Five Extra Things You Must Pack For A Business Trip

TravelPack.jpg OK, it's a given that you'll need your notebook, PC, phone, associated chargers and the minimum of clothes and toiletries you can get away with. But years of travel have taught me that there are some just-as-essential items that don't show up on many packing lists for business trips, whether it's a quick Sydney-to-Melbourne jaunt or something more substantial. Here's five gadgets and tools I don't want to travel without.

Retractable travel Ethernet cable

Sure, Wi-Fi is everywhere, but if your hotel room or airport lounge also offers a wired option, it'll be faster and more reliable. Taking your own cable also means no panic when the one in the hotel room thoughtfully got nicked by the last guest, or doesn't want to work. The retractable model takes up no space and won't tangle itself around every other cable in your bag.

Large plastic coffee mug

While most hotels (save super-cheap options like Formule 1) will have a coffee mug, it's often so small as to be wasteful. Bring your own and you'll get better value from the in-room beverages. An added bonus for men: when the bathroom sink plug gets stolen or fails to work, you've got a shaving mug as well.

Powerboard

Far too many hotel rooms have only one or two power outlets, often positioned inconveniently behind the TV or so close to the wall your phone charger won't fit. A dirt-cheap 4-point powerboard (mine was $5 at a supermarket) solves that problem. Double adaptors, while admittedly, are less useful, since they don't work close to the floor and can also cause phone charger clashes. USB is great if you've got the option, but some devices won't charge when the machine is in sleep mode - who wants to sleep with a glowing screen in the corner all night? Pack a powerboard and stop worrying.

Spare USB sticks

A high-capacity USB key provides backup you can stick in your shirt pocket, but throw in any older low-cap sticks to make it easy to share files with colleagues or new acquaintances. After all, they're just festering in your desk anyway, and even 32MB holds a full-sized slide presentation.

On-plane earphone adaptor

My ears tend to get sore if I wear the supplied headphones for in-flight entertainment, but a simple adaptor lets me plug my standard Sony plug earbuds on virtually any plane with a two-point socket for more comfortable travel. OK, that doesn't directly benefit productivity, but on a 22-hour flight you want all the help you can get. Got any other less obvious business travel essentials? Tell all in the comments. Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman stores all his essential travel requirements in his carry-on bag, but still constantly worries that he has forgotten something. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.

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Comments

    +1 for all these suggestions (except that I don't drink coffee, but others do.) The powerboard is especially useful for O/S trips, as all you need then is one travel converter plug, and for most hotels, you're set to charge all your devices!

    For overseas travel, the power board with surge guard and the local powerpoint adapter makes a world of difference for keeping the equipment up and running.

    If you're travelling to a conference, pack a power board and an extension cord. It'll go a long way towards making a bunch of new laptop carrying friends at the back of the venue.

    I've also found ziplock bags to be excellent for tagging and bagging the cables that come with the various devices I carry - phone charger, mouse, mp3 player+headphones etc.

    Totally agree on the powerboard, I don't leave home without it! I would add to this list a small portable wireless router (especially useful for your iphone when travelling), upgrade to wireless headphones and take chewing gum and TSA luggage locks!

    I'd have to agree with most Items plus:

    RJ45 Network Cable Extension Coupler (sometimes you need to extend a little longer),
    Travel All-in-one Universal AC Adapter (The one i have has UK, Europe and USA/(Australia by rotating 45 degrees) most places in the world are covered),
    DIGITAL HANGING SCALE (to check baggage weight),
    3-in-1 90W Universal Notebook Car, Air & AC Adapter Power brick (for flights that have power in seat. Different airlines range from USA AC power to Car 12V or airline type 12V).
    USB Mobile Phone charger is a must (the Universal Notebook Adapter I have also has a USB Port for charging. Nice!)

    All these are good things. I use rental cars a lot so a car charger for my phone and Ipod are mandatory.

    PS A large bag of M and Ms are required for a late night chocolate hit when the seductive siren that is the mini bar beckons with her sultry voice.

    Question 1: when travelling to the US, is there a special power converter required for laptop usage? I know the little converters they sell at the airport gift shop work for small appliances like electric shavers, but I've always been scared to use them for laptops...?

    Question 2: do all airplanes/airlines use the same earphone adapters? Or is that what the "On-plane earphone adaptor" is referring to in this article? (and where can I get one?)

    Question 3 (bear with me!): is it possible to buy a prepaid SIM card with global roaming, such that you can make data exchanges on your mobile (eg, email) whilst in the US?

    I too have carried a power board away on trips. I carry an Australian 4-point power board, but I've cut off the standard Australian 3-pin plug and installed an IEC three-pin plug. I have US, European, UK and Australian adapters that connect from their native pin configuration to the standard IEC plug on the end of my power board. I take standard Australian-pinned uninversal voltage adapters with me to use wherever I travel.

    @wordsmith
    2: Purchasable @ Dick Smith, Jaycar, Tandy etc.
    3: It is, however roaming prices can be pretty hefty.

    @Stephen Dann

    I've bought a soft pencil case for that kind of storage of cabels and such like. It's malleable and easily shapes to whatever else you have in your laptop bag. I still collect the ziploc bags at the security section of the airport terminal- useful at all times.

    @wordsmith
    1. depends on the airline and jet you're flying with. A lot of the new jets (such as the new A380) will take standard plus, but other jets (the ones that only have laptop power for first and business) usually need special adaptors.

    2. ditto. Good jets will have the single plug, but other jets will have the two plug standard. You can use one plug headphones, but they don't sound as good as using the adaptor.

    3. I don't think so. You can global roam with Telstra, but I don't know if that's just limited to phonecalls. It might be easier to buy a pre-paid SIM in the US (T-Mobile is a good provider) but you may need to do research to see if that includes data as well as voice calls.

    Maybe you need to do up a more comprehensive list than just these. You've covered a very small subset of things that people need during travel.

    You can come up with lists for:
    - Hand/Carry-On Luggage essentials (for putting in your hand luggage)
    - Technology Essentials (techie things you will need on the other side)
    - Toiletry Essentials (make you look and smell good for the meeting)
    - Overseas Meeting Essentials (make sure your meeting does not blow up because you forgot that little thing to make the laptop work)
    - Photography Essentials (will you need your tripod?)
    - Money or Currency Essentials (Credit/Debit Cards, cash, travellers cheques)

    A cunning trick for charging your devices without the glowing screen. Use a no-sleep utility like Caffiene for the Mac, and reduce the brightness of the screen to 0. You'll still have the glowing apple and power plug (and other phone LEDs and the like), but the screen will be black. In the morning, just turn the brightness back on again!

    Re powerboards - have a look at Model PT2MICRO on www.ji.com.au Portable and lightwight - ideal for travel.

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