Yeah, that whole post again tomorrow bit wasn’t working out, was it? Anyway, the front pocket of my backpack is pretty packed, but it gets a lot roomier moving backwards.
The second pocket is where I carry stuff that I don’t need that often, more for emergencies. I keep a USB-Car adaptor in there in case I’m in a rental car and forgot my car charger for the iPhone (happens more often than I care to admit). I also keep a small LED flashlight and a glow stick in there. Yeah, one of those snap it and shake it glow sticks. It’s kind of a just in case thing, but when the power’s out, you need a light source, and for less than a dollar, it’s worth keeping one on hand. I also keep one in the glove box of each car and a few stashed around the house for storms. They don’t give off much light, but enough to move around by, and they don’t run out of lamp oil or have their batteries die with no use.
My portable hard drive rides in this pocket when it’s not on the desk I’m working at. I carry a 500GB external HD pretty much everywhere, because it has a super-small form factor and holds all my music, all my family photos and pretty much everything I’ve ever written. And a bunch of porn, to boot! I picked it up for less than a hundred bucks, and it lets me keep my old MacBook plugging along without jamming up the hard drive.
I also carry a point n shoot digital camera with a 1GB SD card. It’s a Kodak that I picked up at Wal-Mart a couple years ago when I couldn’t find my Canon on the way to the airport. It’s worked out fine and takes decent pictures, and I typically am not carrying my SLR camera. I use it less and less since I got the iPhone, but it does take way better photos than the phone.
I turned an Altoids tin into an office emergency kit, with a few paperclips, binder clips and safety pins in there, along with a 512MB memory stick. I took a few rubber bands and wrapped them around the outside to keep the tin closed, and used them to hold an emergency sewing kit to the outside. There’s been more than one time when it’s been VERY important to have a needle and thread on hand, and a couple of spare buttons and safety pins are worth their weight in gold.
The last thing in the front pocket is a Do Not Disturb sign I swiped from a Marriott somewhere. The worst thing in the world is getting to a hotel very late at night and realizing that this is the ONE room in the building that doesn’t have a DND sign for door. So I grabbed one from a hotel and stuck it in my bag. It’s better than writing “Bugger OFF” on a notepad and jamming it into the keycard slot, which I’ve also done in a pinch.
Other things I always have with me are a book, a couple of copies of my book (because I have no idea when someone will develop a desperate need for poetry), a CAT5 cable (preferably 10′) and a notepad. If it’s a trip of any length I also have my noise-cancelling headphones, which I paid way too much for in the Atlanta airport one trip, but have proven themselves to be more than worth the cost every time I put them on. I also keep a couple of small caribiners clipped to the outside of the bag, just in case. Just in case of what I’m never really sure, but a couple of caribiners are usually pretty handy, and they’re lightweight enough not to bother me carrying them around everywhere.
Keeping this bag packed this way lets me grab it and go without having to think about packing, which means that there is less opportunity for me to forget shit when I’m on the way out the door. Having just gotten on blood pressure medication recently, the policy of keeping a few days’ worth of drugs in my bag is more important, as I recently found out what a flaming pain in the ass it is to get a prescription moved to another state in a hurry. So now I just drop in my laptop, portable HD and phone and I’m good to go. Now that cooler weather is here, I’ve moved back into my favorite jacket in the world, which has more pockets than I can keep track of, so I’ll be moving a few things back and forth from the backpack to the jacket, and adding a few trip-specific things like digital voice recorder, business cards, etc.