Traveling for business sounds like a dream come true. You envision that you’ll be sipping cocktails in first class and having a driver meet you at the airport holding a placard with your name on it. Then you take your first trip, and realize just how wrong you are. You find yourself hung up in the security line, trying to make sure that your bags will arrive at the correct destination, then squeeze yourself into coach while there is a sticky 4-year-old in the seat next to you. You arrive at the airport and wind up standing on the curb, in the rain, waiting for a cab. It can be well worth the money to invest in quality products to help you get through your trip with as little stress as possible.
1. Good all-in-one travel bag
You could find yourself dragging a suitcase through the airport with a carry-on bag over your shoulder and your briefcase tucked under your arm, or you can find a fabulous bag that will handle it all for you. There are a few bags out there that are built to hold your laptop and documents securely, but also have a well-provisioned compartment for your clothing and other personal items. Small enough to be considered a carry-on, but large enough to hold everything you need, finding a good bag can help simplify your trip and lower your stress level. A professional looking one will allow you to go straight from the plane to a business meeting, without anyone knowing that your clothes are inside.2.
You probably already have one, but if you don’t, make sure you get one before your next trip. Of course we all know that they are fantastic at staying in touch, maintaining your calendar, and letting you check your email from anywhere, but few people really utilize them fully. You can download apps that help tell you if your plane is on time, what the weather is at your destination, book a cab to your hotel, and also track your expenses. Having a good data plan will keep you from worrying about whether or not you’re going to run out, and allow you to utilize one of the best smartphone functions for the traveler; the wireless hotspot.
3. Wireless hotspot
This feature can truly be a life-saver when you’re desperate for internet access. If you find yourself stuck in an airport for hours with shoddy Wi-Fi, you can turn on your phones hotspot and then log into your own personal network with your laptop. It can be used in a pinch if you can’t find a Wi-Fi spot, or if you find that your hotel only offers it for a fee, and it keeps disconnecting, or the business center only has 2 Ethernet ports and they’re both being used. Just make sure you remember to secure it, and turn it off when you are finished, or you may find yourself running through your data much faster than you had planned.
4. Travel-sized surge protecting power strips
This is another one of those tools that you never realized were needed until you’ve used one. There are several models available from different manufacturers, but they come with a very short cord, 2-3 full sized outlets, and usually a couple of USB charging ports as well. Needing to charge your laptop at the airport, but someone is already using the only available plug? Offer to let them plug into one of your extra ports while you’re there, and you’ll both get what you need done. They can help in public, or even in your hotel room where you can only find one working outlet.
5. Good headset
Your noise canceling headphones with a microphone might possibly turn into your favorite item on a business trip. While they serve the necessary function of helping you stay in touch, attend meetings remotely, and allow you to hear what you need to, the best part is what you don’t hear. This is one place where it is worth it to spend more on a high quality set. Airline engine noises, screaming children, flight information over the PA system, and any number of other annoyances will disappear, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. They are versatile for both your work and entertainment needs, and can even help you block out loud hotel neighbors and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Entertainment options
Make sure that you have this covered before you leave home. One of the most important things to help you get through a business trip is finding a bit of time to decompress each day. Whether it’s a book, a movie downloaded to your computer, or a streaming service, don’t leave your entertainment up to the local cable company. The hotel may boast that they have cable, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to find something you like. Also remember that the free Wi-Fi may not be strong enough to support streaming video; make sure you have a low-tech backup for those times that you just can’t get a good enough connection.
7. Remote access or cloud-based computing
Few things are more frustrating than being 1200 miles away and realizing that you’re missing a document that’s stored on your in-office computer. Making sure that you either maintain all of your storage in the cloud, or that you can remotely log into your computer and email it to yourself, will prevent such a situation from turning into a disaster. Remote access should be easy to set up by contacting your company’s IT department, and if you’re using cloud-based computing, make sure you are backing up everything to the cloud.
These are just a few of the tools available to help take the stress out of business trips. With a bit of planning and creativity, you can find ways to simplify your travel needs so you can enjoy it.