By Joe Brancatelli, Portolio, Business Editor
One road warrior’s list of the must-have gadgets, devices, and services to make life out of the office a bit more bearable.
I’ve been on the road so long that I recall being labeled a “high-tech business traveler” because I owned a dual-time-zone watch and a carried a phone card rather than a pocketful of coins to feed a public phone.
To say that the tools of business travel have come a long, long way in the last 30 years is an insane understatement. In fact, now we suffer from high-tech overload. There’s a temptation to adopt every new gadget or software gimmick, stuff it in our carry-on bag, and take it one the road—just in case.
Worst of all, high technology has robbed us of control of our own schedules. Back in the day, the only way our offices could reach us was when we chose to call in from our hotel room or a pay phone. We were able to go about our business on the road while someone else worried about what was going on back in the office. But with email, texting, cell phones, BlackBerries, and iPhones, it’s never acceptable to be out of touch. So we end up having to balance the work we’re doing on the road and all the minutiae back in the office. Even for experienced multitaskers, that’s a lot to manage while battling airline delays, snarky hotel clerks, and the occasional crazed cabbie.
Yet retreat is impossible. We’re all high-tech travelers now, and we might as well make peace with the cornucopia of options in front of us. And if the following choices seems sparse—almost a Luddite’s list—remember that it’s not the amount of stuff you use, it’s the time you save using what you choose to carry.
One Great Flight Tracker
Whether you prefer the online or the mobile version, FlightStats is the killer app for keeping track of flights and delays. It’s easy and intuitive to use and offers the best array of useful historical data.
One Great Computer Manager
To keep abreast of what’s stored where on my various computers—home and office machines, laptop and Netbook – I rely on LogMeIn. I think it’s the best of commercial services that offer Web-based remote computer access, support, and management. There are several versions at several price points, and each offers plenty of flexibility. The free version suits my needs just fine, but your mileage may vary.
One Great WiFi Roaming Service
The world is full of WiFi hotspots, but most of them are behind a confusing array of high-priced firewalls. Boingo vaults you over most of those walls at a fair price: $9.95 a month for unlimited access in North America or $59 a month for unlimited global access. More than 125,000 hotspots accept Boingo, including the WiFi systems at more than 500 airports and 20,000 hotels.
One Great External Drive
I’m an electronic generation behind because I’m still using thumb drives for my external data-storage needs on the road. But the world now belongs to huge-capacity external hard drives that fit in your pocket. The OWC Mercury doesn’t even require an AC adapter. Its 3.5-by-5.5-by-1-inch drives, which store up to one terabyte of data, can be powered by FireWire and USB ports. The eGo Portable hard drives come in stylish colors (red, silver, blue, and black), are even smaller than the OWC Mercury, and look vaguely like hip flasks. Prices for external hard drives start at about $75 depending on storage capacity.
And one important fact Joe didn’t mention was a laptop bag to carry all of your travel gadgets, so I did.
One Great Laptop Bag
It is important for travelers to be mobile, have the ability to take their work laptop and other accessories with them on the road. That’s where the new ScanFast Laptop Bag Collection comes into play. Designed for business travelers, this new Collection of Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bags allows you to keep your laptop inside the bag when passing through airport security checkpoints. TSA compliant laptop bags help you move through security lines quicker. This helps you keep track of your laptop and other valuable electronics once they go through the X-Ray screening. Often times your gear makes it through the screener faster than you do, so your items are left at the end of the security X-Ray belt unattended and easily pilfer-able.
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