Lifehacker's brilliant travel kit

By Phil Plait | August 4, 2009 3:11 pm

The folks at Lifehacker sure know what to bring along when they travel.

Lifehacker travel kit

I’m not so sure about The Elements of Style though. And if this were a survival kit I could recommend a different astronomy book…

Tip o’ the sun hat to Keith Cowing.


Comments (28)

  1. Elements of Style is a VERY useful book! I didn’t even know about it until my 3rd year of university, and everyone would do well to unlock its secrets!

  2. rob

    Lifehacker: what a bunch of suckups!


  3. RL

    What, no towel?

    I’d bring my iPhone and leave behind a lot of the stuff they show.

  4. Yes, towel and babel fish. And of course my MacPro. Don’t think there is room in my pack for the 4X5 camera though. :(

    all of the things in the picture you could TAKE pictures with tend to not satisfy my clients.

    Committed ‘The Elements of Style” to memory, waaay back when.

  5. Jim

    S&W is a wise choice. You never know when you might run out of toilet paper.

  6. But make sure it’s the original version of Elements of Style. The new, “updated” edition is awful.

  7. jack lecou

    There seems to be a blackberry, an iphone, a flip camera, an ipod, and one or two other music or video players. That looks like a couple pounds of…redundant. Maybe that’s the plan, but it still seems excessive. I’d think all you really need is the iphone, maybe the video camera if you’re recording often, or need HD.

    And, yeah, the taste in books represented here is very mixed. The Elements of Style is “a horrid little compendium of unmotivated prejudices (‘don’t use ongoing’), arbitrary stipulations (‘don’t begin a sentence with however’), and fatuous advice (‘Be clear’), ridiculously out of date in its positions on appropriate choices among grammatical variants, deeply suspect in its style advice and grotesquely wrong in most of the grammatical advice it gives.”

    It’s almost like we’ve got the jumbled together contents of at least two people’s bags here.

  8. Elements of Style? Leave that in high school!

  9. Rasputin

    Do not mess with the Elements of Style. Elements of Style has chunks of every other style manual ever in its stool.

  10. bigjohn756

    I guess that you’d need Bad Astronomy in case Elements of Style didn’t put you to sleep right away.

  11. odysseus

    Come on! We all know why Elements of Style is there! When your doing espionage the last place anybody would look, for those stolen secret plans to the death star of course, is in that book (I black out just thinking about opening it). While Bad Astronomy convinces them you a good, honest, and very intelligent type of gentleman.

  12. You know, if you’re bringing the notebook computer, you could save a lot of space but installing the books as ebooks. That would give you room for a whole library’s worth to read that way. The only necessary book would be something like the SAS Survival Guide or, in a pinch, the Zombie Survival Guide (same subject matter but more specialized.

    Just saying…

  13. Moxiequz

    @kuhnigget #6: But make sure it’s the original version of Elements of Style. The new, “updated” edition is awful.

    Why’s that?

  14. The Elements of Style is a crabby collection of dictates and edicts plonked down without supporting evidence and thrown together by people who can’t even follow their own advice. It has poisoned English instruction for decades and continues to do a disservice to education.

    It does not deserve to keep the same company as Bad Astronomy.

  15. What, no towel?

    no towel? that’s a hoopy frood I wouldn’t sass.

  16. John

    I wonder what the other book is that Phil would recommend for a survival kit – oh of course!! Death by Black Hole be Neil deGrasse Tyson.

  17. PG

    If you didn’t bring THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, how else would you know to use the inflammable flare in an emergency and not the non-inflammable one?

  18. kevin halse

    That’s about $1000 worth of s**t In one easy to steal package. Never bring something on a long trip if you are not prepared to lose it forever.

  19. Radwaste

    Oooh, snark about Strunk and White! Aren’t we the rebel! Nobody will tell us what to do!

    Advice is what you make of it. If you have a problem with being told, “Be clear”…

    …you have a problem. It’s like being told, “Be sober.”

  20. I’ve been an avid fan of both LH and BA, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think of them coming together!!.. This is just awesome :D…

  21. MadScientist

    The Elements of Style is unnecessary – obviously anyone who’s ever taken any english writing classes would have memorized the whole thing. I propose the Chicago Manual of Style instead – it’s useful for whopping those trout and can also be use to wrap and cook the trout.

    The other problem with the survival kit is that it doesn’t have a rollable solar panel to charge up all those toys – the kit may work in the urban jungle but don’t lose sight of those power outlets.

  22. Bob L.

    I don’t have a problem with being told “Be clear.” I have a problem taking along a book that, when it isn’t being flat-out wrong, simply belabors the obvious. (My original thought was that it could be used to feed a fire, but it is, after all, only a “Little Book.”)

  23. He’s got 2 phones, 4 things that can play music, 3 things that play video (one of which only does video), 2 things to write on, and generally a bunch of other junk. Does no one travel light these days?

    The good ideas in there are the pencil/pen set, wireless broadband card (depending on where you go, of course), and something to write on (plus phone and laptop, of course). Bringing a physical book us a good idea too since often you’re stuck without digital devices on airplanes and whatnot.

    When I go on vacation I bring the netbook, a small point and shoot camera, a spiral bound notebook and some pencils. If I think I actually NEED internet I’ll bring a 1 watt amplified wireless antenna and a quick and dirty design for making a 2.4ghz helical receiver in case I have a hard time getting a connection and have to MacGyver something I can throw away before I get back on a plane. If I know I’m going to be without power for more than 5 hours I might bring one of those cheap, indestructible sandisk music players. Or a good book. But generally not both. I’m generally the guy who goes away for 2 weeks with just a small backpack.

    If I’m going somewhere photogenic I’ll also toss in the DSLR, and I’m trying to work out how to bring a sizable, but somehow portable telescope for those trips to places that have exceptional overheat vistas. That might just be something to suck it up and bring a flight case for.

  24. Greg

    Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” trumps Strunk & White any day.

    “It won’t do to say that the snoozing reader is too dumb or too lazy to keep pace with the train of thought. My sympathies are with him. If the reader is lost, it is generally because the writer has not been careful enough to keep him on the path.”

  25. Sili

    Didn’t I comment here?

    I guess using a common word for defecation in place of the name of the second order triggered the filters.

    My apologies.

    I still agree that Stacey speaks the truth – and that he should know.

  26. bkallee

    You’d reccommend a different atronomy book for survival? How about Good Astronomy.

  27. Steve Jeffery

    Read this on a friend’s blog recently,

    “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

    — from Dorothy Parker’s 1959 review in Esquire

  28. Ack

    No Para-Cord? Fail. My bag’s contents are fairly static for day to day
    Laptop & Power Supply
    25′ Cat5
    Crossover Dongle
    micro-folding umbrella
    15′ Para-Cord
    however many are left in the pack of Pilot G2 5mm pens (black)
    small Purell hand sanitizer
    iPod and Earbuds
    Jawbone 2 headset (crackberry is in the pocket)
    Leatherman multitool (wave iirc – titanium one in my pocket)
    LED tac-light
    roll of nickles


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