10 Tips for Working While on the Road
I still remember my first business trip. I was so excited to travel — all expenses paid — to a new destination. (Never mind that it was New Orleans, in July, with the temperature registering in the upper 90s and the humidity at 100 percent.) My naïve excitement soon dwindled, however, when I discovered just how demanding it is to work while on the road.
That first trip was way back in the last century when there was still some glamour to getting out of the office and going places for your job. Today business travel is way less exciting and way more challenging — mostly thanks to the expectation of nonstop productivity, even in transit. With constant connectivity, you no longer have the luxury of squandering your travel days on merely getting from point A to point B.
Fortunately, the internet is an amazing source of clever suggestions for modern-day road warriors. Here are 10 cool apps, ideas and bits of advice I discovered for dealing with contingencies while working on the road.
- Be organized from beginning to the end. Use an app like TripIt to keep track of logistics, from addresses and contact info to reservations. Some hotel, flight and car rental confirmation emails can even be forwarded directly to the app.
- Stay connected while making connections. Download the Boingo Hotspot in advance. More and more airports are using this app. Or check out the FoxNomad blog, which lists and regularly updates Wi-Fi passwords in airports and airport lounges around the world.
- Make your phone truly mobile. If you’re driving during part of the trip, save your phone calls for the car. Reserve a rental car with Bluetooth for making safe, private, hands-free calls on the highway.
- Avoid random (and costly) roaming. Apply a KnowRoaming SIM Sticker to your SIM card to connect without charge to local networks for reliable voice, data and SMS services.
- Know where you’re going. Navigate new places like a local with Waze, the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Access real-time traffic and road info shared by other drivers in the area.
- Keep track of your time. Maintaining the discipline of recording your work hours helps you both manage your productivity and your leisure. You’ll be more likely to reserve some time for relaxation and renewal. Toggle is one option.
- Be fully in charge and empowered. In addition to packing your regular phone and computer chargers, you might want a power bank in case all those plugs at the airport are taken or your phone decides to die at an inopportune time. If you’ll be using your devices a lot and in a lot of locations, also consider an external battery or a battery case for your phone. For international travel, you’ll need a power converter. Get an adapter with a built-in surge protector if you’re going anywhere the electricity might be iffy.
- Maintain your privacy. Whether you’re working on top-secret files or simply sending emails about meeting times, use a privacy screen to keep others from reading over your shoulder. Another good idea: always use your corporate VPN (virtual private network) on public Wi-Fi. If your company doesn’t have a VPN, you can set up your own.
- 9. Be well documented. Always put hi-res scans of your driver's license, passport, visas, medical insurance card and credit cards on the SD card of your smartphone or on your computer HD. That way you’re covered if any document gets lost or stolen.
- Plan for the unexpected. Despite perfect preparation and a fully packed digital arsenal, things can go sideways when you travel. Structure your work — and adjust your mindset — so that a few hours without internet or phone service won’t be a catastrophe. To keep working should you become disconnected, save a few key documents on your desktop in Microsoft Office and turn the offline feature on for apps such as Evernote. Of course, if all else fails, you can always take a break to take in your new surroundings. You just might recapture some of that old excitement about traveling for business!
Written by: Diane Landsman
Diane Landsman is familiar to many in the HR community as a former editorial director at Human Capital Media. Now an independent communications strategist, writer and editor she helps enterprises educate, engage, influence and sometimes even entertain their audiences. Her specialty is crafting original content across media channels, from websites that attract searchers and keep them engaged to email campaigns, articles that put organizations on the map, and executive-level whitepapers, speeches, and op/ed pieces.