Be A More Productive Traveller On The Road

If you're hitting the road for business rather than pleasure, then the right combination of organising tricks and useful technology can make all the difference. Here's our top tips for getting more done on the road.

This list is derived from one by Kevin Pash that ran in Lifehacker's US parent title, but I've heavily edited and revised it to reflect the rather different Australian travel reality. There's a lot of ideas here, but it's by no means exhaustive, so offer your own thoughts in the comments.

Pack as little as possible

The less you're travelling with, the faster you can get off the plane (and the less time you'll spend stressing over what to wear -- you won't have any choice). I took this idea to its extreme with the Hand Luggage Only project earlier this year. While you might not want a packing list quite as stripped down as that, it's still a good place to start when working out what you really need. Even if you decide to check some luggage, don't forget to examine our essentials of business travel and think about what you need in your washbag.

Know what you're going to do for communications

Many hotels in Australia offer Wi-Fi, but too many of them still don't offer it for free, even when they charge like a wounded bull. If you're a semi-regular traveller, then investing in a 3G broadband dongle can make sense. Check out our 3G broadband directory for some guidance on the best deals. If you're confident you can largely get by with your mobile and just occasional PC usage, then see our guide to finding free Wi-Fi. iPhone users can easily tether with their device, assuming their carrier is nice about it, and that option's also possible with other mobiles, though rates and ease of implementation vary hugely.

Get better life from batteries

Use your spare laptop or gadget batteries fully when you're going to use them, then recharge them to around 50 percent full and keep them someplace cool, like wrapped in a paper towel inside the fridge. Every so often, charge your battery all the way full, then run it completely down to recalibrate its sense of how much it can hold. Don't run your battery somewhere it will get very hot, and turn off Wi-Fi and fancy graphics effects when you're really just editing a Word document. Those are just a few of the take-away battery tips we've collected and dissected over years of use and discussion, but they're a pretty good beginner's course in squeezing every last bit of rare travel power from your devices.

Double-check map details

Sites like Google Maps and services like GPS are great for working out where your hotel and business meetings are, but you should take what they tell you with a hefty grain of salt. On more than one occasion, I've had Google suggest that a hotel is located somewhere it patently isn't. Using Street View is one quick way to check if the suggested location actually matches up with what you expect to see; another obvious option is to find the official site for the hotel/company, and see what it says in its directions section.

Make good use of offline services

Until Kevin talked to four different people recently who didn't know that Zoho, Google's Docs, Calendar, Reader, and Gmail services, Remember the Milk tasks, and many other services could be managed offline with Google Gears, I'd though it was an old-hat piece of advice. Consider this a friendly reminder, then, that the five minutes it takes to install Gears, click the "Offline" or green check mark icon, and synchronise your online life is entirely worth it. And if you haven't grabbed a free account from Dropbox, SugarSync, or another cross-platform, web-accessible synchronisation service, that, too, will be a lifesaver on some rainy day when you're much too rushed to get to the airport.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman really can't use travel as an excuse for being unproductive these days. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.

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    link to the US version would be nice, for comparison purposes

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