Tech & Tools

How to Use Technology to Get More Done on the Road

By Rieva Lesonsky

Does your business require you or your employees to spend lots of time on the road? Whether you’re flying across country to make an important sales presentation or just getting in the car to visit customers and prospects, busy small business owners can’t afford to waste time by letting travel time become downtime. Here are some tactics using technology to get more done on the road, wherever you are.

Enable hands-free phone conversations. Learn to use the hands-free communication options in your business or rental car—even if the law in your state doesn’t require it. If you’re driving an older vehicle without these features, look for car kits that enable you to add the features, or learn how to use voice-to-text, voice commands and other features on your smartphone to communicate on the go.

Lighten the load. If you keep your business data in the cloud (which I recommend anyway), you won’t need to tote a heavy laptop for business travel. (You may want to save active files on your device or a thumb drive just in case you need them when you’re without Internet access.) With today’s faster processing speeds, as long as your laptop has storage capacity of 128GB, you should be able to run your applications on the road. If you’re in the market for a new laptop and want one that’s easy to carry, check out these reviews of the best ultraportable laptops and best ultrabooks.

Can you get away with just taking a tablet on your trip? That really depends on your industry. For example, since my business (content creation) involves lots of typing, a tablet—even one with a keyboard—isn’t ideal for all-day use. If your daily tasks require bigger screens than tablets provide, such as viewing multiple Excel files, you’ll probably need a laptop. However, if you primarily need to do basic tasks like answer email, post on social media and go online while you’re traveling, a tablet can be all you need. In fact, according to research firm IDC, four in 10 business users now use tablets exclusively. If you do rely on a tablet alone, make sure you’ve got the accessories that make it functional for you, such as a keyboard.

Get connected. These days, what most business travelers really need to get work done is a reliable Internet connection. If you’re having trouble finding nearby Wi-Fi, use the Wi-Fi Finder app. Better yet, pack a mobile hotspot device so you don’t have to rely on free Wi-Fi or pay for Wi-Fi at hotels, where the cost can sometimes add up. Most smartphones have features that enable you to use them as portable hotspots? Check out your phone’s options. Don’t ever access or send sensitive data over public Wi-Fi. Protect your information by setting up a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts your data, and require employees to use it on the road.

Perfect presentations. If you’re making a presentation to clients or prospects, be prepared. Depending on how fancy a show you’re putting on, you may want to bring a portable projector and/or portable, wireless speakers.

Be prepared. The little extras can make all the difference between being productive and twiddling your thumbs for an hour in the airport boarding area. Take along:

  • Chargers, including a car charger
  • Portable battery pack
  • A mini power strip for the hotel room so you can plug in all your devices
  • A spare thumb drive or two
  • An Ethernet cable (you never know when you’ll need it)
  • If you have trouble focusing in noisy areas, investing in noise-canceling headphones for plane rides or busy waiting areas can be worth the cost.

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