Haven’t Laptop Will Travel

Haven’t Laptop Will TravelI’ve only been on a plane once since my last trip to San Francisco eight years ago. Now it’s time to get on one: This Thursday I’m heading back to SF for my birthday. The city’s in my top five, and it’s full of Philadelphia ex-pats there to pursue lifestyles more alternative and technological than Philly can provide. Their decision is understandable; I’ve often (and recently) questioned my dogged attachment to the East Coast.

While being places is wonderful, it’s the getting to and from that keeps me from traveling more often than once every few years. I’m not afraid of flying–I just hate it. I hate airports: The waiting, the overpriced food, the empty-gesture security protocols that make me feel like a criminal, being treated like baggage. The idea and sensation of flying actually excites me, but the experience is miserable: Seats designed for hobbits, impolite passengers, the lung-scarring air, the pressure changes killing my sinuses, the 1 in 5 chance of getting sick. I hate this whole process enough to avoid places I love for years at a time.

I’ve been putting together a plan and some lists. One thing deliberately left off the packing list is a laptop. My hypothesis is that my Crackberry and iPod Touch cover the essentials. The latter is a good-enough platform for web browsing when wifi’s available, and the former does a tolerable job when it’s T-Mobile’s EDGE network or nothing. The Touch has all my media; I may even download that free TWIT/WebAlert/every-other-blog audio book from audible.com to eat up the score of hours hurdling across the country. The Crackberry gives me email and twitter and text messaging from anywhere. (I really couldn’t care less about the fact that it’s a phone.) This could really work! It would be a triumph of minimalism and would test if a totally handheld life is possible, even if only for five days. There are always kiosks and internet cafes if I get desperate, right?

At T minus 71 hours, I find my resolve wavering. This act right now, blogging, is so much easier to do with a real computer. That computer happens to contain my new software love, Coda. It’s not just about having a computer; it’s about having my computer with all my software and customizations. I’m not ready to go cold turkey after four months surrounded by my harem of machines and their harmonious interactions–harmonious except for the tower still running XP. Only time will tell if I break down or stay the course.

So let me know what you think about the handheld good-enough hypothesis. Have you tried something similar? How have the new regulations about carry-on luggage affected your utility belt decisions? What should I know about traveling with tech in times like these?

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