Sometimes My Office Goes with Me


It will likely come as no surprise that going out "partying" isn't really my cup of tea. A nice cup of tea is more my cup of tea. So when I'm traveling, I tend to bring along my own entertainment. I have a bunch of different options, because I tend to be fickle.

  • Books: I usually take an actual dead-tree book or two with me whenever I go somewhere. I'm currently reading How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by John Muir because I recently bought a 1975 Volkswagen Beetle. It turns out I'm not much of a mechanic, so I'm reading a book about it—you know, like any nerd does. Can you learn to maintain a car by reading a book? I'll find out soon (Figure 6).

  • Kindle Paperwhite: I know there's a new model of the Kindle available, but my Kindle Paperwhite works fine for me. I don't actually read as much as I'd like on it, but I keep forcing myself to use it, because I know it's the way of the future. I usually keep a ton of sci-fi and fantasy books on it, which I've stored, converted and uploaded via Calibre. I also keep my entire Calibre library on my laptop, so I always can add more books from my collection if I don't want to buy one from the Kindle store.

  • Listen: most of my "reading" is done via audiobook. I love Audible, but I hate its app. Listen is hands-down the nicest, most incredible audiobook player I've ever used. It's an Android-only app and worth every penny. (I think it was $3.) I use FolderSync on Android to keep my audiobook folder up to date, and I just copy the audiobooks I want into a sync folder on my home server. Every night it does an SSH/rsync copy of books to my phone. Oh, and I use an LG HBS-730 Bluetooth headset for listening to the books. I imagine I could talk on the phone with the headset too, but I've never talked on that phone because who actually "talks" on phones anymore? (Okay, it's because my day-job phone has the number everyone calls.) Anyway, the combination of Listen, FolderSync and those LG headphones supplies about 90% of the entertainment on any given trip for me.

  • Plex: I seem to write about Plex every other issue. I'd apologize, but oh my goodness is Plex awesome. Now it even syncs photos from my family's phones, so we can all see each other's uploaded pictures if we want, even on the big screen. Nevertheless, Plex is perfect for remote entertainment, but beware of using cellular data to watch movies, because it eats up data quickly.

  • Fox Sports Go: what? Sports? Yeah, I know. I'm going to have to turn in my nerd card. First I use a Mac, and now I watch sports? It's really only one sport—baseball. I'm not sure if it's because of all the statistics, or because I can watch a baseball game while doing something else and not miss anything. I really love watching baseball, and the Fox Sports Go app might suck, but it lets me stream baseball games, even when I'm in the "blackout" areas.

  • MLB App: sometimes I don't have the bandwidth to stream the video of a baseball game, so I use the MLB app to listen. Seriously, I have no idea why I like baseball so much, but I do. Go Tigers!

Figure 6. Only I could make auto mechanics nerdy.

That and Pants!

Apart from regular mundane things like dad shorts (cargo shorts—I'm pretty sure dads everywhere have agreed to wear nothing else) and flip-flops, that's about all I take while I'm traveling. I do usually take a backup laptop in case something goes wrong and, of course, a pair of emergency pants. If you've ever presented to 1,000 people with coffee-stained pants, you know exactly what I mean.

One of these years I'd like to take an extended road trip with my wife and work from the road while we travel. I'm sure my go-bag will change significantly during that trip. All I need to do is buy that 1970s Volkswagen Westfalia camper (Figure 7) and convince my wife it'll be the trip of a lifetime! If you have any special travel oddities or tips, I'd love to hear about them. And heck, if you have a 1970s Westfalia camper, I'd love to hear about that too! Drop me an email at

Figure 7. Someday you'll be mine.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.