I'm skipping the country and taking my PowerBook with me. In preparation for a three-week vacation abroad, I'm deciding what to take and...

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I’m skipping the country and taking my PowerBook with me.

In preparation for a three-week vacation abroad, I’m deciding what to take and what to leave behind. On other vacations, I’ve taken a break from the technology toys of my daily life.

For this trip, however, I plan to take lots of digital photos — maybe thousands — that obviously cannot be stored on memory cards alone. So I’ve decided to lug my laptop halfway around the world. But that means I need to figure out which of the many possible accessories come along, too, so as not to return with a broken back. Here’s my list:

PowerBook G4: Sure, my 15-inch PowerBook G4 goes nearly everywhere with me, but it’s not just a simple case of technology addiction. Since my digital photos are going to end up on my PowerBook anyway, it makes sense to bring it along. I can add them to my iPhoto library as the trip progresses, and show them off to friends and family (people we see only once or twice per year) on a better screen than what my camera offers.

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I’ll also be shooting video with a camcorder, and while I doubt that I’ll be importing all of my footage as I go, it’s entirely likely that we’ll find the urge to do some on-the-spot editing.

Although the PowerBook isn’t the lightest laptop available, I’ve carried it around for years, so the weight is perfectly natural to me. It will also prove to be the source of some in-flight entertainment during the 30-hour trip.

iPod (with video): Another way to pass the time on the plane will be listening to music, catching up on podcasts, and perhaps watching video on Apple’s newest iPod. Unfortunately, my 30 GB iPod offers only about two hours of video per battery charge, which means it could conk out before I reach Chicago. Most likely, I’ll use the iPod mostly for listening to audio, and I’ll watch movies on the PowerBook with the help of an extra battery.

The iPod will also come in handy as a portable storage device for the aforementioned digital photos. Rather than bring the PowerBook on every daily excursion, I’ll be using Apple’s iPod Camera Connector ($29, www.apple.com/ipod/accessories.html) to offload pictures from a memory card directly to the iPod hard drive as an intermediate step before I transfer them to the PowerBook.

An iPod will act as my emergency rescue device, too. I’ve installed a bootable version of Mac OS X 10.4 onto my old 30 GB iPod, which has a FireWire data connection; this won’t work on the current iPod with video because you can’t boot a Mac via USB. If my PowerBook goes haywire, I can boot from the iPod and run Disk Utility. I’ll also be bringing a copy of Alsoft’s DiskWarrior, which needs to boot from its own CD to operate.

Having two iPods sounds like I’m adding too many devices already, but the old iPod will also act as my backup drive. If I’m taking all of those digital photos, I want to make sure I come home with them all. A blown laptop hard drive could mean that those photos are gone for good.

Am I going overboard with backups? Perhaps, but it’s a better option than losing my data, and the iPods are the smallest external hard drives I own.

Who would have thought that a little music player could be so versatile?

Cables, power, etc.: Carrying these devices (PowerBook, iPods, digital camera and digital camcorder) requires carrying their associated cables and power adapters — which is where the real weight starts to add up.

To slim down, I’m bringing along Apple’s World Travel Adapter Kit, which offers international plugs that fit onto my PowerBook’s power supply. I also own a few Keyspan Zip-Linq (www.keyspan.com) retractable cables (cellphone recharge, Palm device recharge and synchronize, and Ethernet), and a retractable phone cable.

Finally, I also bought a pair of memory-card adapters (one for Compact Flash and one for SD memory) that plug into the PowerBook’s PC Card slot. This approach makes it easier to get photos onto the laptop and saves me from having to bring more data cables for the cameras.

Oh, and I’m bringing a couple of paperback books I can read and then leave abroad. Not everything has to be digital, you know.

Jeff Carlson and Glenn Fleishman write the Practical Mac column for Personal Technology and about technology in general for The Seattle Times and other publications. Send questions to carlsoncolumn@mac.com. More Practical Mac columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.