Thanks to the growing popularity of tablets, small business owners find themselves in a unique position. The software they’ve relied on for years, while still important, is becoming LESS important. Tablets don’t use traditional computer software and only use a web browser and apps—leaving travelers to survive for days, even weeks or months, on apps alone. Added to this is the fact that some small business owners are leaving PCs and tablets at the office, choosing to leave for business or pleasure with only a smartphone to keep them connected.
But traveling with new technology also brings new challenges. Can apps handle the job that once required thousands of dollars in software? The answer is…yes! But there are a few caveats. If you’d like to lighten your load as you pack up to travel the world, here are a few things you’ll need:
- File-syncing software. Since smartphones and tablets often lack USB ports, it might be wise to invest in a file-syncing app like Dropbox. This app automatically syncs files from multiple devices to the same place, so whether you’re working via smartphone, tablet, or PC, you’ll have the most recent version of any file. Sync all files to Dropbox before leaving on your trip and you’ll be able to access all of your files on the road.
- Word processing software. If your tablet or smartphone is an Android-based device, Documents to Go is a great option for editing Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents. For iOS users, Pages is the app for you. If the rumors are true and Microsoft does release a version of Office for iOS and Android, this may soon change, but in the meantime, this software is essential for editing documents on the go.
- Evernote. By now, we’ve all heard far more than we probably ever wanted to about this app, but it is truly a must-have app. Think of Evernote as an electronic version of that bulletin board on the wall of your office where you stick notes and reminders. Only with Evernote, you can save voice reminders, photos, and even recipes. The best part about Evernote is that it works on smartphones and tablets, allowing you to snap photos and take notes on the go. If you’re out on the road with only your apps, Evernote could be a handy way to jot down notes of things you’d like to check on once you’re back home, in front of a PC.
- Wi-Fi Finder. Unless your device is equipped with unlimited 3G/4G access, you’ll have an ongoing need for a nice, cozy place to settle in and use wi-fi. This app, available for both Android and iOS, can tell you the nearest coffee shop, library, bookstore, or fast food restaurant with wi-fi access, along with navigating you to the one you choose. You can filter out all the places that charge so that you only see those establishments offering free access. With an increasing number of retail shops and restaurants providing free wi-fi, there’s no longer any excuse for paying exorbitant hotel wi-fi fees.
- Skype. It’s a must-have for anyone who is frequently away from home. Skype will not only come in handy when calling home to say goodnight to the kids, but it can also be used to communicate with your co-workers while on the road. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the ways Skype can help you organize meetings with your clients from anywhere. Using Skype, you can avoid travel in the first place or simply multitask, completing a meeting with one faraway client while traveling to meet with another. The best news is, Skype calls are free.
While a small business owner could easily travel with only apps, eventually the call of a real PC will be too alluring to resist. For short-term business trips, an app is available to fit almost any need you might have, especially if you’re working from the large screen of a tablet. For frequent fliers, however, it might be wise to look into a lightweight Ultrabook, which will have the convenience of portability while having all of the power you need to complete the same tasks you’d complete if you were in an office every day.