Traveling is an important part of doing business, with small business owners often jetting across the country on a weekly basis. Whether attending conferences or meeting with clients, an entrepreneur is apt to return from one trip on Friday, only to climb on another plane two days later for the next trip. I travel quite a bit and find these tips very helpful:
- Very light, but powerful notebook
- Tablet filled with apps for productivity and fun
- Fully charged batteries
- Mobile broadband (very much worth the $50 a month when I need to get work done and there is no WiFi available)
- Extra cables
- Video camera (with an empty SD card)
- Shot gun microphone to capture great sound
- Extra pens and a notepad
- Wireless pointer for Power Point presentations
- Wireless mouse and a few more goodies (including a good book for when I’m taking a digital fast)
Nobody understands the challenges of frequent travel like your peers in the field. A few generously offered their advice for:
- Cloud-based file sharing. Carol Roth, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Entrepreneur Equation, swears by Dropbox. “Dropbox.com keeps all of your files accessible on your computer as well as from a web interface, plus allows sharing with others,” Roth says. By signing up for a Cloud-based file-sharing system, you can toss out flash drives and CD-Rs and still be assured that you’ll be able to reach your files from anywhere, as long as your device has an internet connection.
- Buy duplicate items. How many times have you gotten across the country, only to find you’ve forgotten a charger for one of your devices? “I have two smartphone chargers and leave one permanently in my luggage so that I never am without it on the road,” Carol Roth says. Consider tucking a second alarm clock and assorted toiletries into your suitcase’s pockets to save time on packing. The long-term time savings will make it well worth it.
- Data access. 24-7 Consulting’s Jimmie Peters recommends purchasing an air card for your devices. Check with your company’s cell phone provider and see if you can work out a deal, especially if you’re ordering multiple cards. If several travelers from your company will be hitting the road together, a data hub that will support multiple devices may be more cost effective. Investing in an air card or portable data hub can save hundreds of dollars per year in hotel wi-fi charges.
- Ensure connectivity when traveling abroad. Insurance Services of America’s Adam Bates warns travelers about the possibility of finding themselves overseas without ability to easily access American websites. “Download currency exchange apps, navigation apps, translation apps and travel review/suggestion apps. If you don't have a smart phone, then bookmark valuable travel websites on your computer or using a browser.” TN Visa Expert’s Gulam Jamal concurs. “Something as simple as typing in http://www.google.com in the browser, say from Mexico, will automatically direct you to google.com.mx and everything is in Spanish. Then you type in something you want to search for and you see a lot of Mexican companies in the search results - this would not usually happen when you are doing the same search from the U.S.” Jamal recommends using a service like StrongVPN.com to detect you as being in the U.S. no matter where you are.
- Airport security—James Jones of Juniper Networks saves time at the airport with a laptop case that passes through security. Jones points to the bags pictured on the TSA website. This allows you to send your laptop through security without removing it from its bag, saving time and reducing the risk of damage. Jones also recommends also wearing slip-on shoes and no belt while traveling to speed your check-in along.
Busy executives eventually come up with their own efficient routines, but by swapping tips with others, they’ll often pick up an idea or two they never considered. As technology continues to evolve, travelers are finding they can move around the country—and even the world—without ever losing connectivity to home office.