American Birding Podcast



Tech Tip for Tidy Travelers

I hope by now you’ve had a chance to read through Birder’s Guide, the ABA’s newest publication.  The debut issue focused on travel, a subject near and dear to most birders’ hearts.  Besides the dreamy birds at many bucket-list destinations, I especially appreciated the practical articles on packing and pelagic trip preparations.

On my recent sea voyage from Iceland to Greenland I learned a neat trick that applies well to the category of birding travel.  About all of the photographers I know that pack a laptop for downloading and/or editing pics & videos on the go also bring along an external hard drive.   The addition of a portable hard drive is key for backing up pics and/or increasing storage capacity (good for massive files like video or ever-increasing pixel counts on stills.)  The downside is the addition of a wayward device tethered to your laptop by a cable.  This is especially awkward in tight quarters like airline seat-back trays, hotel beds, cafe tables, etc. The drive eats up  precious space that would be better employed holding notes, field guides, food & beverage, etc.  It can slide off its intended spot, ingloriously unmounting itself if it hits the end of its cable with sufficient force and potentially even damaging the drive.   On trays and tables the drive is poised to receive spillage, and basically does its best to get your undies in a bunch as you try to manage the appendage on your otherwise sleek laptop.


Having an external hard drive sharing limited space with other necessities is a recipe for disaster. Heck, I wrecked two hard drives just setting up this shot!

The hack I learned from the National Geographic photographers on my expedition is to Velcro your drive to the back of your laptop.  All you need is some self-adhesive Velcro tape cut to size.  I used two strips, which nicely anchor my hard drive out-of-the-way.  If you are actually propping your laptop on your lap it keeps the drive tidily secured with no need to gingerly reposition it if you put the computer down or otherwise move it.  I like the soft (loop) side on my laptop so when my hard drive is stowed the computer slides smoothly into my laptop bag.  I put the hard (hook) side strips on a couple of my external hard drives so I can pop either one onto my laptop as needed, easy peasy lemon squeezy!!


Pop a few strips of self-adhesive Velcro (the hard, hook side) onto the back of your hard drive, with corresponding loop-side strips on the back of your laptop.



Much better! Now a spilled Dr. Pepper will only trash my laptop and field guide, not the hard drive with all of my photos and videos…