With all the options for travel these days — the conveniences, upgrades, portable technology — we queried pros in the industry to find out what you carry at all times. In a decidedly non-tech move, Airborne tablets seem to be a huge winner with all you weary travelers, but check out some other suggestions for safe and happy travel and some general favorites in gear…
I never travel without my Mac, a wireless base station, and most importantly my Strand Lighting X-Connect dongle. It enables me to wirelessly interact with and monitor the lighting desk so during previews, I can watch the show from any seat in the theatre and still monitor every cue as it happens. My notes are now accurate and lucid. I know exactly which units are where, in what color, at what level, and, of course, where I really meant them to be.
Lighting has become increasingly complicated over the last decade, but the time available remains the same. This innovation empowers the lighting designer and enables me to light a show more efficiently in the time available. This is a gadget that I never leave home without.
— Neil Austin,
freelance lighting designer
One of my favorite things is Airborne cold tablets. Since I work for a major theme park, we deal with the always-traveling cold and flu bugs from around the world. One tech gets sick, then the next tech, and another, and before you know it, we're disinfecting the phones and the Wholehog! Airborne really works. I take it as soon as I get that “oh, not again feeling.” I've had success with it, only being sick for a day versus the two to four days of hell my co-workers go through.
— Jason Roland,
Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
I am an account rep for Rosco Labs, and every other week, I am on a plane headed out to somewhere in the Midwest. I am an ex-TD and LD that worked at Arizona State University for 22 years. Here are my tools that I use when I travel:
Nokia 6820 cell phone: A nice phone that has bluetooth, so I can use a wireless headset as I drive. The fold-out keyboard makes entering addresses in my phone book much simpler. Nokia phones have the best antenna and reception capabilities (a tip from an AT&T tech advisor).
T-Mobile Sidekick wireless Internet and email device: Great for checking my several email accounts anywhere in the US. It does not depend on hot spots or wireless LANs. It offers real-time email updates. I use the Internet access to find end users or get directions via Mapquest while traveling.
Garmin Streetpilot III Deluxe: The greatest invention for driving in new cities and states. This GPS unit has taken 30% of the stress out of my traveling by guiding me from place to place for my appointments. It also allows me the convenience to find the nearest restaurants or shopping in my free time.
Delphi Myfi XM Radio: A good way to avoid the dreaded radio station search when driving from city to city because the signal is always strong regardless of the remoteness of the locations.
Mustek PVR video recorder: This one is purely for entertainment value. It is an inexpensive (approximately $99) 2.5" video recorder that can record directly from TV onto SD cards. The quality isn't HD, but it is adequate for watching something during long flights or airport delays. It fits in a briefcase and is the size of a small PDA.
APC Power Center briefcase: As you can see from the prior gadgets that I carry, a good recharge system is needed. This charging system is incorporated into a soft-sided briefcase. Although sometimes it is a difficult balancing act, I save lots of time in setting up my phone, PDA, and wireless email device to charge at night.
— K.C. Hooper
account rep, Rosco Labs
MY favorite mechanical pencil is a Faber-Castell 1.4 B. It is short and stout with a clip that works on a shirt pocket, the seamed pocket on jeans, or a thin clipboard. The lead is thick and soft so you can mark changes on a light plot or circuit card that can actually be read on a dim catwalk or under the Littlite that you're sharing with the console. It doesn't snap off when you press just a bit harder, and it's erasable. I bought my first one in a pen shop while I was killing time waiting in a hotel lobby. I broke it in a tight squeeze on a Genie lift while it was clipped in my jeans leg. I lasted about a week using a .07 pencil until I had to go shopping for another one.
— John Moose Kimball
technical director/lighting designer
Kansas City, MO