Alright, you’ve got your bags packed and plane tickets in hand, but is your tech ready for the trip? Probably not – and throwing your iPad in your carry on to use as a movie screen doesn’t count. There’s a lot that modern technology can offer today’s business travelers, so take a few minutes to prepare your tech and save your sanity.
First Travel Tip – Sync your stuff: Unless you’re completely trying to escape from reality, chances are you’re going to need some access to the files you need more often. If you have some sort of iDevice, or use Dropbox or Sugarsync, make sure to perform a full sync before you leave home. You might also use this time to transfer that movie you have been waiting all summer to watch. This step will ensure you’ll be able to show your colleagues those photos for your latest project.
Second Travel Tip – Set up Remote Login: Even with all your data synced, there’s a good enough chance that you’ll need to use something on your home or work computer while you’re out. It certainly helps to have the ability, just in case something pops up. Instead of lugging a desktop computer across the Pacific, consider installing remote access. LogMeIn (https://secure.logmein.com/) is simple to set up and allows you to use your computer at home from a mobile device or another computer with internet access. I use it on my iPad to access my home computer and it works perfectly.
Third Travel Tip – Organize your Itinerary: Tripit (www.tripit.com) offers a service that consolidates your hotel, rental cars, and airline tickets into a single itinerary that you can access anywhere you have internet access. It compiles everything you’ll need – flight dates, times, reservation numbers, etc. Plus it has a bunch of great additions like maps and local weather. You can organize restaurant reservations or movie showings and then send that information to the calendar on your phone, which you can share with colleagues, family or friends that you’ll be seeing on your trip. If you upgrade to Tripit Pro (free for 30 days, then $50/year after that), you can get alerts on your phone about flight delays, info on refunds, or even complimentary memberships to rental car companies.
Fourth Travel Tip – Find Free Wi-Fi: Finding free Wi-Fi in a major city is almost impossible. It’s like looking for the one part you need when building something – you’ll see it when you don’t need it and won’t see it when you do. When you do find networks, your laptop may see five, and find that none can be connected to. So before you head on your trip, go to JiWire’s online global wireless hotspot directory (http://v4.jiwire.com/search-hotspot-locations.html) to gain access to a giant network of public Wi-Fi hotspots, paid or free. Just give the city that you’re looking for wifi in, and it will plot out all the different hotspots on a Google Map. If you’re using an iPhone or Android phone, install the free Wi-Fi finder app to find Wi-Fi on the road.
Fifth Travel Tip – Stay Connected: If tracking down free Wi-Fi at Starbucks isn’t your style, consider buying a mobile wireless card, like a MiFi. It’s about the size of a credit card and sets up a wireless hotspot wherever it has access to a cell signal. Any Wi-Fi enable devices around it can connect to this network. Pretty much every cell network has their own version of this device, but Virgin Mobile’s pay-as-you-go option ($100 for the card+service costs) allows for month-at-a-time blocks of service for trips. This is a nice way to avoid getting tied into a two-year contract. Just make sure their coverage map online shows that the places you’ll be travelling will have reception.
Finally – Don’t forget to Accessorize: Make sure you have everything you’ll need for the trip. All those devices need to get charged, and they all have their own cable, so your suitcase will be overflowing with a jumble of cords. Before you pick up that universal charging caddy from the electronics store checkout aisle, STOP! You can do better. While the AViiQ Travel Charging Station (www.aviiq.com/pages/portable-charging-station, $80) is great for gadget gurus on the go, it’s also genius as an everyday charging and organization waypoint. Charge up to four devices with just one A/C outlet, even an iPad, and when you’re ready to go just zip up the small case to never leave behind another stray charger.