Last week's Road Worrier column on less than obvious business travel essentials stirred up plenty of comments from readers, many of them relating to the specific items needed when a work trip takes you overseas. So this time around we're going to look at the essential items a tech-savvy business traveller needs to take.On top of these gadgets, don't forget the boring essentials: your passport, a credit card (good luck checking into a hotel without one), and a travel insurance policy.
Obvious but pretty much essential. On Australia-only trips, you can probably get away with a smart phone for brief visits, but when you're heading further afield, the combination of hideous global roaming charges and reduced productivity (neither an iPhone or a BlackBerry is a good place to edit a presentation) makes that less appealing. Net cafes are great for holiday trips, but insecure and noisy for work purposes. Lug the laptop and don't let it out of your sight -- I recall one high-end New York hotel telling me that if I left my PC with its baggage check, it would certainly get stolen. As such, get the most compact machine you can comfortably type on. That 15 inch screen might play DVDs real nice, but it weighs more, has a shorter battery life, and is next to impossible to use in an economy seat. Depending on your destination (or onboard flying class and available equipment), a spare battery pack may also be useful.
Again, probably inescapable, though Skype on your laptop is a decent substitute if you're more concerned with making calls then receiving them (which sucks because of time zones anyway). Send text messages when possible to minimise costs, and find out if there are any roaming bargains from your carrier. Don't forget the charger (USB is good for luggage shrinking purposes).
It's easy enough to find out what adaptor you'll need for a specific country (I use this site for basic research). The biggest pain is that one adaptor may not be enough if you're travelling to (or even through) more than one country. As such, a universal adaptor like the one pictured, which can take any plug and connect into any socket simply by sliding out the appropriate connectors, is essential. Combine this with a powerboard (as recommended in our previous list) and you'll be able to cope with pretty much any power challenge. Some gadgets (the BlackBerry springs to mind) come with removable plates so you can change from Australian to a US, European or UK adaptor. This can be useful, but I still reckon a single universal adaptor, a powerboard and your original charger is a better combo.
Plane earphones adaptor (and perhaps an iPod)
This was mentioned in our previous list, but a couple of readers questioned what it did. Many planes use a double-pronged Sony-style adaptor rather than a standard single 3.5mm socket - carry one of these adaptors and your regular headphones (whether basic iPod buds or fancy noise-cancelling wallet drainers) will connect on pretty much any plane, whether it uses one or two plugs. If you regularly travel with a partner, consider getting a headphone double adaptor as well so you can watch your own choices via DVD or iPod. Not great for productivity, but I defy anyone to work for the whole of the Pacific crossing.
OK, enough from me. What other gadgets do you find essential for global travelling? Add to our list in the comments.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman thinks it's nice that Air Calin lets you keep the headphones, but he'd still rather bring his own. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.