How does my iMac join me on holiday?
July 29, 2008 4:56 PM   Subscribe

How do I take my 20" iMac with me on holiday?

I'm not touring Europe, but rather going the historic family cottage in Quebec, so I'd love to continue working on my PHP projects in between sunbathing and dips in the lake. My current plan is to go to the local Apple store, ask them for some packaging, and put it in a suitcase. Naive? I also considered shipping separately, but the cottage is in a remote location, and I can't really interrupt the trip to the cottage with a detour in Montreal.
posted by Turtles all the way down to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you answered yourself - that's a decent idea. Like anything, just make sure it's well packed. Get some of those heinous polystyrene packing fillers and chuck a ton of them around it. Alternatively I'd look for old packaging being sold on ebay, that's worked for me in the past. The iMacs are pretty rock solid, just protect from impact and you should be alright.
posted by newformula at 5:10 PM on July 29, 2008

Packing fragile items, from
posted by mdonley at 5:13 PM on July 29, 2008

Are you taking the suitcase on an airplane? I mention it because my friend had her laptop stolen out of checked baggage by ramp personnel and my buddy just had a brand new HTC phone (in packaging) stolen as well. The rumor is security personnel (who do the xrays) work in tandem with baggage guys by marking bags with stuff to be stolen.
posted by sharkfu at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2008

A Pelican case though I dunno how much it costs. I think it would be safe to check as airline baggage.
posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2008

A quick google shows that the Pelican 1640 is ~$200 CDN. Cheap compared to the iMac.
posted by GuyZero at 5:23 PM on July 29, 2008

Are you driving or flying or how are you getting there? My best idea would be to borrow or rent an Apple laptop and image your iMac's hard-drive over to the laptop using SuperDuper. Taking a desktop on vacation with you seems rather unwieldy unless you're driving in which case that's not a big deal at all.
posted by cgomez at 5:33 PM on July 29, 2008

A Pelican is going to be very, very expensive to check on an airline with the iMac inside it; it's going to be overweight.

I love me some Pelican cases, but you want a Benson Box.
posted by tomierna at 5:55 PM on July 29, 2008

Your original packaging will be fine for stability during the flight. Inside another suitcase will be even better, if only to keep possible thieves at bay.

While many cardboard boxes are not suitable for reusing/reshipping, the iMac box is sturdy and should be fine for an airplane trip.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:28 PM on July 29, 2008

posted by Comrade_robot at 6:43 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it's just PHP projects, why not either put them up on a shared-hosting server, or back them up to an external drive, then work on a computer you source locally? Of course, if it's just for two weeks, that's maybe more trouble than it would be worth, but there's the idea just in case.
posted by amtho at 6:55 PM on July 29, 2008

You really need to say how you're travelling, but in 2002 I flew one two-hour leg on WestJet with my blueberry iMac. I wrapped it up a tonne in blankets and stuff and crammed it all into a Rubbermaid tub and taped it up to high heaven. It arrived fine and I used it for a couple more years after that. It was marked with the airline's fragile stickers for what it's worth.
posted by loiseau at 7:17 PM on July 29, 2008

You could also put a laptop lock on it (I have a couple from a recent conference) for added security if you check it, and I am sure Meatbomb would tell you that if you have any porn on your computer, you might want to download it to another drive or USB stick until you get back.

Checking it is risky because yes, it could be stolen. I have heard of two cases by blogger friends of high-tech equipment being stolen, (in both they were flying USAir and heading through Philly, FWIW). I've carried my laptop on and never had a problem other than the clunkiness factor of lugging the thing around, but YMMV. If I can't leave my computer home, I would rather have it with me than check it, but it's really a personal choice. Bubble wrap, if you check it, because they really throw those bags around!
posted by misha at 7:26 PM on July 29, 2008

I'm an idiot; realized you were talking about imac after preview! Ignore irrelevant laptop stuff in my answer please. Carry on!
posted by misha at 7:30 PM on July 29, 2008

I'd be inclined to pick up an Asus eee and just remote into my mac at home - assuming you have Internet access in Quebec and don't mind leaving the mac running. Otherwise you might be inclined to put everything on the eee and run it off of that. The eee is tiny, but comes in really handy for travel, and should handle coding just fine. Staples had the basic model on for $347 CDN. I can't imagine shipping will end up being much cheaper, after you factor in insurance and the like.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:14 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Actually misha, I'm pretty sure you can put a laptop lock on an iMac, at least the newer ones.
posted by DMan at 8:23 PM on July 29, 2008

Upon reading this again, I'm in complete agreement with backwards guitar as long as you don't need the Mac OS. As an iMac owner myself I can definitely say I'd rather buy a $3-400 computer for the trip (and you could definitely use the laptop after the trip too, or sell it). If you're concerned about screen space and the keyboard, you could take a cheap USB keyboard and either buy a flatscreen there and return it (yeah, that's not completely ethical) or even borrow a flatscreen and take it with you. Even if the monitor was damaged in transit, it'd be a lot less expensive than the Mac, especially if the Mac is vital to your work and would need to be replaced immediately.
posted by DMan at 8:42 PM on July 29, 2008

Here is a case from Tenba specifically designed for moving a 20" iMac. It is not cheap but a quick search indicates that you can get it for $400 US if not potentially cheaper.

Anyway, would it be better to get a cheap laptop for your vacation instead of lugging your main machine? Heck, I know university IT groups that RENT their machines out including laptops so that maybe an option for you as well. For the amount of money that you are paying to move your machine there maybe easier options.
posted by jadepearl at 8:45 PM on July 29, 2008

Back in the olden days, you used to be able to rent laptops, and that's what I would do before I actually owned one - back stuff up online, pick up laptop in destination, and download what I needed to work. Obviously these days I'd use a USB key, or my husband and his masses of data travel with a brick.

It was fairly cheap then - we're talking 10 years ago - and I can't imagine its gotten more expensive as the years have rolled by.

Having said that, we just got a shiny new eee with the new 1024 screen and IT ROCKS. It's perfect for situations like yours. The keyboard takes a little getting used to because, well, it ain't big but that thing is going *everywhere* with me. Just as soon as my husband brings it back from his trip, actually.

Also: solid state disk. Total travel win.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:12 PM on July 29, 2008

Having recently gone through this I found a cheap large suitcase that I used to put the iMac etc. in and used clothes or blankets to pack around it. $25.00 at a bargain store.
posted by Gungho at 7:02 AM on July 30, 2008

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