Accessorize!

Too often, when I travel to a meeting or on other business, I carry too much stuff. I often never see the bottom of my bag—or draw out the tangled mass of wires I lugged along. The trick, then, is to add the right accessories to your travel toolkit that help you get organized without burdening you. So try these:

Keep It Private: Planes are jammed, Starbucks is crowded, and Internet cafes at meeting venues are packed. Do you really want strangers reading over your shoulder? That's why you might consider the 3M Notebook Privacy Filter. Priced between $60 and $90, the two-ounce plastic slip-on screen lets only persons directly in front see the image (of course, it also darkens the screen a bit for the user). The filter also helps protect your LCD screen from scratches and fingerprints.

Keep it with you: Want to back up critical PowerPoint presentations or digital photographs on your laptop—or not even bring your laptop? These are what USB memory drives (also called flash drives, pen drives, and keychain drives) are for. The size of a lipstick case, they plug into the USB port of a PC or Mac and provide an easy way to download, store, and carry data. Unlike a CD-ROM, you can erase and load new stuff at will. The SanDisk 512 megabyte Cruzer Micro is $29 on Amazon.com. If 512MB (big enough for 10 typical PowerPoints or 250 typical photos) isn't enough, a 1GB Cruzer is $52; the 2GB model is $73.

Keep it safe: If the power surges from a lightning strike while you're at a plugged-in laptop, your computer will be fried. That's why the Kensington SmartSockets Portable 210 Joule 1-Outlet Surge Protector ($15) is cheap insurance. Just one ounce, it protects your notebook, has a built-in phone-line splitter, and snap-on clip for tangle-free storage of the modem's phone cord.

Removable flash cards for a camera or PDA are easy to lose. A safe, elegant way to carry and organize them is Digital Foci's Memory Card Travel Case ($19.95), made of a good-looking, sturdy silver-brushed aluminum shell with hard rubberized lining, it provides accessibility for up to eight memory cards in all formats. And speaking of elegant, no longer are women condemned to black laptop cases. CaseLogic offers a stylish Ladies' Fashion Tote with Laptop Case ($69) in black, cream, or sage. It includes a padded removable laptop sleeve to protect the PC, plus a matching removable cosmetic bag, phone case, and zipper ID holder.

Keep it Rolling: Many people would rather "roll" a mouse than use the touch-pad device on most laptops. The Targus Ultra Mini Retractable Optical Mouse for Mac or PC ($20) is just 1.5 ounces, yet its "Screen Scroller Button" lets you scroll all directions. It comes with a USB connection, a carrying pouch, and a retractable cord.

Keep it connected: Have a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone? The sleek silver Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset ($99) allows you to talk hands- and cord-free. It folds up, and includes a WindSmart wind-repelling screen for clear voice transmission and a noise-canceling microphone for clearer conversations.

To mate your laptop with a printer, digital camera, or other USB device, the Belkin Retractable USB Cable ($9.99) provides lightweight connectivity. Three feet long extended, it retracts into a tiny case, and comes with an extension for camera, PDA, or other USB device. To connect to a broadband Internet or LAN jack, the Kensington Portable Ethernet Cable Cord ($19.99) provides seven feet of Ethernet cable, yet retracts into a compact case. For modems, try the $2.99 Ultra-Cord 50-inch Retractable RJ-11 (Modem) Cable.

SIDEBAR

Extra Bites: Dress Up Your Phone

Now your digital devices can show personality. Dress your phone with zebra stripes, leopard spots, or surfing scenes, or show your passion for Superman, Star Wars, your alma mater, or favorite sports team. Rockers can apply Rolling Stones tongues, David Bowie's Aladdin Insane, and other band images. www.skinit.com, $14.95 for phones or music players, $29.95 for laptops.