Family CTO Roadtrip: What’s in your CTO Go Bag?

It’s the time of year for family vacations. All you need is a car, a family, tons of stuff to pack, and a rental agreement for a vacation house. When I was a kid, that meant making sure my favorite cassette tapes were packed. And a book or two.

Today, the Family CTO needs to be prepared to provide the same high level of service in what can be strange and sometimes inhospitable conditions. During the loadout this year, I realized that what I need is a “Go Bag” that just sits in my car, always ready to facilitate adventure.

So here is my basic checklist for Family CTO Go Bag (automotive):

  1. A tackle box or tool box to hold all this stuff. Get one a little bigger than you need because next year you will be jamming new things into it
  2. Power Strip & Extension cord(s) – the outlets you need for all that recharging are never where you need them and then there are never enough of them
  3. 3 prong-2 prong AC outlet adapters – do folks outside the USA have this problem?
  4. Display Port -> HDMI adapters
  5. HDMI -> Audio + Composite video adapters (Red, White, Yellow)
  6. Cheap Speakers – because after you realize that you will never be able to connect your tablet to that old TV set, you need to hear what you are watching on your tablet or laptop.
  7. Audio Cables – my preferred set up is two 3.5mm Stereo Male to Two RCA Stereo Male Y-Cables and a pair of Female-Female RCA adapters. This will help you out if you need to plug your audio source into whatever they call a stereo in the house – the Aux In may be the 3.5 Mini Stereo or it may be Male RCA jacks.
  8. USB Card Reader – because you never know who is going to show up with what camera or phone.
  9. Hand Crank Flashlight & Radio – lest you forget the realities off life off the beaten path. A good old paper book with survival skills may be handy too.
  10. Inflation Pin for Football/Soccer ball (if you have kids you should have these everywhere).
  11. Wire (lamp wire – zipcord), Wire strippers and electrical tape – for those moments when you have to take interop into your own hands.
  12. rechargeable batteries, if you are using stuff that has those kind of batteries.
  13. cheap replacement headphones, two pair – because someone is going to lose/break theirs.
  14. one or two basic AC cords (the ones that will plug into any power brick)
  15. USB Adapter pack and a couple of USB cables
  16. HDMI cable and adapters to Mini
  17. Old SD Cards and Memory sticks – sneakernets work great in the country.
  18. A back up phone with a pre-paid sim, so when you drop your precious phone in the drink, you can still call for help.
  19. Ethernet cable – a couple of them
  20. Backup Hard drive with images of the machines you are bringing.
  21. An extra mouse and keyboard (small)
  22. Power Inverters for as many power jack as your car has.
  23. 3 or 4 AC/USB power plugs
  24. One 3.5mm splitter so two people can listen to one thing with headphones
  25. For retro sake I still have a portable DVD player and some classic movies.

This list is available at’s github repo. Please feel free to add to it, make additions, share it and the like.


OK Now with that all packed, all you really need to remember are the devices and their individual chargers…

4 tablet computers (3 of these use the same style charger/brick -brought a brick for each)
1 Kindle (USB charge – yet another USB Cable)
1 Music Player (Proprietary to USB -grrrrrrr)
3 Camera (DSLR, old point and shoot for the kids, and a cheap one that works underwater) – battery charger for the DSLR, proprietary brick for the point and shoot, way too many AA’s for the underwater cam.
2 Phones – with Internet Sharing capabilities (USB)


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