Just a heads up: I'm starting a road trip tomorrow, so any comments you care to leave will probably sit for a while in the approval queue. I'll try to get to them whenever we stop and my kid finds somewhere with free wi-fi (I don't think it will be a problem anywhere but in the mountains.)
I'll be working while I'm out of town, too, and I thought some of you might like to see what I take with me and how I go about being a mobile PBW. A story can be as portable as you want it to be, as long as you think ahead and plan what you'll need for your writing sessions away from home.
The first thing that goes into the writing tote is my novel notebook, which has my synopsis, chapter outlines, character profiles, research data, visuals and so forth for me to reference. This is another reason for making one; it's convenient to take along on trips.
In a pencil case (one hole-punched to fit in the novel notebook) I stock lots of pens and pencils, of course; I never depend on hotel freebie pens.
A blank notebook also comes along for any new notes, writing to-do lists, or other draft material I may need to jot down (a spiral-bound, one-subject student notebook or composition book have prepunched holes in them, so they should fit nicely into the back of your novel notebook binder.)
A laptop, netbook, smart keyboard or other writing tech to use for writing sessions is a given; for me it's usually the laptop, but if my hands are in pretty good shape I also take an AlphaSmart Neo smart keyboard. The Neo is sturdy, doesn't require special hookups, power supplies (mine runs on batteries) or complicated wiring, can be used practically anywhere but in the shower and doesn't offer the distraction of the internet.
A few blank CDs to backup the work I accomplish while away from home also go into the bag. If your writing tech doesn't burn CDs for you, an alternative is to e-mail whatever writing you do each day to yourself, although if you've had any problems downloading e-mailed files I'd use a secondary form of backup as a safety measure -- maybe send a copy via e-mail to a writer friend to hold for you.
I always write up a daily task schedule to make the best use of my time. On the road I might have two or three hours a day to work, so I try to give myself short, manageable writing assignments. On some trips when I have to fly for more than eight hours or drive for more than four hours every day I will pack a print copy of a recently-finished manuscript with me and do a read-through edit each night (you may want to do an electronic version if your airline has weight restrictions or extra baggage charges.)
If I'm going to be staying at the home of a family member or friend, I also bring a lap desk. In the event there is no desk or table in a quiet area for me to use, I can take a chair to a secluded corner and work off the lap desk.
Finally, I take one book to read for pleasure. I take only one because I usually end up visiting book stores wherever I travel and buying at least five or six more.
What do you take with you on your road trips to help with getting some writing done? Do you have any tips on how to be productive while traveling? Let us know in comments.