By Tina Nielson, theguardian.com
Wondering what to take on your business trip? Check out these top tools that help entrepreneurs to work on the go
With an ever expanding range of gadgets available for entrepreneurs on the move, it is getting harder to cram them all into a bag for what is often a short trip. Here is a selection of essential travel tools that will make it easier for travelling entrepreneurs to stay in touch with their business.
If anything has lightened the load for business travellers it is the introduction of tablet computers. Taking up next to no space in the hand luggage they are perfect for carrying documents and presentations, checking email and even takes care of your in-flight entertainment as it can double up as an e-reader, music library or a film catalogue. What's more, tablets are now widely available from a range of providers.
A tablet is certainly important for Janan Rose, the founder of folding shoe company Cocorose London. "I don't know how I would travel without my tablet. I used to lug my laptop with me but since I got this last year, the laptop has stayed in the office and I've been able to travel lightly," she says.
"It's big enough to view and work from but small enough to carry comfortably in my handbag. When I'm overseas, I just get a local SIM card and can then access emails and internet if I'm not in a Wi-Fi area. I also have all my apps and social media channels on it so everything is incredibly convenient."
When you travel with several gadgets, many are running so many applications that the battery rarely lasts a day. It means a portable battery is a vital part of your business travel armoury. "It comes with the necessary connections to charge my phone, my iPad and my computer, yet it fits in my jacket pocket. This saves carrying multiple chargers and adaptors around," says Drew Thomson, Group CEO of Starcount, the fan science company.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air Battery Case, a battery case that powers your iPhone up when you are running on a low battery is a favourite of Simon Duffy, the founder of Bulldog skincare for men. "It is a simple and innovative solution to a very common problem for travellers, especially on long haul flights. Your iPhone can go from below 20% battery to 80% charged at the flick of a switch. It has been valuable in situations where I've had to make extremely pressing calls or resolve issues that have arisen while I was in transit," he explains.
A good set of noise-cancelling headphones
On short business trips it is vital that you get the necessary sleep to be fresh for meetings and presentations. Who wants to arrive at a pitch to potential investors suffering from jetlag that makes you feel sluggish and less than prepared? Flight time, especially on long haul flights, can be an ideal opportunity to get some solid sleep, but it is not always easy as airplanes can be noisy.
Get yourself a top quality set of noise-cancelling headphones to cut out the chatter and announcements. They will help you get some quiet time. What Hi-Fi recommends the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 for a peaceful flight.
After the tablet computer, compact laptops like the Macbook Air laptop have got to be the next popular computing device for entrepreneurs on the move. "Although it's not really new and exciting, this is the gadget that has transformed travelling the most for me," says Anna Lewis, co-founder of digital publishing company Valobox. "Before I had a much heavier laptop and used to get a really sore neck and shoulders from carrying it around everywhere. Now I barely notice I have it in my bag."
Some entrepreneurs prefer a laptop for typing out emails and carrying out other more elaborate tasks. "I love my iPad but I still take the net book as I personally prefer to respond to emails via this in the evenings," says Nina Slattery of the nut manufacturer New York Delhi.
A smart travel router/travel adaptor
For those who travel often and to several different countries a high-end travel adaptor that can be used in different geographies should be a business staple. "I use the Satechi Smart Travel Router/Travel Adaptor and it has drastically reduced the number of gadgets that I would normally pack in my hand luggage," says Duffy. "It is a travel router that boosts the Wi-Fi signal in your hotel room and converts AC wall plugs to any plug adapter you would want for over 150 countries. It's even got a handy USB port that you can use simultaneously with the plug converter to charge smart phones or tablets. The unease about being not contactable for a few hours during an overseas trip is now a distant memory thanks to this device."
Even a low-tech version is likely to make life on the road easier, according to Slattery. "A multi socket extension lead that then plugs into the one travel plug – that way you can charge multiple phones and gadgets at the same time," she says.
No doubt about it, it is relatively easy to find somewhere to pop in for a Wi-Fi connection when you are out and about whether it be a coffee shop, a restaurant or a hotel. But the connection available is not always brilliant and there may also be times when you cannot find anywhere to get connected.
When you are travelling in the UK, the O2 Pop Up Office makes this easy and convenient, helping you to create your own 4G personal hotspot capable of connecting up to ten devices, and allowing others to join the network too.
If you are travelling overseas on business and need to stay in touch with head office but don't have time to spend searching around foreign towns looking for a WiFi connection, O2 Travel provides affordable overseas roaming. The service allows you access to key business functions such as email, document sharing, and file transfers, but without huge costs.