A friend at work asked me for tips on travelling with technology. I don't travel that much, perhaps a trip every 2-3 months. For me there isn't that much difference between personal travel and business travel. I use a personal laptop during each, and take about the same amount of gear.
I think there are two types of technology travelers. There are the hardcore, on the road all the time, taking the office with them where ever they go types. They are always going someplace. These people will already know everything I am about to say, or they will disagree with it.
Then there are the folks like me. Travel is not a central part of my job. I travel more for pleasure than for business. But, technology IS my business, and I am always prepared, connected and responsive when on the road.
So here are my top 10 travel tips for occasional technology travelers. You may have some to add, please leave me a comment if so.
- App for that travel. Make sure you have the smartphone app for whatever airline, airport, subway or rail line you are using. Navigating subways can be much easier with an app. Some airline companies do electronic boarding passes and that can be very convenient. However, be a good humanoid and step to the side in the gate-check line if your iPhone decides to be difficult when trying to get on the plane! The new iOS version have something called "Passbook", I think, that facilitates part of this.
- A weather app to rule them all. It sounds funny, but you may not be as aware of the weather when out of town as you are at home. I use Accuweather, it seems to do a good job. Also, make sure it is configured to deliver weather alerts for where you are, not just the home location.
- Conference Agenda Apps. Major conferences are now putting the agenda/conference schedule on an app to save printing costs. Proceedings, conference hall maps, bios, schedules are available on the app. It is usually available in advance, from the app store.
- Review & Tighten Security. Make sure you tighten up the security on your mobile device. You are more likely to loose it, have it stolen or otherwise misplace it while on the road. Turn on the "find my iPhone" feature. Pick a better passcode / password. Don't rely on simple pattern-drawings. Turn on face recognition. Lower the lock timeout. All are means to tighten your security.
- More Juice. Get a external battery, in case you are caught short. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than a dead battery at 40,000 feet or with 2 hours to go before the flight. The portable battery units can provide as much or more juice than the smartphone battery. Charge it, and leave it in the backpack (see below). Don't forget to take a cable too, maybe the charging cable will work for it.
- Social Media Awareness. Be smart about social media. Lots of stuff to consider here. Do you have a home alarm? Is your social media locked down to friends only? Is someone staying behind at home alone? It is not farfetched to think that criminals use social media to target people, they do. Be aware.
- Thats Entertainment. Download some movies, music and books in advance. Entertainment is generally big, data wise, and that is better off being downloaded over wifi on the home network, not over wireless broadband or (eeeek) airport wireless.
- Don't go Strapless. Use something with a strap as carry-on. Like a backpack, messenger bag, something. You don't want to have to set it down to do stuff. Like pull out the boarding pass, your wallet, carry a tray of food, go to the bathroom, etc. I like backpacks cause I still have both hands available and they can hold a lot of non-tech stuff, like a bottle of water, lunch, etc. If you have to use a briefcase due to business decorum, be careful where you set it down, and keep it touching part of you (like lean it on you leg or something).
- Go Minimal. Don't carry more than you need. That PS2 mouse from 1990 can probably stay home. Ditto the half-dozen thumb drives and the power strip. Get a USB charger with two ports, and take the longest USB cables you can find, in case you have to plug in at the airport.
- Not All Wifi is Good. And don’t use airport wireless or in-flight wireless. I don't trust airport wifi, it is just too tempting an environment for hackers. If you have to use the airport wireless, make sure you are connecting to the real network (check with customer service), be careful what you do and disconnect after you finish with it. In-flight wifi is just slow. Too slow to use and too expensive, in my opinion. Maybe the technology is better since I tried to use it last time (May 2013).