.

6. USB: old school classic

A backup for file transfer. I guess you could call it “old school tech.” Being overseas, WiFi and data services can be unreliable and expensive. You never known when a USB stick might be needed.

7. Business cards: always be ready to pitch

Networking should always be on. A business card is the old school favourite. Nothing fancy here, just in case. If you have ever been embarrassed from running out when the right connection appears, you too will always have business cards in hand.

8. OnePlus One: android for the win.

Traveling with an unlocked phone is essential. I lose phones, drop phones and break phones. The OnePlus One is the best phone I’ve had and the replacement cost is affordable.  Everything else in my bag is apple, and I prefer using android for mobile.  The experience for me is better, and we use a lot of google products to run our business that I find have a better experience on android vs. iOS.

I have been wanting to do a post like this for a long time. I’ve always enjoyed posts from others about the best gearwhat’s in their bags and learning about travel hacks. Having a good travel experience always makes the destination that much better.

Happy travels.


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