Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 technology travel tips for the business traveler

Over the past few months, I’ve been traveling more than usual. I’ve been on the train and the plane. I’ve worked from the airport. I’ve used my smartphone as my WiFi hotspot to access the Internet. I’ve taken different computers on my trips: sometimes I carry my heavier convertible laptop tablet PC. Sometimes I just go with my Apple iPad and an external keyboard and I leave my laptop at work.

Today, I’m using an old tablet PC called the Samsung Q1 Ultra UMPC. From a distance, it may look like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. However, this is a really old machine that runs Windows 7. The main reason why I’m using this is because: 1) I need something really light (1.5 pounds); 2) I need USB ports (this one has two), and 3) I need to run Microsoft Windows. If I didn’t need the USB ports, then I’d have my iPad and I’d access my Windows PC using remote desktop connection (via LogMeIn Ignition) so that I can run all my Windows-based applications. This Q1 Ultra has exceptional battery life, so I get to compute all day without looking for a power outlet.

Are you a frequent traveler? Do you use technology such as smartphones and computers when you travel? Then let me know what you think about these technology tips:
  1. Always carry a power outlet splitter (or a small extension cord) so that you can share a power supply source at the airport. Some of these power splitters also include built-in USB charging ports. Novel!
  2. Avoid the dedicated wireless card and rely on your smartphone. If you need Internet access, consider using your smartphone as an access point. You can do this either using a USB cable to “tether” or using the built-in WiFi connection and converting your smartphone into a WiFi hotspot that connects up to 5 devices on 3G networks or up to 8 devices on the LTE network.
  3. Carry an external battery pack for your smartphone. You simply don’t want to run out of juice when you’re traveling. A universal battery pack simply requires you to carry a USB cable. Plus, you can lend this power source to your colleague (who will thank you for that!)
  4. Will you be renting a car? Make sure to pack a car charger for your smartphone. You can also get a multipurpose convertible charger that changes from a wall charger to a car charger. This minimizes what you have to pack, but it will require you to take that charger in and out of your car each time you go into your hotel room.
  5. Carry two devices: an iPad and a laptop. Consider using the low-power device like an iPad on the plane and reserving your laptop for the hotel room. If you need to draft some documents or work on spreadsheets, you can do this on a device like the iPad that has 8 to 10 hrs of battery life.
  6. Leave your work computer at work and access everything via remote desktop access. You may not need to carry your work computer if you can access it remotely. That’s why I can get away with traveling with an iPad sometimes. I leave my computer on at work so that I can access it remotely on my iPad. If you plan to do this, make sure to change your power settings so that the computer doesn’t automatically go into sleep mode after it’s idle for an extended period of time.
  7. Synchronize your files on multiple computers using solutions like Windows Live Mesh, DropBox, or other syncing software. These solutions allow you to keep identical copies of your working files on multiple machines. This is also a nice way to keep backup copies of your files in multiple locations.
  8. If you travel with a laptop, invest in a spare battery (however, you can’t do this if you have a newer MacBook since the battery isn’t removable). Get into the habit of rotating between batteries so that you spread the wear and tear on your battery over time. This will extend the overall longevity of your laptop battery. On average, you can expect 2 to 3 years of battery life before the capacity starts to show significant wear.
  9. Instead of carrying or renting a GPS navigation unit in your rental car, use your smartphone as your GPS navigation devices. There are now a number of free GPS navigation apps you can use like Google Maps Navigation, Mapquest, Bing, and others. These provide turn-by-turn directions and they’re just as functional as standalone GPS devices.
  10. Finally, make sure to get familiar with simple battery-saving tips: Switch off the WiFi connection when you’re not using it. Lower your screen brightness. Use the power-saving mode on your PC.
I hope you’ll find these technology travel tips useful. If you plan to transition into a non-clinical career, get ready to the world of business travel. You may not travel much, but you can certainly expect some level of travel. In my line of work, I generally spend most of my time traveling to conferences and different meetings. Whether you travel by plane or train, you’ll find that most of these travel tips can help you stay productive while you’re out of the office.

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