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Accounting & Audit

What’s In Your Briefcase?

This column will go through some of the gear I carry with me when working out of the office. As someone who spends over 100 days a year traveling, I don’t have the option of waiting until I get back to the office to deal with most things.


This column will go through some of the gear I carry with me when working out of the office. As someone who spends over 100 days a year traveling, I don’t have the option of waiting until I get back to the office to deal with most things. While you probably won’t need to pack as much gear nor will you likely travel as often as I do, I hope you will get some ideas of what to pack the next time you’re going to be working out of the office for a few days.


After a couple of years of carrying cheap luggage which I had to replace frequently, my wife bought me my first set of Tumi luggage as a birthday present. While these bags are expensive, if you spend as many days a year on the road as I do, you need high quality repairable luggage that looks professional and has a largely unconditional repair guarantee. I’d recommend serious road warriors consider Tumi (my choice), Hartmann, or Briggs & Riley, which is what I see most frequent business travelers carrying these days.

I use two different business cases I use depending on what I’m doing.

  • When I have to travel with my full speaking circuit set of gear, I carry a Tumi Alpha 2 4 wheeled deluxe leather brief with laptop case[1]. This bag is massive and largely indestructible; I am on my second Tumi rolling briefcase, and the two rolling bags have around a million air miles over the last 10 years. I use the included large laptop sleeve to shield my LCD projector, which rides in my suitcase.
  • If I’m headed to a meeting, where I don’t need my speaking equipment (backup laptop, projector) or if I’m headed to a really big city where I’m going to be riding public transit like subways and trains, I carry a large Tumi black nylon Knox Alpha 2 backpack

My suitcase is a Tumi Alpha 2 Continental four wheeled carry on bag (22”), and it is authorized for carry-on on all US domestic airlines. If I plan well, I can carry on all of the equipment, cabling, and clothes I need for a week (with backup devices) and not have to check a bag with the airlines.

I send my Tumi bags in about every two years for maintenance like wheel replacement and other repairs. Tumi has been known to just send me a new complimentary replacement bag under warranty in some cases instead of repairing my old one.

Computer Hardware

  • Primary laptop – Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base laptop (16GB RAM, 6th gen Core i7, 512GB SSD, 2016 model)
  • Backup laptop– Dell Latitude E7270 13” laptop, (16 GB RAM, 6th gen Core i5 processor, 512GB SSD, 2016 model)
  • (Both laptops are stored in Tumi Alpha 13” (medium) laptop sleeves in black nylon, and at least one of the laptops is scheduled to be replaced in 2018 with a newer model)
  • Epson PowerLite 1781W LCD projector, with extra-long power cable
  • Microsoft Blue Surface Arc Bluetooth mouse
  • Microsoft LifeChat LX-4000 for Business Over-Ear USB Headset, with added microphone windscreen, for webcasts and calls
  • A Grid-It Wrap 13 cable organizer, which keeps my bag TSA-ready at all times
  • Logitech Spotlight presentation remote in dark gray
  • WeME 4-in-1 Mini Displayport to HDML/DVI/VGA adapter cable with audio out
  • At least one 4 TB USB 3 hard disk, loaded with my music/movie collection, backups of my data, and installation applications for most software on my PC. For security, the drive is encrypted with Windows Bitlocker Encryption.
  • Three flash drives – two which are encrypted, and one which is unencrypted so I can exchange files with others if necessary
  • SkullCandy Smokin Buds 2 wired ear buds, along with a rechargeable bluetooth adapter. These headphones are available anywhere, are good enough for most uses, have a workable microphone for hands free calling, and yet aren’t so expensive that you become distraught if you break or lose them.


  • 15’ grounded (three prong) electrical extension cord
  • 25’ HDMI cable, along with an HDMI union (allows me to use my HDMI cable as a regular HDMI cable or as an extension to another HDMI cable, also allows me to use the hotel TV as a monitor)
  • 10’ flat CAT 6 ethernet cable, with a union device so I can use it as an extension cable
  • A combination USB3 hub and ethernet port (one of my laptops doesn’t have a built-in wired network jack)
  • Belkin SurgePlus USB Swivel Surge Protector (the best travel surge protector out there – the electrical plug rotates so you can plug in at almost any angle)
  • Power supplies for my primary and backup laptops, and a multi-outlet fast charging USB
  • About eight USB cables of different types to charge and connect my devices
  • Use the Velcro straps available at Lowes and Home Depot to keep your cables rolled up

Office supplies

  • About six pens and highlighters (because air travel messes up pens)
  • A sharpie for flipcharts and a couple of dark dry-erase markers for whiteboards
  • At least 50 paper business cards for networking
  • A small number of tape flags and post-it notes for marking places in paper documents
  • About 6 small and medium sized binder clips
  • Spare batteries (Four AAA, four AA, and two 9V)
  • A miniature office kit in a tiny case which includes a small stapler, a small pair of scissors, compact pens and highlighters, paper clips, and some pushpins
  • A couple of Starbucks cards as thank you presents for people
  • Ten letter envelopes and about 20 US postage stamps
  • Three small manila envelopes for paper receipts and printed documents


  • A small battery powered travel alarm clock with a thermometer
  • A bag of Halls Sugar-Free Cough Drops (critical for professional speakers)
  • A small bottle of naproxen or acetaminophen (because middle age hurts sometimes)
  • A Tide stain removal pen (because accidents happen)
  • A small emergency sewing kit
  • A small folded poncho for unexpected rain
  • A styptic pencil and some bandages, in case I cut myself shaving
  • Brooks Brothers brass collar stay case (18 brass collar stays in a leather case)
  • A ½” stack of Starbucks napkins (because life is messy, and Starbucks is everywhere)
  • Current issues of The Economist, Time Magazine, CPA Practice Advisor, and The Wall Street Journal
  • A scanned copy of my passport and drivers license, so I can get on airplanes even if I lose my wallet (this is accessible from my online accounts as well as in paper form in my backup/travel wallet)
  • A printed spreadsheet with my frequent flyer/frequent guest cards, as well as my AAA card and AARP[2] cards (so I get the best deals on hotels and don’t have to carry the cards)
  • A selfie stick – because if your travels aren’t documented, they didn’t happen
  • Always leave home with enough medicine for the planned trip, plus an extra week
  • Kindle and/or PDF versions of the major reference books I use on an ongoing basis
  • A digital scanned copy of my insurance cards and health information, my US Passport, US Passport Card, Global Entry Card, and $100 USD/$100 CAD emergency cash

A blog post with my Travel Hacks for Road Warriors, detailing some of my best tips for making travel efficient is on my blog at I wish each of you safe travels, and look forward to meeting many of you face to face at conferences in the future.


Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA (@BFTCPA, advises firms and companies on accounting technology issues. He has served as the technology editor for a major accounting industry publication, and currently teaches courses in the US and Canada through K2 Enterprises for professional accounting organizations across the US and Canada. Brian and his family make their home in Farragut, Tennessee.



[1] I love the leather version of this bag although I’d buy the black ballistic nylon version if I had to replace it today. Tumi’s black nylon is more wear-resistant than the leather version, which shows scratches more easily.

[2] There is no lower age limit for an AARP membership (yes, seriously), and their discounts are usually the best available for most hotels.

See inside May 2018

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