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Top Travel Gear for Developers

In this digital age, it doesn't matter where you are in the world, freelance developers need the right tools in this mobile world. Today, I talk about all of the gadgets you need by going through my messenger bag.

Written by Jonathan Danylko • Last Updated: • Gadgets •
Airplane ready for boarding

For remote and freelance developers (and some full-time), there is no other feeling like being able to work anywhere in the world so long as you have a stable Internet connection. 

All you need to do is unpack your traveling gear and address the issue at matter where you're located in the world.

Based on the latest 2015 developer survey results from Stack Overflow, there are a group of developers (at least 29%) who work remotely in the field

If you are "remote in the field," you don't get the cushy couch or recliner to sit on (unless you work from home) while you are coding. Sometimes, you may not even get a stable Internet connection <gasp!>.

If you've seen me around, I carry around a messenger bag with all of my travel gadgets, traveling accessories, and remote tools to help me in my day-to-day activities in case I have an emergency with a client or a website.

If I have some down-time, I sometimes head to lunch with my messenger bag and work on some posts for DanylkoWeb or write some more features into my CMS.

Either way, all of your digital tools and the comforts of a virtual office are available in your messenger bag.



"What's in that thing?"

Recently, I've had a couple people ask me, "What do you carry in that [messenger bag]?"

I've had my messenger bag since 2006 and it's still pretty functional. It may be a while before I actually replace it.

If you travel a decent amount, I believe that you need a lightweight and durable messenger bag for your travel gear as a freelance developer.

Today, I'll be going through all of my gear in my messenger bag that a truly mobile developer should carry with them at all times.

Think of this as an extended post of the gadgets I discussed in my previous post called 5 Top Gadgets That Are Essential When Traveling.

Primary Storage (for your gear)

Messenger Bag

My primary storage for everything has been, and always will be, a messenger bag. When I read LifeHacker's Hive Five Best Laptop Bags and noticed that the top 3 most popular picks were messenger bags, it felt great to confirm that I wasn't alone in settling on messenger bags for transporting my travel accessories and gear.

The messenger bag I primarily use is not available anymore, but the closest match on Amazon is the SOLO Classic (NY10-4) (affiliate link).

This messenger bag has more pockets than I can count. When you have a various number of gadgets and travel accessories of varying sizes, this messenger bag provides all of the storage space you need when on the go.

There is even a smaller carrying case with handles in case you want to transport just your laptop.

Now...what's in it!

Your most important device!


(affiliate link)

What I carry around is a Dell Inspiron 14Z (affiliate link) i5 w/ 8GB of memory and an SSD drive. If you have not purchased an SSD yet, you absolutely need to buy one to see the difference.

Personally, I will never buy a regular hard drive ever again.

I have moved on to a new laptop. I'm currently using the Lenovo Yoga 900 and wrote a review of the laptop. It's a i7, has 16GB and a 512GB SSD. Love it! 



(affiliate link)

I know most people use their phone for scanning or OCR capabilities, but I prefer to have a scanner available. Something small enough to cover an 8 1/2" by 11" page.

The VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner (affiliate link) is a manual scanner requiring some effort to keep your hand straight on the scanner as you slide it down the page. It can scan as a JPG or a PDF and requires a MicroSD Card. The scanning resolution is either 300x300 (default) or 600x600 (high).

It's actually rated very high (4 out of 5 stars) on Amazon.

External Hard Drive

(affiliate link)

For those huge files that a USB drive can't hold or you need a temporary storage device to transfer video, I bought the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 500 GB USB 3.0 (affiliate link) external hard drive.

I sometimes use this drive for family videos when on vacation. It's great for when you need to off-load large files instead of waiting for your files to "upload to the cloud."

Portable Photo Printer

(affiliate link)

This was a long time ago, but Dell had a deal on a Wasabi Portable Photo Printer. This printer is almost the exact same as the one I mentioned in my 50 Awesome Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Technology Family (Students section), only the one on Amazon is called the Polaroid Instant Mobile Printer (affiliate link).

The way these photo printers work is that you can take a picture with your phone and then use Bluetooth to pair your devices. Once paired, you can send the photo you took to the mobile printer. It prints a 3x5 business card photo.

If you want larger, go to a WalMart or Walgreens. ;-)

Portable Keyboard

(affiliate link)

I have had this keyboard for a long time and it is still kicking.

The iHome Bluetooth Keyboard (IH-IP2101) (affiliate link) comes with a nice charging cable and a nice black pouch so your keys don't get scratched or dirty.


(affiliate link)

Wall Charger with USB Outlet (affiliate link)

I have about 2-3 of these little buggers in my messenger bag and they have become extremely handy when your devices slowly lose their charge.

Find an outlet in the airport, get out your USB cord, and start charging!

(affiliate link)

Moleskine Classic Notebook (affiliate link)

When you really need to jot down some notes about a particular idea a client mentioned to me, I'm glad I had the Moleskine handy.

(affiliate link)

Random House Webster's Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation (affiliate link)

Yes, even in this day and age where people are constantly on their phone looking up whether they should use an Oxford comma or not, I just open the pocket guide and confirm.

(affiliate link)

Pocket Ref 4th Edition (affiliate link)

Again, there have been times when I could not get connected to the Internet and had to go analog. This is probably the most handiest "Google" book available.

(affiliate link)

USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity Carrying Case (affiliate link) w/ an abundance of USB Drives

Most technology users have a number of USB drives available at any one time. Instead of throwing your USB drives into your messenger bag, buy a carrying case and keep them organized.

(affiliate link) (affiliate link)

Targus Memory Card Zipper Case (affiliate link) AND Case Logic Digital Case with 6 Media Carrying Pockets (affiliate link)

Along with USB drives, I also need to organize my Secure Digital (SD) card library as well. These little sleeves in a portable carrying case makes it extremely easy to pick out specific size cards for different devices (I even have a 16MB SD Card).

(affiliate link)

Travel Grooming Kit for Men (affiliate link)

You're telling me you've never had a hangnail or need a fingernail clipped?!!?

(affiliate link)

Mini-Cree LED Flashlight (affiliate link)

Just in case "the lights go out in Georgia!"

(affiliate link)

Jack Daniels Playing Cards (affiliate link)

Given to me by a client. Also, you never know when Solitaire will be your best friend (or an impromptu game with the guys playing Texas Hold'em will occur).

(affiliate link)

9-in-1 Pocket Micro Precision Screwdriver (affiliate link)

I have a couple of screwdriver sets in my messenger bag for precision work or taking a PC/Laptop apart.

All of these gadgets are in my Solo Messenger Bag and I have tested all of them. There is a reason I use these name brands and I carry all of this with me every single day.

Need Replacements

There are a couple of gadgets that I need to purchase in the future.

  • A portable battery charger for my phone
  • A Solar Charger Battery (Had a FreeLoader Pro and it stopped working)
  • 7" Tablet (either a Google Nexus or a Samsung Galaxy Tablet)

I will keep everyone up to date as to what I purchase regarding these three devices.


"Doesn't that messenger bag get heavy?"

To be honest, not really.

Looking ahead, I am trying to find a lighter (and more powerful) replacement for my Dell Inspiron 14z. I have been thinking about a Dell AlienWare laptop, so if anyone sees a deal, point me in the right direction. :-)

Every Spring, I clean out my messenger bag every chance I get to lighten the load to make it more manageable.

But as that old saying goes, "I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!"

What do you carry in your laptop bag? Did I miss any accessories that you absolutely MUST have with you at all times? Write a comment below.

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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